It’s strange, being loved. The adored, rather than the adoree. Apart from my parents and my pets, no one has ever loved me before (and no one loves me more than Mini Puppy: she cries when I get back from a work trip, both paws planted on my shoulders, black button nose in my mouth. When I pack my suitcase for my next trip, she hides under the bed, and has to be dragged by her harness to Nic’s waiting car).
But when it comes to human men? Not like this. Not even close. I don’t want to sound smug, but as someone who went her (almost, till just now) entire life racked by self-doubt, fired into a frenzy by unrequited love for unattainable men (David Cassidy, David – this David – Prince, the young man in the wholefood store on the Old Street roundabout, a chef in Shoreditch, a film critic who worked on the same paper as me, a fitness instructor at the gym on Highbury Fields, Tom Hardy; the list is pretty endless), dateless and decidedly not remotely desired by anyone, I have to go on about it a bit because it is so… strange.
How do I know he loves me? It’s not the usual litmus test of number of shags or gifts. It’s the small things that tell us a man is smitten. Last Saturday night, David offered to cook dinner and, rather than pop to the rancid corner shop, as is his wont, he bothered to go to… Waitrose. If a man shops in Waitrose, you can be assured he loves you. The next day, when I was leaving for work in Birmingham, he said, ‘I can come and stay in your hotel room. So you don’t get bored.’ ‘But it’s not Venice, or Rome.’ ‘I don’t care where you are. You make it worth it.’
There is only one thorn in this bed of rose-petalled paradise. The lack of the male orgasm. I think it’s his age. He says it’s because, ‘You make me nervous.’ I don’t think that’s true. While I have been barred from a spa by the manager for ‘being too intimidating’, I am not like that with David. I am generous, to put it politely. Encouraging. Everyone these days talks about female desire and satisfaction, but I don’t think enough is written about how men feel under pressure to perform, and to be satisfied. And his lack of… satisfaction (Oh, dear God, he is going to kill me for writing this) is very hard to fake. And, my Lord, I’ve faked with the best of them in my time.
I’m wondering what to do about it. Because, being female, we inevitably believe the lack of… closure to be our fault. Should I be thinner? Should I wear sexier underwear rather than my plain Hanro pants and sports bra? Should I be less opinionated? Should I be less bossy, ie, stop with the endless instructions and diagrams? Would it help if I were younger (not much I can do about that)? Is he tired? Is being a smoker part of the problem – you know, restricted blood flow and all that? You never see this problem in fiction or on film. The only reference I can think of in a lifetime of watching telly and films is the scene in Friends, where Rachel tells Ross, ‘It’s not that common, it doesn’t happen to every guy, and it is a big deal!’
And, even though I’m a feminist (I am, despite what other newspaper columnists might think. I’ve never asked a man to pay for anything or hold open a door, and I’ve always mentored younger women in the workplace), I can’t help but feel a failure. Despite the offer to come to Birmingham, I can’t help thinking he might move on to some other poor woman, as I don’t really float his boat that much any more.
Anyway, I’ve just texted to say I will be in London, at the flat, on Friday after being on Radio 2 (oh dear, maybe I shouldn’t have told him that last bit), so does he want to take me out for a vegan dinner at Manna? My plan is thus: let him pay, as women grabbing the bill can be emasculating. Make sure the booking is early, so he’s not tired. Wear black Myla thong and bra. And, finally, try not to make him nervous. Let’s see if it does the trick…