I give up. I will never understand men

I don’t understand men, and where in blazes is the handbook? How can we have evolved alongside each other for hundreds of thousands of years and not have a CLUE? I don’t even understand my male friends any more.

My brother was full of advice. “Always tell the truth, say what’s on your mind, and tell a man what you want, we’re not psychic.” Yeah, THAT worked. We fell out a few years back! Without him there to translate men to me I gave them a wide berth for some years. That all changed in 2014 through a series of events and by the time 2015 crawled out its nappy I was with a man who was so violently, passionately and intensely in love it was frankly unnerving. Because I don’t understand men at all I thought he was in love with me  but turned out he was violently, passionately and intensely in love with the pedestal I hadn’t even realized I was on and one day I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands.

In fairness, it’s been raining men since then. I could, and this was something of a shock, be having a lively sex-life with all the trimmings and a choice of partners, why did no-one ever tell me I could be having more fun in my fifties than in my thirties? I wouldn’t have wasted a couple of years wondering if it was time to learn to knit, or order a gross of cats. The single baby-boomers are out there in force in their thousands, casting around for women to make a fuss over, and I’ve had men from mid-forties to mid-sixties trying their spiels on me, with varying degrees of success.

smitten Huge fun. I seem to be a magnet for weird, though. Fortunately also a magnet for the talkative, which has been good research for the novel I’ve been writing, on just how different it is to re-enter the dating game at a mature age. I’m a cynical old broad but my heroine is one of those nice submissive ‘I leave everything up to my husband‘ women who suddenly loses her husband to a determined younger woman and naively drifts into the world of the second-timers. The more research I did on her behalf, the more dodgy stories I heard and the stranger men I met! At this rate I’ll never finish the book and it will be longer than War and Peace instead of a light-hearted bit of froth to read on the way to exciting places and / or encounters. It tries to cover the commoner types of older single men, in a tongue-in-cheek way, as Dorothy bumps and drifts for one complication to the next, and I’d very much appreciate it if more and more types wouldn’t keep popping out of the workwork. Or if the ones I’d already classified didn’t become mystifying in completely new ways. Then there’s the latest Lawns book which has been stubbornly stuck at the written-but-I’m-not-happy-with-it stage for months.

Nothing for it but to officially hand in my lipstick, give up on this social life stuff, finish the books, and then see what else is out there. So if you spot me wasting time chatting on social media, just wag a finger at me and point me back at this blog. Elegsabiff, you should remind me, you have things to do. Ends to tie up, first.

Ta.

But I’m not learning to knit. That’s a definite. There is way too much going on out there.

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Dear Diary

Remember when you wrote all your private stuff in a diary, and got mad when people read it?

Nowadays we write it all down in a blog and get mad when people don’t.

That’s not my own quip, by the way, I saw it somewhere. Probably on Facebook, or Twitter. I used to be such a private person, but there’s something about the semi-anonymity of social media, and the flood of breast-baring going on all round, that is very seductive. Add to that I had a growing family of books to promote, and suddenly I was plunging in up to my neck, hectically accepting cyber-friends in every direction, and publicly sharing things I would have hesitated to mention to a shrink. Whoops.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining and have enjoyed most of it very much. I’m about to send a book off for final editing, though, and hyper-ventilating a little about it, it is decidedly more raunchy than the Lawns series. It was when I realized I was seriously fretting about what name to use – stick with EJ Lamprey? Try the more general-purpose Joanna Lamprey, which is proving the kiss of death for the two books flattened under its weight? that I realized how very much I have changed. Three years I simply couldn’t have written such a book, I had absolutely no idea what mature singles got up to. Every day is still a school day, I ‘meet’ strange people every day and because I listen, fascinated, have heard stories far too strange to write down. No-one would believe them. I toyed with the idea of using the suggested pen-name Clarissa Rodgers-Briskly, which I thought was nicely tongue-in-cheek, then reluctantly cut most of one particularly risque chapter when nearly all the beta-readers focused purely on that one in their feedback. Too out of balance with the rest of the book, obviously. It will be interesting, to say the least, to see what my editor makes of it.

Dear diary, I do hope no-one ever reads this.  uh oh

 

Friends come in all shapes and sizes

Friend, buddy, chum, pal. They are just words, not instant summaries. I started counting up different types of people I like in different ways, and got bogged down. They can’t all fall under the same umbrella word ‘friend’, can they?

I’ve been on a singles website for nearly two years because it has a lively blogging facility  roll eyes and have got to know some people really well, to the point where we chat almost on a daily basis. I’ve never met them, probably never will meet them, although I would go out of my way to have a drink or a coffee together if the chance ever came up. Virtual friends, oh yes, but it’s hard to hide behind the written word for that long without exposing fatal flaws.

I follow, and am followed by, hundreds of people on Twitter – I’ve met, hmm, about twenty of them, a fluctuating group of us meet up several times a year, always fun. Friends.

I have friends on Facebook – some genuinely are, scattered all over the world, we often haven’t seen each other in years and may never meet again, but we share news and photos. Some are colleagues from earlier jobs, and some are writers I may one day meet. Facebook calls them all friends.

One penpal, a writing contact, has been a great friend and support, yet we’ve never met and will never meet. ‘Penpal’ doesn’t begin to cover it!

Real life, a handful.  Very highly valued. It’s easy to find out who’s a true friend – screw up, or go through a challenging time, then see who sticks around.  Okay, easy isn’t the right word. But definitely interesting!

Yet what is a person who is entertaining, amusing, but ducks out whenever they have something more interesting on, or you aren’t as much fun as usual? When you are back to yourself, there they are, entertaining and charming, fair-weather friends who can make the sunshine seem brighter, but you can’t rely on them the way you can on a real friend.

My books are about friendship, but it tends to be the tried-and-true type. There is a place for these others because they are in my life, and in yours too. What do YOU call the different types?

sigh