Today I sat in a cafe to do my daily writing. A large group of old birds sat next to me and discussed loudly that there wasn’t enough space for them all. I asked if they’d like me to move down, they did and I moved. Normally I’d be slightly irritated by someone blatantly hinting at me to move but I was actually quite pleased to have some company.
Recently my main means of socialising is overhearing whatever conversation happens next to me in a cafe while I type, think and predominantly procrastinate . I can’t say this conversation was particularly interesting, it was mostly a catch up on the numerous societies that they seemed to belong to and discussing the difficulty of emails. One was particularly irritated that Yahoo had recently changed its format and now she had no idea how to reply to emails. Strangely enough I related to most of these subjects which I chose to accredit to my maturity rather than my ‘old-lady-ness’.
However, my similarities to the aged is not the relevant subject matter here. What particularly interested me was the group members. The group seemed to be entirely made up of women, about 10, but then just one gentleman joined the group. When I listened to the conversation more I realised that none of them talked about their partners. In my many instances of ‘happening on’ conversations next to me there are usually many mentions of partners, boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives and flings. In fact relationships seem to be the main subject matter in many of the chatters in my hearing-range. However, not once did these ladies or gentlemen mention their spouse. This could be because they were old enough to be fed up of talking about their other half but I believe more depressingly that their partner had probably passed away.
This got me wondering what it was like being the gentleman in this social situation, the ‘last’ gentleman. I’m sure that even if I was 100-years-old that I would still have that childish reservation of knowing when I’m the only girl in a group. No matter how old we get or how mature we are I’m absolutely sure it matters to some extent… in our Freudian subconscious at the very least. So I couldn’t help but wonder what it was like for this man to be ‘the last one left’.
If I were the last female left with only my partners male friends I think I’d feel pretty out of place. My own boyfriend’s group of friends is a good mixture of males and females but the ‘originals’, as I’m sure they’d even call themselves, are all boys. They met in the early years of high school when boys only spent time with boys and girls spent time with girls, then they stayed together since then. There are now plenty of girls in the friendship group but from what I gather the girls have come and gone as they’ve dated, dumped, asked out, rejected slept with and flirted with one (or more) of the boys. Once they’re in the group, they’re in but no matter how long they’ve been around when I first ask ‘who are they?’ the reply is usually something like: ‘so-and-so’s ex-girlfriend’. No matter how long they’ve been around there’s always that slight reservation that they’re still on the outskirts of a ‘boys only club’.
In some ways when ever any of us go out with our partners friends, whether it’s a group of girls, boys or a good mixture, we are a bit of an accessory. Not in a ‘sexualised, demeaning’ way, just in the way that we came as an attachment to our partner and we’ll probably leave if and when we’re no longer attached to them. I am accessory to my boyfriend in his group of friends in the exact same way that my boyfriend is an accessory to me in my group of friends. In those situations we’re often a treat, an occasional gift or a special goody – if we are liked by the group of course. Even after years of integrating ourselves into the group, creating our own one-on-one relationships and making private jokes within the group we may still be referred to as ‘so-and-so’s girlfriend’. As I said, I’m not complaining that it’s demeaning or unfair, it’s just an explanation as to how we came into the group and where we stand in it now.
So as the ‘last man standing’ in the old biddies club of ladies, I wondered if this gentleman in the conversation that I was casually eavesdropping on might have been the same. Maybe he’d integrated into his wife’s friendship group and spent years knowing them all. He’d might have joined them all on holidays and gone to their weekly pub Monday with his other half. He might even have become so friendly with the group that he’d turn up to events even if his partner wasn’t going. He could have become his own person, own entity, own individual, finally not just as his partners accessory in her friendship group. Or, after all those years he may still have been introduced as ‘Margaret’s hubby instead of ‘Bob’… Who knows!
On the other hand he could be quite the catch, as the last man around in the group he could quite easily become the focus of many of the ladies attentions. He might have been an even greyer fox than George Clooney, breaking hearts at every book club. What a lucky guy to be the last man standing!
Or he may have been gay, still taken or on completely platonic terms with all the ladies… but those are boring theories! Oh the art of procrastination and day dreaming, I believe I have become quite talented at it!