Sunday, May 13, 2007

Girls and boys

1. Boys.
I enjoyed David Baddiel's Whatever Love Means far more than I expected to. He's overtly a) alpha, b) Oxbridge, and c) Jewish, and I've never found that a particularly sympathetic combination in men, even though it's not so far from my own. On those grounds, I'd never normally have borrowed the book from the library, but I was in a tearing hurry and it was on the 'If You're In a Tearing Hurry' stand by the door, next to the books in Polish.

And it is a good book, especially if you remember the time and the place (which I do), and if you have ever been in a relationship with someone whose behaviour has baffled you unless you take a really uncharitable view of men (which I have).

So next time I was in there, in slightly less of a tearing hurry, I borrowed Time for Bed. I've read about half of it, and decided (and this is rare for me) that I won't finish it. I found someone else's bookmark in it, which is a sign that I am not the first person to make this decision.

Basically, it's the porn, and the porn-driven sex. I don't like either of these things, and reading about them in this level of detail makes me feel bleak. I feel this way about a lot of Hanif "there are some fucks for which a man would have his wife and children drown in a freezing sea" Kureishi, not to mention a fair amount of early Martin Amis. And I don't think what he's saying is important or interesting enough to wade through the wanking and arse-fucking, frankly.

M is slightly further ahead in the book than me (we sometimes end up reading the same copy of the same book at the same time which annoys both of us but does mean you get to talk about it quicker). I don't like what this book says about men, I said. I don't think it's true. Surely it's not true.

Er, um, well it is a bit, he said. But you don't have a collection of hardcore DVDs! I said. You don't have major pubic hair issues! You don't negotiate interactions with women like they come from another planet! Do you?

Well no, he said. But then I live with you. And you've always said yourself that you can't help what's in your head, you can only help what you do with it. Which left me simultaneously flattered and disappointed. V postmodern. You finish it, I said, then tell me whether you think I should. And we left it at that.

2. Girls.
I might be hard work, but I'm low maintenance. I'm a cheap date, I carry a bag big enough for all my stuff, I don't sulk much, and I provide a detailed list of what I want for my birthday (which these days can mostly be sourced from the Screwfix catalogue).

I've been getting my legs waxed every four weeks since I was about 25, because I can't bear to shave but I can't bear to leave them either, and I've been dying my hair every 12 weeks since I was about 30, because I had developed a Mallen streak and it wasn't a good look. I exfoliate because it makes me feel clean, and I've been moisturising since my sister bought me some for Christmas a few years ago, but apart from that, nothing. No nails, no highlights, no perming, no straightening, no tanning, no bleaching, no Brazilians, no working out, no tooth whitening, no Botox, no foundation, no implants, no chucking up. This is partly a political stance (beauty fascism = bad), partly because I can't afford it, partly because even if I could I'm not sure it would make *that* much difference except to people whose opinion I like to think I don't value, and partly because I Just Can't Be Arsed.

And so it was with significant misgiving that I went out on Friday to get my eyebrows shaped. I've never done it because it's another thing to keep on top of, but I've realised of late that a) pretty much every woman in the world has "managed eyebrows", plus quite a few men, and b) the older you get, the less straggliness you can get away with. I've had beauticians offer to do it for free, I've had my mother on at me about it for years, I've had friends mention it 'in passing'. I've ignored them all, but then I saw this photo of me at Jeremy's clocks-forward-barbecue. Shit, I thought, I look very sweet and all but I have *got* to sort my eyebrows out.

And on Friday, I did.

What do you normally do, asked the nice lady, get them waxed or have them plucked? They've never been touched, I said. What, she said, NEVER? Nope, I said (not strictly true, I got them plucked once as a teenager but they've been au naturel since c1984), do your worst.

She did something involving both waxing and plucking. It hurt. I look weird. But better, I think. And either I get better at inflicting pain on myself, or that's another ten quid a month on personal grooming. M didn't notice, bless him. Or my haircut. But that's so much better than the other way round. You do it to yourself, you do.




Blogger Jeremy Dennis said...

Plucking your eyebrows stops hurting pretty fast -- you overreact because it's close to the eye but your body figures out it's OK and stops making such a fuss. I had to start doing it ages ago, bless my overactive hormones. I think my major tipping point was seeing Bruce Willis in The Fifth Element. He'd been shaved, bleached, plucked, tinted and made up and still looked ever so butch and dependable, just that little bit tidier. So every time I reach for the personal groomage, I think: what would Bruce Willis do?

4:07 pm  
Blogger Jo said...

That is excellent advice, thank you. Aspiring to be a little bit tidier I can live with.

8:02 pm  

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