After being attacked (verbally) for the past few weeks for writing about a bad date with a Chinese man that (apparently) ‘makes all Chinese men look bad’, I thought I’d move my attention on to a British man. Shouldn’t need to point it out, but it is a story about one man. The title is supposed to be ironic. But be warned people; I might just work my way around the globe here.
So I had been living with this man for a long time. We had long ago ceased to have anything in common; when I look back I’m not sure that we ever had that much. He liked to drink warm British beer and watch football on the telly; I hate sports and wanted to travel the world and experience different cultures. He wanted the bigger house, the better car, the surround sound stereo and I wanted to sell everything and go live in a commune in India. Or anywhere. I just wanted to do something and break with the routine of earn more money and buy more things, which wasn’t making me happy.
It hadn’t always been that way. When we first got together I imagined myself to be madly in love. But I was naive and young. Later I saw him for what he was: a control freak chipping away at my self-esteem. He ridiculed everything I tried to do, telling me I couldn’t do anything right (you name it, his ex-girlfriend did it better).
By the last few months we had stopped communicating at all. He’d go to the living room and switch on the TV and I’d go to the bedroom and read my book.
Yet still I didn’t want to give up. I’d invested a lot of time in the relationship and thought I was too old to start again.
I suggested a weekend away. We’d gone to Paris together soon after we’d met and I thought going back there might be just the medicine we needed. Surprisingly he agreed: ‘I think that’s a fabulous idea’ he said.
So there was just this one weekend between football fixtures (that’s soccer to you if you’re American) when he was free to travel and so I went to book it. Except there were no spaces on flights to Paris that particular weekend and he could only travel that weekend because he couldn’t miss football. ‘Why not try Madrid’, the woman in the travel agency suggested. So instead of Paris I booked Madrid and off we went for a weekend I was hoping would recapture everything we had lost.
The weekend was a disaster. From his point of view, everything that could go wrong did and it was all my fault. There was a delay at the airport, leaving him grumpy and bad tempered and leaving me afraid to say anything to him lest he bite my head off. Madrid was unusually hot for the time of year (April) and he didn’t like the heat. Whatever I suggested doing he ‘didn’t care’. Do you want to go to the market or the art galleries or the park or get lunch? I’d ask him. ‘I’m not bothered’ was always his reply, as he walked around with a face like a wet weekend, behaving like a sulky teenager.
Then he discovered that there was a football match going on that he wanted to see after all. So I left him to watch at the hotel and went out into Madrid on my own. I had a lovely time, visiting the galleries and eating lunch al fresco and walking round the park.
When I got back to the hotel he was in a foul mood. He resented me leaving him alone and yet at the same time he wanted to sit indoors with the curtains drawn watching TV and drinking beer. Just like he did every weekend. That was the moment I finally realized it was time to give up. He wasn’t happy when I was there and wasn’t happy when I wasn’t there either. It was his problem.
I walked away from the relationship with just my clothes and effectively started again; it turned out I wasn’t too old after all.