Fool’s Mate

In which The Author has to describe his ideal woman

On Friday morning we had a very interesting (if rather disconcerting) seminar on Psychology in Everyday Life. This particular discussion centred on Mate Selection – a subject on which I am hardly a world authority.
Gareth M. decided to start off the session by getting us to list the characteristics we’d look for in a Perfect Partner. The idea was that we’d be placing a Lonely Hearts ad in the paper, and we had to try and identify what we were looking for in a potential mate. He gave us ten minutes to sketch out a rough outline, and then collected our notes to be read out in class. All we had to do was state whether we were male or female, and whether we were looking for a male or female partner. The notes themselves were (allegedly) anonymous.
It’s a fairly small group – twenty or so people – and the men are outnumbered by about four to one. My friend Nicky H. and I started writing down our specifications, not letting each other see what we were scribbling. Around us, everyone was doing the same. Ten minutes is a very long time when you count it.
Many years ago, in the pub, Carole wrote a Lonely Hearts ad for me, as a drunken exercise in ‘How Others See You’. I think it’s still in one of the Uncollected Notebooks. She seemed to have had me fairly nailed. But time’s moved on.
I had to examine my own tastes and desires, and also run through my previous girlfriends and near misses. The object was to try and identity what each of us was looking for in a potential partner. It wasn’t as easy as I thought.
I put in one immediate criterion: ‘Preferably not blonde – brunettes or redheads only.’ Even that isn’t as easy at it seems. At least two ‘redheads’ and one ‘brunette’ I’ve snogged have been anything but natural. I’ve been conned by a blonde on more than one occasion. As for body shape, I’m not interested in a woman’s height or weight – I don’t mind whether she’s four feet and a fart, or towers over me. I’m happy with a girl I can pick up and swing around, but I also like a girl who can sit on me until I can’t move. I forgot to mention my especial predilection for women with glasses. Maybe that’s just me, compensating for my own lack of classical good looks by going for women who can’t see me properly.
My ideal woman would like books and films and music (not boom-boom-thump stuff, as I stated in my list), pubs, cinemas, and quiet nights out. Gareth raised an eyebrow when he read that bit out. I think he expected it to say ‘quiet nights in’ – but I really prefer a nice local pub with a decent crowd to a heaving nightclub any day of the year.
I also requested a non-smoker. Maybe it’s an age thing, but I’ve never smoked, making me a minority figure amongst my schoolfriends.
I don’t have children of my own, but I get on well enough with my friends’ kids for them all to agree that I’d make a brilliant father. With this in mind, I’d be happy to meet a woman with children from a previous relationship – but I’d also like to think that my own DNA will continue down the genetic river. I’m 43, so I have to consider the age of a potential partner while I’m taking the mating game into consideration. Given the current state of play, I’ll be retired by the time my putative child goes to university. I’d really like to live long enough to see the same putative child graduate.
And I thought about my previous relationships:
  • Lisa W. – still in school, a year younger than me, arranged by our parents. Blonde, very pretty, extremely intelligent, light social drinker, drug-free, virgin. Fizzled out. Haven’t seen her for years.
  • Sam H. – student, nine years younger, met through mutual friends. Blonde redhead, beautiful, smart and streetwise, heavy drinker, drug user, very sexually mature. Completely volatile relationship over eight years or so. Took my virginity when I was 28. Ended amicably after several years and a lot of fights and reconciliations. She’s married now, and we’re still friends.
  • Michelle – occupational therapist, a bit chunky, red hair, not especially pretty, a year or two younger, my brother’s ex-girlfriend. (In between break-ups with Sam.) Approached me in The Globe in Cwmaman one Christmas holiday. She was determined she was going to shag me (before Sam did.) Sam was in the pub as well, so I kept thinking about her instead when we were in Jason’s house. I didn’t sleep with Michelle that night. It kept going till about mid-February, until she decided I was probably gay (because I was still in love with Sam) and it fizzled out. No idea what she’s doing now.
  • Gema – the psycho bint. Student. Small, extremely pretty, dark-haired, a little bit chunky, quite intelligent but very insecure, bisexual, heavy drinker, drug user, mad as a balloon. Purely physical lust. Lasted three weeks before it all fell apart – but we’re still friends.
  • Karen L. – tall, slim, very pretty, a year older. Dyed black hair. Single mother of a grown-up daughter. Heavy drinker, drug user. Turned out we’d always fancied each other, but never made a move towards doing anything about it for years. Several major snogfests; we slept in her bed once, but no physical contact otherwise. Still friends.
  • Jenny – tall, red hair, very intelligent and creative, heavy drinker, former drug user, bisexual, loves music and books, not a huge film fan, but interested in kinky aspects of relationships. Met at a birthday party. One big snogfest and then she started playing too hard to get for any chance of further progress. Contact briefly re-established last week. Since then, nothing.
And that’s what I had to try and summarise in ten minutes. They’ve very little in common, until you get to the part about heavy drinking and drug use. Maybe that’s the sort of girl I attract. I like a beer or five, but I’m drug-free and always have been. I’ve never even tried a cigarette. Maybe I’m the sort of stabilising influence these mad women need in their lives. Or maybe I’m an easy target for insecure and needy girls who merely want to feel wanted for a time.
My own list ended with, ‘Interest in kinky stuff a distinct advantage.’ One girl in the group had submitted a list which concluded with the words ‘Must be sexually adventurous.’ Nicky and I looked at each other as Gareth read it out, and I just smiled at her.
‘Looks like I’ve pulled!’
At the end of the seminar, we all went our separate ways. One girl in the group is quite tall, very pretty, with long red hair and glasses. Apart from the glasses, she reminds me of Jenny. She rushed off down the corridor as we left. She was wearing a black poncho with a poloneck. I can’t help hoping it was her questionnaire…

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