Friends of ours have recently taken the plunge and decided to cohabitate, live in sin, shack up, move in together, and it’s started me thinking down cobweb-covered paths to that long ago day when Llew and I first did the same thing. We moved in for the first time together in a share-house in London’s Wandsworth, moving into an apartment of our own in Clapham Common the following year. Luckily we were always extremely simpatico, but that’s not to suggest that living together didn’t and doesn’t present certain challenges. One recently shacked up friend was grousing to me a couple of weeks ago about her man staying out drinking when he said he was only going for one, and it made me think about all the time, all the hours, all the energy, all the tightly bundled balls of fury I might have saved myself had I only been forearmed with the knowledge I have since acquired. Oh my god, the fights that might have been avoided. So herewith, a crucial tip for young players, in the interests of a happy home:
Men aren’t actually lying when they tell you they’re only meeting their mates for one single solitary drink after work. They might even mean it at the time the words pass their lips. They don’t seem to remember that you fought about this the last time one drink turned into seven, but do yourself a favour and READ THE WRITING ON THE WALL, girls. The thing is, they don’t obsessively plan ahead the way that we do. They can’t. It’s that whole 3 second memory thing, which is why they have to keep turning around and giving that young woman’s arse yet ANOTHER long stare; they’ve already forgotten what it looks like! What’s a guy to do?! So when you say “How long are you going to be? Seriously, because I don’t want to be sitting here waiting all night like I did the last time you went out for one drink with the boys,” he probably thinks – and says it like he means it – “One, maybe two. Three max, but I can neck that last one like Hawkie.” He honestly believes everything is going to be okay. He can do it. He can get away with it this time. And then you’ll call him and say “You’re still there, aren’t you?”
“Spencer just bought another round. But I’m on my way home. I’ll be on the next [insert preferred mode of public transport].”
On the other end, you’re already fuming. And you’re fuming because you fell for it again. You idiot. You know how this goes, so why – why?? – did you believe him? You know better than that, you do. But someone’s got to pay for this.
“Where the fuck are you?”
“I’m just having one more tinsy winsy-”
Now, the moral of this story, girls, is make your own arrangements. Don’t allow someone else’s plans, even if they’re those of the man with the same address as yours, to waste your time. If he’s gone ahead and made plans that don’t include you – and that’s going to happen, and it’s healthy, and it would be weird and kind of smothering and creepy if it didn’t – then I strongly suggest you do the same. Because there is nothing worse than that stupid, futile argument at the end, when he gets home at 11, 12, 1am, whatever it is, blind and kind of incredibly deluded about his chances of getting some, only to find he’s living with a fire-breathing dragon. And because he’s on the back foot, and he knows he overstayed, over-promised and under-delivered, he’s going to hurl at you the one can left in his case: “Just because you have a problem with me spending time with my mates.”
Okay. Breathe. Slowly. That’s the way. In, out, in, out. When Llew used to throw this at me after I’d spent the night on the couch waiting for my dinner date to actually show up, I wanted to kill him. Death by screaming. It’ll happen one day, mark my words. It used to make me feel so murderous I was rendered speechless, shaking with a kind of anger that gets people hurt. It was so insulting. It was so unfair. It was so untrue. It was really outrageous given the circumstances of my wasted evening. No, I have never had a problem with Llew spending time with his mates. I think it’s very important that he does. All round. People should spend time in the exclusive company of their own sex. How else do you stay sane? Hmmm? I can only say the conversations I have with my girlfriends are very helpful. We compare notes and realise that not only are our boyfriends/husbands all arseholes, we’re all bitches. It’s a good thing to know you’re not alone.
So no, I have no problem with the drinking with the mates. Go knock yourself out. Have a great night. See you in the morning. What I can’t stand is thinking we’re doing something that same night, because then I wait for that night to finally arrive. Or at least I used to wait. I’m done with that now. Llew tells me he’s going out for one with the lads and I mentally strike him from my dance card. Okay, I rarely get enough (read any) warning – he’s more spontaneous than I am, so he can’t necessarily predict when these so-called one drink opportunities shall arise – but once that warning call is upon me, now I know the drill. Evacuate, evacuate. Make my own arrangements, and don’t let anyone else, even Llew, waste my time. And that’s how we live happily ever after (oh yeah. And if he leaves the toilet seat up, get over it. What’s the big deal? Just drop the damn thing and get on with your day.)