I was reading an article today about being in your mid thirties. How, according to a 'recent survey', in your mid-thirties you are likely to be financially secure, at the peak of your career, a home owner, probably married with at least one child. And there's me thinking cutting out booze in the evenings every other week was progress.
I was especially interested in the article due to it being my birthday in a few days' time. Not an especially significant year but one that will, indeed, see me use the phrase 'on the right side of forty' more regularly than in past years. I am, according to said survey, at an age when I should be most satisfied with my life. Fulfilled, content and happy.
Living the dream, no less.
It's fair to say that I am not unhappy with things as they are. I could hardly be used as a poster girl for Generation 'have it all' but I'm still alive, and for that, I am grateful. I also have a total inability to maintain an adult relationship, regularly skip breakfast, and still consider myself to 'not really have had a drink' the night before if I consumed anything less than a full bottle of wine.
I phone ex-boyfriends when I'm drunk, I can drive, but prefer not to because I am dreadful at it, live off M&S ready meals because my cooking is almost as bad as my driving, read gossip magazines, am scared to open any post in a brown envelope and spend a disproportionate amount of time talking about boys and sex or moaning about the lack of both.
In essence, we can conclude, I am not exactly the person I expected to be at in my mid-thirties. I thought I would be a survey result, a glistening example of adult contentment. How expectations fool us.
Despite my utter failings in the 'what to be by the time your 37' list, it was not this that unnerved me in the twilight of my 37th year but an unexpected email from man on a dating site I'm a member of.
I make no secret of the fact that I prefer older men to guys my own age and state quite clearly on my profile that I would rather be contacted by men over forty. (OK, fifty - so shoot me, I have Daddy issues.) You can imagine, then, my surprise, nay horror, when I received the following -
I really liked your profile, I'm looking for someone mature and sophisticated. Age is only a number for me, it would never put me off, in fact I find it quite a turn on. Would like to get to know you more ...
There are three significant ages in a woman's life. Milestones, if you will. The first time she is finally able to buy a bottle of wine without getting asked for ID when she is young - the first time she is offered a seat on the bus when she is old, and the first time she is called 'mature and sophisticated' by a 24- year- old accountant from Surbiton because she looks like a sexy version of his mother.
I am that age.
I am the age when I am fancied 'despite' it and should take this as a compliment. What next I wonder, 'I'll take you out but if anyone asks will you say you're my aunt?'
There is a reason I do not fancy younger men - this is it.
On a plus note, I have a birthday party to look forward to next week and plan to get exceptionally drunk and partake in inappropriate sexual behaviour with a total stranger in a pub toilet somewhere in central London before laddering my tights, telling my friends how much I love them 25 times and striking up conversations with total strangers on a night bus home going in the total opposite direction of my house.
Mature and sophisticated? When hell freezes over.