Diary of a divorce: Beloved and Bonk
Wednesday 21 January 1998
I realise that this may make me impossible to live with, so when I see a loose thread sticking out of our happy ending I sit on my hands. I don't pull at it in public. I wait until I go for my daily run, then I yank and worry at it, so that, by the time I get back to the house, I've unravelled my whole life, and I have to spend 10 minutes up the apple tree deep-breathing before I can go inside, and face the "Goodbye and thanks" note that will be pinned to my computer screen.
No matter how many times I wind it up and weave it back in again there's one particular strand that always sticks out: that's the fact that I am eight years older than VNC, an amount you can't ignore (although after his birthday it'll be just seven years, which is only two years more than five, which is almost nothing).
It's not the fact that society doesn't like age difference that way round, the woman older than the man, that bothers me. Because in my personal society of friends and acquaintances it's fine, and quite common for women to have younger partners.
"You're at your peak," my buddies say, "stop worrying". Hah! Maybe. But the trouble with peaks is that they have a bloody steep slope on the other side. All VNC has to look forward to with me is everything sinking into a pool of cellulite.
But it's not the drooping and the crow's feet that worry me so much. After all, I can do things to hold them off a bit, keep running six miles and slapping on the cold cream. No, it's reproduction that really gets me twitching. VNC being young but sensible isn't at all sure about having children of his own. Which is par for the course: in my experience, men don't get keen on babies until they get a sharp sense of their own mortality at around 35 or 40. Then they realise that this side of becoming the new Shakespeare their only shot at immortality is via something small and smelly in nappies.
Of course therein lies the big problem with the age difference: by the time VNC gets really broody, all my feathers will have fallen out and I'll be so well past my sell-by date that my barcode will have dropped off. I'll have no choice but to release him to a gal whose reproductive apparatus is still up to turning out fine strapping sets of quintuplets.
There are things I can do about this but they are a lot more difficult than taking regular exercise and going to bed with my face greased up like a chip:
1) Get some egg and sperm mixed up now and put it in the freezer along with the frozen peas. (The sperm extraction isn't a problem, and I'm sure with the right self-help manual the eggs wouldn't be too difficult.) Then, when VNC starts looking fondly at booties, he can have the embryos implanted in him, just like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Junior. Although that does depend on nobody mistaking the mixture for the last bit of vanilla ice cream or leaving the freezer door open by accident and there being no substantial power cuts for for the next 10 years.
2) I can get immensely fat, so that no one will notice that I'm pregnant. When the nine months is up, I just slip off to the shops one afternoon and have the baby. I smuggle it home among the cereals and strawberry yoghurts and install it in a cosy corner of the chicken shed, where I and the chicks raise it in secret. Then, in 10 years' time, when VNC looks at my raddled body and bemoans his lack of foresight in not having children, I just run down the garden and say, "Here My Darling, meet your son Bantam Boy."
Yeah, okay. So maybe there isn't anything I can do. I should have learnt that from experience: I didn't predict my divorce and couldn't do anything constructive to prevent its inevitability. So gather rosebuds, sing songs and enjoy happy endings because tomorrow you may be mown down by a skateboarding Chicken Child.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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