Finally, I know the kind of man I want. A Sherpa. He doesn't have to talk to me or sleep with me; in fact, I am happy to walk three steps behind him – just so long as he is carrying my bags.
After deciding not to take the multiple amounts of medication given to me by doctors for my bad back, I spoke to an osteopath, who put the problem down to the immense bag-carrying I have been doing on my transatlantic travels – usually two cases that come up to my elbows, a backpack, camera-case and equipment, and a handbag as big as a moose.
On one trip, I managed to relocate my entire collection of Italian, Spanish and French language-learning sections of my new US home library back to the UK. Quite why I thought I was going to learn three languages on my 10-day break is a mystery.
If I had a mountain porter for a partner, I could also carry back and forth the Russian language-learning section, too, which I bought when I recently decided to read Tolstoy in the original, too (I got as far as "Zavoot Jaci", plus one obscene word, which is apparently the same in Polish).
Each decade brings about a big difference in the kind of man a girl wants, and travel has a lot to do with it. Four to 10: The Protector, who will walk her to school and carry her satchel. Eleven to 20: Protector turned Welcome Predator, who will start by carrying her satchel, but only with the aim of whipping her off to a quiet secluded spot when he acquires his driving licence at 17. Twenty-one to 30: The Wooer, who whisks her off to Paris and makes her cry (or was that just me?). Thirty to 40: The Provider: someone who will pay for a second home abroad.
If she's on her own at this time, from 40 to 50 she will simply start looking for The Available. And if she hasn't pulled post-50, all she wants is The Sherpa. Trust me: I'm there.
I have done more travelling since hitting 50 than I managed in the previous five decades, and having spent 25 years swearing I would never cross the Atlantic again, after visits to New York and LA in my 20s, now I can't wait for the 11-hour journey, during which my mobile won't ring, I can watch a couple of films, read a book, enjoy a decent meal and generally live a very comfortable life.
But the bags. The bags. Oh, how I need a bloke to help me with the bags. It's the only thing missing now. At this age, I'm really easy maintenance otherwise. Although my sexual desire has increased a hundredfold, so has my desire for watching TV, so I'm really EPPCM (Easy Pre- and Post-Coital Management). Forget all that after-sex cuddling and kissing (and – heaven forbid for men – talking), that I wanted years ago. Now I want him out by midnight so I can watch back-to-back CSI. Actually, I don't even want him to hang around that long, and now, if I meet any halfway decent men in LA, I'm going to have to establish some sort of shift system.
As I'm generally working by about 5.30am (and up at four, if I need to catch people in the UK before lunchtime), early mornings are out. Then, when I've managed a few hours' work, it's over to the gym and back at the apartment to watch Judge Alex over lunch.
It's work again in the afternoon (there are so many more hours in the day over there – weird!), until two episodes of Two and a Half Men at 7pm; major dramas 9pm till 11pm, then late-night Chelsea Handler and Letterman, before CSI starts all over again.
So, basically, any man I meet has a brief window of opportunity between 8pm and 9pm – without food, and he'd better be quick about whatever it is he wants to do. Actually, on past experience, I'm now thinking that even an hour may be too long. Like I said. Easy maintenance.
When I was back in the UK last week, nearly everyone asked me: "Have you got a man in LA?" I found it faintly irritating. It was never my top priority anyway, and that's certainly not what I came here for. It's not even on my radar. And unless James Spader, David Letterman and Judge Alex are going to come up with an idea for how a foursome might work between us, that is unlikely to change.
But I'll make an exception for a Sherpa. My only worry is whether there will be enough time between the specified minutes for him to pack the travelling homes that have become my luggage.
To read Jaci Stephen's blog, LA-Not-So-Confidential, in full, go to LAnotsoconfidential.blogspot.comReuse content