I found to my dismay that when I reached my forties I became invisible to men. It didn’t bother me so much from the comfortable place that was my marriage, but then Ken departed for the Costa del Sol with a girl half his age and I was suddenly, unexpectedly alone. For the first few months I was so deeply aggrieved that I couldn’t have cared less about the opposite sex. But then gradually as the summer approached my attitude thawed a bit and I decided it would be quite nice to meet someone new. My friend Maggie convinced me I was still quite a catch at 46, with my own home and car, a good job, and still quite a looker. Granted, Maggie never sees me first thing in the morning without my make-up on. And she doesn’t get to see the wobbly bits that shout at me in the full-length mirror.
“You need to put yourself on the market,” she chivvied. I didn’t really like the sound of that, but I agreed that a bit of romantic interest might put the spring back in my step. But where to meet the man of my dreams? The internet left me cold. I’d met Ken in a pub in my early twenties, but in those days we’d gone out as a large group of young women and men. Currently I could only think of two single women and no single men. My sister Edwina preferred to stay home with her cats. Hilary was a voracious man-eater who probably hung around in pubs quite a lot but although she was witty and entertaining she was altogether a bit too wild for my liking. Best in small infrequent doses.
I thought about night classes and toy boys and speed dating and all the other stuff Maggie suggested. Definitely not dating websites. I decided I didn’t have the confidence for a toy boy, not even an unattractive one. I toyed briefly with the idea of speed dating but decided I was built for comfort instead of speed. So I joined a pottery class, and was disappointed to find that they were all women. Still, I learned how to throw a mean pot.
Then a few months later I met Matthew quite by accident. His dog ran away with my ham salad roll. I was sitting on a park bench and my mobile phone rang. I put the roll on the bench beside me for just a moment while I dug in my handbag for the offending phone, and when I turned back my lunch had disappeared. Moments later a sheepish-looking man approached dragging a large, hairy Alsatian.
“Sebastian says he’s very sorry for stealing your dinner. Ham is his favourite. I insist on buying you another.”
How could I possibly find it in my heart to scold an Alsatian whose nose came up to my armpit, whose eyes were meltingly brown, and whose tongue seemed as big as a banana leaf. And Matthew wasn’t bad either, with a charming, self-effacing manner and floppy brown hair. And even though I was over forty he seemed to recognise that I existed. He treated me to another roll and a coffee at a nearby café, and we sat outside with Sebastian at our feet. I was glad Matthew had a cake and coffee to keep me company, as I didn’t fancy looking greedy. It was a Sunday and we were both at a loose end, so we went for a bit of a walk afterwards. Matthew was easy to talk to, seemed around my own age, and yes, he was single. So when he asked me to go to the cinema the following week I agreed. No point in beating around the bush and playing hard to get.
By chance Edwina rang me that evening and I told her of my conquest. Now my sister has always been what you’d call a bit alternative. Still dressing like a hippy even though she’s nearly fifty, and she’s quite a fan of witchcraft. Nothing like blood sacrifices, just a few potions and incantations to promote health, wealth and happiness. And love, of course.
“Now, Millie,” she said bossily. “I’ll mix you a potion that will make you irresistible to your new man. I insist.”
She came round the following day with a bottle of something murky and a little phial of clear liquid.
“Dab this on like perfume,” she said, indicating the small bottle. “And get him round here to drink this,” she said, indicating the larger bottle.
Matthew and I had a great time at the cinema, and sat on for ages in the pub afterwards chatting. In my tipsy state I invited him for dinner the following Friday night.
I made a beef curry and chocolate pudding, things I could cook in advance so that I didn’t have to be dashing in and out of the kitchen. Before he arrived I dabbed the scented oil on my pulse points and decanted Edwina’s potion into two glasses. It looked and smelled disgusting, so I poured the glasses down the sink. Luckily I’d bought a bottle of wine, and Matthew arrived with another.
“Mmmm, you smell delicious,” he said as I answered the door. “What perfume are you wearing?“
“Umm, I can’t remember. Something my sister gave me,“ I replied, a little flustered. Perhaps Edwina was onto something, but there was no way I could serve the drink she’d given me.
After we’d eaten I popped to the loo, and when I came back Matthew had refilled our glasses. I took a sip and spluttered.
“Gone down the wrong way?” he asked.
“Is this from the bottle on the bench?”
He nodded. “I thought it tasted a bit funny too.”
“I think it’s corked,” I said, thinking quickly. “Let me open another bottle.”
To cut a long story short, Matthew and I have been together ever since. He’s a lovely man, certainly much nicer than Ken. Edwina of course insists on taking all the credit, but I’d like to think Matthew loves me for who I am.
By Karenne Griffin
Last Modified on: 05-11-2015