My pet peeve, aside from slow swimmers and water waders hogging up the fast lane at my local pool, is when I go to a dinner party and no-one asks me about my job… or indeed anything about me.
This has happened throughout my adulthood, since the very first time I was invited to my first grown-up lasagne and garlic bread dinner party back in the eighties.
The old man was always asked.
Its not that I’m self-obsessed, (well, perhaps a little), or do anything that is spectacularly interesting – although my job, I would argue, is far more appealing than the old man’s profession as a *yawn* accountant prior to his fall to middle-aged layabout, it’s the assumption that either: I don’t work, hence have nothing to offer conversationally unless it’s about my children or my organic veggie patch; that my career is not interesting enough to warrant attention; or that women’s chit chat is less valuable than that of the opposite sex. ie. a gender thing that if men get close to could give them a world of regret.
Don’t panic, it’s a little too soon since my last post (here) to climb back onto the feminist soapbox again, but why do I always feel like I have to initiate conversation and pose the questions the keep the conversation going?
When will someone ask me about anything other than my children?
What, apart from sport and a few comments about the state of the stock market and the horror that is Trump, do men talk about? Nothing wildly interesting in my experience.
The majority of them refuse to even pretend to have opinions on the sort of stuff they believe women are interested in, which is fair enough. Dare to mention fashion, cosmetics or interiors, and watch their eyes glaze over. But women can contribute to conversations about politics, honest! We do have the vote now, and some of us even have opinions; if push comes to shove I can even bluff my way through a five minute review of the Olympics or some recent golf tournament without sending myself to sleep.
So what other common ground is there for conversation between men and women once they reach middle age? Unsurprisingly, retirement and health are popular topics. Then there’s the question of how much longer we will have to work, what we’re going to do once we retire, where we can afford to downsize and how much longer we can stand working for our bosses? Because it becomes very difficult to work for anyone once you become a know-it-all – a character trait many among us in this age group share.
Then there’s the age-old question of when the kids are going to finally fuck off, I mean …become self-sufficient enough to leave home so that we can actually consider retirement? Our own parents health? Whether our knees can withstand another ski season and where our future holidays will be? The general consensus being closer to home because even though we all expected to travel the world once we retired, many of us have become a tad anxious about flying, and then there’s the whole leg-room issue.
Compare this to what we we used to talk about in our twenties and thirties, when we’d brag about our drinking prowess, whereas now we moan about how much our tolerance to alcohol has slipped and how much drinking so much water affects our bladders at night. We’d recount stories such as the one about how much we drank that night we got so pissed we ended up playing dead in the middle of the motorway while we waited for the petrol station to open to get some fags.We discussed work and who was banging who in the office, which band was playing where and where the cool new shops and hip new restaurants had opened.
The problem is, we don’t have the energy to do much more than watch Netflix series these days after a day at work, we’re too fat for cool clothes, far too comfortable on the sofa and we can’t eat out much due to bloating, anyway.
Remember how we used to get excited about where we’d be in twenty years?
Hey, wasn’t that because we were supposed to be retired now?
And how we’d talk about what we’d name our children – although I’m sure ‘critter’ and ‘waste of space’ didn’t cross our minds back then.
I suppose we don’t talk about our career aspirations anymore because we have the wisdom to know now that they don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, because in reality many of us are working to live now whilst fervently praying that some day we’ll discover the secret to get out of the rat race early.
But then that involves the kids leaving home, doesn’t it?
And so we pour ourselves another glass of sparkling water and get back to joint pain.