26 pieces of advice on love

Stumbled across this gem on the Pop Sugar site, thank you Nicole Yi. Not sure where you’re at in life, but for me, it is a blueprint for my relationship future. (PS my father sadly doesn’t have the awareness nor sensitivity to say these things, so please don’t think it’s from him. Bless Nicole’s dad instead.)

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Some of the best advice I’ve ever received has been from my dad, but I didn’t quite realize that until I got older. My “all-knowing” father spits out life lessons every other sentence, so I usually respond with an eye roll. But as I began to come across experiences in my life where his words were applicable, maybe this self-proclaimed Yoda is onto something after all, I thought. Ironically, I learned most about being a woman from him.

Here are few of my life lessons for you to internalize re: men and life, straight from the man himself.

No man will ever be able to fill your cup every day. It’s impossible and draining.

Most men will fill the cup in short terms to be able to conquer.

You must fill your own cup.

You must love yourself when you’re looking in the mirror.

Don’t ever allow a man to shape who you are.

Don’t ever lower your standards for a man. Be patient.

Women have the same feelings as men. If you want it, go get it, but do it under your terms. And, after . . . leave a note with $20 saying, “I’ll call you, don’t call me.”

Envision the perfect partner. And if you want to attract that partner into your life, be that person yourself.

I hear all the time and in the movies, “You complete me.” Throw that sh*t out the window.

Never allow a man to disrespect you or verbally abuse you, and, of course, don’t ever allow him to physically abuse you. That’s not a man.

Find a man who will adore you, who will treat you like a queen. A real man shows by actions and not words.

Always remember, what he says is who he’s trying to be. What he does is who he is.

In order to have a successful and prosperous relationship, you must be able to self-recognize.

Your partner must be able to do the same as above.

Don’t rush into a marriage or relationship because of loneliness or emptiness. Work on your weaknesses and complete yourself first.
A great man will overflow your cup and not just fill your cup.

Be confident and be happy being alone. Be content being alone. Be confident and be able to go to dinner, movies, and travel alone. Tell the world mentally and physically when sitting at the dinner table alone: “My name is x and I’m a strong, independent woman who is content and secure with herself.”

You’ll notice a f*ck boy coming your way when they’re intimidated by you. Again, don’t lower your standards for these little boys. Play with them if you wish, but do it under your terms.

Wait until you’re in your 30s to get married. Through my personal experiences, I’ve noticed that I started to feel comfortable looking into the mirror when I turned 30ish.

Always work on your relationship. Don’t think everything is fine if you’re not fighting or arguing. There’s always room for improvement.

Find a man who loves himself, also.

Find a partner who’s your best friend, someone you simply like hanging out with, go to the market with, etc.

It’s a plus to have the same interests and hobbies.

I asked a friend who married for the third time what was different about this one. His response: “For the first time in my life, I couldn’t wait to go home.” Sometimes, it’s that simple.

Find a partner who wants to grow and learn with you.

Always be self-sufficient emotionally and financially. Allow yourself to want it but never need it.

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Why is marriage still defining us?

gold-wedding-bandsMy great-aunt rang me today, to tell me that the daughter of a friend of hers was celebrating her 25th wedding anniversary.

“Isn’t that marvellous,” gushed Aunty Ruth. “Such a lovely thing in this day and age to see people who are still committed to marriage.

“Heather (her friend) is so proud, she must have done something right raising her daughter to have such a long marriage.”

I spat out my coffee. It was purely reflex.

“What??” I gasped, while I hunted on my kitchen bench for the sponge to wipe up the coffee spits.

Kevin and Janine, the couple in question, fight continuously. I’ve seen them bicker and nag each other silly. Kevin drinks beer all night until he passes out. Janine has trouble adding some vegetables to the dinner plate. Their daughter had her first baby at 16, and followed up with a second one, to a different dad, two days shy of her 18th birthday. They all live with them. Kevin has lost his license twice for DUI. Janine’s internet shopping habit means their credit card bill tops $20,000. I’ve never seen them say a nice word about the other one. Janine is desperately unhappy, and desperately unfulfilled, but it seems none of that matters, as long as you can boast a long-term marriage.

I was single for a very long time between marriages. My first one, to Jade’s dad, ended in 1996 and I didn’t remarry till late in 2011. You’ve got an iPhone, you do the maths.

In those intervening years, I bought property, secured job promotions, travelled overseas, started this blog, hosted dinner parties, put my daughter through private school, did part-time study, volunteered in aged care, guided my daughter around her teenage years, and loved and supported and expanded my network of friends.

But as a single woman, when I was chatting with friends of my parents or really anyone I hadn’t seen for a while, the first question was always, “Are you seeing anyone?” closely followed by “Is marriage on the cards at some point?”

No one was interested that my latest blog post had more than 1000 readers, or that I was just back from skylarking in Italy or New York. Eyes looked a bit blank when I told them I was working on a high profile project with the Premier or Jade had been made Music Captain at school.

There was a murmur and perhaps a faint, “Oh that’s nice dear” and we got straight back onto the subject of boys and marriage, ergo success.

“Your mum says you’re seeing someone, is that right? Any chance he might pop the question soon?”

“Ha ha, no there’s no chance, because it turns out that he has an anger management problem, probably because his sister tells me he has Asperger syndrome that is untreated, and I don’t feel too safe in that relationship, so I ended it.”

“Oh dear, that’s a pity, I mean, you know what these men are like. They always think they’re right and they hate being criticised. Would it just be easier to agree with this bloke, and then he might not be so angry? Then you can get married.”

I wish I was kidding. I am so sorry I’m not kidding.

So apparently it is ok to stay with a cranky pants man who has an untreated mental health issue, just so I can say I’m married.

Meaning marriage isn’t meant to equal happiness.

The last time I looked at the calendar, which was probably this morning, it was 2016. Not 1952. But there you go.

My daughter will be 25 a bit later this year. In her short time since she left school, she has been to uni, left home to live with friends, travelled to Kenya, lived and worked and supported herself in the UK for two years, backpacked for months throughout Europe, worked for the government, played with elephants in Thailand, and has just returned from a year in South Africa working for an humanitarian organisation. Her next project is in the hospitality industry and she’s full steam ahead with these plans.

My daughter is without question the most phenomenal human being I know.

Yet, the constant question I get is, “Is Jade thinking of settling down yet?” Not, “Wow, your daughter is amazing, look at her travels, oh the wonderful things she is doing!”

What if, just what if, Jade chooses to spend her life in service to others, helping out those less fortunate than herself, and never ever ends up getting married? And what if she receives accolades for her tireless humanitarian efforts and has the deep satisfaction of knowing how much she has contributed to humanity? Having said that, there’s every chance she will marry and be a mum herself, but I hope and pray it will be entirely on her own terms and in her own timeframe.

I think it is also hard for women coming out of a divorce. There’s no dignified way to go about it. Because suddenly you have to put “Ms” when filling out a form. And the whole world and everyone on Facebook sees you change your name from his back to your maiden name. Yet the blokes are still called Mr and their surname remains the same. Their professional careers and their personal reputations can remain unchanged if they wish.

That’s why I didn’t bother changing my name when my first marriage ended. It was a lot simpler (I still ticked the Mrs box just for a lark) and a lot less paperwork, to keep his name, plus I really liked that name. It suited me. My first husband would have preferred I didn’t use “his” name (I think his words were along the lines of “give me back my name”) so there is a teeny tiny chance I also kept it to annoy him. Oh, that stung…

Why are single women called spinsters, and old crones, and barren? Unglamorous and unsexy. Yet some of the most remarkable women I know are not married, have never been married, and to be honest, I think they’re a lot happier than the married ones.

Case in point: My gorgeous friend Edwina. Nearly 50 years old, very senior position in her company, an absolute ace at her job, and one of the most loyal friends a girl could ask for. Travels overseas twice a year, and has get-aways down the coast often. Owns her home, has money in the bank, is independent, considerate and confident. She’s a dedicated auntie to her tribe of nieces and her family’s well-being is never far from her mind. About five years ago, after 10 too many wines, I asked Edwina if she wished she’d got married at some point. I can still hear her laughter echoing in my memory, followed by a robust, “Are you fucking kidding?”

Versus another friend Hillary. She’s also turning 50 in a few years, and married to a pig. He questions every decision she makes, even if he agrees with her, because he loves to see her become confused. Yep he’s a pig. Every dress she puts on, he says, “Oh, is that what you’re wearing?” and not in a good way. If she tells her sons no, he says yes. He loves it when she makes a mistake, because he gets to gleefully tell all their friends about it. And because her husband is the main breadwinner, she feels she needs to put up with this.

I don’t think it’s a lack of love that makes unhappy marriages. I think it’s a lack of friendship. I have seen married people speak more politely and generously to their friends than their spouse. Look at cooking juggernaut, My Kitchen Rules, as a case in point. This is my favourite reality television show. And over seven seasons, I’ve watched friends who teamed up remain courteous and supportive while the spouses were either haranguing (“hurry up, hurry up”) or flat out being horrible.

Maybe we feel that, because it’s our spouse, we don’t need to edit our words or actions as perhaps we would with a best friend. What if we wanted as much success, happiness and glory for our spouses as we do for our friends, or indeed our kids? Is it the familiarity that sucks out the friendship? After the hot nasty sex dies a little, what is our sustainable base?

This quote is from a book called The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, a Lebanese-American artist, poet, and writer.

For me, it sums up an ideal of marriage…

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, and the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”

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Single woman vs married woman

002Having been both single and married for equally significant periods in my life, I feel well qualified to share these insights. Let me know if you agree with anything I’ve said…

What to do when there’s a noise in the night

Single girl: She’ll prod whatever random lover she chose for the night, and ask him to go investigate. Ten bucks says that while he’s poking around and finding there’s nothing sinister going on, she’ll suggest that, seeing as he’s up, he may as well head home. That way she can snuggle down and have a blissful solo sleep and not have to contend with the morning-after-the-night-before issue of making a noise in the toilet.

Married girl: She’ll prod her husband, who is lying flat on his back and snoring louder than a coffee grinder, and ask him to go investigate. Ten bucks says that while he’s poking around and finding there’s nothing sinister, she’ll ask him to bring her a cup of tea on his way back, check on the kids and empty the kitty litter. No point wasting the effort of getting up.

What to do when cooking for one

Single girl: She uses her oven for storage and keeps hair accessories in her Tupperware. She’s not cooking for one. Either she makes a massive pot of something on the weekend, and eats the same thing every night, or she has a glass of wine and a piece of cheese. Because who can be bothered. Mind you, if she’s got herself organised, she’ll have one of her attentive admirers take her out for dinner. Straight after work of course, because who can be bothered going home to change when all you want is food.

Married girl: If she’s cooking for one it means either of these: She’s put herself on a diet and won’t be eating a morsel until next Tuesday, so she has to rustle up something for her husband. In instances like this, hubby should count himself fortunate if she bothers to microwave the baked beans before she dumps them on some toast and hands them to him. Or, option two, hubby is away for the night and she’s got the whole house to herself. She won’t be cooking then either. She’ll be busy watching back-to-back episodes of Game of Thrones or Sex and the City, and pouring her dinner into a wine glass.

What to do when the car breaks down

Single girl: She’s sensibly a member of some reputable breakdown service. She’ll phone them up and once they know she is a) single and b) stranded alone, will have a mechanic to her in no time. He fixes up her car, checks her hand for a wedding ring, asks her out, gets a polite rebuff but he still says he’ll watch her drive off just to make sure everything is ok. If she’s not a member of a reputable breakdown service she’ll take the only other viable option. She’ll ring her dad.

Married girl: Of course, it’s the husband’s fault. Isn’t he in charge of servicing, battery replacements and fuel? She’ll ring her husband up, and berate him for forgetting to ensure her car was roadworthy, tell him it’s all his fault she’s stuck on Gympie Road with a car that won’t start, and ask him what is he going to do about it? The husband then rings the reputable breakdown service on her behalf and gives them the address of where she is, and wishes them luck. The husband will probably get cold baked beans for dinner that night. The wife will have wine.

What to do when there’s a big electricity bill

Single girl: She never has to worry about a big electricity bill because she rarely cooks and when she’s home, she only uses small side lamps or candles because this type of lighting makes her look younger, softer and more alluring. Even if she’s the only one in the house, there’s no point in scaring herself when she looks in the mirror. She really only needs electricity to keep her wine cold and her hair straighteners hot.

Married girl: Instantly blames the husband. He’s the one who comes home and switches every light on. He stays in the shower for 20 minutes, insists on having five televisions with Foxtel, and will put the dishwasher on when it contains only two dirty saucepans and a knife. He’s the one out in the shed with the drill and angle grinder and bench and saw goodness knows what else. Therefore, it seems logical that he should pay it. She usually rings the utility provider to let them know this.

(Part 2 to follow shortly)

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Rules for happiness

1) Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2) When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3) Life is too short – enjoy it..

4) Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.

5) Pay off your credit cards every month. [Read more…]

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Today she leaves

Jade 2 - CopyI think it was when she was in Year 6. I know it was just after 7.30pm. The reason I know that is because Seinfeld has just finished and this was back in the halcyon days when new episodes of Jerry and the gang started at 7pm weeknights.

We always watched Seinfeld.

My daughter and I got up from the couch. Me to head to the kitchen to stack the dishwasher, and Jade, I presumed, to clean her teeth and get ready for bed.
Instead she followed me into the kitchen, fiddled with a tea towel, rubbed her nose and asked me if I had any pictures of penguins lying around.

“Not off-hand, no darling,” I said, actually pausing for a moment to consider if I did. “But you could look through the Woman’s Day magazine I’ve got over there, or we could look on the internet?” (Dial up internet, of course, perhaps using Netscape as a browser. Ah, those were the days.)

It took a few

minutes for the penny to drop, but I finally turned to her and asked the obvious question. “Jade darling, why do you need a picture of a penguin?”

Well, it turns out that she has a school project due the next morning, which has to be all about Antarctica – the explorers, the history, and of course, the penguins.

After the usual round of “I can’t believe you left it this late” and “When I talk with you every afternoon about your homework, did you not think to mention this, like, six weeks ago?” I realised had two choices.

Either my daughter could confront the wrath of her teacher (who, as an aside, I didn’t particularly like anyway) or I could do the bloody project for her.

I ended up having a very late night that night. The teacher who I didn’t particularly like gave me a B+ for my effort.

Fast forward to Year 12. I’ve dropped my daughter and her girlfriend at a party. I knew there would be boys there. I knew there would be alcohol there. I had checked with the supervising parents and I was happy that all was in order.

The call came in around 10.45pm. Earlier than I had expected. “Mum, can you please come and pick us up? We don’t feel very well.”

About halfway home, with the girls in the back seat, they ask me if I can stop. They needed to be sick. During a break in the chundering process, I asked my daughter, “What were you girls drinking?”

Midori, was her blithe answer.

I hid my shudder at the thought of that sickly sweet syrup that reminded me waaaaay too much of Peach Cooler.

“Darling what were you mixing it with?”

She stares at my blankly. “You’re supposed to mix it?”

I’ve hung out kilometres of nappies and folded them with care. I’ve hidden bikes and trampolines outdoors and tied tinsel to her wrist, so when she woke on Christmas morning, I could watch her joy as she followed the trail to her new present. I’ve interviewed teachers and child care workers and potential boyfriends.

I’ve made lunches so yummy that she’d never want to swap them. I’ve spent rainy weekends watching The Lion King, The Aristocats, and Aladdin repeatedly. I’ve hidden behind a pole at Woolies at Indooroopilly and watched her operate a cash register when she got a part time job.

I’ve driven hundreds of kilometres with gibbering teenager girls clipped into every seat belt, who said “Oh my God” so many times I began to think the good Lord was in our midst. Sometimes I even crossed myself just to be on the safe side.

I’ve fancy-dressed her as a fairy, a princess and Joan Jett. I’ve pulled nits from her hair, painted her toe nails and wept loudly when she went overseas for the first time.

I’ve spent 20 years kissing her, 20 years holding her, and 20 years listening to her hopes, dream and fears.

And today, I kiss her for the last time in many months. She’s off on the adventure of her life, heading as many Aussies do, to the UK for a few years. London won’t know itself when Miss Jade arrives. Lucky London.

There’s no more time for advice, for cautioning, for leading by example. Whatever I’ve taught her, shown her, given her, this is it. It’s up to her now. And I’ve never been prouder.

The temperature will be minus one when she arrives. All I keep thinking is “I hope her coat is warm enough”.

Mothering never ends, does it…

Jade - Copy

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The skinny on brides

Of course the obvious person to blame in all this is Kate Middleton. For no other reason than half her body seemed to be missing when she stepped out of the car on her way to marry William. Did you see that tiny waist? Of course you did. So did New Idea, Women’s Weekly, Cosmo and Vogue. Now they can’t stop talking about it.

Because Kate did what just about every bride the world over does – she lost a heap of weight for her wedding. Unlike just about every bride in the world, however, Kate seems to be keeping her weight off. I think that’s because she exists on a diet of hearty Welsh air, and when she’s totally famished, she nibbles on the rotor blades of Will’s helicopter. I hope Diana’s ring doesn’t slip off her skinny finger and fall down the sink when she’s doing the washing-up one night. You remember the Lara Bingle/Michael Clark diamond-down-the-drain fiasco? Imagine what it would be like with bona fide royalty.

A dear girlfriend is getting married later this year. She’s lost 25kg since Christmas. That’s Christmas 2010. Not 1994. That’s pretty impressive. That’s up there with The Biggest Loser. Which is good for me; I’m already two years ahead on my daily fat allowance. I’m looking for skinny people to see if I can borrow theirs. [Read more…]

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Let him be

The first time I noticed it, I mean really noticed it, was when I was wedding dress shopping with a girlfriend. Her wedding, not mine. She wanted a frothy concoction for her upcoming beach wedding.

We were in some over priced, under resourced dress shop at the top of Broadway on the Mall, trying on dress after dress after dress, closely followed by countless skirt and top combos. Alternating between hysterics at how aged and superficial we looked in some of the kit, and fury at the price tags for garments which amounted to no more than a square metre of chiffon held together precariously with two paper clips, albeit diamante paper clips.

Poised on the de rigueur pink circular couch taking prime position in the centre of the shop was this miserable looking bloke. He had shopping bags at his feet, bearing the logos for David Jones, Napoleon and Mollini. In his fidgeting hands were a thrice-folded racing guide and a mobile phone. On his face was a look of desolate boredom.

He didn’t want to be dress shopping. He wanted to be at the TAB. Actually I think he would have more fun kissing Jim Carey or having surgery in the Bundaberg medical precinct.

That’s because behind one of the change room doors was his wife/fiancé/girlfriend, resplendent with giggles, guffaws and gladiatorial intensity to find the perfect frock for her particular function.

Every few minutes, she would squeal in delight or dismay, open the door and parade around him like a five year old girl showing daddy her first fairy costume.

The man was made of steel. Step aside Superman. He had a look on his face as straight as the Queen Street Mall and politely “oohed” and “aahed” and correctly answered all her inane questions without the benefit of asking the audience or phoning a friend.

“Do you think it’s too low at the back?” What a stupid question to ask a male. Women’s clothes, in men’s cultured opinion, can never be too low at the back nor the front.

“Do you think it’s too low at the front?” Sentence above answers this question.

“Do you think $899 is too expensive?” Silly woman, I thought. Don’t ever tell blokes how much clothes cost. Even if you’re earning more than they are; even if you’re one of the world’s eight supermodels and can easily afford crazy price tags. They don’t understand.

They will spend the same amount on golf clubs or a limited edition State of Origin signed print, but not on clothes. And certainly not on one dress that will be worn for approximately six hours in total then put in the back of the wardrobe.

“Which one do you like best?” was the next fatal utterance. Don’t go there mate! Whatever you say will be wrong, and you will pay dearly for it for some time to come. Why doesn’t she ask him something simpler, such as how to test an egg for freshness or whether this season’s eyeliner is worn across the top rim or under the lower?

As soon as she ducked in for another change, he’d scan the racing guide and furtively text whom can I only assume was his bookmaker.

Put it this way, I don’t think it was to his best mate. Men don’t tend to send the sort of text messages to other men like girls do. I am yet to see a male send a text saying: “I am in hell; I’m in a dress shop with her”.

With blokes and clothes, I am discretion central. Some may call it deceit central, but I totally disagree. Here’s an example. I might buy say a fabulous skirt and wait until there’s no one around to chop all the labels off it, and throw away the store bag. Then I’ll chuck the skirt into the laundry basket and generally let it subsume itself into the other clothes.

When next I’m washing, I pop it in, stick it up to dry and just carry on as if it’s a regular wardrobe item. Or I’ll buy new shoes, but wear them home. Hiding evidence is a trick my mother taught me years ago. She also told me to always wash off my make up before going to bed so she can’t be all that bad at advice dispensing.

If it’s not in their face, they don’t notice. They might say, “Darl, is that new?” Just give the standard answer, “What, this old thing?”

I say let him be. Do your dress shopping sans boyfriend. Take your sister, mother, girlfriend, third grade teacher – whoever – but not your man. Unless he’s gay. It’s just not his scene. You don’t want to be at Bunnings or Trade Tools with him on a Saturday morning, so don’t drag him out for haute couture with you.

There is ample opportunity for joint retail frolicking that doesn’t involve change rooms. Think Bose, Mercedes, Flight Centre. And yes, I know that he is incapable of purchasing a pack of 7-days-in-Rio men’s briefs without your consultation and support, but accept it. Blokes will be blokes, girls will be girls and Gwyneth will never live down that embarrassing Oscar acceptance speech.

That is, of course, unless he makes you sit at The Gabba for the Boxing Day test match or prop him up at the $25 minimum bet roulette table at Conrad’s. Then you’ve got every right to retaliate.

Oh, and my final piece of advice – hide your credit card statement. My mother might have told me that one too.

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A dating dictionary

ATTRACTION… the act of associating horniness with a particular person.

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT… what occurs when two extremely horny, but not entirely choosy people meet.

DATING… the process of spending enormous amounts of money, time and energy to get better acquainted with a person whom you don’t especially like in the present and will learn to like a lot less in the future.

BIRTH CONTROL… avoiding pregnancy through such tactics as swallowing special pills, inserting a diaphragm, using a condom, and dating repulsive men.

EASY… a term used to describe a woman who has the sexual morals of a man.

EYE CONTACT… a method utilised by one person to indicate that they are interested in another. Despite being advised to do so, many men have difficulty looking a woman directly in the eyes, not necessarily due to shyness, but usually due to the fact that a woman’s eyes are not located in her chest.

FRIEND… a person in your acquaintance who has some flaw which makes sleeping with him/her totally unappealing.

INDIFFERENCE… a woman’s feeling towards a man, which is interpreted by the man to be “playing hard to get”.

INTERESTING… a word a man uses to describe a woman who lets him do all the talking.

IRRITATING HABIT… what the endearing little qualities that initially attract two people to each other turn into after a few months together.

LAW OF RELATIVITY… how attractive a given person appears to be is directly proportionate to how unattractive your date is.

NYMPHOMANIAC… a man’s term for a woman who wants to have sex more often than he does.

SOBER… condition in which it is almost impossible to fall in love.

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The reality of fairy tales

Perhaps Cinderella had it right all along. To secure your handsome prince, you need – in this order – one mean step mother, two ugly step sisters, a fabulous pair of shoes and a party invite. Stage an intervention, dance like Ginger Rogers, flirt outrageously with the queen’s son and pretend to lose a shoe.

Oh, and have an affinity for pumpkins.The curious part in all this is that Cinderella knew nary a thing about her prince. Would he relegate her to the role of football wife each weekend? Would he always open the door for her, or did he only do it that one time to impress her? Did he fart in bed and clip his toenails when watching tv? Would he have a teeny tiny willy with absolutely no idea how to use it?

Yet, there she was, blithely happy to marry him; happy to clamber up behind him on his white steed and ride off into the stereotypical sunset. Interesting how happy endings always seem to occur at twilight. Unlike ones I’m more accustomed to which seem more likely to occur at 2am when the bar is calling last drinks.

We know they lived happily ever after. It says so in the book. It doesn’t say that they had to go live with his mother while they saved for a home. Or that they ended up with three kids under four and were too exhausted at the end of the day to say hello to each other, much less share a kiss and a pony ride.

So perhaps we should stop berating Cinderella for not being pro-feminism; for not dating more; for not getting herself a decent education, taking out a mortgage and developing a network of friends.

She went to a party. She had a few drinks and met a bloke. He looked all right. He had a bit of money and a nice house. He clearly understood the close relationship women have with their shoes as he was so keen to make sure she got her missing one back.

So why doesn’t the Cinderella theory work for me? Am I really just searching for a good looking bloke to cart me off on his horse or equivalent? What if I didn’t like the suburb his castle was in? What if I preferred he go out to work each day to give me some peace instead of sitting in his counting house counting out his money and getting under my feet?

You see, he could be a prince, but if he’s shorter than me, he doesn’t get looked up, much less a look in. He could be a millionaire, but if he’s got a million issues from his first marriage that he hasn’t addressed, all the money in the world won’t make me stay. He could be the heir to Microsoft Systems but if his systems in bed are either micro or soft, he won’t be doing any point and click with me.

How much of myself am I prepared to abandon to secure a relationship? And does that amount rise with each passing year? Is the set of goal posts that I once firmly concreted into the ground now being excavated so I can move them?

Or should I go to more parties with a pumpkin under my arm and the strap loose on my sandals?

Snow White didn’t have it so bad either. Living in a house with seven gays would mean that you could talk at length about your “issues” and your “feelings” to an attentive audience. There would always be home-made pesto and a decent wedge of brie in the fridge. You could drink chardonnay all the time and not have to pretend it was a sav blanc.

The toilet seat would be down, the dishes washed up and you would never need to worry about your house-mates trying to cop a quick feel.

And then, just when you think you’ve done your dash and there’s no hope whatsoever left, some spunk of a bloke pops along, wakes you up with a dirty big pash in front of all your friends and there it is.

If I lived with seven adorable gays, I’d never want to leave. One of my very best friends is gay and I never want him to leave. We holiday together, shop together, cook together. He very patiently listens to me rave on for extended periods of time. Once I did it while we flew all the way to Singapore. He just kept ordering more red whilst simultaneously nodding and saying “yes sweetie, of course you’re right”. It’s fabulous.

Oh, and I’d never go near an apple again.

So does that mean relationships aren’t all they’re cracked up to be? When the theory is deconstructed, is it really trying to tell us to find more peace, contentment, happiness within ourselves first?

Once upon a time, a guy asked a girl “Will you marry me?” The girl said “no thank you.”

Instead, the girl went shopping, dancing, had a great job, drank expensive wine, always had a clean house, cooked only when she felt like it, made her own decisions, never argued, read many books, didn’t get fat, travelled the world, took many lovers, didn’t save money, and had all the hot water to herself.

She went to the theatre, talked for hours with her girlfriends, laughed often, never watched sports, always looked fabulous and didn’t own any of that scratchy lace underwear that gets stuck up your arse.

And she lived happily ever after.

The end.

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The pained veil

Last week, it was technically my 24th wedding anniversary. I say technically because I am no longer married. To him or anyone at this point.

I never knew what real happiness was until I got married. And by then it was too late. Granted we had a number of good years. Our attraction to each other was a matter of chemistry, which is why we ended up treating each other like toxic waste.

The definition of my husband? The man who did his best to stand by me through all the troubles I wouldn’t have had if I’d stayed single.

Each year on this anniversary, I have this ritual. First, I try on my wedding dress – not to get all wistful about the day; I use it as a barometer to see if I’ve put any weight on since I was a slip of a girl at 20. I haven’t been able to do the zip up for five years.

I once tried to palm my dress off to Lifeline but even they didn’t want it. Because it was from the 80s. Puffed sleeves, seed pearls, kilometres of tule, huge bow at the back, lace lace lace. Enough said.

The second part of this ritual is I watch the video of my wedding day. Yes, video. As I said, it was the 80s.

I settled onto my couch with a fresh cup of tea and hit play.

My first thought is how fabulously thin everybody was back then. Not just me – my parents, my husband, my friends. If only we’d known. Ah, but those who indulge, bulge.

I could see where the problem started as I watched my celluloid self tucking tinto a mammother helping of Bomba Alaska. Remember when that was all the rage? But it was the 80s. I should have asked for for meringue. To match my dress.

I only had two bridesmaids, which fell far short of the de rigueur 80s number which could often climb as high as eleven. One of them is still speaking to me, which is surprising if you consider the nauseating dress with matching covered shoes that I made them wear. At least I didn’t make them perm their hair, as I had done to mine.

My husband and I were toasted with champagne, served in those wide, flat little glasses favoured in The Sound of Music and Audrey Hepburn movies. No wonder it was hard to get pissed back then; you can only fit a thimbleful in one of them.

In the height of my 20-year-old sophistication I had insisted to the Beverage Manager, my Dad, that the champagne be Asti Riccadonna. Surprisingly you can still buy it now. Goodness knows why; it is the sickliest, sweetest, aerated concoction. The people who run the Queensland licensing regulations need this product brought to their attention immediately in order to have it removed from bottle shop shelves.

 

Are you ready for this? While we were cutting our wedding cake, we forced all our guests to listen to Karen Carpenter warbling on about how we’ve only just begun … to liiiiiiiiivvvvve. Then some rot about white lace and promises and a kiss for luck.

The bridal waltz heralded Anne Murray, perhaps fresh from the Nashville Country Music Festival, asking if we could have this dance for the rest of our lives. In my defence, it’s done in perfect 4-4 time and highly suitable to luddite newly-weds who can’t waltz.

 

I really need to ask Mum to dig out the guest list so I can hand-write apologies to everyone who was there. Or at least the ones who are still living, because I am sure there are some who went out the back and killed themselves when they heard the music and tasted the champagne.

 

Anyway, the day ended and eventually so too did the marriage. He asked me one day if love was the answer and I asked him if he could rephrase the question.

 

 

I fully appreciate why people elope, and why that Little White Chapel in Las Vegas does so well. Nobody is filming what goes on inside.


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