Madelaine The Man Thief? Unbloody likely

I’m not after your husband. Or boyfriend. Or crush.

I’m 21. And that makes me, according to any Hollywood film circa 1955, the villain of the piece. I will steal your dull husband with my maniacal hip swishing before getting my comeupance in the third act.

I’ll be the receptionist, you be the boring middle aged businessman

Of course, reality is far less sexy, a bit like me. In reality, my lust for your husband is close to 0.01%. He’s a bit dull really, isn’t he Sally? He’s a chartered surveyor in Guildford. And hardly rich. Or well connected. And he’s really not Orlando Bloom to look at. Could it be, possibly, that we just get on platonically because we are both read The Guardian and dislike Brexit?

Seriously, even if I wanted your husband, which I don’t, despite his extensive knowledge of fiscal policy in Poland, I hardly think he’d leave you for a 21 year old who can’t cook or fill in a tax return. I exist in his mind as at best a fantasy he’d never actually carry through, and at worst a slightly eccentric friend on the fringes of his social group. I like dark gothic literature. He likes Tottenham Hotspurs. I like furious debates. He likes musing over BBC Radio 4 in the car. I’m not a threat to you, Sally. Honestly. I am not, and never will be, compatible with your beloved.

You’d be amazed how often this happens. I meet Man B, and Wife/Girlfriend B freaks out like I’ve just waltzed in wearing a latex bikini with a Dm chord strumming in the background. WHO IS SHE, Wife B will hiss at Man B over dinner. WHY IS SHE HERE. ARE YOU IN LOVE WITH HER? WHERE DID YOU MEET HER? More subtly, raised eyebrows from the couple who is longterm friends with Man B. If it wasn’t so awkward, I’d start most conversations with a disclaimer on my intentions with this random guy.

The poor man mutters that I’m family or a ‘good friend’ and stares at his shoes. The more sleazy try to keep up the illusion that we just might be sleeping together (we aren’t, Sally, I’ve never even kissed him on the cheek). It doesn’t occur to anyone that maybe, just maybe, I’m funny or well informed. That maybe his interest in me doesn’t stem from my age but from the fact I can talk on really cool issues like human group behaviour or how language develops in toddlers (my degree is Bio Anth.) I won’t lie to you, Mrs B, some of the older men who happen to bump into me are a bit touchy feely, but really, I’m never going to pursue it. My biggest turn off is ‘taken’, be it in marriage, mutual agreement or just general amicable misery.

I hear you Sally, I hear you. Why do I HAVE to be friends with your husband? Why can’t I go to raves or hip clubs with men my own age? Well, to be honest with you, I really don’t like things that my generation does recreationally. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I am highly political and very, very frigid. All that rules out most youth activities. So actually sitting with a bunch of lecturers in Regents Park shouting about Brexit is kind of more appealing. That’s what I like. Not your Brian’s mediocre sex appeal, position, age or money.

Also Sally, don’t under-estimate me. I’m not an idiot. If I wanted to gold dig- why would I, I want my own career- I wouldn’t pick Brian from Guildford with three children, a 20 year marriage and a pretty normalish salary. I’d be the worst gold digger in the world to think ‘aha, that’s where I’m getting my diamonds’ at poor old Brian. More like cubic zirconia and lunch at Costa. As for ‘starting my career’ by sleeping up the ladder, don’t you think with my qualifications and so forth I’d just…do that? Instead of gritting my teeth and thinking of England when some boring middle manager groped at my knees? Come on.

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