I am on the horns of a dilemma. I have two contenders for the role of ‘consort’. I believe that at 50, you are too old for a ‘boyfriend’ and the lack of appropriate vocabulary forces me to define my own terms. Consort is an etymological combo of ‘queen consort’ and ‘consorting with prostitutes’: elegant, sexy and playful. Spot-on.
Plane Man (the millionaire who owns a plane) is kind, enjoys his money and I will have good times with him. He will stimulate me intellectually, as he has a brain the size of a planet, but the same cannot be said of other important parts of his anatomy.
We have had our first roll in the hay and it was unremarkable, but enthusiastic and possibly promising.
The Delightful Dick is nicer looking, stylish, entrepreneurial and comfortably off. He is highly intelligent, very quick witted but not intellectual.
The temperamental aspects of his performance in bed trouble me. But my friends notice that I am less inclined to objectify him, generally using Richard, his real name, rather than The Muddy Farmer, a previous lover, or Plane Man. Something different going on here.
Sexual performance is going to be a critical factor. I had a six-year fallow period with my ex-husband and I have to be honest with myself that I am looking for a rewarding sex life now.
I have come to realise that if there is something wrong in bed, there is something wrong with the relationship. So after a decade of telling myself that sex doesn’t matter, it matters. A lot.
A week after our first bedroom encounter, I meet The Delightful Dick for a quick drink as we both happen to be in London en route to other engagements.
Having reflected a bit, I am concerned that I bounced him into sleeping with me; that he maybe didn’t feel ready, or wasn’t sure he fancied me, and the pressure of all this hit him below the belt. I want to take the heat off.
So I tell him, in a way that I hope comes over well, that I regret pushing him into something that he might not have felt ready for. And I say that I will say yes whenever he asks me to go to bed with him again.
But I won’t ask him – he needs to ask me next time. And I am fine to wait until he is ready. Deep breath. That was hard. No games. Dead straight. Phew!
His reaction is inscrutable, but he asks to see me at the weekend, so I guess what I have said is welcome. As I have house guests, he is invited to join us for Sunday lunch. A good call. Lunch is a bed-free gig, neatly side-stepping any issues. And I am seeing Plane Man on the Monday evening… a bit close for comfort, but what the hell.
I have booked my favourite Thames-side restaurant for lunch and have briefed my pals on the candidate consorts. DD arrives and introductions are under way. Within minutes, I get a text from Plane Man saying he is looking forward to our dinner the next day and is just off to lunch in the self-same place my weekend party is going to in half an hour.
Both contenders in a confined space could be a fun story for you to read, but would probably end in tears. Mine.
I immediately announce a change of plan. The weather is gorgeous! We are going for a walk in the Chilterns! There is no point being stuck inside! I hope the panic comes across as delightfully, whimsically spontaneous. Talk about a close shave.
After my friends have gone, DD asks me to bed. And starts to live up to his name, at least some of the time. Most important, he genuinely cares if I am enjoying myself. And I am, despite some ups and downs.
So, I have two birds in my bush. I seriously consider keeping them both, but the close shave of the day convinces me I couldn’t stand the strain, so I resolve to decide between them by the end of the month.
Internet daters generally expect that you will be seeing more than one person. But when things go to the next level, I don’t think men don’t expect women to be checking them out in bed in parallel. There is a point when internet norms become real-life norms and I think having sex is the line in their sand. And I have crossed it.