Admit it, people are deflated after the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
They’re not interested in dressing up much, going out or entertaining though some of them are furiously trying to work off the inches accumulated during a period of indolence and indulgence.
They know the season of romance is coming up and something has to be done about those rolls of fat and the spotty skin.
They need to get into the right mood for a relationship, either the one they’re in or one they might like to be in.
A new book by Irish writer Aubrey Malone – In Bed with the Enemy – is an offbeat guide to relationships and where romance might be going.
He’s clear about one thing – relationships have changed since yesteryear – ‘Gone is the protocol, the romance and the mystery.’
Young ladies on the pull these days would laugh at such old fashioned techniques.
The rules of engagement between men and women, he says, are not what they once were. Whatever happened to dating? Everybody wants to cut to the chase these days – or rather the boudoir.
The best way to get over a man, is to get under another one! Love, he says, is the most incurable disease on the planet. He quotes from Somerset Maugham – ‘a dirty trick played by God to achieve continuation of the species’.
Tell that to the young things who these days declare they don’t want marriage or babies. Those who do, want to wait until they’re 35, have the mortgage paid and the Porsche in the driveway. By which time of course they’ve run out of little things calledeggs and need ones donated by someone else.
Meeting someone, he says is quite a complex business since no-one seems to know what they’re looking for. Personally, he’s confused.
‘First we had the Old Man. Then came the New Man who wasn’t macho or aggressive. He doesn’t come across all flash and cocky or have tattoos or wear medallions or insist on taking his girlfriend to heavy metal concerts.
‘He’s shy, taciturn and loves pushing the pram around the supermarket. But still women aren’t satisfied with this reformed character.’
Might it have something to do with what one scientist said recently about attraction being a hormonal thing? New men, he hinted had lower levels of testosterone which would subdue their libido somewhat.
If a woman is out for sex and a good time she’ll go for the macho bugger who’ll probably give her chalmydia. If she wants a tame husband, someone she can slap around the ear sometime and who takes the baby for a walk, she’ll go for the silent New Man.
My God, what confusion! He comes to the subject that some would see as central to relationships yet won’t admit it – shape.
He writes: ‘One of the most important things by which other people will instantly judge you is your weight. Desperate situations can sometimes require desperate measures. From my experience you’d be better off eating the pages of diet tomes to quell yourappetitite than actually following their advice.’
On any average night, in towns the length and breadth of Ulster, you’ ll find young people sitting in cars whatching the ‘talent’ go by. They’ll wolf whistle the ones showing a deep cleavage and a skirt level with their knickers. The one in the jeans andjumper will probably be treated to a gutteral sound made by cupping two palms together. It will sound extremely like a chimpanzee. But then isn’t that man’ s distant ancestor? Let’s face it we haven’t moved on that much.
When he gets on to sex, he’s on dithery ground quoting from Bette Midler – ‘If sex is such a natural phenomenon, how come there are so many books on how to do it?’
Once upon a time, he declares, the air was clean and sex was dirty. But sex isn’t always a problem in relationships unless you’re AIDS aware.
He has provided a helpful dictionary for the uninitiated. Some examples – Circumcision – a bloody rip-off; Coq au vin – Sex in a lorry; Flattery – Telling your boyfriend exactly what he thinks of himself; Vrigin – a frozen asset; Wedding – a funeralwhere you can smell your own flowers! This is a tremendously funny book liberally laced with quotes from the likes of Shelly Winters – I have bursts of being a lady, but it doesn’t last long – or Helen Rowland’s ‘ a husband is what’ s left of a loverafter the nerve has been extracted’ or Lee Marvin – Get juiced up enough and you’ll rollaround with a buffalo and think she’s beautiful’.
Don’t miss the chance to read it before St Valentine’s Day by which time you’ll have all your romantic notions in perspective!
* In Bed with the Enemy, by Aubrey Malone, pounds 9.99, published by Parapress.
SANDRA CHAPMAN, Lifestyles: Have you lost that lovin’ feeling?. , News Letter, 01-22-2003, pp 18.