From men to mid life crises, from Botox to Brazilians, from infertility to infidelity, every week Jacqui Leigh gives her personal take on being a fortysomething woman
Botox, beaus and body image
Last Friday night I found myself at yet another girl's night in. That makes three in three weeks. It started when Cathy's husband was away and she had us all over for dinner and now it seems we can't get enough of each other and we're getting together every Friday night.
I've always had close girl friends, including my two best friends from school, but when it comes to all female gatherings I'm a failure. Quite frankly I enjoy the company of men, regardless of age or sexual orientation and there's starting to be a deadly predictability to these evenings.
First of all there's the dressing up. Now if I'm hanging with the girls in someone's house about two doors down, why do I have to make an effort? Except for Bridget, who always sticks to her black jeans, it's all skyscraper heels and hoiked up cleavages and everyone exclaiming. It's true that women really do dress for other women. Meanwhile I'm in jeans and a comfy jumper. Zero points.
Once the Prosecco's been poured and the crudités have been crunched it'll takes about four minutes before someone utters the B word. Botox. Only one of us, the lovely but loud mouthed Cathy, admits to having had it, pulling a series of bonkers expressions to display her paralysed facial muscles while the others squawk in appalled fascination. Meanwhile I keep my mouth shut as of course I've had it but what exactly is the point of announcing it? Either they'll all either start asking me to frown or they'll never again give me credit for looking okay without having to mention that of course I've had Botox. As far as I'm concerned a magician doesn't explain his tricks. So there you go, another zero for female solidarity.
Next, since there's food around, we'll have to have the fat conversation. Why is it as a woman you're somehow expected to have a weight issue or at least act as if you do? The fact that none of us is really properly fat doesn't seem to matter, we all have to protest that we feel fat while the others chorus that we look fabulous or amazing. The thing is you can only have that conversation if there isn't a real actual obese person there. Then it's like treading on eggshells. Once again I keep my mouth zipped. Though sure, I done my share of moaning about my weight, at the moment I'm really not fat and I just don't feel like pretending I think I am. Nil points.
And finally, with fat out of the way and a few more glasses of wine later we'll have the husband conversation. This one is potentially interesting but I feel like I've heard it a million times already. Lovely Anna who is always brutally honest about her pig of her husband and Lorraine who can't stop going on about 'her Jim'. That's what she calls him. 'My Jim'. To be honest Anna's husband, unlike Lorraine's boring, weedy Jim, is actually funny and good company. At that moment it would be a blessed relief if he were there. True to form I contribute nothing to this conversation. Boris and I have our ups and downs but I'm not going to broadcast them, especially to people like Lorraine. After all the poor guy has to regularly stand at the school gates and say hello to these women.
So that's it. I do my best to join in but I don't quite get it and I worry that they'll start noticing my lack of input. I feel bad writing about them like this because they're all individually lovely, really nice women, it's just something about being with all of them that's a drag.
Meanwhile, there is of course a subject I would quite like to air. Fred and his parting words to me before leaving for his lad's holiday. I'd love to know what they think but I can't risk it. The reality is there's no one I can tell. Except you lot of course.
I've been thinking about his vaguely filthy comment for the past week. Is it just flirtation? Or is it a come on? A sexual invitation? I can't help feeling a line has been crossed, but I've been out of circulation so long I don't know what to make of it. Should I be outraged and disgusted? I should be but I'm definitely not. I liked it. And that's why I can't tell anyone.
And yet I can honestly say I didn't set out looking for attention. In that sense I'm entirely innocent.
For now, anyway.