Given that the most risqué my life gets these days is going to bed smelling of Agent Provocateur Sauce, and that the most romance I can muster is singing along to the Elephant Love Medley from Moulin Rouge whilst eating peanut butter out of the jar with a knife, I figured it was about time I tried to find myself a bloke.
As you may have noticed, men and I don’t quite see eye-to-eye on many things. I’m a feminist and I make no apologies for it. This doesn’t mean that I hate all men – far from it – it just means that I refuse to compromise my beliefs for a more just society. H once had a go at me for being so dogmatic and I replied, well, if it hadn’t been for Emmeline Pankhurst and her hunger strikes in prison and her protests, English women wouldn’t have got the vote. Unless people make a noise about inequality, it will be conveniently ignored.
Added to this is the problem of having grown up with a sensitive, generous, humorous gay brother (aside from outbursts like the above, which are rare), which means that I expect every man I come across also to be sensitive, generous and humorous, and simply can’t fathom it when they aren’t. Clearly, there is something wrong with them all.
Then there is the problem of being an opinionated, outspoken, highly intelligent, attractive and articulate young lady, which many men, particularly reserved English men, find confronting. And finally, of course, there is the major problem of having a disability.
My friends just don’t understand why I can’t go up to a man in a bar and start chatting to him. ‘It doesn’t matter that you can’t hear, it’s so noisy that we can’t either.’ That isn’t the point. What is the point is that for nearly 30 years (having got meningitis when I was 3 and a half), I have been conditioned to try and fit in, to hide my deafness and to appear as ‘normal’ as possible, and that, therefore, the disclosure of a disability is something to be avoided at all costs. Even I can see how patently ridiculous this thinking is, and yet I can’t do anything about it – it’s become instinctive – I’ve become colonised and appropriated into the world of the hearing. It isn’t my parents’ fault either – we lived in a remote part of the country where they had little access to resources that explained how to bring up a deaf child, I was sent to a hearing school as otherwise I would have had to go to a boarding school for deaf children in Sydney, 7 hours’ drive away, and my mother could only rely upon her wits, which dictated that I should be just like everyone else. And this is one of the reasons why I pay so much attention to my appearance (aside from a incurable weakness for stilettos, handbags, cardies and lingerie): a girl that pretty couldn’t possibly have a problem, could she?
So why am I even bothering? Aside from the fact that I’m a healthy young girl who likes her Agent Provocateur, I’m conscious of becoming too selfish and too staid by spending so much time on my own. And then, of course, I’m an incurable romantic, in the tradition of Byron and Heathcliff, rather than namby hearts and roses, and I want someone to write poetry for. So I’ve decided that, rather than climbing up on my white stallion all a-clankin’ in my armour, I shall divest myself of my metal, sign up to an internet dating website and try walking, unarmed, with the hopefuls.