A funny thing happened the other night. I was in a club (I don’t do clubs, but I was wearing a skirt, so everything was okay), when the man I was standing next to made a joke. Something about Jesus’s hair – I can’t remember what, but it was well funny. I let out a huge cackle, and it sliced through the background drone of cocktail glasses clinking and women in (lesser) skirts flirting, and everyone looked at me.
Although all of the people I’d been chatting to that night were lovely (even the guy who used the phrase, ‘It was all thanks to my faith. You know, in GOD’), none of them had made me laugh that hard. And suddenly, I was powerless. I was like a Watership Down bunny, or Carrie Ann trapped in the television, staring mesmerised at The Light. I can’t resist a sense of humour. So I started looking at The Man With The Jesus Joke all gooey, until his girlfriend glared at me, then swept him away to play on the quiz machine.
Until recently, I thought every woman in the world was searching for their comedy other half. The man who makes them laugh more than anyone else. When you find that person, that’s it – like ducklings who follow the first thing they lay their eyes on once they’re hatched: that’s it. You’re done.
So I was pole-axed to discover that plenty of women aren’t actually that bothered about a sense of humour in a man. After meeting someone who felt that having similar taste in music was more important than laughing, I expressed my incredulity to a friend. I almost grabbed her, screaming, ‘He could like Lee Evans, but as long as he listens to The xx, she wouldn’t even CARE!’ But my friend just shrugged and said, ‘Yeah, I’m not that bothered either. I just want someone fit who I can talk to.’ Bloody hell.
If I’m being very fussy, my criteria for a man are: ‘funny, kind, intelligent, can catch spiders, no beard.’ I’d add, ‘Must enjoy pizza,’ but that’s ridiculous. Everyone enjoys pizza. And if I strip things right back, funny’s all I need.
Nobody cruel or stupid would be able to make me laugh properly, because while clever and cutting comments might make me go, ‘heh heh,’ they never make me go ‘HAHA!’ I can catch spiders myself if you give me several hours, a baseball bat and a paper bag to hyperventilate into. And I’m sure I could live with a beard at a push, if we had sex with the lights off. For example, I’d happily do Bill Bailey purely on the basis of his song about love anthropomorphising a duck where, ‘Mr Duck’s embarrassed and the other ducks are laughing.’
And when I was in my 20s, finding someone to make me laugh was no problem. All my friends were rushing into the arms of men who knew the bouncers at Basildon’s premiere hot spot, Bas Vegas, or owned a Ford Escort, or wore more than one sovereign ring. I followed behind, happily scooping up all the sweet, nice, weird-faced men who made my stomach hurt – not with desire, but with laughter. (A sense of humour is intrinsically sexy, but properly funny men are rarely that good-looking. Handsome men are usually too busy looking at women’s willingly naked bodies to bother developing much in the way of a sense of humour.)
Take my ex (No, please, take him. Ha!). He was shorter than me when I was wearing heels, and had only ever read one book, and got me a sparkly plastic cup and a novelty icing set from Topshop for our fifth anniversary because it was all he could afford. He’d also only kissed one girl until he met me, despite being marvellous, because women are often too busy ticking imaginary boxes to realise that none of the superficial stuff matters at all – not one tiny bit – when someone can make you spray Diet Coke out of your nose with a joke about a laminating machine.
My ex is now with a girl who’s eight years younger than me, knows a good thing when she sees it, and is adorable (the cow) – although she’s also vegetarian, proving definitively that you can’t have everything. Meanwhile, I’m up against women who spent their 20s chasing unsuitable men – and probably learnt a plethora of exotic sexual techniques that remain a mystery to me along the way – and have finally caught on to the secret of a happy relationship.
All the women who were lied to and cheated on by their bad-boy other halves are suddenly ready to settle down, and after men like my ex. Men who are sweet and funny and kind – qualities that last far longer than a six pack or a chin dimple. Which means there are less of them out there for me. While they’re busy being snapped up by the women they couldn’t hope to get ten years ago, the weird girls who once championed them are now all grown up, and left on the sidelines. It makes me want to shout, ‘Fuck off! I thought of it first!’
I’m the Elisha Gray of the romance world. Bah.