The original meaning of the word ‘slut’ according to my Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (Volume 2 N-Z) is ‘a woman of slovenly habits or appearance.’ I am a slut in the original sense and I don’t care who knows it. I will offer you an experience representative of my daily life, as proof of this fact. Yesterday, running late, I clambered into a taxi; scrambling over the seat to retrieve half the contents of my bag that had inexplicably appeared on the pavement by the car. As I settled down and mumbled some directions, the cab driver turned to look at me. ‘Late night partying was it?’ He asked. ‘No’ I said, ‘why? Do I look rough?’ His eyes scanned my face (on which I later discovered a tomato sauce stain and a half inch wide smudge of scarlet lipstick), and moved downwards, coming to rest on the crumpled pink silk shift I’d dug out of the laundry basket a few moments before. ‘Yeah’ he said, ‘you do.’
So now I want to convince you readers that you too, as strong, independent beings, freed from the fetters of other people’s bullshit, might also enjoy wanton sluttishness. An added bonus of embracing wanton sluttishness is that it allows you to imagine yourself as a buxom 16th Century east-end wench. But I’ll deal with Fantasy Lives in the next post, so I digress.
There is something wonderfully decadent about accepting one’s inner sloven. Oh! how spectacularly simple it is to spend all day in an unmade bed, in a threadbare dressing gown, moving only to forage for food and to dislodge the crumbs that have formed a crust at the base of the spine. How refined, to merely step out of one’s oppressive clothes at the end of the day; leaving a warm heap of perfumed satin on the bathroom floor to join yesterday’s discarded underwear. Indeed, arriving home from work, unpacking the shopping directly onto the kitchen sides – without putting any of it away – licking clean a spoon from the pile of mouldering crockery in the sink, and eating cold soup straight from the carton, is the sensual definition of bliss. These are life’s pleasures and they should be savoured.
The problem that can’t be avoided though, is that these are pleasures that are a little bit embarrassing to indulge of in front of anyone else. Once, many years before I realised the delights of solitude, my ex boyfriend found me naked at the foot of the bed. I was eating left over curry from one of those silver foil boxes with my hands. As you can imagine, his wryly delivered ‘what a catch’ was not expressed in a tone of voice that might have been interpreted as genuine. Social conventions, and evolutionary survival instincts, mean that other people are hard-wired to view our lack of hygiene, not as a mark of characterful debauchery, but as disgusting. Disgust is thought to be the evolutionary human response to sources likely to spread disease. Even if you got self esteem as high as mine, you won’t hold onto many mates if they start thinking that the disease spreading source is you.
In the days when I was forced – by emotional or financial need – to share space with others, I was trapped. Forever at the mercy of the fantasy household idyll of my living partner. What is it about organised tidy people that makes them so insufferable? ‘Can you pick that wet towel up off the floor, it’ll start to smell?’ ‘Why don’t you use the coat hooks instead of throwing your jacket on that chair?’ ‘The cockroaches will come back if you keep leaving half eaten sandwiches under the bed.’ Why is there a prima facie assumption that their preferred state of order and cleanliness is preferable to my preferred state of clutter and debris?
Living alone, as a single person, has been seriously good. I highly recommend that every adult human who can afford it spends a few years living in a place that is all their own. Imagine! Complete control of the time at which you put out the bins. No one to have a strop if you miss this week’s collection and have to spend next week with the fragrant tang of rotting vegetables attracting foxes. A bathroom from which the only pubes you will have to sweep up are your own! Carte blanche to leave the washing up in the sink until it grows mould. You can eat pizza off of an old copy of Take a Break and no one will mind.
But, what ever the size of the piece of the world that you are lucky enough to call your own, now is the time for rejoicing. When you are single it is much less likely that someone is going to turn up and share your bed uninvited, or call and give you five minutes notice of their pending arrival. You are not going to have to decide, for a long time, whether it is best to spend those five minutes hoovering and making the bed or scrubbing stains out of the toilet bowl. And if that’s not a reason to be single, I don’t know what is.