A shameless exercise in reviewing a friend’s work, reprinted from my own place. Subsequently chopped down for length and content, since it’s what Natalie has written that matters, not most of my personal additives.
Many pages would serve well as a scan from Natalie d’Arbeloff’s handbook, but I chose this pair because you can see both telling illustrations and the instructive text in
blood bold and even sometimes CAPS to make some of her points.
Natalie’s notions of how the ‘Worshipped Male’ might set about juggling the “Primary”, “Regulars” and “Temps” among the lays in his life were also the part of her work that provoked the most interesting real-life horror stories and criticism when I let a friend or two loose on her book in the Canteen [my favourite local restaurant]:
Since Ms d’Arbeloff might be curious to know what the likes of François, Tony and Jacques made of some of her observations, let it be said that if I’ve learned anything from ‘The Joy of Letting Women Down: Secrets of the Worshipped Male’ (Robson Books, 2000) it is, just for starters, to tell her that their informed opinions are Absolutely None of Her Business.
In a pocketful of liberally illustrated pages, Natalie has herself already revealed more than enough. Just take some of the wretched whistle-blower’s chapter headings:
3 The Management of Female Lust and Jealousy
8 Sleeping Together
9 Time-Management and Excuses
12 Guilt, Contrition and Loveability.
In all, there are 15 such revelations, including accurate and splendidly politically incorrect sketches of the various “types” of women and men to be encountered in the “sex war”.
The trouble with Natalie, quite apart from this bare-faced lack of discretion on matters worthy of the Vatican’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum, is that she claims to have “been an expert on the subject of this book for most of her adult life and doesn’t regret a minute of it”.
She further lays claim to a “serious side”, as if the above wasn’t seriously bad already.
If you want to know how a ‘Worshipped Male’ (WM) functions and can manage to exist at all, you will have to read this handbook which takes the following contradiction as its starting point:
- “Most women want a man they can worship.
- Most women want a man they can rely on.
- It’s a fact of life that these two things are incompatible (…)”.
In further sweeping statements, practical examples of outrageous successes and bloody disasters, and reckless disclosures, Ms d’Arbeloff (her place) does what you could pay many psychoanalysts to do but would usually be wiser to trust your few real friends in providing for free.
With elegance, wit and irony, she holds up a mirror in which, male or female, you’re almost bound to recognise part of yourself if you’re honest — and irrespective of whether you agree with the woman.
If my friend in London is telling the truth about having lived much of what she writes, then she’s a braver and bolder person than I am, because if I were a woman and had endured even the half of this lot, I think I might be a quivering wreck by now.
My own experiences with women, however, especially in the last decade or so, have unremittingly taught me that I possess virtually none of the requisites to be a ‘WM’ and have instead almost incessantly erred down the paths of alarmingly predictable reliability, blind loyalty and phenomenal naïvety.
It’s no wonder that virtually my every bid to get lovely creatures who drive me half insane with lust to take their clothes off and allow me either to screw them or be laid by them has ended in variations on that balls-breaking theme I will stomach no more:
“Yes, I’ll ‘go out’ with you as long as you just want to be good friends.”
Yet any number of the most selfish, ugliest, mentally impoverished and total bastards I know among my own sex seem capable of arousing intense female desire virtually at the drop of a hat.
Sometimes they achieve this and sate their own lust without even the polite prelude of, say, buying dinner first and pretending to be seriously interested in any more than the bits tucked away under their bras, knickers and, occasionally, veils.
Regrettably, I also have a feminine side — a pronounced one according to all those tests you can have fun with on the Internet — and realise that Ms d’Arbeloff’s immensely readable account of many things I unconsciously knew perfectly well but am happy to see written down is also of as much interest to women as it is to we men, the weaker sex.
She puts it better herself than I might:
“(The manual) is not suggesting that being a WM is a good thing. It is a very bad thing which, like many bad things, is also a lot of fun. This book reveals why this bad thing is fun and precisely why this fun is bad.”
With consummate insight, Natalie sent me this slender but invaluable tome not for review but out of mercy as a New Year’s gift in the immediate wake of my last documented disaster, which left dents both in my ego and my intended holiday budget for 2004.
To pretend that I regret any of my extremely unpleasant lessons to date would be as much of a mean-minded insult to the women I have desired — and sometimes still like — as it would be fruitless indulgence in self-pity over wasted years. I should also note that sometimes I have given quite as bad as I’ve got and proved a uncharitable mirror to some of these women myself, given sufficient provocation.
I haven’t resolved with the turn of the year to be “bad”, nor will I reveal some conclusions I have drawn with Natalie’s helping hand. However, I remain unsure only whether it’s still naïf of me or simply fair warning to inform the next gorgeous creature to tell me just what a “wonderfully kind, adorable man” I am that there is a price to be paid for the already tear-drenched shoulder I shall offer them, such being my nature, to weep on.
Ms d’Arbeloff’s funny contribution to one of life’s most eternal and intriguing mysteries will probably be among the most wisely spent investments in hard-won wisdom (Amazon UK) many who stumble across this review could make.