I was neither curvaceous nor waif-like. I was normal-sized and normal-faced ( on one side anyway). Did men ever look in the mirror, I wondered, and find themselves wanting in deeply fundamental ways? When they opened a newspaper or watched a film, were they presented with nothing but exceptionally handsome young men, and did this make them feel intimidated, inferior, because they were not as young, not as handsome? Did they then read newspaper articles ridiculing those same handsome men if they gained weight or wore something unflattering?
I’ve noticed that most Scottish people don’t enquire beyond ‘down south’, and I can only assume that this description encapsulates some sort of generic Englandshire for them, boat races and bowler hats, as though Liverpool and Cornwall were the same sorts of places, inhabited by the same sorts of people. Conversely, they are always adamant that every part of their own country is unique and special. I’m not sure why.
It had been quite a day. I felt drained, but something has crystallized in my mind. These new people, new adventures… this contact. I found it overwhelming, but, to my surprise, not at all unpleasant. I’d coped surprisingly well, I thought. I’d met new people, introduced myself to them, and we’d spend problem-free social time together.
Raymond hadn’t phone anyone or asked an outside agency to intervene. He’d elected to look after me himself. I’d been pondering this, and concluded that there must be some people for whom difficult behaviour wasn’t a reason to end their relationship with you. If they liked you – and, I remembered, Raymond and I had agreed we were pals now – then, it seemed, they were prepared to maintain contact, even if you were sad or upset, or behaving in very challenging ways. This was something of a revelation.
‘It’s SpongeBob, Eleanor,’ he said, speaking very slowly and clearly as though I were some sort of idiot. ‘SpongeBobSquarePants?’
A semi-human bath sponge with protruding front teeth! On sale as if it were something completely unremarkable! For my entire life, people have said I’m strange, but really, when I see things like this, I realize that I’m actually relatively normal.
Here you can find my review of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine