Monday, 19 January 2009

To stalk or not to stalk? The confession of a serial infatuationist...

Last Saturday I sat around the dinner table with my beautiful blonde neighbours, a gay couple from Stockholm, and declared: ‘In life, a person is either naturally inclined to be a stalker or not. Me,’ I raised my hand, ‘I’m a stalker.’ R’s arm flew in the air and he nodded excitedly, ‘Yes, me too. I am a stalker.’ This was the closest thing I’d found to Stalkers Anonymous.

R assured me that, thanks to M, his stalking days were well and truly over. I, however, was doubtful, ‘It is the act of stalking that the stalker is addicted to,’ I lectured R over our empty plates, ‘not the person they’re stalking.’ I turned and looked pointedly at M. R crossed his legs with a certain vivre and sat back in his chair. ‘Maybe you are right,’ he said in heavily accented English, ‘once a stalker, always a stalker.’ M was struggling to relate: the most stalkerish thing he’d ever done was Google the holidaymakers who rented their apartment. R and I looked unimpressed. We were old school; you would never catch us stalking on Facebook. ‘I just can’t be doing with lazy stalkers,’ I complained, ‘If you’re not willing to invest in a pair of binoculars, be creative and put the hours in then why bother.’

Of course, I was being a touch theatrical: my own stalking has never been professional enough to require binoculars. It’s always been more of an extra-curricular activity for me; I play at it like sport. In fact, I get bored with the cat-and-mouse pursuit so quickly that my target has barely registered that he’s being stalked before I’ve moved on to someone else. R assured me that this was absolutely fine; indeed it was mild by traditional stalking standards. On the one hand it harmed nobody whilst on the other it fulfilled for a certain type of individual a genuine psychological need. Psychological need? R obviously thought that this was perfectly normal. I, on the other hand, was beginning to worry about the state of my mental health.

Post-pudding, I retreated to my bed with a chamomile tea and my Gossip Girl boxset; but not even Blair and Chuck’s sexually charged repartee could distract me. I simply could not stop stewing over our dinner table parley and it wasn't the whole stalking thing that was stressing me out. If anything, the evening had only served to prove what a hopeless stalker I was. And this was what was making me fret: if I couldn’t dedicate myself to stalking the same man for longer than a week then what hope had I of ever maintaining a proper, mutually consenting, romantic relationship for any greater length of time? I thumped my bed petulantly. Serena van der Woodsen cocked her head to the side and frowned. ‘But Serena,’ I whispered, ‘it’s impossible. What is to become of a flighty girl like me?’

When I quit my job last year and swapped London for the French Riviera, I was already vaguely aware of my tendency to form these slightly unhealthy obsessions for unsavory/unsuitable/unobtainable men. However, over the past few months this tendency has spiraled out of control and I seem to have fallen from one all consuming crush to another with the most random selection of male subjects. Furthermore, I have noticed that these days it is not just men that I pursue with wild abandon then dump in an instant. The tendency to become infatuated now extends to virtually every part of my life: whether a supermarket, a beret or a surfboard, I’ll possess passion in abundance but only the most short-lived commitment. Maybe it’s a result of the mixture of sea salt and pheromones in the plein air or perhaps it is because I have subconsciously adopted the Mediterranean alpha-male’s attitude to monogamy but either way this chronic and troublesome condition of mine has become even more chronic and even more troublesome en France. I would go so far as to say that I live in a constant state of infatuation and, quite frankly, it’s starting to get annoying. It actually would have been easier if I had been a straight-up stalker, at least that’s a bona fide psychological condition, but I’m not. Me? I’m a serial infatuationist. And this blog is my therapy.

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