Everyone has certain personality traits they aren't proud of. Mine is jealousy. Whether it became part of my nature organically, or grew there from the seed of the ever so slight sense of entitlement my mother unwittingly nurtured by making my room look like Toyworld to make up for the fact that I was an only child, the hazel-eyed monster has been with me for as long as I can remember. It lays dormant most of the time, now that I am a (ahem) 'responsible adult' (snort), but there are still occasions when it threatens to come out of hibernation. Engagement parties and weddings, births, and couples over the age of eighteen showing public displays of affection are occasions when the climate is particularly well suited to the re-emergence of the creature of covetousness.
While I might look happy outwardly, holding my champagne glass aloft and toasting the happy couple alongside a hundred or so other close friends and family, inside I'm wondering when the damn speeches are going to be over so I can get to piling my plate full of comfort food from the buffet table. While friends of the bride speculate in hushed tones as to what the groom had to hock to buy her a rock that big on his salary, I'm standing there thinking It could have come from a Kinder Surprise for all I care, point is, she has a man who worships the ground she walks on and all I'll be going home with is a purse full of canopes. My mother's habit of bailing up mums in shopping centres and enquiring as to their baby's name, weight and sleep patterns is usually endearing, if a little embarrassing. At the wrong time of the month however, a time I like to call 'Oestrogen Equinox,' my mind wanders back to when my son was a velvet-complexioned cherub whose face lit up whenever I entered the room. The sight of people holding hands and looking at each other starry-eyed brings home the realisation that the last man to look at me like that was in his early sixties, and he wasn't looking me in the eye (see 'The dirty and the indifferent'). At times like these, I find that the best course of action is to focus on the positives. Having no fiancee means I won't have to do eighty sit-ups a day in order to fit into a dress I'll only wear once. Having no husband means I won't have to play referee between family members who will only sit in the same room for weddings and funerals. And having no more kids means that it won't be long until my weekends are mine again.
I really do want to fall in love again, but coveting what other people have is like holding a Weight Watchers meeting at Pizza Hut; all you come out with at the end is guilt, depression and three kilos that you need about as much as an extra uvula. Jealousy is the Big Brother of emotions; it serves no useful purpose other than to debase and humiliate people, making them ponder doing unspeakable things in order to win a prize they only value when they see other so-called winners. To sum up, my advice the next time you feel a twinge of envy working its way out is to get the hell over it and change the channel.