The Girl Whisperer
as published in the Sunday Guardian of May 13
Something about Mary
For every girl on the face of the earth, the time will come when her man will ask her that big question. The one about the details of her past life. Whether she is eighteen or eighty, it will drop out of the blue sky on an innocuous day. “Baby…”, he’ll ask casually, “baby, the other men before me? How many were they? You can tell me. I’m asking because I don’t want any secrets to be between us.” If you fall for that, your boat will be going down like the Titanic and there’ll be no hands saved on this particular capsizing.
Don’t be fooled by a sense of security and lovingness to answer that question. No matter how secure you think your man is, you’ll learn a new and probably harsher side to his personality if you answer. So plead the fifth amendment, the right to silence. If you decide to answer in your bid to prevent any secrets being kept in your relationship, hope for the best but prepare for the worst. If you happen to be the sort that has been around more than others, you have put your relationship in jeopardy and it probably, will never recover from the shock tremors.
It doesn’t matter what number you give, or how harmless you make it sound. Many a woman is companionless now because she dared to be “open”. Men are not programmed to process that kind of information; it’s just not in their default setting; and the casual answer of four, or forty, or even four hundred by the more seasoned players will be like someone throwing a scrambler in a man’s mind. It will haunt them in their sleep and in their waking moments and they will be unable to get rid of the nagging feeling that they have been short-changed in some way. During a game of Monopoly, in between a commercial break while watching TV, on the way to church, coming home from the mosque, other questions will come, and this will go on for many years if the relationship does not collapse, a mind-numbing questioning session that will ever end. When you wake this ghost up, it will never go away. It doesn’t matter if the man is a vicar or a the head of a business conglomerate. It will sit on his mind and out of the corner of your eye, you will see him speculating; wondering where, when, how, with whom and other minute details men obsess about.
A woman may ask the Whisperer, “how do we get out of this?” “How do we keep from answering?” When the question comes as it will, be firm from the beginning and make him know it is irrelevant, the past is past and none of the other frogs you have ever kissed in your life can hold a torch to him, your Prince Charming. Prince Charming will sleep well at night after hearing that, and so will you. Do not make the mistake of meeting a tall, dark, handsome stranger with an enigmatic smile at the shopping mall and when asked who that was, reply with a dreamy look, “he was my first boyfriend”.
Always remember, nobody has been hanged yet for keeping silent, and the first rule when you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging. Immediately. If you think the shock absorbers of your relationship are strong enough to take the tremors of such a disclosure and you’d feel more comfortable with telling all, please go ahead. The chances are high, though, that you will rue the day you told a man of how it once was with you.
In relation to men, understand that ignorance is bliss even if he persists in questioning you, and he might never forgive you for information that shatters his tranquillity forever.