Vierdelige serie over leven in je eentje (for English: see below)
Montage en regie: Maartje Duin
Samenstelling en research: Maartje Duin en Esma Linnemann
Techniek: Arno Peeters
Met dank aan Bert Kommerij, Peet Sneekes en Marco Raaphorst, Soundtransit
Uitzending 29 april 2012 rond 21:40 bij HollandDoc Radio (NTR, Radio 1)
How To Be Alone
• Director and editor: Maartje Duin
• Interviews and research: Maartje Duin and Esma Linnemann
• Post-editor: Arno Peeters
• Production Supervisor: Willem Davids
How To Be Alone is a documentaryseries (4 x 10’) about single thirtysomethings in the city. It has eight single men and women talk frankly about 4 themes: Housekeeping, Free Time, Difficult Moments, and Sex & Intimacy.
Singles are a growing minority in the Netherlands: 2,7 out of its 16,7 million people are not in an intimate relationship. The majority of them live in cities. In Amsterdam, almost half of its 243.000 singles are between 30 and 40 years old.
Duin and Linnemann noticed that this group lacks a collective narrative. Media tend to look for explanations and solutions: why singles haven’t found ‘the one’ yet and what they should do in order to change their status.
Instead, How To Be Alone focuses on the everyday reality of the single life, with questions as: how to apply sunscreen to your back? And how to put together an IKEA-closet? By sharing their experiences, singles taught each other how to live well. Sometimes they responded to interview excerpts of others, giving them practical advice.
This is part 4 of the series: ‘Sex & Intimacy’.
• Broadcasted on April 8, 15, 22, 29, 2012
• Programme: Holland Doc Radio
• Broadcasted by: NTR, (Dutch Public Radio 1)
English transcript of ‘How To Be Alone’ part 4: ‘Sex & Intimacy’ (9’11)
(sounds of rainy night in city)
Eddy Murphy once said in a show: ‘I am in my fucking years’, he said. And I thought: of course, that’s what’s happening right now.
That these are the fucking years. Between your 25th and your 40th… especially when you’re not in a steady relationship…
I do notice that after a while, the need for sex shrinks away. And it immediately comes alive when I see someone that I like, then I feel like jumping right on top of him, but it’s not like it’s an ongoing thing and I have to go outside and look for somebody just for that purpose. I don’t have that. I don’t know… maybe more women… I think there are more women who feel that way…
Women have the same thing, I think: you can be in a sexual hibernation mode. In the winter, or when you’re not in a relationship, you might not feel the need for it as much. But on the other hand, I do think I should to do it more often.
The construction of ‘well, then you just settle for less,’ I just can’t go for that. It’s not that I chose, like, ‘oh, he doesn’t meet my standards’ or something, no, but I just don’t care for it. It doesn’t excite me, either. I’d rather read a book (laughs). Yes, it just doesn’t appeal to me. Because, if I go to bed with someone, sure, I could do that, so in that sense it’s not true when I say ‘I can’t do it’, but afterwards, the consequences are too heavy. Because, I will fall in love with someone, so to say, already knowing that it won’t… it won’t… that’s just a physiological reaction, you know, that you fall in love because of the physical contact.
You do have a sort of sexual frame of reference, or… the fantasy file (laughs shyly).
I heard that one the other day. So… so you can, when you feel like making love to a woman, you can… in your fantasy… open that little drawer… yes, you have that special someone that you’ve made the best love with… you can… you can… reminisce…
(voice fades out, sounds of city by night)
Well, the search for love has been going on for such a long time now… it’s made me more realistic. I just think it’s a really rare thing. But then there’s the search for the perfect lover (laughs knowingly)…
I don’t see why that shouldn’t continue. And that is also complicated, because that threatens to turn into a relationship. And in the end I can’t stick it out.
I sleep alone most of the time, say five nights a week, but I do have people texting me, around 1 am when the bars close down: ‘Shall I come and sleep over?’. If I’m awake I usually text them back: sure, come by, come sleep over. And then we talk a little bit, here at this picknicktable. Or we don’t, sometimes I’m already in bed and they can join me right away.
Yeah, they’re usually my age, sometimes a bit younger, women who don’t have a relationship either, or kids, who don’t have to get up early. Sometimes they do, and then I wake up and the front door is open and they’re gone. Or I did something wrong, that’s possible, too.
A solution [to that problem] is to go abroad. Latin America is a good destination (laughs), and I’m a big fan of Greece, because the men there adore you without harassing you, like in Italy. I went to Cuba last year, well, that was like… the highest bliss… You see, the purpose of those holidays is not to have a lot of sex, I mean, it can happen, but it’s about… I feel like a woman when I’m in Greece.
I mean, physical warmth is a nice thing to experience. And if you don’t, I mean, I’m not going to seek refuge in ‘purchased affection’, because I think that’s kind of dorky. So I’d rather do it this way. I mean, it kind of developed into this thing and I like it.
I visit the sauna more often… I mean, I like that because you’re a naked body among other naked bodies. And I take dancing classes. Salsa dancing classes. I did take that back home from Cuba. No Cubans, but salsa dancing classes. Yeah, those kind of things give me more satifaction now than they used to. I used to be a bit… wilder. Now I tend to think: is it worth it?
It’s a sort of prostitution without money. Mutual prostitution without money. Prostitution with closed wallets.
Yeah (breaking voice). Because once it’s kissed awake again, (??? Like the Sleeping Beauty), then I so know what I’ve been missing.
I do go on dates, occasionally. But dates are always quite stressful. In the sense that… you always hope it’s the one and it isn’t, and you find out the same night. But I absolutely love the preliminary stage of a date. In fact, to me that’s what it’s all about. It’s Saturday, five pm, and I put in a lot of work to make my house look cosy. I light candles and I put music on, jazz, you know, or Nina Simone… something a little melancholic… (voice fades out)
(music Nina Simone: I want a little sugar in my bowl)
… that also puts you in the mood for fun… and then I stand in front of the mirror for three hours thinking about what I’ll wear. Oh, and first I take a long shower, and I put on some lotion thinking: ‘I’m sure he won’t be able to resist this,’ and I really like the smell of it myself. And, yeah, slowly but surely I make myself very attractive – to myself –
(music Nina Simone)
and I like to fit my clothes for a long time, and polish my toenails… Yes, and then it’s just me, on my own, in front of the mirror, and sometimes I dance a little bit, or I sing along with a song…
It’s a sort of sensual experience that has to do with myself, basically, because usually I don’t have a clue which Tom, Dick or Harry I’m about to meet that night. But it puts me in a sensual, or sexual mood myself… yes… so… that’s what I like best to do best on a free night: preparing myself for a date. And looking at myself in the mirror through the eyes of someone else.
Sometimes I even call off the date.
(music, city sounds with thunder and lightning)