A friend recently sent me a link for one of those silly online quizzes - called something like 'Your Dead Soulmate'. (Thanks, Kate - nice to know we were sharing a moment of "nothing better to do" this week.)
My 'matches' were Frida Kahlo, Mata Hari, and Eva Peron! (Tip: Don't tick 'politics' as one of your interests.)
I suppose that trio are perhaps a mite less challenging, less threatening than Sylvia Plath - but I've written enough about The Ex this week.
I once observed to a friend that I was eternally single because all the women I fell for were either dead, mad, or married. This is a line that I subsequently included - perhaps unwisely - in my online dating profile, when I was cajoled by a friend into joining Match.com. (This was my buddy The Bookseller, who was so endearingly nervous about venturing into the realm of cyber-romance that he refused to do it unless I was 'holding his hand'. He has just married a rather lovely young lady he met through the site - but it took 4 years and a fair amount of frog-kissing.) It was, however, almost certainly an improvement on the unused first draft of a 'lonelyhearts' ad I had composed with the help of a (female) friend a year or two earlier: "Manic depressive, semi-alcoholic, krypto-suicidal (but with a great SOH!), frustrated would-be writer, needs faith in womankind restored."
Anyway, some examples of my bad 'choices'. Dead: any number of dazzling screen goddesses of yesteryear - Greta Garbo a particular weakness. Also Lady Helen Manners, a great English society beauty of the turn of the last century, who bewitched me when I found a couple of pictures of her in a book of early photography.
Mad: The Ex, and most of my previous exes.
(An aside - I remember describing the previous Great Love Of My Life to my best friend in these terms when I first started dating her: "Well, she's Australian. Very intelligent. Very feisty. A redhead. And she's currently doing a doctorate on feminist literature. I think she wants to be the next Germaine Greer." He was shaking his head pityingly at each new addition to this list, and when I'd finished, said simply, "You really don't like to make life easy for yourself, do you?" No, I suppose not. I like challenge and stimulation. Unfortunately, what I generally seem to get as well - or instead - are confrontation and craziness. Sigh.)
Married: Not that many, but a few sore temptations. I have a very strict moral qualm against interfering in a marriage (in fact, against interfering in any established relationship - another reason why I am perpetually single. I fear this principle is too comprehensively self-denying. There are very few women out there who are actually single; at least, not for a sufficient length of time for me to have any realistic chance of finding and wooing them. The vast majority of eligible candidates are actually treading water in failing relationships, and I am a fool for refusing to approach them. Perhaps I need to reconsider this.).
It has occurred to me from time to time that perhaps I should add 'barmaids' as another category of hopeless, unattainable infatuations. In my time, I have had it bad for Cornish Sally, Czech Monica, and Polish Natalia; but it seems so impolite (not to say doomed) to bother them at work: it is almost like interfering in a relationship - they belong to the job, to the bar, to all the customers, not just to you.
And that is why I am still - always - single. Well, the beginnings of an explanation, anyway; it is, of course, a huge can of worms!