Love & sex
Why do men feel so threatened by my wild Siberian tiger?
Everyone knows where they stand with a wild Siberian tiger. At least that’s what Nicola Balm thought, until she started dating. “You know how it is, things are going really well, you feel that spark, so you think: why not invite them back to yours? But the second they spot the enormous walk-in meat freezer they’re off!”
I’ve agreed to meet 27-year-old Nicola at the flat she shares with her wild Siberian tiger in Brighton. “Just a moment”, she shouts from another room, “Mark’s got a bit of a dickey tummy so I’ve got to put some medicine in his food.” The “food”, in this instance, is a live goat.
“I don’t think Mark’s an unusual name,” Nicola explains. “Everyone calls their tiger something predictable like ‘Tigger’ or ‘Aslan’ or ‘Tony’, I wanted something I could live with, you know?”
When did Mark first start affecting Nicola’s relationships? “Oh from the moment I got him. One of the best places to meet guys is down by the beach. When Mark was still a baby, I would take him for walks there all the time. I’d get a lot of compliments, but people didn’t really realise what Mark was. Once, a juggler told me he loved my “jazzy dog”. Whenever I’d explain to guys that Mark was actually a wild Siberian tiger, they quickly backed off. I guess some guys just can’t handle confident women.”
“The last time we went for a walk, Mark ripped a cyclist’s head clean off. Like the bud on a flower. I only realised exactly what had happened a few days later, when I found a helmet in Mark’s stool.”
Nicola thinks her problems probably have something to do with the male ego, and how fragile masculinity can be. “In my experience, guys want to feel like they’re the strong, dominant one. I imagine the trouble I’ve been experiencing is the same for other women, you know, women who have very well paid jobs or are really, really good at football.”
There was one occasion when Nicola thought she’d finally discovered Mr. Right: “Martin. He was a bird of prey expert. Claimed he knew how to handle himself around fierce creatures. We set a date to meet in the park, I’d bring Mark, and he’d bring his sparrowhawk, Wendy. But as soon as I let Mark out of the van he gobbled up Wendy in one go! Typical. I felt awful. Worst of all, Wendy was sat on Martin’s arm at the time.”
But Nicola won’t let these setbacks stop her. “I’m sure the perfect guy is out there for me somewhere. I have a saying, like that old quote: “If you can’t handle me when Mark’s roaming around in a rage lopping off limbs, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me when Mark’s asleep or I’ve finally had his cage fixed.”