There’s always that one person who gets beneath your skin. The what could have been, the one who got away. The thing that keeps us from completely letting go is that tantalising, lingering niggle that Things Could Have Been Different.
No matter how torturous and tear-filled my break ups I have usually managed to get to the point where relief kicks in. I realise that it wouldn’t have worked and can see that our future together would have been marred and tarnished. Sometimes I can even feel pleased for them when they move on and find happiness. But then there’s just that one…
My friends all have a Mr Big too, their longevity intensified by Facebook. And the thing they do that keeps us hanging on? They play the game, and they play it well. The timing of their sporadic messages is impeccable, and they’re skilled at dangling a tentative carrot in front of our noses with some blasé comment - which sounds casual and spontaneous but is actually very well thought out - that infers they’ve finally got it together. It all sounds very nice and anticipation blooms once again, but then they vanish. A while later, just when you’re giving up hope and feeling ready to call it a day, your phone vibrates and there they are. And so the cycle continues. We just can’t stop that longing, somewhere deep inside, that Mr Big is going to come to Paris and rescue us from the manipulative Russian. Or is that just me?
We know we’re not going to find Ms or Mr Right if we insist on holding on to Mr/s Wrong. So we have to really, really try and let go. It’s so good in theory, and is also great in practice. It takes a lot of hard work and possibly a few more tears, but if we can bring ourselves to break the stagnant circuit we’re stuck in we might just find our niche.
Has anyone ever actually come up with a solution to the problem of where to go on a first date? It’s hard to chose somewhere that’s not cliché, not too suggestive, doesn’t involve the potential to trail Bolognese sauce down your front and is easy to escape from if things don’t quite go as planned. Which in my experience happens just a little bit too often.
A drink always seems like a pretty safe bet, but it can be a challenge to have a proper conversation over background noise. It’s just not cool to start a rant about being unable to hear yourself think as stag parties chant and the latest chart fad warbles along in the background: no one really wants to date their parents, regardless of what Freud might say.
A film is a tricky one to manage. Inevitably someone will have to make a sacrifice at selection time and is going to be fighting urges to throw popcorn at the person with annoying hair a few rows ahead. There’s the issue of whether to share the Minstrels or invest in a packet each, and is it just me who feels awkward sitting in silence alongside someone I don’t know, even if all social norms dictate that that is the right thing to do in the cinema?
Dinner is an option, but it’s very high risk. There are far too many opportunities to spill, dribble or choke and no-one can really bring themselves to escape out the toilet window before the starter is finished, no matter how dire and hopeless the evening is turning out to be.
So we need some new suggestions for date locations to bring us up to speed with the twenty first century. Places need to be quiet but not dull, of equal interest to both parties, with little need for consumables and flexible enough to allow people to either linger or scarper at the first sign of danger. Jeez, it’s no wonder we’re all turning to the internet…
I’ve just got back from coffee with a mate. She has a new boyfriend - one of my oldest friends, incidentally - and I have a potential date with a very nice man. That doesn’t happen regularly. I mean, I have plenty of dates with emotional screw ups and hopeless dropkicks but a Nice Man? That’s new to me.
Staci and I spent most of our coffee date screeching ‘But I’m scared!’, obsessively checking our Blackberries and wishing that we could just spend the next few weeks wrapped up within the safe confines of our duvets, watching trashy tv and eating Ben and Jerry’s. Which is exactly how we usually spend our free time, whilst whinging that there are no nice men out there and if Pete and Paul would only wake up and come to their senses then life would be perfect.
Staci’s latest man went on holiday recently and brought her back a pair of Uggs. When he presented them to her she was so nervous that she couldn’t look at him. Then, when he suggested she try them on, she panicked and put them on the wrong feet. It took him to point this out. Whilst she was regaling me with this tale my phone beeped, and as soon as I read the text from my Nice Man I dropped my phone like it was ablaze. I had to fight my urge to curl up under the Starbucks table, and I wanted my mum. I even wanted to hear from my toxic ex. I know that a Nice Guy is a Good Thing, it’s just that it’s all so different. And different constitutes scary.
The truth is that Staci and I have spent so long trying to win over the impossible cases that we’ve started to forget that there are plenty of decent men to be found, if we stop wasting our energy on the losers. Old habits do die hard, but nothing is impossible. And, at the moment, I’m feeling optimistic…!
I fell in love yesterday. I boarded the train with my pregnant friend and saw a very attractive gentleman clock her bump, jump out of seat faster than a cork popping out of champers and wave her over. As my knees turned to jelly and my heart started fluttering I was pleased to notice that she had her left hand resting on her bouncing baby, her wedding ring flashing in the fluorescent light. But unfortunately my mystery man got off at the next station; that was a short lived romance, even by my standards.
A recent date of mine had a habit of pushing past me whenever there was a funnel neck in a crowd, and hopping onto trains whilst leaving me hovering on the platform; rightly or wrongly that was it for me. Conversely I once dragged a relationship out for six months as every time I tried to break it off he’d take my jacket, hold open a door or utter those three magical words ‘please, allow me’. Then there was the guy who wouldn’t let me walk on the outside of the pavement. I didn’t fancy him in the slightest, but by the end of that evening I could happily have had his children.
The thing is, I adore chivalry. I am self-sufficient, I make my own decisions and I’m my own agent, but as soon as I become the subject of such manners (or witness it in close quarters) I’m putty. I know that some believe gallantry is dead, whilst others would argue that there is no place for it in the twenty-first century world, but I just can’t get enough! What are your thoughts?
As we glide into another year I find myself reflecting, yet again, on the current questionable status of my love life. But this year things feel different. I must finally be starting to move on and box those men away as, whilst writing this, instead of weeping into my roses and red wine I’m looking back with mirth. Well, I guess you have to laugh…
I don’t have space - or time - to regale you with all my tales, but let’s focus on a few of my, ahem, most salient moments. Which, I believe, would be a) the caravan sanctuary b) ‘perfect on paper’ and c) my personal favourite: my very own Latino Patrick Swayze (honestly, we were in the running for Dirty Dancing III. I’m still just waiting for that call from Hollywood).
So, caravan and I met working on a campsite in France, and spent three beautiful weeks taking walks across the seafront, snuggling into our sleeping bags and hosing down garden furniture. I was in heaven, for twenty-one and a half entire days and nights.
Perfect on Paper is always a tricky one. You know, those guys who seem to tick all the boxes, the ones we go on date after date with, trying to make it happen but never managing to shake the feeling that it is just pure hard work. Something is missing but, eventually, we manage to accept it and move on. Which I did! Six years ago! Yet somehow I managed to fall into the paper ruse again, just last month. It’s passed now, but I’m going to be on red alert for that trap for a long time to come.
And Patrick Swayze? Well what can I say? We met, we danced, his lips brushed against mine and my knees began to tremble. Though I didn‘t carry a watermelon. The rest, as they say, is history… . History being the operative word.
Well at least I have some times to look back on. I hesitate to use the word ‘good’, so maybe I’ll settle for ‘interesting’. I’d love to hear your equivalents…!
And so winter approaches. Ahead lie months of cuddling up under a blanket with a hot man, a hot chocolate and long afternoons filled with back to back episodes of ‘Come Dine With Me’. Hmmm. Just one vital ingredient missing for yours truly, then. But I am working on it…
Last month I had a date with a nomad Kiwi surfer. He was very sweet, but really worth investing in? I just don’t see it. I’ve dabbled with the ex: we’ve had the standard ‘how are things?’ ‘I’ve been doing this and that’ and ‘so glad things are working out for you’ chat (complete with ambiguous ‘x’ at the end of the conversation, just to keep things ticking over). Then there was the date with the ‘perfect gentleman’, where I somehow ended up paying for not only my dinner but his as well. I do like to think that I’m a modern woman but I’m not even happy about going Dutch too early on, so I don’t think I’ll ever consider myself enlightened enough to buy into funding a first date for the both of us.
But where does this all leave me? Ok, I know the answer deep down: stretched out on my sofa complete with a chocolate sachet for one and the trusty Tivo box, whilst I argue with myself over where it all keeps going wrong. But you’ve got to give me points for perseverance: tonight it’s a local Bobby (he helped me out on my way home the other night after I’d had a few drinks and decided to take a ‘short cut’) and tomorrow it’s my friend’s cousin’s girlfriend’s brother. I can’t even remember how we got to that one. But I do have ‘Come Dine’ on stand by and my Highlights at the ready (plus a stash of full fat Galaxy drink, just for those real extreme cases…). Anyone care to join me?
I have a lot of respect for my ancestors. How those women managed to survive entombed in whalebone corsets, the only relief coming from the occasional waft of smelling salts, amazes me. This is perhaps the only point over which I won’t kick up a fuss if ever faced with my Edwardian relations telling me that I have been spoilt by modern life and wouldn’t know what it’s like to really suffer.
I decided to take the plunge as the date of my niece’s Christening encroached and I still hadn’t got any further in losing my, ahem, Christmas weight. I’d ordered my dress in my ‘smaller’ size, after resolving to run ten miles every day and survive solely on goji berries, which was precisely why last week I found myself in the Debenhams changing room with a selection of drop-a-dress size mechanisms and an over-eager assistant.
I was unsure as to whether my first offering, which I had been assured was in my size, should be pulled up or yanked down. I opted for the former but only managed to slide it up as far as my knees before the friction became too much. I had to pause for a breather before grasping the upper hem, in the same way that I’d cling onto a cliff edge for dear life, and tugged. I’d got it halfway over my backside when my helpful assistant called out to check on my progress.
’I’m fine!’ I squeaked, taking a deep breath and resuming my clawing grip on the nylon. I knew I sounded like a constipated grizzly as I felt my triceps take the strain, but desperation was kicking in. The underwear inched up my trunk, every millimetre making a difference, but unfortunately my hopping around on the spot didn’t take my boots into consideration.
I didn’t actually flash, but the bruise along my temple did lead to a few raised eyebrows after my Godmotherly duties. But at least I sported a cinched in waist and, due to my depleted oxygen supply, needed little bubbly to get the after party started. Perhaps the Edwardians were onto something…