Her Story

“Your cousin’s lost her camera,” Ma sighs down the phone.
“She can be dreadfully lackadaisical,” I murmur.
Of course, this one didn’t go the same way as the various pieces of jewellery and, no doubt, underwear- the loss of which is usually lamented via hungover text the next morning- i.e. down the side of an anonymous bed in someone’s Halls, but rather is a victim of travelling in Thailand, replete with all six weeks’ worth of pictures of said trip.
“Oh and she’s met someone, but he’s turned out to be a bit of an arsehole.”
“Well, that is her type,” I helpfully proffer.
He can’t be any worse than the last one, anyway, I mused: a stunted little man utterly reviled by her friends and family alike, to whom she so carelessly lost her virginity, wooed by the flurry of dirty texts, that suggested they’d been written by someone with the intellect of a drunk, mentally impaired pigeon, and convinced to go it sans protection by the winning logic: “My ex girlfriends have had so many abortions, they know me down the clinic now. I’m due a visit…” Who had since proved hard to get over. It really wasn’t a bet I saw myself losing.

And yet.

“So, new guy?”
“I like a man who has ‘women are slags’ written on his arm.”
I assume this is said in jest. It’s not; the misogyny inscribed on his arm in a delicate cursive and appended with a heart.
“He also has his friend’s name tattooed on his arse, which was his profile picture for a while, one that says, ‘We all live in a yellow submarine,’ because he was in the navy, his surname on his back…”
“Sure, in case he forgets it.”
“And one that says ‘Royal is my race.”
“So he’s like a white supremacist?”
“No, he’s not racist; he likes black girls. He’s also got one on the side of his head that says ‘Phi Phi 2012’- where he was travelling. He says he regrets that one, though… He pulled someone in front of me when we were out together. He said it’s the same as me talking to other guys in front of him.”
“It’s not.”
“That’s what I said.”
“So why do you like him?”
“Well, when he’s nice, he’s really nice… But his sanity is a bit on/off. I think he might be bipolar.”
“Should I be worried?”
“Probably. I slept with him.”
“What?”
“Twice. The second time, the first thing he did when we woke up was pat my lap and ask, ‘How’s the vag?’ He’s also now commented on one of my profile pictures saying, ‘Been there, done that.’”
“If he doesn’t kill you, I will.”
“Have a look at his profile picture.”
I do. He appears to be wearing two t-shirts simultaneously, one of which he is masterfully using to stuff his boxers. To be fair, if the aim is ‘bigger dick,’ he has succeeded.
To top matters off: “He has my camera.”

In The Shadow Of Man

It is a truth universally acknowledged that, once you’ve bored your friends to glassy-eyed distraction with your stories, you turn to blogging. The fact that that imagined vast audience of faceless Internet readers largely- if not solely- comprises said friends and their laptops is beside the point. Which leads me to today’s story. So often have I bemoaned this particular situation that it is only fair that I provide my friends with some respite (theoretically at least) and turn it over to these anonymous pages. Not a dating story per se today then, folks, but something which is surely equally as relatable: a tale of a bad boss. After all, who hasn’t, at some point in their professional career, found themselves under (no, not in that way; minds, gutter, please) a complete fuckwit of a superior? And if you are so lucky as to have escaped this most dire fate, the chances are you’ve spent a lot of time unemployed, in which case you will have likely had ample opportunity to watch Jennifer Aniston in one of her many different roles playing a waitress and so will still have some idea of where I’m coming from.

This particular boss though, was unlike anyone I’ve ever met; less modern man, more a relic from some bygone era of corsets and slipper fetching− when daughters would be sold and syphilis was the tragic end for nary a fallen wench− the last remnants of which you may still find in some elderly relative only wheeled out to the embarrassment of all at family occasions, but is largely thought to have died out in this age of civilisation, equality and indoor plumbing. Employees had been known to quit within hours of meeting him and those that stuck it out would find themselves stumbling out into the dusk slightly dazed, bewildered and confused, with a sudden need to call their mothers. Why? Hard to say. Maybe, like with me, he Googled ‘MILF porn’ during meetings with them; maybe the daily bathroom trips (usually conducted with the door open) that left the small, open plan office uninhabitable for a good 15 minutes after and us all with a Pavlovian, gag reflex response to the smell of Jade Febreze, got to them; or maybe it was just the blatant misogyny that wore them down. (Oh no cries of hairy-legged, militant feminism, now, put down thy burning torches: he freely admitted to this, paving the possible future path for hate sex nicely.) Who can really say? Maybe they were just overly sensitive.

A strange, predatory creature, at one point, I was pretty sure he was grooming me. For what exactly, it would be hard to say, but given his reputation for humping any female employee he hired, his behaviour took on a new, weighty and sinister significance akin to the complex mating rituals of the male ape on the prowl for a good boning. Not for him, then, the usual veneer or nostalgia, sarcasm and faintest whiff of woman scorned that is de rigueur for these pages; instead, he is best viewed through the clinical eyes of a primatologist. Consider me a latter day Jane Goodall, if you will or, to put it in a language he would be able to understand: me Jane; him twat.

I should probably preface this by saying that, ironically, this is NSFW and not for the weak of stomached. So, let us begin.

It is common knowledge that, both within and outside of the confines of the animal kingdom, the dominant males of the species will attempt to attract a member of the opposite sex by ‘presenting’: gamely showing off colourful and attractive exteriors. Peacocks display their feathers; musicians employ the use of tight jeans and the artfully placed sock. So was the case for The Fuckwit Superior (TFS): much like the baboon flaunting its vibrantly shaded rear end, so too would he display the cracked and reddened cheeks of his backside, his arse crack perennially on show. When this failed to result in much swooning and opening of legs, he would go one step further: showing off his sex with furtive scrotal scratches, plunging his hand under his jeans and (and here I’m being optimistic) boxers, occasionally going so far as to squat so as to reach those particularly hard to get back areas. After which, he would remove his fingers and seductively sniff them (totally unnecessary: he never washed his hands, nor any other body part, for that matter, so anyone in proximity to the office would become immediately aware of the scent), all the while nonchalantly maintaining a conversation and eye contact− a move that did indeed prove overwhelming, when you were sat down and he was standing over you, crotch in all too close proximity to your face.

Which brings me, in a roundabout fashion, to the pheromones. Ah pheromones: nature’s tricky little chemical that, ‘pon their secretion, will drive the opposite sex into a sexual frenzy of lust and attraction (my grasp of science has always been tenuous at best). TFS was all too aware of this, no doubt having read a Men’s Health article on picking women up at the gym that informed him that one secretes said chemicals when one sweats. (It was undoubtedly also this nugget that led him to sign up to a women’s Bikram yoga class; a tactic that inevitably failed when he was left with the constant issue of “tenting.”) At any rate, he fully embraced the biology and failed entirely to ever shower after said gym and yoga sessions. Things became particularly bad after he ran a marathon, which, unluckily for us, fell foul of his once-a-month shower routine; he opened his gym bag, otherwise known as his portable wardrobe, and I almost passed out.

Not that he restricted himself to tactics based solely on such primal levels of physicality; he would also attempt to ingratiate himself to us by establishing a rhetoric, filling us in in detail on his increasingly acrimonious divorce and taking a reciprocal interest in our lives.

“Got a date, have ya? Wear those stockings with suspenders.”

“Fur coat? Do you turn up round your boyfriend’s house, naked under that, saying [shimmying] ‘hello, big boy’?”*

“Did ya shag him? Women only ever want men for the money. Shag ‘em and bleed ’em dry.”

“Your water bottle looks like a willy.”

All the while directing lingering gazes at our breasts/bums and occasionally going in for another scratch of the nether regions.

Finally (yes, we are reaching the end of this sordid account), he would attempt to engender trust by showing off his vulnerable side, exposing his soft underbelly- something I saw all too often when he would strip his shirt off in the middle of the office. One particular occasion comes vividly to mind: when engaging in an aforementioned bathroom visit, there came a sudden cry of, “Shit! There’s no toilet roll,” leaving us girls in the office exchanging panicked glances and gathering our things, resigned to the fact that it would obviously now be necessary to quit, there being not even the remotest of possibilities we would expose ourselves to TFW sat on bog, trousers round ankles, mid defecation. Nor could we just leave him there lest, God forbid, he came out de-trewed and unwiped on his own search for tissue. Reader, what choice did we have? Fortunately, we were saved from this most heinous of predicaments by the only other male in the office manfully locating and proffering the loo roll to TFS’ blindly waving and grasping hand, to shouts of, “Just chuck it in!” After enough Febreze spraying to give us all a gnarly fume high, he eventually emerged. To his credit, it should be noted he stopped clear of that last ditch ‘look at me!’ attention seeking attempt favoured among apes- the throwing of faecal matter; however, it is unlikely that I shall ever cease to be mentally scarred by the memory of finding human excrement on the office doorstep (product of a former acquaintance of TFW? The smart money would say so) only to then watch him scoop up and dispose of said excrement with bare hands. And no, he did not wash them after.

Really, it’s a small wonder none of us succumbed to his charms. Office politics, eh?

Go on, go take a shower. I will be.

*Actually twice: the first time, the former paramour took one look at me and said, ‘Cool. Get dressed then and let’s go eat.’ The second time is notable only for the fact that I made the 20 minute journey to the recipient’s on foot, mid winter, leading to one unfortunate moment of ascending stairs overlooking a busy pub garden and encountering an ill-timed breeze.

The Most Dangerous Game

It’s happened: I’ve been added on Facebook by someone I’m dating and now I’m trying desperately to convince myself this is a good sign.

My own past with such sites is considerably chequered. To this day, I am still reduced to a squirming, cringing mess by the memory of lying in bed with a suitor when he casually mentioned a conversation he’d had with his ex who’d noticed (thanks to some devil trickery on the part of the site that allowed access to see who had viewed your page with paying membership/soul selling that I was, till that point, blissfully unaware of) that I had ratcheted up a good few views of her page… and that I was pretty. Dry mouthed and mortified, I gasped and wheezed, mumbled and blustered my complete ignorance of his ex’s presence on said site but, hey, what was her name? I’d have to look her up…

The last person I dated for any amount of time ultimately maintained such a radio silence on the social network front that he seemed reluctant to even tell me his surname, lest an immediate track down and stalk session ensued (it didn’t, I promise; I can’t talk for my sister). At first I was relieved to be free of the pressure of having to navigate the murky waters of the online world but, eventually, it became another prescient sign of him keeping me firmly in my place: at arm’s length and anonymous, in his bed.

I’m overthinking you say? Chances are, you were one of the ones giving me an alarmed look and an, ‘Oh babe, he’s not added you yet? Red light!’ pats on the arm. Oh no, none of that moral superiority from you my friend, as you sit behind your laptop reading this and occasionally checking your notifications (none since you last looked, no); you’re no more immune to the minefield of the internet world than I am. There’s not one person with a Facebook account that’s not, at some point, been subject to the awful stomach churn of a narrowly avoided ‘like’ on the page of someone they had no business being on (be it your ex, your ex’s current or your current’s ex) or- horror of all horrors- pasting the name of the stalked in a status update instead of into the search engine (save maybe your grandma, who turned up inexplicably and now uses the site solely to monitor your own activity and rumble you on it). No this, friend, is the Most Dangerous Game.

I’m right to be nervous. But yes, beyond that, committing to the online friendship status is a good sign, non? Who after all, can be bothered with the utterly gauche ‘unfriend’, beyond the realms of the tacky online fight, broadcast through bitchy, 15 year old girl statuses (‘good 2 kno who you rly R. guess I kno who my reel friends R. SOMEONE needs to stop embarasing herself. UR WELCUM you freak’).  Surely commitment online is a precursor to commitment off line?

In reality though, that’s all total bollocks and what it does mean is the sudden need for a panic check and edit of any posts/photos/Spotify-on-Facebook plays that are anything short of flattering. Suddenly, he is privy to all kinds of information, usually not to be divulged till he’s been charmed beyond caring (somewhere around the second month)- yes, ABBA make my soul sing and yes, this is how much time I actually spend on Facebook.

And it’s not just your own online persona that you need to worry about but, equally, the possible discoveries that could be made on his page. Yes, that’s a very nice bicep, but really, there’s no need to kiss it in every one of those topless-in-front-of-the-mirror shots.

I’m telling you, it’s a minefield.

But I’ve done it, I’ve accepted the add. And now I’m staying firmly away from Facebook. 

Though, he’s already party to some of my less than savoury telly predilections, so maybe it will be okay after all…

Just Married

When I told my mother I was married, she cried.

“Oh how could you?” She wept down the phone. I’d known my friends and parents had been averse to the match (the latter flashed nipple rings and tattoos on Christmas morning; the former remembering the time he got drunk, vommed everywhere and passed out at my party before I even got there) but still, she was really harshing my buzz. It took me a good five minutes through a gin sozzled fug to explain that the ceremony took place in an inflatable church, presided over by a karaoke singing priest and I was 97% sure it wasn’t legally binding. Nevertheless, the groom remained offended: his mother had started knitting baby clothes.

Now, as I have expounded on many occasion to these pages, the idea of commitment can have untoward effects on me (even when I’ve been single for so long that my mum looks at me, squints and asks if there are “any men… or women? I’m just asking, not judging!”) thus the idea of marriage is a tricky one that will more often than not leave me with a rash, literally. When the former paramour gave me a ring to wear on that finger, my skin eventually reacted so badly to it, I had to stop wearing it. I took it as a bad omen.

Even still, when we were at a festival and the plastic inflatable spire rose up on our skewed horizon, it seemed like a sign. My beau grabbed my hand, said ‘let’s get married!’ and so began our wedded bliss.

Courtesy of the big, fake wedding travelling company, no frill was left unfrulled. While my beau was busy being decked out in a tux, I was being fitted for a frock by the ready made wedding party of bridesmaids and ‘ma-in’law’, replete with curlers and a house coat, who would fondly tell stories of that time I shat myself as a teen- just to clarify, it was part of the service. I made a joke about this being a shotgun wedding, they looked at me, took me seriously and headed to the ‘roomier’ end of the dress rack. I maintain I was wearing a loose fitting smock and not maternity wear.

Everntually, I stepped outside in my vintage lace and wellies to me waiting beau. We held hands, looked into each other’s eyes, smiled and both just knew, with utter certainty, that we were too sober for this, quickly dispatching our friend Flora to go on a gin run.

Then it was time. Clustered at the entrance to the chapel, beau waiting dans l’allée, my bridesmaids gathered around me (Flora elbowing one out of the way to take my arm, declaring “I’m her MoH”) chattering excitedly.

While we waited, the priest announced our impending nuptials to the gathered congregation, her words ringing out over the loudspeakers outside of the chapel. Welcoming the groom, she asked him what it was that had first attracted him to me. A pause. The girls squeezed my arm and whispered, “This will be good!” before his response came: “Her big tits.” (Patently untrue: he was an arse man.) The girls dropped my arm, coughed and looked away. A grim faced wedding march down the aisle ensued.

Vows were made, the best man sprang up with the rings and we were forever (it wasn’t forever) joined in matrimony. Giggling and flushed with love, we ran outside through the arms of the congregation joined in an arc across the aisle, for photos and congratulations from bemused strangers who were trying to work out if if this was for real.

Our tent was our honeymoon bed, ‘Just married’ scrawled across the side.

Since then, I’ve brought up the issue of marriage with my mum again. She cried. Again. Apparently, it’s not a realistic prospect. 

Three’s A Crowd

There’s no denying it: being single’s great. Free from the constraints of a romantic entanglement, you’re finally free to do all the things you just don’t have time for when you’re in a relationship (I’m currently learning French) like showing your commitment to feminism and Mother Gaia by refusing to adhere to traditional ideals of feminism and beauty imposed on us by the misogynist, patriarchal society and embracing hirsutism by ceasing to shave. You can enjoy flings with different men each week if you so choose (purely for research purposes in my case, mind). And of course, you can catch up on all those episodes of Made In Chelsea, TOWIE and all other manner of horrible television, usually to be found on ITV 3, that you have to pretend not to like when you’re with someone so they don’t recoil in utter horror, in favour of worthier programs (stunning documentary on the Art Nouveau movement on iPlayer by the way). Simply put, you have time to find yourself that you just don’t have when you’re in a relationship, what with all the leg shaving taking up so much valuable time. There’s no denying it: being single can be a lot of fun.

But at some point, usually when you’re staring down your fifth consecutive Friday night in alone plucking your facial hair, around the time when you’re down to half an eyebrow, that it begins to sink in: being single ain’t always what it’s cracked up to be.  You haven’t had a fling in a while, your telly habits are beginning to disgust even you and not only are you talking to yourself more than is acceptable, but you’re beginning to answer yourself too. Besides, who are you kidding, summer’s coming- you’re going to have to start shaving again anyway.

And being single is rife with unforeseen complications. There was the time my friend Sarah Tea met someone she was quite excited about, until she discovered his surname.

“You’ll never guess what it is,” she told me darkly.

“Oh God, it’s not Tea is it?” I tentatively asked.

“No, it’s Creamer!” she wailed.

Or the time another friend, whilst at a work party, was discussing beauty techniques with a colleague who exclaimed, “But who has the time?” only for another woman who had overheard, to dismissively interject, “Oh, she’s single.”

It was an outing- cruel and underhand- that left my friend feeling two feet tall and ready to seduce the woman’s handsome and charming boyfriend, whom she clearly didn’t deserve. Yep, being single can be tough, which is my pre-emptive justification for the following tale.

In one weekend, I managed to meet, and despatch equally quickly, three men.

The first had been scared off when my friend Jack turned up mid first date, unsolicited, and refused to leave, causing my date to mutter some excuse about meeting friends but maybe finding me later and scurry off and Jack to put his arm around my shoulder and laugh, “Boy, he couldn’t get away fast enough!”

It was lucky we got to the first date of course, this being the primary problem with Alex. Despite much texting and various failed attempts at rendezvous, actually meeting proved difficult, nay impossible. Each time something would fall through, I would assume he wasn’t interested, shrug it off and then rethink a day or so later when he would start texting again. When we finally did meet, it was an accidental run in at the pub, where he was canoodling with some other girl.

I may have taken this less to heart had the exact same thing not just happened the previous weekend with the third guy.

Instead, I retaliated in kind with a conquest of my own, flirting furiously (nearly taking his eye out with my manic hair tosses) with the closest interested male I could find: a man who had happened to catch my eye from across the bar and was grinning at me with all three of his yellow stubs of teeth.

So it went on for far too long that evening, until an abrupt end was thankfully called to the night when I discovered my toothless suitor had fallen asleep on me.

Scalding showers may remove the top layer of skin, but no amount of scrubbing can wash away the shame. Apparently my witty repartee just wasn’t up to scratch that night. Try not to think too badly of me though, dear reader; my confidence had just taken a beating. Threefold. 

Frank

Here’s the thing about dating friends of friends: sure, it puts your mutual friend in a position that’s awkward as all arse if things don’t go well; there’s no fooling yourself when you don’t hear from him that he’s actually left the country on a top secret mission with the CIA that doesn’t allow him to get in touch, no matter how much he’s pining for you (flipside: you’re equally locatable); and there’s his unprecedented access to all those photos on your friend’s facebook page that you’ve long since untagged, but which remain, malignantly lingering in forgotten yet accessible albums, that have caught you with your skirt hiked up around your ears, flashing your ‘spank me’ knickers and staring into the camera with your ‘come hither’ eyes.

But it also means that you get to hear what he’s saying about you behind your back and, as long as your friend is filling you in while remaining shtum about your own relentless grillings (‘does he like me? Will he call? If we get married, will you be my M.O.H?”) then you’re golden.

Even after Frank and I ended things, I got to hear about how he would zealously Facebook stalk me (with an interest I doubt anyone has shown before or since) huffing over pictures of boyfriends, sniping over new career prospects and reading every article I have ever written, if only so he could vehemently oppose any opinion I expressed from an informed position.

Who wouldn’t find that flattering? And our first date went well, really it did. Well enough to warrant a second. It was the second date that was a problem.

I was touched (if slightly nervous) when Frank told me he wanted to take me to dinner at an expensive restaurant, as long as we were clear I’d be paying for my own share. I thought this went without saying; Frank disagreed, cursorily glancing at the menu before looking up and saying, “You do realise I was being serious when I said you’d pay for your own meal, right?”

“Of course. And I will have the bowl of olives.”

After which he took my hand and went on to explain his views on women, telling me how he resented women whom he found attractive because they had ‘made him fancy them’. It was with some trepidation that I asked him how he felt about me, then. We didn’t make it to date three.

Thanks to our mutual friend Liz, though, upon whose head the Matchmaker’s Curse rests, it wasn’t destined to be our last encounter. In fact, for a while we would run into each other when out, make vague promises to try again and then immediately regret ever saying so in the morning. Even arrangements such as these can’t last though and things finally came to a head at Liz’s birthday party when, after catching up, exchanging some polite conversation and gently flirting, Frank finally drew the line in the sand and asked me once and for all, “Are we going to fuck or what?”

Mismatched

CURSED! Well, that got your attention, didn’t it. Now that I have it, I believe there is a curse on the head of anyone that tries to set up their friends. It’s somewhere between a shrivelled monkey paw, a really angry fat baby with an archery kit and a stale box of Matchmakers chocolate- well, it’s never going to be a good sign, is it?

I’m not talking about my own many disastrous forays in les affaires de coeur (lurve, if you will) that have invariably ended with a friend crying on my shoulder and have proved me to be a King Midas In Reverse. Nor is this going to be about the fact that certain friends of mine have taken to advertising my single status on the internet (or the offers they have since received).

To be fair to my friend Liz, this wasn’t even an intentional set up on her part. I believe her exact words were, “They’re both single but all they do is get stoned and play a lot of video games and neither of them is good enough for you.”

We just happened to be out for drinks on the same night as her boyfriend, Floyd, and his two friends, Pete and Frank, so we all met up.

I can’t say we immediately hit it off. Most of my attempts at winning conversation were met with grunts, odd looks and hoods pulled lower over faces. Eventually though, we all loosened up, I became less acutely conscious that there might be something on my face and, in the end, it was just me and Frank sat together.

Maybe this was because he saw someone else chatting me up and realised, to use his words, someone else might actually be interested in me and he’d have to step his game up. Or maybe it was simply down to the fact that our friends were otherwise occupied: Liz, stealing Pete’s jumper and shoving it under her own, was busy prancing around holding her swollen belly and loudly berating Pete for ‘knocking up his best friend’s gal,’ while he politely and patiently asked if he could get his jumper back, this being February and bloody cold out and us all sat outside. 

Either way, Frank left that night with my number and texted me soon after, telling me not to get with anyone else that night- a request he followed up on the next day, when he asked me out on a date. 

The Dentist Chair

He had the kind of looks that could make a girl swoon. Well, maybe not literally; women’s lib and the phasing out of corsets has mad us all much sturdier of constitution and far less apt- not to mention willing- to do anything so devastatingly fragile. But perhaps a friend said it best when she said, “PHWOAR. How did you get him? Well done, babe. Even I wouldn’t go for him!” Which might have stung more, had she not had a point.

Great love wasn’t meant to blossom between us; he was never going to be my boyfriend, he would never meet my parents, he may not even acknowledge me in the daylight, necessarily (or at night, for that matter).  But none of these were top priorities for me at the end of a night out, when we’d find ourselves heading home together; the fact that he was a struggling musician who would occasionally get deep and soulful about trying to make it, was.

At any rate, it was what it was and it was fun and, for a while, as long as neither one of us met anyone else that night, we kept having fun. It was never meant to last forever, but it didn’t so much peter out as come to a skidding halt.

Having just graduated from university, I was living back at my parents’ for a while. Sometimes after a night out, instead of making my way home, I would go back to stay at my dad’s dental surgery, which was in the centre of town and much easier to get to and had all my furniture stored upstairs. It was also the wiser choice when bringing back a date.

That night, that’s where we ended up. Or, to be more specific, in the dentist chair.

The next morning, I was annoyed to find that he’d trampled all over my clean, white mattress in his boots, leaving muddy tracks all over it. At least, I thought it was mud, until I went downstairs and was confronted with similar marks on the dentist chair.

Thus ended our fun. 

St Valentine’s Day Massacre

Oh yes, you better believe I have a story up my sleeve for this holiday. And I’m going to be kind and bring it to you a day early so if that space you’re clearing in your cupboard is not for the anticipated infusion of chocolates from doe-eyed suitors, but that cheap bottle of vodka you’re ringing the day in and out with, then you’ll at least have my words to keep you company. And should someone be reading this and see I’m also spending the holiday alone and decide to gallantly show up on my doorstep with a bunch of flowers and demand to take me out to dinner, well then hey, if you must, you must! And God forbid I deprive you of this simple pleasure by blogging a day too late.

My dislike of this holiday really took hold at college- damn the co-ed system; before then it had been entirely hypothetical- when one of the boys’ houses would sell flowers and valentines each year to raise money for charity and the chosen girls who had said gifts bestowed on them would then smugly parade around the halls, clutching their bouquets and finding any excuse not to just put. The roses. Down.

But this isn’t about that, really.

Anyone who has read this blog before may remember the story of all the relationship don’ts I committed with one particular boyfriend. Well, this one trumps ‘em all. And it’s not even about the time I asked him why he’s circumcised. His answer: “I’m… not…”

Nope, this one trumps even that.

I can’t say I made it easy on him. Even before we started going out, he had to chase me for months before I finally submitted to his charms. During this time of attempted and persistent wooing, he took me out and we had our first date. On Valentine’s Day. As friends.

That was a year when V.D. (yes, I find the negative connotations entirely fitting) fell on a Sunday and I’d spent the night before out and ended it making out with a toilet. Thus, when the big date finally arrived, I was not on form and couldn’t even rely on a restorative hair of the dog as I was driving (and momentarily teetotal).

Nevertheless, we met up for a drink and then went on to the cinema.  He gave me a handmade card that said, ‘I well fancy you;’ I sat with my head in my hands, communicating in grunts and gurgles and trying not to dribble. He held my hand; I almost fell asleep on his shoulder. After the film, he asked if I was hungry. I wasn’t, he was and so we went to Burger King. There we sat, under the strip lighting, in relatively awkward silence as he ate a burger and I watched. Finally, he wiped his mouth, looked up and said, “Basically, I really like you; I think you’re amazing and I want to know how you feel about me?”

Me: “I’m… really busy right now…”

He later told me it was the worst date he’d ever been on. He got me back the next year, though, when I donned a tight red dress and we sat in front on the TV all night, watching Deal Or No Deal.

Fatal Attraction

There comes a defining moment in every single woman’s life when she is forced to stop and reassess things, before coming to the inevitable conclusion that she’s gone and bloody done it: she’s on a date with a serial killer.

It’s that sickening realisation that you’ve picked the wrong man on crutches to help to his car; you’ve fallen prey to the wrong faux cop; you’ve gone up to the wrong punter’s car window. Maybe you’ve been invited over to tea with his collection of dolls or have been introduced to his menagerie of taxidermied pets (and then there’s his mother, who’s met a similar fate). But this is it. You’re not long for this world.

And I’m willing to argue that this is a prime example of gender inequality in dating, where women just have it worse. At least it was Glen Close Michael Douglas was fatally attracted to, not to mention the illicit Sharon Stone shagging. And really, after 127 minutes of Douglas’ frankly offensive trout pout, not only must Stone be considered entirely justified in taking an ice pick to him, but I was egging her on.

Gender politics and my issues with Douglas’ face aside, I convinced that this was destined to be my last night on this mortal coil and, to make matters worse, it was going to be the most maudlin, dull and searingly uncomfortable night of my life.

But let’s start at the beginning.

I’d been out with my friend Henry and a group of his friends. Henry had been trying to set me up with his friend, John, who had recently broken up with his girlfriend a month ago (off putting enough) and had been immersed in a bottomless pit of depression ever since (even more so). The fact that he hadn’t washed or brushed his teeth since as a result was equally unattractive, so, despite Henry’s proposal that ‘getting with me might cheer him up,’ it was his other friend- Ted- that I spent the evening chatting to. Ted was in a band and in the middle of his PHD. We arranged a date.

It wasn’t until we’d met, sat down with a drink and blown through our first topic of conversation (music, no less) in 27 seconds that I realised something was up. During the awkward silence, as I tried to come up with another topic, he peered at me through his thick rimmed spectacles and asked, “Do I make you feel uncomfortable?”

“No, of course not!” I exclaimed. “…Do you read?” Thinking perhaps once we’d both had a drink and relaxed a bit, things would get better. They didn’t.

Another crushing silence.

“Do I make you feel uncomfortable?”

“Films?” I squeaked.

This happened twice more, after each topic of conversation came to an abrupt end, the most awkward time being right after he’d kissed me. After I pulled away, “Do I make you feel uncomfortable?”

The fact that he then stopped drinking- he was driving- did not help matters. I was not going to be the only drunk at the table (again) especially when he was buying me drinks; it would have been impolite. So I too switched to orange juice. When the barmaid accidentally knocked my glass over into my lap, staining my light coloured dress, I was willing to see the funny side. He was not.

Luckily, this being a Sunday evening, the pubs were closing early and I was able to make my excuses and leave. Until he offered to drive me home.

STRANGER DANGER started flashing in my head in big, red neon letters. “Oh golly, I couldn’t ask you to do that! It’s right in the opposite direction of where you’re going. I’ll just get a taxi.”

But he insisted, “Unless you don’t want to get in a car with me?”

So with grave misgivings, I accepted. I kept my phone in my hand in my pocket for the entire journey back and sprinted to my door on arrival. When I finally got inside and locked the door behind me, I sobbed with relief.

Well, that’s an exaggeration, but I was pretty relieved to be out of there.