My support network has gone to extreme measures to help me deal with what they defined as a severe case of emotional constipation. I’m not particularly eager to commit. It doesn’t help my cause, like when you have been out of work for too long, and even recruitment consultants begin to look at you with suspicious eyes.
At an emergency meeting held in the early hours last Sunday morning outside Vauxhall bus garage, it became clear that deception was my only option: “Honey, you’d better start lying – about everything! If anyone asks, you have been single for less than two years, you are over your ex, and you are now open to the idea of nesting.” My friends quickly arranged a few dates for me. As it turned out, a sense of security is what men look for in potential dates, coupled with some visual evidence that you look presentable and that nature has blessed you with a decent-sized penis.
With seven days of annual leave coming up, I surrendered to my friends’ pressure, and after a precautionary trim in all the right places (and I don’t mean the barber’s), I was ready for date number one. I met him on Monday at a Costa. All was going well until the ex-talk started. He informed me that they still lived together: “I am over him though. Do you want to see a photo?” I declined politely. I contemplated giving him a chance, but then his hair plugs distracted me. I couldn’t help but stare at his forehead. I was transfixed. After this discovery, my heart was not in it anymore. I left soon after, making a mental note that I should know beforehand if future dates had natural hair. It’s ok to be bald.
Tuesday’s encounter didn’t last very long either. We didn’t even order a drink. I found him outside The Duke of Wellington, covered in sweat. He’d had a pacemaker fitted over two years ago. Lately, it has been giving him problems, especially when, under stress, his heart would race over 150 beats per minute: “I may accidentally kill him during sex,” I considered, shallow as usual. I promptly escorted him to a nearby bus stop and waved goodbye as the double doors closed behind him.
On Wednesday, I woke up feeling hopeful. After all, it’s more likely to have a successful job interview in the middle of the week. He was a friend of a friend. She insisted I should meet him because he was very lovely. VERY LOVELY! The word association should have rung alarm bells in my head. His hands were small and perfectly manicured. He lectured me about the current inflation rates between lunch courses. I tried to imagine how it would feel to have those polished hands of wax crawling, unsupervised, all over my body. I shivered, never a good sign. Little details put me off people for life. Suffering emotional exhaustion, I took a hiatus from dating on Thursday.
On Friday, at the gym, I met someone who invited me to his place: “My girlfriend will exercise for another hour. I live around the corner. Wanna come over?” he asked. Then he added, reassuringly, “don’t worry, we can leave the backdoor open in case she comes home earlier, and you have to make a quick getaway!” It was an offer I couldn’t resist. When I told my friends, they weren’t impressed. According to them, I lacked the resolution/desperation that being 47 should naturally generate. My youthful Mediterranean genes live on bargained time, they informed me.
With this terrifying omen lingering in my head, I went on a dinner date on Saturday. The way he aligned his cutlery and glassware on the table was a sign of things to come: “Everything needs to be square in my life” he declared, dead serious. While I was tucking into my truffle chicken parfait, ordered because I hoped the word combination might destabilise him, he looked at me and stated that what he truly hated was when people would make a mess in his bed. “All you need is fuck-sheets, like normal people,” I reflected, practical. Later, vicious me spilled an orgasm on his semi-silked duvet cover and then left, wickedly satisfied. “No wonder I am single,” I acknowledged, standing on the platform in Embankment underground station, laughing at myself as I often do.
Then, a man who would turn out to be my Sunday morning date restored my faith in the fortuitous nature of life by chatting me up. We missed one train after another until the last one left the station. He came home. I cooked breakfast in the morning, and he ate it all. As it turned out, being a great cook is what you should demonstrate to your potential suitors to breeze you through to date number two.