'Talking with both hands at my book launch. Still Single, in case you were wondering'.
‘Still single’ should be a marital status all of its own. When people declare ‘You’re still single!’ or ‘I can’t believe you’re still single’, as they tend to when you’ve been perishing in the wilderness for as long as I have, it’s difficult to know what to say back, especially if they’re not a really good mate.
I guess it’s sort of a compliment (you’re so gorgeous, there’s no way you should be single!), or at least a declaration of pity, but, for me, its emphatic tone always leaves a freakish residue in the air. You know, where I’m the freak.
In the case of ‘Yorkshire’, my bearded and bolshie ex four times removed, his angle was genuinely puzzled. When we went out for a curry recently (he lives in New York now but comes back to Blighty from time to time), he was listing off my positive attributes to make his case: Good looking (can’t remember his exact words because I think he felt awkward saying it), funny (I know!), intelligent (to be sure!) then he paused for a sec before flourishing, ‘and you can cook!’ Ha. Well, quite.
I felt like adding ‘solid hindquarters’ into the mix but decided against it.
Joking aside, because Yorkshire and I are such compatible sparring partners and I know he accepts me wholly for who I am, I was able to spit out my naan bread in mock disgust and gesticulate wildly along the lines of: ‘I know! What’s wrong with them! They don’t know what they’re missing,’ etc., etc.
With Yorkshire, my First Proper Boyfriend and one and only successful boyfriend-to-friend, he kind of does know what he’s missing and still thinks I’m a good bet, so that makes it kind of nice. He’d make a good pimp.
But with somebody who doesn’t know you quite so well, like an old journo friend who emailed me this week, the implications are slightly different. When she declared, ‘You’re still single!’ (yep, she did use an exclamation mark), I was tempted to go back with something ridiculous like, ‘It’s difficult to find men who are adequately endowed’ or ‘After my court case, it’s been so much more difficult to make them stick, you know?’, just ’cause it’s so damned patronising!
So how do you turn this around, reclaim it and make it positive? I’m thinking a ‘Still Single’ T-shirt line, or setting up in the burgeoning logo jewellery business so we can hang our status around our necks. You know, just to be clear.
The other big question I get asked is, am I happy being single, like my brother in law asked me last time I was up north visiting the family. I said I’m not unhappy being single but that I would like to meet someone.
‘Why?’ He continued. ‘Because I want to love someone and I want them to love me.’
Simple. Or not.
It’s this kind of high-level thinking and a particularly annoying bloke I dated, christened ‘Gay Dad’, that prompted to me to start writing an online diary (a blog, if you will) about my many and varied romantic misadventures.
Gay Dad called me neurotic. I was naked at the time. We were unsuccessfully post-coital, which is what made it so galling. I pride myself on my quick wittedness and rebuffed, ‘What? Like Woody Allen?’
And so it began – a record of bullshit encounters such as this but mainly a cry for help because in the three-plus years that I’ve been single, I find myself thinking WTF? a lot.
It helped to write it all down to try to make sense of it. Is there a pattern? Is it me? Is it them? There’s definitely a pattern in terms of the number of duds and disappointments.
There’s the flakes, the weirdos, the hot-then-colds, the full-of-shits, the insecures, the ex-obsessed.
Then there’s the minefield that is texting, the horrors of internet dating, intimacy issues, grooming etiquette . . . I could go on, and I will.
I should say, underpinning all of this ‘research’ (read moaning) is the fact that I am a manic romantic, a self-confessed love fool. I do want to find love. I crave intimacy and I miss kissing so much; I love that first flash of romance when you truly find a connection with somebody, when you really let go, when you go giddy over a text, when your skin prickles and your insides shudder. I want all of this. I do. I’m chasing it. It’s addictive – when you don’t have it, you crave it and do daft things to try and get it.
I’m like Patrick Swayze in Point Break, but where he’s tripping for the ultimate wave, I’m tripping for the ultimate love.
The problem is, being this switched on gets me in trouble sometimes. It fogs my perception and expectations, for a start – how could it not? Half the time I’m playing out wild relationships in my head. It’s like I’ve got a head start on the blokes. How can they possibly live up to the dream?
Was Gay Dad right? Am I neurotic? Maybe I am, but in the best possible way: the angst-y, antsy (and hopefully funny) Woody Allen way.
So, in the spirit of the King of Neurotica, imagine, if you will, a voiceover. Welcome to my particular Love Story . .