This appeared on Into The Fold October 2015
The opening scene of Bridget Jones’s Diary, to me, is utter perfection.
The re-runs of Frasier, the flannel pyjamas, the copious amounts of red wine and having a good ‘ugly’ cry; oh I want it. I want it all. Yes, I have been known to sometimes fantasise about finding myself alone and wallowing in self-pity for not having a date; not because I’m some sociopath who wishes to inflict such emotional turmoil on herself, but I simply think it looks quite indulgent and therapeutic. The thing is, this is looking like an unlikely prospect for me: I’ve sort of (as much the phrase makes me shudder) ‘settled down’. One ring on my finger and my signature scribbled on the deeds to a house have me officially ‘off the market’. Funny that.
Being in a long-term relationship (since I was a teenager…we’re pushing ten years) is wonderful for all sorts of reasons but I’m not afraid to say I’m left a little curious about some of things those singletons are getting up to while I’m sat at home with my significant other, old ketchup-stained pyjamas adorning my (unshaven) legs and a funky smell wafting through the room that we’re both too polite to mention.
Perhaps I’ve spent too much time studying movies but I am completely convinced that the single life looks like one big romantic comedy. If I were ever to lose my job I would instantly head to the nearest hair salon and go for the chop which would eventually lead to my meeting my dream man (if Gwynnie can do it, so can I). I would spend my summer at Butlins under the psuedo of ‘Baby’ in the hopes of meeting my very own Patrick Swayze and I would almost certainly set up a new email account à la Meg Ryan in ‘You’ve Got Mail’ (because having Tom Hanks AND your very own bookshop = THE DREAM amirite?) Basically, the single life looks like it’s cracked up to be a lot of fun- the endless cocktail dates, the meeting lots of interesting people and boy do I remember that exciting buzz you get when you’re texting someone you like and you don’t know where it’s leading (though literally the last time I did this it was a matter of rationing the 100 texts my £15 a month contract allowed- ah to be 14 again) but there are still a few things I’m curious about and can’t help but make some observations when I speak to my single friends and hear about their dates.
Like first off, man it looks like hard work. It’s the constant messaging at the beginning to even establish whether the two of you want to meet and then it’s deciding on a time and place to suit you both and then there’s always that niggling feeling in the back of your mind that they might not show. You’re always ‘on’- when you’re at work, at a bar, at the gym, even while you’re on your commute. You never know where you’re going to meet someone so always being ready to strike up a witty conversation with a potential suitor must be exhausting. In the early days of a relationship or when you’re dating, we’re much harder to impress and any grand romantic gestures can do more harm than good; coming on too hot and heavy at first might scare some people away, but play it too cool and we’ll lose interest. Right now, as I write this my fiancé is making me a sandwich for my lunch tomorrow (cheese and onion if you must know) and I find this really quite romantic and thoughtful. When you’ve been in an LTR for so long, it really is the little things.
I’m going to put it down to the fact that I am a proper country bumpkin and grew up in one of those tiny villages where everybody knew each other, but isn’t it a tiny bit terrifying meeting up with someone you met on the internet? Do you tell the man to wear a yellow carnation in his jacket buttonhole to identify him across the bar or is that something lame I saw on one of my rom-coms?
I can only assume that to successfully date nowadays you must be either very rich or chivalrous. It’s not just the dinner dates I’m on about it’s the taxis to and from a bar or restaurant, the new clothes you’re buying to keep your wardrobe fresh (I totally get the ‘new dress’ idea ahead of a big date), the uh-hum salon visits to keep your wax in check (as the Scouts say ‘always be prepared’).
And, most importantly, when you hear of a new movie coming out at the cinema and your friends are busy and you don’t have that boyfriend to drag along to see another mushy rom-com just who are you going to go with to get your Tom Hanks fix? Just who? I don’t need that kind of uncertainty in my life.