Category Archives: Dating

The Reception

After the wedding, we headed back to the UK for a bit. The celebration was being held in a small pub in Cambridge, The Cambridge Blue and we had a few things to get ready ahead of time. Also, my parents were coming to the UK to hang with us and Alex’s parents.

The week up leading up to the wedding was fairly uneventful. We had a long and annoying trip home from Copenhagen, but made much less long and much less annoying be being given a lift from one of Alex’s friends. Alex and I argued hugely over what music was appropriate for dancing to and what music was only appropriate for background noise. We ended up with 10 hours worth of music for a day that would only require music for, at the most, 8 hours, but alt at least we didn’t end up killing each other.

I went on a trip with my Dad to Titpon, a small town outside of Birmingham, where an ancestor of ours originally came from. We went to the ‘Black Country Living Museum,’ which was all about mining in the area. I overcame my fears of small, dark, wet and cave-like places and managed to go on a tour of a mine, during which I must have seemed so confident that a middle-aged lady attached herself to me for the entirety of the trip. Literally attached herself to my bag every time we had to move off with a little, ‘Now, where’s my lovely lady?’ It was weird and also sweet.

The real shadow over-hanging the week, of course, was the prospect of the UK referendum. We’d all been gobsmacked over Jo Cox’s death the week before. Alex’s father told us he literally couldn’t stand to talk about it. I felt heartbroken, which was strange because I had literally never heard of her before then. I think it was a combination of the extremity of the violence and anger directed at her, the fact that she had small children, that she shared a lot of the same politics as myself and just seemed like a hugely decent human being with ideals, drive, energy and passion. It didn’t help that when I first heard about the incident she was alive and being taken to hospital and I somehow managed to convince myself she would therefore be fine. I still can’t believe she died. There’s some strange childish part of me that still thinks that if she’d have survived everything else that happened afterwards would have been ok. Or, at least, not as bad. Anyway, driving around Tipton trying to find the Dudley Castle with Dad the day before the referendum, I spotted a UKIP bus and legions of overjoyed UKIP fans (in stupid hats. Why in stupid hats?) lining up to have their photos taken with some UKIP councillor. It was shocking to see them all in the flesh – up until that point they had literally existed as characters on computer or TV screen for me (me being from the London global elite, and all *dramatic eye roll*). My first instinct was, naturally, to roll out of the moving vehicle and give them all a right good kicking. Which obviously wouldn’t have played well, nor would it have made anything about Jo Cox any better. Sure it wasn’t Nigel Farage’s fault directly. But he has a lot to do with the current hysterical state of debate.

Anyway, Alex and I headed into London on the Thursday so that I could vote in the Australian election. (UK) Labour supporters at the station gave me a ‘Remain’ sticker and as we got into London, the number of ‘Remain’ stickers on people both young and old, from all walks of life, gave me hope. I met a friend for lunch at the Jewish Cultural Centre, JW3. When I went to buy a Snapple, the guy behind the counter saw my sticker and said, ‘thanks for voting to keep us in’ (not that I voted, of course, not allowed and all, but it seemed too complicated to go into at that point). When the woman ahead of me took too long to buy her lunch, the cafe guy who had thanked me told me to just take the drink for free. I got a free drink just because he thought I had good politics! I mean, I had the decency to feel pretty guilty about it all, but it really did feel even more embarrassing to explain it to him afterwards at that point. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just a bad person.

That night, as we were going to bed, an exit poll had Remain at 52% and Leave at 48%. So, when I woke up at 5am to find Alex staring at his mobile phone and he told me it was 52% Leave, 48% Remain, my sleepy brain, went, ‘oh god, no worries then.’ It took a good 60 seconds for it to properly process the sounds he had made, at which point I woke up completely. It was a complete panic. Not only was the state of the world very different to how I’d assumed it was, this decision seemed to completely upend Alex and my plans for the future.

That morning was difficult. We had so much to do. I had to buy flowers for the tables in the pub. I had to write a speech. We had to move out of Alex’s parents place and to the hotel we were spending the weekend at. I had to iron my dress. We had to go to the pub and check final details for the next day. But, neither Alex nor I had any desire to get out of bed. All we wanted to do was read more and more terrible stories about what the terrible future held and what terrible human beings we all were now that this was the way the vote had gone.  Alex said to me, ‘Have a shower. It’ll make you feel better.’ And all I could think was, ‘I don’t want to feel better. I want to feel WORSE.’

Somehow we got out of bed and got everything done that needed to be done. We went outside and the sky was not yet falling. People were walking around as if it were a normal day, instead of running and screaming and ducking for cover. It was all very strange. I kept trying to eavesdrop to see if I could find people who voted ‘Leave’ to hate or people who voted ‘Remain’ to commiserate with. But people seemed to determined to continue on as if nothing had happened. Had something happened? Surely something had happened. It was all terribly confusing. Had no one read the paper that morning?

Somehow we got to Saturday. I dragged myself out of bed (terrible night’s sleep) and started the whole process of getting pretty all over again. It was far less stressful this time. This time, instead of being stressed about being pretty, I was stressed about the speech I had to give. I didn’t want to give the speech. Even though Alex and I had both decided that we should give speeches, and it may have actually been my idea in the first place. Still, that was all irrelevant. Now I didn’t want to do the speech. I didn’t want to do a performance of love. I just wanted to be in love. I was in love with Alex, wasn’t that enough, goddamit, why did everyone insist on asking how it felt, it feels how it feels and you can’t describe it without resorting to cliche and making it sound cheap and ordinary and trivial and it wasn’t ordinary, not at all, so why did everyone insist I go ruining it by trying to describe it with my poor words, eh? Eh? Also, there was part of me that felt that if I got the ‘performance of love’ test wrong then my guests would all think, ‘well, that’s disappointing, isn’t it? The marriage is clearly not going to last. I mean, she’s clearly not REALLY in love. That was just not a good enough speech.’ Maybe someone would ring up Denmark and have our marriage made null and void. This is what my brain does to me.

Anyway, I managed to scrawl out something before putting my curlers in. Erin came round to help again and then we ‘paraded’ to the pub, less out of desire this time and more out of an understanding of Cambridge traffic jams. There was a jam and it wasn’t going anywhere. Still, a little child did stop in the middle of the footpath, gape up at me and yell to his mother (in Spanish): ‘The lady in red! The lady in red!’ That certainly made the walk worthwhile.

The pub had been beautifully done up by Alex’s parents, aunts and friends. We’d gone for a kind of ‘picnic’ feel so all the tables had kitschy, patterned tablecloths (made my Alex’s aunts and Alex’s mother’s friends), mismatched flowers and I’d made cheat’s bunting (strips of material instead of neat triangles). I’d been worried because we couldn’t put it all together before the day, but it looked super-dooper, even if I do say so myself:

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The first half of the wedding day was lovely until I remembered that I had to do a speech that I hadn’t even read through since writing it, at which point, it was panic-anxiety stations to the max. Petticoats and high heels and tight dresses to not assist when one is panicking, I must say. I got much advice ranging from ‘push on your lower abdomen’ to ‘have some more alcohol’ to ‘millions of people have done it before you and survived and you’ll be able to do it too.’ All of which was true and helpful but none of which calmed me down sufficiently.

Somehow, we finally got to the part of the day when speeches were done. My brother did a stellar job of MC-ing and Alex’s parents spoke beautifully to start. My own dad brought the house down with laughter and then, just to really stretch those emotional muscles, he made everyone dissolve into floods of tears, myself included. Alex’s friend Anna made, I think, the best Brexit joke of the day (in what was a hugely competitive field – I feel like a lot of friends treated our wedding as a wake for the EU, and that was ok, I completely understood and if it hadn’t been my wedding I probably would have done that too). As Wonderfriend Erin was taking to the stage, however, a huge clap of thunder made itself heard and the heavens opened, pounding our tiny marquee with hailstones the size of extra-large marbles. Poor Erin rose valiantly over the sound, but after she finished we took a 15 minute break. The hailstones provided an excellent distraction from my speech, especially as everyone tried to justify why the hailstones were ok. One friend explained that rain is good luck on your wedding day and what was hail but very hard, very concentrated rain, so this could only meanWh even better luck. Someone else explained that Zeus was angry because Alex had taken me as a bride and to be wary of any swans that might visit me in the evening time.

When the hail calmed down, Alex gave his (very sweet) speech and then I made mine. It was, of course, fine. People laughed in the right places, nobody called the Danish authorities to say a mistake had been made, we shouldn’t actually have gotten married, it was all ok. And that meant the only thing left to do was to enjoy the rest of the evening! We cut cake, we did a first dance to the Magnetic Fields’ ‘I’m Sorry I Love You’ (which I like to think of as the most British love song title ever) and all was good.

There’s not much else to say, really. It was a fantastic night with much dancing and drinking and talking and laughing. I danced so hard that the ribbon on the back of my dress came off somewhere between the pub and the hotel (poor vintage dress lasted 70 years in mint condition, it comes into contact with me and it lasts 2 events. Le Sigh). Brexit didn’t ruin it (though it tried damn hard and is still trying). It was so wonderful to have everyone there who was there and we hope they all had a fantastic time. The pub and it’s owners were great, made everything so easy with organisation and really helped us to get the best day we possibly could have. Everyone who helped out on the day or in the lead-up (and there were lots of them – friends who went shopping with me, friends who approved dresses, friends who picked up dresses, friends who did my hair, friends who attached eyelashes, friends who decorated on the day, friends who picked up cakes, friends who took photos, friends and family who made speeches, friends who organised Hen’s Nights and Stag Nights and Shag Nights, people I didn’t even know who sewed us 20 tablecloths, wrapped flower pots in paper and ribbons…) were incredible and the whole thing wouldn’t have happened without them. It was a perfect day only because everyone pitched in and it made both Alex and I feel so loved and cared for by our friends and extended family. So, to you, all of you, thank you.

 

 

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Filed under Dating, UK, Wedding

The Wedding

So we had a pretty big June.

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Yep! We got ourselves hitched!

As followers of this blog may know, I’m not a huge fan of the wedding industry. I’m also not a massive fan of the history of marriage or the modern institution, capitalist romance and the performance of said-romance (see also previous blog entries).  So, it might seem a strange thing for a gal like me to be getting married.

And, honestly, it was a strange thing. I know a lot of people view me as hopelessly romantic and whilst that is certainly an aspect of my personality that I may have accidentally cultivated with my interest in Jane Austen, BBC bonnet dramas and flowery clothing; but I assure you the other part of me is a hardened, crusty and angry cynic. I can only describe it as the effects of having been a young and hopeless romantic who came into late and unwelcome contact with the real world. I never really thought I’d get married. When I was in a relationship I couldn’t see a good reason to get married – as a young 20-something it didn’t seem to make a difference to my life. When I was single… well, I just thought I’d never be with anyone ever again. And, that was also… fine.

But, that all kind of changed when I met Alex. I don’t mean (*orchestra playing*) I finally met the love of my life and I suddenly saw the point of marriage. I mean, that because we are citizens of different countries, getting married seemed to make a lot of sense. At some point in our relationship we had each, individually and personally, decided that we wanted, and expected, to be with each other long-term. But that’s not so easy when you don’t have rights in the other’s country. So, getting married was an official way of saying to each of our countries: ‘we come as a package.’ Of course, that explanation doesn’t get rid of all the icky baggage that marriage is carrying around with it, nor does it acknowledge the fact that for many people, an official marriage is still not possible. But for better or worse (ha!) getting married did become very important for us.

Now, I can’t pretend I was impervious to all the traditional wedding stuff. Sure, I wore a red dress and not white, but do you know how much stress I put myself (and many others) through to get that absolutely perfect, one-of-a-kind dress? Sure we only had a civil ceremony in a town hall, but if, for language and visa reasons, you decide to get married in a faux-gothic, early twentieth century Danish town hall that happens to be holding said civil ceremonies in the goddamn clock tower on the day of your wedding, you will still have 6 year old girls looking at the photos and squealing, ‘Jenny! It’s your palace! You’re a princess!’

I think my attitude towards the whole thing was that it should be special, of course it should be special, but if anyone dared suggest that this was, or should be, the happiest day of my life, I would come at them with the unnecessarily high heel of my wedding shoe. Apart from anything else, it simply wasn’t true because we were having a ‘reception’ on a different day (and in a different country) to the ceremony (and possibly another reception in Australia next year – we’re calling it ‘The 2016 – 17 International Festival of Jenny and Alex’. Good God, what were we thinking). So, I deliberately tried to buy things that could be used after the wedding ceremony (and specifically, on the day of the reception). Not only the dress, but the headband, the shoes (which can be died a different colour than spill-attracting white-cream), the make-up (which I bought and did myself), the curlers that I used to set my hair (though I must acknowledge the stupendous help of my best friend Erin who stepped in both days and pinned my hair when I suddenly panicked and couldn’t figure out how to do the back of my hair when I couldn’t see it).

The reason we chose Denmark was that we had it on good authority that it could be very complicated for foreigners to get married in Germany. Also, the service had to be done in German or it wasn’t official and if we couldn’t understand properly we had to provide a translator. Denmark, however, has made a cottage industry of marrying absolutely anyone to anyone else, quickly, efficiently and in the language of your choice (provided that your language of choice is Danish, English or German). We contacted ‘Getting Married in Denmark’ who gave great advice, were warm, helpful all along the way (no matter how annoying or stressed the questions!) and got us exactly the wedding that we wanted.

We got into Copenhagen two days beforehand, with enough time to drop off our official documents as well as to visit the fantastic Tivoli Gardens – an historic and beautiful theme park. I can definitely vouch for rollercoasters and an 80m -high swing roundabout thing for getting rid of your pre-wedding anxiety.

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Yup. Went up that thing and lived to tell the tale. ‘Star Flyer’ image found here .

The ceremony was at 10:30am on Saturday, but when we gave in our official documents the woman at the desk had been very disparaging of the notion that we were getting married in the clock tower (way to up the pre-wedding anxiety, random Danish City Hall worker), so we had decided to get there extra early just to make sure that we were actually, really, truly getting married where we had been told we were getting married.

I spent the hours beforehand doing make-up and hair with the help of my stepmum and the the aforementioned Wonderfriend, Erin. I was anxious enough to get approval on almost every brushstroke. Not only is Erin a whizz with the hair, but she is luckily a theatre person and so knew how to attach fake eyelashes – a thing I had bought thinking they looked great but had failed to practice actually attaching to my face. Little tip – 50mins before you need to be at your own wedding is not the time to make your very first attempt at attaching false eyelashes to your face. One does not even know where one should attach fake eyelashes 50mins before one’s wedding – the upper lip? The outer rim of the ear?

Anywho, despite taking way longer than expected, I was ready on time, jumped into a taxi with my parents and wasn’t even the last one to arrive. The City Hall staff on the day were, without exception, friendly, polite, welcoming, happy for us and just generally wonderful. Each staff member showed us to a new section of the City Hall where we would wait a few moments before being shown to another section. The place is stunning with loads of interesting stuff to look at, from nautical and octopus themed wall paintings to exhibitions on WWII in Denmark, so this game of ‘pass-the- wedding-party’ was actually highly enjoyable. The only real issue was when it became increasingly obvious that there was no lift. Not even a little lift for just a little bit of the upward journey. We were to power ourselves all the way up to the clock tower with our own two feet. I mean, it was terribly romantic climbing up all those spiral staircases, but petticoats really do get in the way of making certain that your feet are going where you think they are going.

I can barely remember the ceremony, it was over so quickly. I’m told I squealed. I really hope not. But, then again, I can barely remember the amazing view from the clock tower because I was just so darn excited. So, maybe I squealed. I hope everyone can forgive me. The staff who conducted the ceremony were wonderful and even though we’d never met our celebrant before, she was just perfect – both funny and sincere and just generally warm and empathetic. The little speech she gave in English, of what I can remember, was lovely: something about making sure that we strengthen our relationship by making sure we remain individuals and strengthen each other as individuals. Ah, it was just so perfect. Like I said before, I’ve got issues with romance and public romance, but, I tell you what. This was spectacularly, fantastically, beautifully romantic. Alex was crying (from happiness – I swear I didn’t force him into it). I couldn’t stop smiling.

When we got down to the ground, I dropped our newly minted wedding documents off to be translated and made official (or something) and then we gathered our wedding group together for the post-wedding lunch. We had a bit of time and I was still worked up, so I insisted that we all ‘had to parade’ to the restaurant. In reality, all that meant was walking for 20 mins over cobblestones (though, in hindsight, I should totally have forced them all to play music and throw streamers over me. Missed opportunity). Everyone was extremely kind and all agreed. Nobody even tried to protest. The power of the bride.

Luckily we got to the restaurant just as everyone’s feet were giving out. We had chosen the most Danish restaurant we could find, which served open faced sandwiches and schnapps: Told og Snaps. Again, the staff were wonderful, so friendly and so helpful, considering what a big group we were. They explained we couldn’t possibly drink schnapps without first having beer. This was the way of things in Denmark. So, we all ordered beer and then a schnapps was selected from their long list (‘I will choose a good one for you – if you have never had schnapps before it is difficult to choose’, said the wonderful waiter). The sandwich menu was incredibly long and each one we ordered was incredibly delicious. Who knew a bit of toasted bread with some stuff on top could be so gourmet? The Danes, that’s who.

All the excitement of the past 24 hours: the emotions, the happiness, the stress, the make-up, the hair, the rollercoasters, the lack of food (I’d been unable to eat dinner or breakfast before the wedding) and then the sudden food (so much sandwich! So much cheese!) was starting to take it’s toll. Alex and I went back to the hotel and, in all honesty, all we had the energy to do was watch Danish nature documentaries. Alex fell asleep. Really. I don’t know how couples who do the ceremony and the reception all on the same day do it. I was exhausted.

After about 4 hours of lying down, we had enough energy to go out and get dinner. Around 8pm, people started coming to our hotel room and we had a good ol’ fashioned hotel room party just like in the old days. My brother had brought us lichen liquor from his stop-over in Iceland and we forced everyone to drink it. It was great. I mean, not the liquor, that was pretty awful, but that my brother had brought it and that everyone felt compelled to try it. That was great. Thanks to excellent Danish hotel design, absolutely none of the other guests complained, because absolutely no one could hear anything outside of the room. Spectacular.

On Sunday, Alex and I got up late and then wandered around Copenhagen trying to see a few sights before our flight. Copenhagen is really pretty. That’s my verdict. I would highly recommend it as the place of your next wedding or holiday.

Well, I was going to try and do wedding and reception together but I think it’s getting a bit long. I’ll write the next bit tomorrow.

 

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Filed under Berlin, Dating, Wedding, wedding dress

Things I Never Want to Hear Again

I’ve been single for a very long time now. And, as a singleton, there are certain tried and true sentences that people offer up to you as ‘consolation’ for the fact that you are single. I pretty much don’t expect ever to be in a relationship again, which I am ok with, but most other people find this extremely distressing. They take this statement to be some kind of cry for help, some silent plea for compliments and reassurance. Which just infuriates me, because, you know what? Despite everyone’s impression of me as some kind of romantic, boy-mad, love-obsessed, Austen-maniac, I have spent most of my life as a single, independent person (don’t even get me started on whether Jane Austen has more to offer the world than romantic wish-fulfilment stories for sad 20 somethings). I am perfectly ok. I know sometimes this blog has made you think otherwise and certainly there have been times when I’ve been down about the fact that I am single. But, no longer. I am sick of talking about love and romance and relationships and all the rest. I think I’ve probably talked about it enough to last me a lifetime. So, I can’t speak for all singletons, but, if anybody says any of these things to me again, I am liable to do a Hulk-style rage and tear apart some inner-city skyscrapers. Or something.

1) ‘You need to love yourself first.’ So, me not being in a relationship is evidence of the fact that I don’t love myself? That seems a little unfair. I know I have my down periods, but I think that probably makes me a pretty ok person and not an egotistical maniac. I mean, am I required to love absolutely EVERYTHING about myself before someone else will love me too? ‘I love the little toe on my left foot even though its manky and has a funal infection that made the nail fall off. I love it in spite of its difficulties. I love it BECAUSE of its uniqueness. I love the third knuckle on my right hand because…’ etc. I’m pretty sure most of the people I know in long-term, committed relationships aren’t like that. And who do I have to see about proving that I like myself a sufficient enough to be in a relationship? Is there some kind of government body? Some sort of list I should sign up to? Or is just something that you announce on your first date? ‘Don’t worry- I love myself a sufficient amount to be on this date with you. We can proceed further, if you would also feel you love yourself enough to be on this date with me.’

2) ‘You need to make space for love in your life.’ My room in London is very small. How much space exactly is this love going to take up? I’ve already broken my chest of drawers with the amount of clothes I have in there and my shoes are spilling out of my cupboard.

No, but seriously. What is this mystical crap? How exactly do I make room for love in my life? Do I just block out large chunks of time in my calendar and mark it ‘love’ and then just sit around in the park or another public area and hope someone gets the message?

3) ‘Maybe you’re just too picky.’ That’s right, people, the way to find love is to force yourself into loving someone you don’t love just because they love you! And, I mean, really, shouldn’t the fact that they love you be enough for you to love them back?

4) ‘It’ll happen when you’re not thinking about it.’ Ok, maybe this is true. But, hello, has nobody ever played that mind game on you when they say the only think you’re not allowed to think about is a large, purple elephant? And then, of course, the only thing you can think about is large purple elephants? Hundreds of them? Thousands of them? Some in tutus and some in fancy hats and all of them doing the can-can? On your BRAIN? It’s like that other irritating phrase that you should ‘be in the moment’. The minute you start monitoring whether or not you’re in the moment, you’re no longer in the freakin’ moment. So, you think, ‘hoorah! I’m not thinking about love right now! Now its bound to happen! Oh, wait… DAMN IT!’

5) ‘Have you tried internet dating? My friend met someone AMAZING on internet dating.’ Yes, I’ve tried it. It sux.

6) ‘Have you tried speed dating? My friend met someone AMAZING on speed dating.’ Yes, I’ve tried it. It sux.

7) ‘But you’re gorgeous!’ IRRELEVANT. Whilst I enjoy being complimented as much as the next person, if there is anything that Jennifer Aniston and the tabloid press has taught my generation, it is that just being beautiful won’t stop you having problems with love. And just being beautiful won’t prevent some other, younger, sexier, arguably more beautiful woman coming along and stealing your thunder.

8) ‘You’ve been travelling.’ Apparently travelling makes people so unattractive to other people that you cannot, CANNOT ever be in a relationship with them. Perhaps its the smelly shoes. All that walking. Never mind that other people (often the people telling me ‘you’ve been travelling’) have gotten into relationships whilst travelling, when it comes to me – ‘you’ve been travelling.’

9) ‘Don’t be silly – of course you’ll find someone! You’re awesome!’ The WORST. Because:

a) I apparently cannot argue against this statement without seeming particularly depressive and self-pitying. The more I protest with whoever is saying it, the more they pat my back and smile at me and gently shush me and tell me again, ‘Don’t be silly!’ But, here is what I want to say, well-meaning people, if you would just stop patting me for a second. Can you guarantee that I will ‘find someone’? Can you pinky-promise me that I will ‘find someone’? Can you put down a million dollars and promise me that I will ‘find someone’? That’s right. You can’t. You won’t. Because not everyone does ‘find someone’. Some people stay single for the rest of their lives.

and, therefore,

b) In this statement, in your reasoning, my awesomeness is reliant on the fact that I will ‘find someone’. Given that, as we have already established, it is NOT guaranteed that I will find someone, and perhaps I won’t, would that then take away my awesomeness? Or does that mean that I was never awesome in the first place? Call me egotistical, but I think I’m awesome as a single person and also in a relationship. I don’t want to toot my own horn guys, but I’m a lot of fun. You want to be my single friend? Great, I will go drinking with you. I will cut it up on the dance floor with ridiculous moves that make you laugh. I will go on holidays with you. I will bring you presents from my trips. I will bake you things. I will write you stories and poems. I will take photos of you doing fun things and post them on Facebook so everyone can see what a fun person you are. I will go to your shows, your gallery openings, your music nights. I’ll read you articles from ‘Vanity Fair’. I will support you in your crazy decisions. I will discuss politics with you over Pimm’s. I will discuss Justin Beiber with you over red wine. I’m a freakin’ hoot. But, hey, you want to be my partner? Awesome. I’m great. I’ll cook you curries. I’ll remember your appointments when you forget them. I’ll organise our holidays. I’ll buy you funny T-shirts just because I saw it and it made me think of you. I won’t clean our room, but I’ll do the dishes. I’ll make playlists we can dance to in the living room. I’ll remember your friends’ names and make them b’day cards. I’ll snuggle with you when you want and hold your hand in public. I’ll probably secretly watch you lovingly in the corner at parties whilst you’re talking to other people. I’ll sneak up behind you and kiss the back of your neck when you least expect it. I’m adorable.

I’d be much happier if, next time you asked me about my love life and I replied nothing was happening you replaced your well-meaning, ‘don’t worry, you’ll find someone, you’re awesome!’ with the phrase, ‘Well, it doesn’t matter anyway. You’re awesome’.

Say it with me, people, ‘Well, it doesn’t matter anyway. You’re awesome.’ It might take some getting used to, I know. I sometimes feel like the pressure to get married, or be in a relationship is worse these days than it was back when you got married for money and property. You know why? Because, in Austen’s day at least you could blame your parents for not saving up a good enough dowry, or for not furnishing you with enough accomplishments. If you wound up a spinster you could think, ‘oh, well, it’s all about money and property anyway, so I just didn’t have enough of those things to be a good match. Now let me get on with being an awesome spinster aunt.’ Now that marriage and relationships are all about ‘true love’ (what a wank) and who you are as a person, the fact that you have failed to get into a long-term relationship suddenly means that there is something wrong with you. Not with your parents, not with your house or your dowry, but you. Specifically you. And the pressure to be in a relationship just goes on and on and on. It doesn’t end at 25 and you can think, ‘oh well, never mind, I tried, but it seems like this is my life now.’ You have to keep doing embarrassing, soul-destroying things (internet dating, I ask you!) until you find someone, ANYONE to love you in the way that popular culture says you should be loved. All the lies we are fed about relationships and love and marriage perpetuate this impression – the lovers being two halves of a whole, making you incomplete as a singleton; that there is someone out there for everybody etc. So, if you don’t happen to find someone who loves you for you, well that probably means that ‘you’ isn’t worthy of being loved in that way.

But the fact of the matter if that I quite like myself. I have quite a few friends who quite like me too. My family seems to be pretty happy with me – I haven’t been chucked out of any gatherings or refused invitations to any things. I get all kinds of love from all kinds of places. Dogs really like me. Kids snuggle in to hear me read them stories. I am no social pariah. I’m a good, decent human being. I’m kind of smart. Sometimes I write good things. I like the world. And none of that is reliant on my ability (or not) to be in a ‘committed’ relationship with someone.

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Speed Dating

So, last week was Valentine’s Day. Don’t worry, I’m not about to bore you with a spiel on red paper hearts and roses and chocolates and how all of that cheap tat from China has ‘nothing to do with real love’. Neither will I write an embittered post about loved-up couples and how annoying they are. Nor will I write an impassioned post demanding that singles also receive a day in which they can celebrate their singledom, because, really, what’s so special about being a couple anyway, people can live their lives in whatever way they chose and families can take whatever form and surely we should all be past this heteornormative, middle-class 1950s view of the world with everyone living in loved-up pairs in colourful boxes in leafy, green suburbs by now.

I won’t do this, because on Valentine’s Day I demonstrated how obviously and pathetically I would like to be a loved-up, annoying couple, living in a colourful suburban box surrounded by irritatingly shaped boxes of candy. I demonstrated this by doing one of the more humiliating rituals of modern-day romantic life: speed-dating. Not satisfied by being rejected by one lousy person in one single evening? Now you can get rejected by 25 separate people in the space of two and a half hours! Its so much more time-effective! And confidence-crushing! But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

A week ago, a very good friend of mine asked me whether or not I’d be interested in going speed dating on Valentine’s Day. It was something I had always secretly thought might be quite amusing and fun. My attempts at internet dating had generally been quite disappointing, due to the fact that I had a tendency to choose men who were utterly charming on paper (or email) and then turned out to have absolutely no social skills. But, then again, I’m hopeless at hook-ups in clubs and pubs and things because the whole predatory nature of it kind of makes me generally want to hyperventilate in a corner and, specifically, the fact that you can’t actually talk to people, you just kind of grind your various pointy bits against each other until one of you finally gets up the courage to ask the other one to go home with you makes me feel like I’m breaking out in hives. Well, it would do, if I actually knew what hives were. Look, its just not good, ok?

SO, anyway, the point is that speed-dating seemed to be the perfect scenario for a person like me to meet new people. This particular speed-dating night was for charity, so it was also for a good cause. My very good friend was also going, so even if it was awful, I would at least have someone to laugh about it afterwards.  Plus, it amused me to tell people I had 25 dates on Valentine’s Day. And, as Jessa might say to me if I was also a character on ‘Girls’, ‘Do it for the stories, Jenny’. So, I did it for the stories, and also for the fun, and maybe for the charity (I want to say bowel cancer?) and, yes, ok, also probably just a little bit for the potential romance and the loved-upness and the irritatingly shaped candy boxes. Just a little bit.

After some ‘dutch courage’ cocktails, myself, my friend, and her friends, all headed off to the bar the event was being held in. The combination of nerves, excitement and, well, alcohol, made us fairly merry by the time we got there. After some free shots, the girls were settled into their seats and the guys found their first date. Each date lasted 3 minutes, with 15 seconds for the guys to get in between each table. On our sheet of paper, we wrote down the numbers of anyone we fancied and we were emailed at a later date to let us know if anyone that we had fancied, fancied us. All fairly standard for a speed-dating night.

The evening itself was quite enjoyable. 3 minutes was enough time to have a fun little chat without things getting too awkward. I found most of the men pretty lovely, even if they were mainly in finance and banking and accounting (most of them worked with the guy who organised it). That being said, there wasn’t anyone that I actually felt majorly excited about. They were just all nice boys, all of whom I would have been happy to chat with some more. And, for that reason, I ended up putting down quite a few numbers. More than I expected to, quite frankly.

My friend and I headed home, taking a strange walking detour through bits of slightly-scary looking East London (‘nothing bad has ever happened to anyone ever in East London’ my friend assured me), where we found dragon statues and Chaucer’s house. I was in a strangely ebullient mood – I think it was a combination of meeting new people (I do like talking to people), getting dressed up, going out with friends and doing something out of the ordinary. I didn’t particularly care if any of the men got back in contact with me, I thought, I’d just enjoyed meeting them.

And, if that were the end of the story, all would be well. But, of course, the whole point of the evening was to find out whether or not the men wanted to get back in contact with me. On Sunday, my friend (who is probably going to be grumpy with me including her in this post, but she’s kind of integral to the story) called me at work to let me know that the ‘results were out’! (To be fair, she called for a variety of reasons, but they are not important to this story, so I’m not mentioning them. But, let it be known that she – and I – were not so preoccupied with finding out the results that she had to call me at work the minute they were available. I mean, it wasn’t the HSC and my UAI. Not that I was preoccupied about that… Well, ok, maybe a little, but, it was high school and it seemed important at the time and…  GETTING OFF TRACK). My friend had 2 matches, which she was a bit disappointed by, but she then said that the guy organising the event had let her know that 15 people had fancied her, so that made her feel better. 15, I thought, that’s a decent number. I probably got something similar. After all, the conversations I had were nice and interesting and surely that means that there was something there on both sides. Surely that meant that the men involved in these conversations were at least a little bit interested. Surely they weren’t all just being polite and waiting for the bell to ring. I put down something like 12 guys, so hopefully there would be a good match rate. Though, if I was completely honest with myself, I was more interested in seeing how many guys were interested in me than I was in finding out who I had actually been matched with. I know, I know, I’m a terrible human being, but at least I’m honest. Go ahead and hate me.

So, I rushed home, eager to open my email. Well, all I can say is, pride cometh before the fall. After all my effort in getting dressed that day, doing my make-up, fixing my hair, making myself feel good, blah, blah, blah… I had one match and only four guys fancied me. Four! You have to admit that is a kick in the guts. Thank you very much, modern dating world. Though, I suppose it does explain a few things about my appalling romantic life over the past two years. If a friend of mine goes into a room of 25 men and 15 of them fancy her, and I go into the same room of 25 men and only 4 fancy me, well, can we be surprised that she is constantly getting into romantic entanglements whilst I just get to comment icily from the sidelines? Its all about the numbers people. That’s what the modern world has given us: Numbers. Statistics. Cold, hard facts that scientifically prove I am not attractive to a large majority of the population (a good 85% if my calculations are correct).  Its like being back in high school again and worrying about how popular you are – well, that is, if high schools regularly ran popularity contests and then emailed you the results (actually… they DO do that in America, don’t they? That’s essentially what Homecoming Queen is, isn’t it? I mean, that’s what my reading of terrible ’90s American teen movies suggests. That is screwed up, man).

Why don't they like me? *cry*Found at: http://memegenerator.net/90s-Problems/caption/5317243

Why don’t they like me? *cry*
Found at: http://memegenerator.net/90s-Problems/caption/5317243

Now don’t all start trying to make me feel better by pointing out that I didn’t actually really like any of those men (to which I reply: neither did my friend! In fact, she liked many less than I did!) or that I did get one match and I should probably forget the other number and contact him (to which I reply: I’m almost certain I wasn’t interested in that guy – I think I wrote his number down by accident) or that there are ‘plenty of other fish in the sea!’ (to which I reply: in my case, at least, the statistics suggest otherwise) or that its not important about how many other people like me, its just about finding that one special person that I like and who likes me back (to which I reply: *vomit*). No, no. I am quite happy existing in my late-90s teenage nightmare; imagining myself as a Jennifer Love Hewitt/Katie Holmes-esque ingenue dressed in a matchy-matchy lycra midriff top and mini-skirt, chunky shoes and choker necklace, bawling my eyes out on the edge of my Dawson’s Party of Five bed after the ‘Made for Each Other’ themed school dance. I refuse to be cheered out of this foul mood. I’m off to get myself a cat. Except that my house already has a cat and I can’t actually afford to feed one.

God, I can’t even get that right.

What a fanta-bulous Valentine’s Day.

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