Pride and prejudice

A select dinner party in a middle class West London suburb.

Husband: “Seriously though, offices full of single girls in their early 30s. Fine, physical specimens… but they just can’t seem to hold down a chap.”

Wife: “Yes, why is it there are so many unmarried women in their 30s these days Bridget?”

Awkward pause

Bridget: “Oh I don’t know.. ‘spose it doesn’t help that underneath our clothes our entire bodies are covered in scales.”

‘Life’ so Oscar Wilde once said ‘imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life’, I watched that scene from the movie Bridget Jones’s Diary 13 years ago in a cinema in Ealing Broadway and I laughed my socks off, I was young, ambitious and living in the same London as Bridget but without her dating traumas, I was happily ensconced in a relationship.

Fast forward to Christchurch, New Zealand over a decade later and I am the modern day equivalent of Bridget (with the alcohol units, but without the cigarettes) and instead of a diary I have this blog. Personally I believe Helen Fielding’s observations are still a valid and truthful commentary on thirty or fortysomething single women today as they try to make sense of life, love and the way society reacts to solo females.

Point in case a recent Friday night out with three married couples or as Bridge would call them ‘Smug Marrieds’. Of the three I only knew one couple. Within minutes of sitting down they had established I was single and that I would like to one day be in a relationship. For married people who hold all the so called keys to getting life right this is like a red rag to a bull, the wives pounced first with one slurrily advising me to never give up and be ready to receive love and how it would crop up when I least expected it before telling me a long winded version of her love story. The other wife fuelled on Sauvignon, took it upon herself to fix my ‘situation’ by determinedly marching around the bar, interviewing potential suitors and dragging them back to the table for an awkward and downright humiliating chat with me, while his friends would take photos of the moment on their iPhones.

And their husbands…. well first they dribbled all over the table excitedly asking me among other things if I was bumping up my age, was I wearing stockings, did I have sex a lot and could they have their photo taken with me to show their mates on Monday? Then they began accosting any circling, young barman to ask if they liked Cougars and did they want a slice of this action – pointing at me.

I am not sure at what point it became acceptable to treat comparative strangers to an unrequested life intervention or why they thought they had all the answers to fix everything? And this I might add was a group of parents who were all buzzing out of their brains and behaving like a bunch of drunk teenagers. Yeah real mature!

All I know is my pride took a big knock that night and their prejudice about my ‘singledom’ was offensive and rude. Spending time in their company has made me embrace and cherish my status even more. I am not a side show or a loser, but a woman who chooses to wait for the right combination of magic to happen and not just settle for any passing barman.

And yet there are marrieds out there who’ve recognised their prejudice – I salute you Rebecca Sparrow, and I am proud and thankful to say I also have a lot of lovely, sane, healthy marrieds who are extremely supportive and love me, like Bridget, just as I am.

Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones's Diary

Nature or nurture?

I have a very good friend who worries about me, let’s call her Mrs Gyrate (for reasons best not pointed out here!) but suffice to say she worries about me a lot.

Mrs Gyrate is a living a romantic comedy lover’s dream, happily married with a bonny wee baby. She met her husband in a wonderful ‘meet-cute’ moment waiting for a delayed plane at the airport. Fast forward to a surprise proposal on top of the Eiffel Tower in the world’s most romantic capital and a baby that arrived with perfect timing and you pretty much have the synopsis for a classic Hollywood romance.

Am I happy for her? Of course! Am I a teensy bit jealous? Of course! So cutting to the chase hot on the heels of the latest disappointment Mrs Gyrate advises I take a no date, no-man zone approach for the next 6 months.

My lovely friend says I don’t love myself enough, haven’t learned to enjoy being alone and will be stuck in this rut if I continue to ‘chase men’. She believes once I’m ready that nature will eventually take it’s course and my Mr.Darcy/Bradley Cooper/Shining armour Knight will either a) charge up to my door or b) our paths will cross.

Whilst I love the optimism, I disagree. Nature has had plenty of ops with me. In the past 18 months I’ve dated real world and cyber world as well as not dating at all for 6 months on and off last year. And yeah OK I secretly waited wastefully for a certain someone for most of it, but how much of a window does nature need to intervene?

I prefer to take the nurture route because I like to spread the risk and maximize the chances. I like to get out and meet new people, go to new places, do new things, dating after all is only meeting them for a drink and seeing if there’s a faint trace of firelight there? And having an active online profile is a shop window for opportunity should it pass by, no need to chase them down? But I’m the first to admit that often nurturing love can be more like a Sci-Fi, Horror crossover than a Rom-Com, it’s clinical, takes determination and an enormous sense of humour.

Still I’m not comfortable leaving it all up to Mother Nature because her odds are stacked against me. It’s a double whammy of lack of quantity and quality. It’s not like school days or even in our 20s when you could trip over piles of potential suitors just waiting at the bus stop. Finding fellow singletons is like looking for the proverbial needle – sometimes I wish we had invisible New York style cab lights over our heads that lit up when another singleton walked past. And then there’s the men themselves who are are either happily married (no thank you no home wreckers here) or unhappily separated or divorced (great!) or those men who’ve not yet been touched by the hand of marriage but are in Jack-the-Lad mode and still ‘sowing their wild oats’ .

And Mrs Gyrate is right – I don’t particularly enjoy my own company day in day out (Miss Kitty can be a real bore in 24 hour solo surround sound) but I have to get on with it and so I do.

If my dating genie appeared and granted me one wish I guess that it would be to leave it up to Mrs Gyrate’s nature book and have my own serendipitous meet-cute, perhaps at the supermarket when I drop my groceries on the floor, or on the road side while I’m puzzling over a tyre puncture, when my stiletto heel conveniently gets stuck in a manhole on the pavement or when I’m caught short in the rain and have to shelter under an awning… I would love the bells and whistles, harps and unicorns.

But the reality is it only happens in the movies or to a lucky few like my gorgeous, wonderful friend. Of course I could force a Pretty Woman style meet-cute and pull on my brand new thigh high black suede boots (hold up people it’s legit – they are in right now!) and totter downtown looking for Richard Gere but erm… somehow I don’t think that will get me the same fairytale ending?

Pretty woman

Mother Knows Best

So here’s the funny thing, I’m back home in the New Year and my mother looks at me and says ‘come on you gotta get back on the horse’. She means the dating horse or more specifically the online dating horse. She obviously is unaware that it is actually a Trojan box of terrors. But since I haven’t been online since September, there are normally 12,000 miles between us and she’s frustrated at not being able to box my ears or give me a hug when I make stupid male-oriented decisions, I decide to humour her, after all ’tis the season of new beginnings right?  So I say OK and one night over a bottle of wine we reactivate and load up my dating profile for laughs and tweaks.

The first thing she and her partner say (‘because now it’s a group intervention right?) is “Oh, don’t say you like Opera, no, no, no, no ,no….. that’s far too high brow” and “Don’t say you like to read Pride and Prejudice – just be normal”. When I protest that I do like Opera they counter in stereo “when was the last time you went?” pause “Exactly! Do you know any men that read Jane Austin? No? Exactly! And men don’t like women who are too posh or superior” so I sigh, grit my teeth and hit the backspace button on my profile. After all what have I got to lose? Seriously, my track record with men is appalling, I have a magnetic appeal it seems for the wrong polar, I attract the weird, heartbroken, lovelorn, obsessed and lost. So maybe it is me that’s the problem and I am putting out the wrong vibes in the first place? Like attracts like right? Maybe I’m a twisted narcissist?

Mum is onto glass three when she really starts letting loose and playing Bingo with prospective mens’ profiles…”Oh now he’s cute, send him a smile go on, go on, oh and he’s an investment banker quick, quick send him a smile!” as she leans over and strikes the mouse! Bing! One cyber smile sent by my mother. “Oh I don’t understand why you’re moaning kid this is fun!” She says perching her glasses on the bridge of her nose to get a better look at ‘ScubaDave’. Before demanding that her partner come in and check his credentials and give us the male thumbs up or down. It is the gladiatorial equivalent of ‘meet the parents’ online.

Upshot is my Mum pinged 7 blokes over the Christmas period (in cahoots with myself of course) but then inevitably and sometimes even begrudgingly I started chatting to them online (see investment banker in my book always rhymes with wanker, but hey ho my mother didn’t go to the same school of life as me). I told them all I was on the other side of the world and that they’d have to wait for a date. As I boarded the plane my Mum looked at me – all worn out by loving a guy who won’t love me back and she shook me by the shoulders (as only a Mother can do) and said “Forget him, he’s waste of space, think about these lovely guys and promise me that you will go for at least one drink with all of them? Promise me? Even if you’re not really that keen? Don’t put all your eggs in one basket love, go and have some fun, distract yourself and have a nice time. Promise?” Oh the blackmail.

The Christmas Batch or The Magnificent Seven – you choose the moniker, have honestly been my salvation. I was a good, diligent girl and I did exactly as my Mummy told me. After all it gets to a point in your life when you are full of blanks and misses and you think maybe my Mum is actually onto something? Maybe I just can’t see it? It took me 6 whole weeks to get through all of them, juggling correspondence and dates, times and venues, well all bar one that is… ‘ScubaDave’ who after rearranging me several times, stood me up for a date on Valentine’s Day (oh the irony). His loss.

And every single one of my Mother’s Picks wanted a repeat date. For the second date; one wanted to go running, one wanted to go salsa, one wanted a casual pizza, one wanted a movie, one wanted an ‘exciting’ dinner and one sent me an enormous bouquet of flowers at work by way of invitation to a second date.

Of this only two made it through the initial steeplechase and one in particular only by calling me on the phone and pleading with me to reconsider and be ‘less harsh’? Huh? Harsh who me? This is me the doormat, remember, the one that gets stomped on?

And one went the distance all the way and we are on date 9. It’s a one horse race now, I shut down my profile 2 weeks ago because actually I’m not interested or looking at anybody else. This man makes me laugh and hours dissolve happily in his company. He is a true gentleman who is courting me (much to my Mother’s delight), old fashioned style, no rush, no seeing each other everyday or hopping into bed. This is slow dating… and actually after all the flakey men with empty promises I kinda like it! It’s nice to be treated like a lady and respected. It’s nice to know a date is a date and he’ll turn up. To be picked up and driven to a quiet little place and romanced slowly. A compliment about my outfit, a touch on the arm, a kiss on the cheek. How nice. So yes, I gotta admit that maybe Mother does know best, just please don’t tell her, she’ll be unbearable x

mother-daughter-shrug

24 little hours

How does the saying go? What a difference a day makes? In the space of a few short hours my special someone has shown me the meaning of tenderness. In no time at all he has blown away the hurts of the past year.

The healing is in the small things, little magic gestures that make me blush, a kiss on the shoulder, a steadying hand when I walk, smoothing my hair, tucking my head under his chin when we hug and bringing me take away coffee. Simple kindnesses that make me feel special.

And he dances with groove and grace, a dancing man! His brightness is palpable as he light footedly dances round my lounge and my heart. He makes a potent recipe to finally get some happy.

dancing

Learning to smile again

Hello you, I’m sorry I’ve been away so long but you see I’ve been on an emergency hetox.

Yes, no men, no dating, no online, no nothing. Just me and a long, hard look in the mirror. It was really lonely and horrible to begin with and then it got easier and more normal and almost in the end dare I say it even enjoyable. I’ve got my mojo back.

I’m ashamed to admit I’ve had an unhealthy addiction to one particular guy this year. I laboured for 8 long months under the tortured impression that he loved me, that we were star crossed lovers, that our timing was wrong, that he was trying to find his way to me. I opened my heart and he never looked, I waited and he never came.

Bottom line? He’s just not that into me. When I finally faced this harsh fact it was sad but liberating. I don’t want to be anyone’s dirty little secret, a fancy on the side, I deserve to be celebrated and cherished.

So I’m proud to say this sister finally dug deep, found some good old fashioned gumption and went cold turkey. I broke the lovesick habit, and now I see what a waste of energy and love it’s been. Energy and love I need for myself.

Like attracts like and now that I’m centered again, fate has stepped in and surprised me. I found a truly nice, gentle, caring, sexy man. He’s been there all along but I couldn’t see him, his energy was blocked and overshadowed. But something magic happened and here we are. I am living in the moment again not in a fantasy in my head. He makes me feel happy and that today is a simple, precious gift.

smile

Do two sorrys make a Mister Right?

It’s been my turn on the big wheel since September last year when the Universe started dealing me duds. As chronicled here I fell for two guys in a row who led me on and then unceremoniously dropped me “Miss Kitty I really do think you’re amazing but… I love my ex-wife” they both cried. Huh you don’t say? Coulda told me sooner.

I’ve been in a vacuum for 3 months going over and over every twist and turn of these two chapters, but dare I say, I think my bumpy ride on the wheel is ending. Karma is rebalancing my little world.  Firstly my lovelorn Beardie is finally sorting out his life toxins and getting counselling, he sent an email saying he was sorry and that his apologies must “feel empty and never ending”. Secondly I confronted Mr.Twisted about a lack of communication for his appalling treatment of me last year and a few nasty emails this year. To my surprise I got a full and sincere apology, wishing he could take back the hurt because I have “an incredible spirit and I deserve only the best..”

They both took me down to the very bottom in their own way, and they both deserve a poo cake, but I can’t hold a grudge, I carried them on my back for too long. Time is finally doing its thing and I can’t imagine how I ever got into these situations? Like the Taylor Swift line “I’ve been spending the last 8 months thinking all love ever does is break and burn and end” I spent so long and so much energy trying to fix them that I forgot myself.

And someone has found me instead, how amazing is that? I mean yes I’ve been ‘disaster’ dating again and getting out, but when I wasn’t looking he snuck up on me online and sent me a hug, then a wink and finally a message. And he’s lovely, gorgeous and funny. Probably too good to be true, but it’s nice to be liked, at least for now. It’s that awkwardly wonderful time when we’re dancing shyly round each other, trying to get a handle, asking millions of questions. We exist in fifty seven messages online and a handful of pictures. He’s working abroad and lives in a different city but there is a promise of a phone call and hearing each others voices on his return. So the handbrakes are on and we’re going slow but I’m scared and excited all at once, frightened to jump in and start swimming again, but I want to.

So my question to the Universe is: If I’ve finally let them both go and Iearned my lesson, is he my first big test?

Wheel of Fortune

Starter for 15

Hello World,

It’s been a while, I was licking my wounds and letting the dust settle after foolishly jumping, gung-ho fashion back into online dating. Dr. Spin it turns out really did believe his own press about what a catch he was and decided to go on a full facial assault on the third date without testing the waters first. Erm bad move.. I said my goodnights and ran away but he wasn’t letting me go that easily and ambushed me in my car as I tried to drive away. So after removing his tongue from the back of my tonsils for the second time and closing the door in his face, I decided that maybe I was being a bit naive in cyberland.

So I’ve let the online account stew for a bit. Apart from one blind date coffee with a man who is friends with a friend of mine. Her text read “I have a man for you, he does have an ex-wife but he’s lovely and ready to move on”.  I procrastinated and complained, strictly speaking he was outside my new rules but in the end in the spirit of optimism I agreed to dutifully give it a whirl. He was very charming too, although a bit flustered on arrival and stuttered through the first few minutes, so I took the helm and got us going, if there’s one thing Miss.Kitty is master of it’s inane chat! Now I don’t know about you but it’s a bit of a conversation stopper when said fellow reveals he has a) two teenage children and b) a freshly dispatched Japanese ex-fiancee. Hmmm, excess luggage anyone?

Next was a date with a one of our dear city’s ever increasing population of builders who are fixing the place up. He was a real gentleman and attentively turned his laser beam focus on me for the evening asking many, many questions and paying me many compliments. What a really lovely bloke and not to mention buff, but sadly the spark didn’t ignite so we didn’t repeat the date.

So I ducked down my hidey-hole and curled up there for a few weeks. That is until my brand new, shiny, single, gorgeous girlfriend lit a stick of dynamite under my arse! Her turbine drive and vivacious, tenacious appetite for life has shaken me from my backward looking reverie and last week the two of us went speed dating much to our own surprise. 15 men, 15 women and 2 large glasses of vino. It was the funniest, most ridiculous, entertaining night out I’ve had in a long, long time. We struggled to make head or tail of the male pack in 4 minute increments, some passing in the blink of an eye and others feeling like slow water torture.

In the assembled room was a vast array of characters including an executive female man-eater complete with 80s haircut, shoulder pads and knocking ovaries, three persian scientists/engineers who were very intense and painfully polite, a jolly Irish dairy farmer, a mouse sized primary school teacher with a big voice, a nervous first-time builder who had a rehearsed monologue, a Blade Runner looking blonde IT type with a creepy line in pickups (“I’ve seen you online” he breathed down the back of my neck at half time) and the tee-total, serial speed dater who attends doggedly every month. Still we had the best night, it was like a youth club on acid. I loved the craziness of meeting so many people in a short space of time. It’s not romantic and you certainly won’t meet the one but it’s nice to meet people, get out, be human and sociable. Most of all I enjoyed exercising my ‘chatting to strangers’ muscle and I’m pretty bloody good at it turns out  – scoring 12 out of 15 ticks, well surely I’m allowed a bit of boasting? It’s good for my confidence! But I only ticked 3, of whom I only one made one match. So this week I have a date with a snowboarding, surfing, climbing, scaffolder with a sunny personality and not too shabby in the flesh either. Perfect!

And what do they always say about looking the other way? Online I’ve been fished up by a handsome, cheeky chappie from another city who is intriguing and delighting me as well as serendipitously meeting some really lovely guys in the real world for a change.

Now I know something I didn’t believe before, that things do get better, there is always another day around the corner.You just have to be patient, get on with living your life and try everything! Eventually the hurt and loneliness fades and one day you stumble across things that can make you smile again.

Teens at the diner