After being sharply bought back to earth by Jennifer I call Tamsin, hopeful for a slightly more sympathetic response,
“So Tam, I thought I’d call it Relationship Rehab. You know, maybe this is good – choosing to stay single means not having to worry about giving out the right ‘look’. So what if they think I’m all the things that Jennifer said? Not worrying about attracting a man means that I can relax. I’m bet there are thousands of us who have suffered from D.S.S! And as for these married guys – maybe it’s time I alerted a nation of wives…”
Tamsin laughs at me. “Go for it Sophie,” she enthuses, “most of your boyfriends have been pretty awful anyway.”
Suddenly it’s not as funny. “What? Who? Now you tell me!”
“Well, that Harry Potter for a start.”
“The potter. Remember I nicknamed him Harry Potter?”
“Tam, have you been drinking?”
“No. The potter, Sophie. Don’t you remember him? The clay potter. I think his real name was Jake, or something like that.”
Oh yes, I’d forgotten him. I went off him shortly after she nicknamed him Harry and we sat up one night devouring a couple of bottles of wine and joking about how awkward he was with his hands. And there I’d been, expecting some re-inaction of Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore in Ghost. Everybody remembers that scene where he’s behind her and they’re sliding their hands up and down the slippery phallic clay cock as t rotates on the spinning wheel. But Jake was nothing like that. It was as if he became another person when he wasn’t elbow deep in slimy clay. His sexual dexterity must have been an embarrassing disappointment to him? He was constantly clumsy, often knocking over drinks when we were in the pub, dropping his cutlery in restaurants or stepping in dog poo. Put it this way – he had problems finding his car keys in his jeans pocket, never mind finding my g-spot.
“And do you remember Christian!” Tamsin gushes. I have an unsettling feeling that she’s enjoying these character assassinations of my previous boyfriends, as she giggles,
“Christian! Didn’t he love himself Soph? You couldn’t even get near the mirror when you were with him.”
“Do you know what though, Tam? He was the only guy that my sister liked.”
“Sophie,” her voice dropped to a recalcitrant hum, “your sister is a woman who has a cleaner three times a week and doesn’t tell her friends. Your sister is a woman who makes the ironing lady hide in the shed so that her yummy-mummy buddies won’t see her when they come around for their coffee mornings. Of course she’d love a guy who loves himself and looks great – it simply buys in to her entire image conscious lifestyle.”
And I know that she’s right. Jennifer is so desperate to be seen dating the right guy that she’d let her friends watch her sexual shenanigans if it meant gaining their approval. Our conversation is halted as Angela Johnson comes into the toilets, stopping at the mirror to poke her fingers into the corners of her eyes and pretending not to look over her shoulder at my reflection.
“Gotta go, Tam. Talk later.” I cut off, and slide my mobile into my trouser pocket.
“Hiding in the toilets, Sophie?” AJ’s voice is fake and light.
“Not at all, Angela. Why would I be hiding?”
“Oh, no reason. Just that Delaney’s been looking for you for the last fifteen minutes…”
I feel the colour drain from my face and rush for the door, not failing to notice AJ’s smirk as I leave the door swinging behind me. In my rush I bump straight into Maria Delaney.
“Regan, you started that column yet? You’ve been missing all morning.”
“I’m right onto it De… I mean, Maria.”
“Great,” she clapped her hands together and smiled, “Can’t wait to read it.”
Five hours later I’m still stuck at my desk, chewing the end of my pen as I stare at the virtually blank screen before me. It’s not so much a lack of what to write, more how to write it. Jen’s warnings about being a dried up spinster rattle through my brain and I can’t focus on how to start this tirade of why I’ve decided to stay single. And then it dawns on me to kick off with Jennifer’s words, and so I begin,
“It’s a tough decision, to choose to stay single. Especially when you have a sister who dates only in elite circles and has men falling at her feet, but when you’ve heard every excuse, isn’t it time to make some decisions?....”
The more I think about staying single, the more I ‘Google’ Staying Single, the more I realise the potential benefits. Hell, it’s virtually a career choice! I can focus one hundred percent on my writing, I’m free for a spontaneous weekend away or night out without having to ask for permission or explain myself, I don’t need to cook if I don’t want to and I need never worry about considering somebody else! I can grow my leg hair to catastrophic lengths if I so wish and can eat noodles on a daily basis – from the bowl and in bed! Of course, it’s great for a woman to feel toned and buff, waxed and St Tropez’d, knowing that a guy will find you stunning – but it’s not happening anyway, why not throw in the towel and be yourself. I spend the rest of the afternoon, my fingers rattle over the keyboard with renewed enthusiasm and I can see that it’s killing ‘AJ’ – her gnarled reflection in my computer screen as she tries to crane her neck to the side and see what’s keeping me so busy. I continue to pour out my highs and lows, expectations and disappointments in the dating game. By the time I finish at 5.30 I have enough material for a months worth of column inches. Delaney will be delighted.