I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a belated Happy New Year! It’s usually around this time that many of us reflect on the past year, and consider what the next twelve months might have in store for us.
I came into 2016 with a boyfriend, a baby and a clear vision of what my future held, and I left it single and shell-shocked, with a toddler under one arm and my dignity under the other. But that’s life, and as a wise meme once told me ‘2016 may have been a shit year, but at least it wasn’t 1665 when everyone caught the plague and died’.
I’ve been in a bit of a daze for the past seven months, and up until now I hadn’t really considered the fact that at some point in the future, I’m probably going to have to go on a date.
I’m not going to lie, the idea fills me with dread. I thought I was done with all that caper, and I was glad to see the back of it. I know some people find it fun and exciting, you go and have a drink or something to eat, talk about yourself a lot and have a nice fumble in a parked car somewhere. I just see it as a bit of a risky business.
In my mind, there are two types of people in this world. There are the people you love, your close friends and family, who you feel completely comfortable with and who accept you for all your weird and wonderful ways. And then, there are strangers.
I was taught a very powerful lesson by the good people of Deneholm County Primary school about strangers. They sat us down and scared the crap out of us, filling our little heads with terrifying reasons why you should never trust someone that you don’t know. I spent my entire childhood convinced that I’d be snatched up off the street and hurled into the back of a transit.
Sadly, dating almost always involves the presence of a stranger, and I still believe that the majority of them can’t be trusted. I’d much rather sit indoors with a microwaveable cottage pie than opposite someone worrying that they’re grooming me for sex-trafficking, or whatever it is strangers are up to these days.
Another scenario that puts me off the idea is the greeting. There should be just one universally acceptable introductory gesture, a nice brisk handshake and no surprises, but there are so many variances. It’s a recipe for disaster. A greeting gone awry is one of the most cringe-inducing moments a person can experience, and it is extremely likely that I would go in for a kiss when they are just doing the hug and end up kissing an ear. Some people are cool and can style it out in a way I’ve never been able to fathom. Whereas I would apologise too loudly and go bright red, which takes it to a whole new level of awkward.
More often than not, a date will involve eating, which is another area where I feel I lack panache. The issue most girls have is that they can’t eat in front of a guy as they’re too embarrassed and dainty or whatever. But I’ve usually been up since 5.30am, running around after a child intent on drinking toilet duck and sticking her fingers in sockets. On a typical day I’ll manage to eat the crusts of her toast, and if I’m lucky, a kindly family member will pour half a cup of cold tea down my throat.
This means that I am constantly ravenous. I also never get to sit down and enjoy a plate of food from start to finish without sharing (ta!) or having to abandon ship halfway through as she’s kicked my drink over.
For these reasons, I know that not only would I order an inordinate amount of food, I would also want to eat in complete silence, preferably with my eyes closed, to really savour the moment.
My nearest and dearest would understand this. In fact, if my sister and I go out for lunch together without the kids, this is exactly what we do. We just eat. No wipes, no bibs, no screaming (unless they give her white instead of brown). But I don’t think you’re allowed to do this on a date. It goes against the etiquette.
The rules are, you have to pretend you don’t want to jam all the food into your mouth at once, and actually show an interest in the type of tyres they bought for their car, or how much they bench. Or how big their balls are. And I’m not sure I can be arsed.
I used to be able to do it. I could go on a date just for fun and think nothing of it, back when the biggest responsibility I had was remembering to switch off my straighteners. But as you get older and more relationship-weathered, you start to realise that it really is only worth going through the rigamarole of a first date if you genuinely think it could be something more. If I have to muster the energy to get out of my pink sheep pyjamas, wash my mum-bun and stay out past ten when the demon will beckon at 6am the next day, then you’ll need to do something pretty special. And let’s face it, there ain’t a whole lot of special out there.
So, yes the reality is that unless I plan to join a convent, a first date is inevitable. But, I’m in a very cosy place right now, and I’m more than happy to continue to sift through the shit in search of the special. No matter how long that may take.
Until then 2017, I’ll be in my pyjamas.