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Back on the horse!

Okay, so I’ve seriously rallied from Friday’s mild disaster.
Last night’s date with the Triathlete was a resounding Rules success. I wasn’t all that enthusiastic, to be honest - I was still reeling from the aftermath of my absurd drunken behavior coupled with residual exhaustion from a monster training session I’d had that morning. But! The show must go on, so I whacked on a dress and trotted off to meet him.
I met him at a pub that was basically a stone’s throw from my flat (according to The Rules, you should always make them come to you). He’s an internet catch so I wasn’t sure what to expect; he looked quite cute in his photos but the email banter hadn’t been anything to write home about. “Whatever,” I thought. “Let’s just get this one over with and get home in time for that MJ special.”
He was standing at the corner of the bar waiting for me. And man alive was he hot. It was the dating equivolent of getting off an airplane to find a chauffer-driven limosime that you didn’t order waiting for you: a bit disarming but extremely exciting nonetheless.
He bought me a pint and we sat in the beer garden, where he proceeded to put on his very best (and really quite charming) interview face. It was as though I was a prospective employer and he was really quite keen to get the position of My Boyfriend, even though I hadn’t realized the position was being advertised. There was talk of how he’s good with people but also enjoys his own time. How he’d like to go to Paris with someone special. How, if he had a girlfriend, he’d want to spend lots of time with her. He was pulling out chairs and saying “after you” like it was going out of style. Honestly, if I’d produced a written test and asked him for a urine sample, I’m pretty sure he would have happily done both and passed with flying colors.
The whole time I was sat across from him thinking, “Why on earth is this gorgeous man trying so hard to win me over? What sort of deep, fetid secret must he be hiding? Because, surely, someone this good looking and successful and charming would have swathes of women falling at his feet unless he had something seriously, grievously wrong with him…” Which is surely an endictment on modern dating as well as a rather depressing glimpse into my own personal expectations. Why is my first reaction to a man being polite and interested and keen, “Jesus, I’m sure he must be a frothing lunatic”?
Regardless, I had business to attend to and Rules to follow. He paid for my second pint (which was a little awkward because I made a vague gesture towards my wallet and then realized he wasn’t going to stop me, so I awkwardly had to play it off like I was just searching for lip balm and then looked at him expectantly until he got up to go to the bar). We had two very pleasant drinks and then, at the entirely wholesome time of 8:15pm, I told him I had better be going. He walked me to the corner and kissed me on the cheek and then off he strode, presumably to go slay dragons and rescue damsels in distress. I went home and sat in my living room for twenty minutes, repeating the phrase “He was so hot!” to myself over and over again.
He texted me this morning to say he’d had a good time and would like to see me again. I sent back an encouraging response (several hours later, of course). I have to say, we might have a contender here – I would totally hit that shit.
Kiwi also emailed me today and asked me out for Thursday, but I’m going to decline 1. because The Rules says I should wait at least a week between dates with the same man and 2. I’m slightly at dating saturation point at the minute and need a few days on my own to go running and sit in front of the TV eating crackers.
But it’s totally on. Two second-date prospects over one weekend: an unprecedented result.

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The Morning After

I woke up the next day with a sense of impending doom. Also, I was still drunk.

“Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck!” I said as I stumbled out of my room in search of coffee and my flatmate’s ear.

“How was the date?” She chirped.

“Fine, good, he was lovely and it was great. I broke The Rules and stayed out too late though.”

“I know.”

“And then… he kissed me goodnight and it was the worst kiss of my life.”

“Oh no!”

“Wait. It gets worse. And then, in a fit of rage and indignation about the bad kiss, I texted B.”

“NO! What did you text him?”

I scroll through my sent messages and then I find it: the single most ridiculous text message I have ever sent: “B! I have exciting news! You should call me on the off chance you’re still up.” Message sent at 2:55am.

Flatmate looks at my quizzically. “What’s the exciting news?”

“Who knows?! I was very drunk. What the hell am I going to tell him when he asks about it?”


Flatmate and I then came up with a few possible scenarios (Have you heard that Blue has reformed? Did you know that dolphins can kill sharks by ramming them with their beaks?) but I was still at a loss when my phone flashed up with a text. “Hey! I’m awake now. What’s the exciting thing?”

And then I realized that I couldn’t suddenly start being sensible and normal around B. He knows me too well.

Some backstory: When I met him, I did everything I wasn’t meant to do. I got drunk. I took him home and slept with him the first night. I texted him the next day. We saw each other again two days later. We discussed our exes. I swore. A lot. But none of it seemed to matter – we had a few great dates and things seemed to be going well. “See? Dating isn’t so hard!” I thought to myself, smugly. “How refreshing to find someone I can be honest with!”

And then I did the unthinkable: I made the man breakfast.

I could actually see the terror flicker across his face as I placed the plate of scrambled eggs in front of him. Apparently eggs aren’t just eggs – they’re the pathway to commitment and marriage and cozy Sunday afternoons reading the papers before doing a spot of antiquing.

I didn’t hear from him again for a month.

When B finally did ring, he explained (unnecessarily) that he’d freaked out because he thought we were heading towards a relationship and I explained (also, I felt, unnecessarily) that sometimes people make other people eggs not because they’re hoping for everlasting love but because they want the other person to stick around after breakfast and have sex with them again.

Since then, we’ve settled into a strange sort of friendship in which we occasionally have sex but mainly we just bemuse and infuriate each other in equal measure. The term “impulse control” has never factored.

Fuck it. I would just tell him the truth. So I rang him.

“Actually, there is no exciting news.”


“Yeah, there’s just some mildly depressing news. For me, that is. So, I went on this date last night.”


“And it was great, you know? He was lovely and funny and we got drunk and had a great time and then at the end of the night, he kissed me. And it was terrible. And I just thought to myself, you know, if B would only be NORMAL, I wouldn’t have to put myself through this rigamarole! I could just have sex with you! So, yeah. That’s my news.”

He laughed and then said one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me: “I can honestly say that I don’t know anyone else like you. And I mean that in an entirely good way.” So it would seem that I am indeed a creature unlike any other, but that creature is a drunken, deranged lunatic.

So, sorry guys. I totally fucked up on Friday and not only had a slightly non-Rules date, but I also broke ALL The Rules by saying what I said to B.

But I’m firmly back on the horse. Kiwi (whom I decided when I finally sobered up I actually do quite like and would definitely like to see again, bad kiss be damned) texted the day after the date saying he was looking forward to seeing me again (with an exclaimation mark, no less) and I waited a whole day to text him back something pleasantly non-committal. And I have a date with a posh former triathlete this evening and I am determined to keep it under two hours.

You know what they say: to err is human, especially when you’ve pickled yourself in red wine.

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The Night Before

 So! Friday night:

The Kiwi took absolutely ages to let me know the plan for the night but obviously I couldn’t suggest anything or prompt him on it. Finally, at around 4:00, he emailed to say we should meet at 7:30 and go to this little French bistro he knew. Perfect.

I went for a drink with coworkers after work and then headed over to meet him (on a street corner, bizarrely). I have to say, I was much more nervous for Kiwi than I was Latin Banker – there was a definite sense of anticipation and raised hopes involved.

He came straight over and shook my hand, which seemed a little formal (but I actually found it preferable to the obligatory double-cheek-kiss, which I always end up awkwardly bungling). He’s cute in a strong-jawed, Guy Smiley sort of way and he is enormously tall. I don’t bandy this word around freely, but I would describe him as strapping. He was clearly nervous, which was kind of endearing.

We sit down at the bar and I force him to choose the wine, which he did happily and well (though I have absolutely no palate so it could have been Mad Dog 20/20 for all I know). When we polished off the first bottle, a table opens up and he suggests dinner. A second bottle of wine and some food is ordered (again, by him). Conversation flows nicely. He has a fantastic, slightly left-of-centre sense of humour and has done loads of interesting things. Finally, at 11:15, the place closed and we’re (politely) chucked out after he pays the bill.

“Man,” I think, “this is going so well! And I am being so good! And I’m really not all that drunk considering the amount of alcohol I’ve had. Thank god I ate that entire cheese board.”

And then he throws a slight spanner in the works. We’re standing outside the bar, I’m gearing up for my whole “It’s been a lovely evening but I have a big day tomorrow” speech, and then he says, “Do you want to go for another drink?”

“Errrr…” Now, The Rules say that I should always be the one to end the date and that I can’t suggest extending the night, but what to do if he’s the one doing the extension suggesting? Deep down, I know that I should say no thank you and leave him slavering on the pavement while I float gracefully away, but I have consumed well over a bottle of wine at this point and my Rule-playing faculties are slightly stunted. Also, I like him. “Okay,” I say.

We then embark on a magical mystery tour that takes us to a heavy metal bar in Soho (my choice) and then a place in Shoreditch I have long referred to as The Worst Bar in London (again, my choice). “We’re having such a good time!” I think. “He’s so funny and lovely! Surely the date extension can be forgiven.”

Finally, far too late, I tell him I’m going home. He holds my hand while he walks me to my door and then… he delivers what will go down in my own personal history as one of the worst goodnight kisses I have ever had. My heart sinks just thinking about it.

I walked through the door kicking myself for having tainted the experiment and feeling utterly deflated. Here’s this fantastic guy who’s gentlemanly and clever and witty and then… it’s all scuppered by a single bad kiss.

So I do what any normal, sensible woman who’s trying to change her ways does at 3am after having consumed half of London’s alcohol supply and suffered through the crushing disappointment of a terrible kiss:

I texted B.

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Another one bites the dust

No word from Latin Banker and at this point in the game I think it’s safe to assume that he has gone off to the Island of Lost Men. I’m pretty blasé about the whole thing – he was lovely and cute but at no point in the evening did I think Chuck Woolery was going to pop out and declare it a Love Connection. But we did have a good time and I am a bit surprised that I haven’t heard from him, so I guess it’s time to deconstruct: was it me or was it The Rules?

On the one hand, I’m pretty sure what killed the evening was the Great Cab Search. You know how it is – the evening is coming to a close, you’re nicely buzzed, a fine time was had by all and warm and lovely feelings abound… and then you have to spend 30 minutes standing on a street corner, necks anxiously craning to see the fabled yellow light on the top of the cab, sobriety rapidly rearing its unwelcome head. You try to keep up upbeat conversation but you just desperately want to be hurtling towards home alone with your ipod in. So in that way, The Rules was right – I should have just run off down the street as soon as the bill was paid, coattails flapping in the breeze, air of mystery trailing behind me. Instead, Latin Banker and I were stuck in stasis in the middle of West London.

On the other hand, what I REALLY think sent him off in his rowboat to the Island was the fact that, when the long-awaited taxi dropped me off first, I completely forgot to offer Latin Banker money for it. Obviously by doing so I was effectively following The Rules, but it filled me with an overwhelming sense of anxiety that lingered well into the following day. Normally, I would have texted him the next day to thank him again for dinner and apologize for not offering him cab fare but because of The Rules gag order I had to remain silent. Which I just think is rude.

The Rules insist that men really want to pay for a woman – according to them, they derive a great amount of pleasure from it because it appeals to their basic caveman provider instincts or something. It’s all well and good to think a man should appreciate ones company (and at times even be grateful for it) but I just can’t get behind the idea that he should be PAYING for the pleasure of my company (hooker dress or no hooker dress). At the end of the evening, I felt a bit like a professional escort without the sex. And that, to me, feels like a lose-lose situation; I mean, if a guy’s going to pay for my dinner I’d at least hope to get laid at the end of the night.

So, onwards and upwards to Kiwi date tomorrow…

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No Pain!

So, sorry to disappoint but there was no date with the Kiwi last night. He came down with some sort of terrible hacking cough (Swine flu? Bird flu? Remember Bird flu? Those were the days…) and we had to postpone until Friday. It actually worked out for the better as it was a rather rainy and depressing Monday. The only annoying bit about it was the fact I wore my chosen Date Dress to work and spent the day feeling a bit trussed up and chilly when I could have been in jeans and converse. I have already warned my coworkers that they will be seeing me in the same dress on Friday and they’re not to judge my hygiene levels. Kiwi is still giving great email banter (which is like kryptonite to me) so my hopes for the date are still relatively high.

Here’s the thing I’m noticing about following The Rules: it’s bloody boring. Despite the fact that I’ve got one date under my belt and a further three lined up (a 400% increase on my June dating record already) it’s all feeling a bit…dull (not to mention the fact that the prospect of me having sex anytime soon seems to be receding further and further into the distance despite all these new prospective suitors. At this rate, by the end of the month I will indeed have become a “creature like any other” – a rabid, sex-starved madwoman).

Anyway, I’ve been channeling all my pent up energy and aggression into training for a couple of half marathons I’m running this fall. So on Sunday morning, my flatmate and I dragged our asses out of bed and went to a circuits class in the park run by my trainer friend. We thought there’d be a pretty big group of us but – surprisingly – we were the only two foolish enough to set our alarms for 8am on a Sunday morning for the pleasure of being beasted by an extremely muscular Caribbean man. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t eat or drink – he seems to survive purely off the pain and suffering of others.

Training with him is a bit like the Street Flava dance class – all delusions of grandeur (hell, even of mild competence) are immediately shattered. “I’ll be FINE!” I think as I trot down to the park. “I run all the time! I’m in the best shape of my life! Trainer Friend will be so impressed with me.”

“NO PAIN!” he yells over and over again as my flatmate and I hurl a gigantic medicine ball through the air and then chase after it. “LOWER!” he screams as we do our 300th squat jump. “NO WHINING!” he chastises when flatmate and I start commiserating over the fact that we’re both near death. (That’s another reason I was fine that the Kiwi date was postponed – I spend much of yesterday walking like I’d had an unfortunate encounter with a metal rod).

At the end of the session, he drove our limp, sweat-soaked bodies back to our flat. “You just can’t let yourself think about the pain,” he said. “Just block it out.” “You’re insane,” I said.

But maybe I should apply this whole “no pain, no gain” attitude to the project. The authors of The Rules admit over and over that following them isn’t much fun and can be difficult, but they assure me that rainbows and fluffy kittens and all manner of unending delights await me if I stick with it. So I guess if I’m willing to get up at an ungodly hour on a Sunday morning and put my body through agony in the hope that I’ll run a little bit faster, I should be able to refrain from conducting my love life like an episode of One Life to Live for a month.

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The First Rules Date

So, Friday night was date night.

The Rules has a series of suggestions for what to do pre-date: 

  1. To relieve anxiety, go to the gym, get a manicure, or take a long, hot bubble bath.

Apparently Rules girls don’t have jobs. I spent the day toiling away at my desk. Well, most of the day anyway – much of the afternoon was spent watching the tennis.

  1. Buy a new shirt of bottle of perfume. Get a makeover. Treat yourself.

I’ve only had two makeovers in my life. One was when I was fourteen and went to Glamour Shots in the local mall (I came out looking like an underage hooker) and one was a freebie when I was in college (I came out looking like an of-age hooker). So I passed on the makeover. I did, however, treat myself to a Twix.

  1. Take a nap. If you’re the type who gets drowsy at 10 p.m., a good nap will keep you going.

Right. Again, the whole having-a-job thing got slightly in the way. I AM the type to get drowsy at around 10 p.m. but most of the time I just rely on Jack Daniels and Diet Coke to see me through.

My pre-date routine went something like this: plan to leave work at 6pm to go home and get ready, leaving me plenty of time to get to the restaurant for 8. Get swayed into watching Wimbledon in the boardroom and drinking the office wine, then am briefly sidetracked by a friend in the pub next door. Leave at 6:45. Encounter tube delays. Run into my flat, change into an extremely small black dress, whack on some eyeliner, smoke a cigarette on the balcony, and run out the door. I realize almost immediately that I am, in fact, dressed a little bit like a hooker (no makeover necessary, apparently). Jump on an extremely cramped and muggy tube and manage to arrive at the scary posh restaurant only 6 minutes late.

The man on the door looks at me knowingly and says, “I think I know the gentleman you’re looking for. Let me show you downstairs.” Sat at the bar is a man who doesn’t look much like the photo of Latin Banker my friend sent me, but I figure if the scary maitre de says so, it must be him. I approach him gingerly. “Latin Banker?” I say. “No,” he says. The maitre de and I are both extremely embarrassed, especially when we turn around and see Latin Banker waving at us from the corner. So, a fine start.

I imagined him to be a sort of swarthy, moneyed lothario type (which is pretty much the antithesis of my usual type – the unemployed hipster) but it turns out Latin Banker is neither particularly Latin nor terribly Bankerish. He is, in fact, a lovely Oxbridge guy who happens to work in finance. And he’s cute.

I try my best to follow The Rules on how to act on a first date, namely to “show up, relax, pretend you’re an actress making a cameo appearance in a movie.” Now, I LOVE this advice but I’m still not entirely sure how to put it into action. I did manage to show up, and I was pretty relaxed (especially after my second dirty martini) but I haven’t quite figured out how to pretend to be an actress making a cameo appearance. Instead, I felt like me making a real-life appearance at a somewhat intimidating posh bar trying not to make an ass out of myself (which I largely managed, except when I dropped a piece of fried squid down the front of my hooker dress).

I did manage to follow Rule 4 ( “Don’t Meet Him Halfway or Go Dutch on a Date) and Rule 11 (“Always End the Date First). 

I was pretty anxious about Rule 4 because I’m normally an insistent splitter-of-bills, but when the bill came it felt fairly natural to make a vague gesture towards my bag and then immediately concede when he said he was going to pay. Also, if I had had to split the bill with him I would still be in the restaurant kitchen washing dishes. I will say that I was glad at that point for having worn the hooker dress as I felt less guilty about him picking up the pretty massive tab (I know, I know – a psychologist could have a field day with that one).

Rule 11 was also fairly easy despite being completely opposite to what I’d normally do (which would be to stick around and drink the place dry before making a drunken pass at him). And my brain cells were certainly happy to be spared the usual Friday Night Massacre. The plan of a swift and graceful exit was mildly scuppered when I realized the tube had shut and we had to embark on a 25 minute Journey to the Centre of the Universe looking for a cab. I’d momentarily forgotten that it’s nigh-on impossible to make a quick and graceful exit in London on a Friday night unless you’ve managed to stash a jetpack in your bag.

But all in all, a fairly rousing success. He was funny and chatty and clever and the evening was not at all awkward or boring. And there is something strangely comforting about knowing that it’s all in his hands now. The Rules of course forbids me from contacting him in any way so I just have to wait and see what he does next. I’m starting to vaguely understand the way that followers of organized religion feel – you follow a set of rules, behave a certain way, and at the end of the day you shrug your shoulders and say, “Well, it’s all up to him.”

And yes, I do realize I just compared Latin Banker to God but you know what I’m trying to say.

Date with the Kiwi on Monday.

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The Candidates

So obviously, in order for this experiment to work, I need test subjects. As you have probably gathered by now, my cup isn’t exactly runneth-ing over, so I had to boldly go where I’ve never gone before. That’s right: blind dates and the internet.

Both of these things have long struck fear into my heart, not necessarily because I’m scared I might encounter a psychopath (I tend to voluntarily welcome psychopaths into my life rather than stumble across them at random) but because I really, really hate awkwardness. The idea of sitting through three hours of strained, small-talk-filled conversation with a stranger is up there with DIY dentistry in terms of my pain levels.

But desperate times call for desperate measures so I’ve asked various friends to scroll through their contacts lists and I’ve signed up to one of the big dating websites.

First up is a South American banker who’s a friend of a friend. I’ve never met him but she assured me that he “loves women,” which I for some reason found mildly creepy rather than reassuring. Tomorrow night he’s taking me to what looks like a scarily-posh restaurant for some sort of cocktail extravaganza.

Bachelor Number Two is a New Zealander I met through the dating website – he’s cooking up some sort of plan for Monday night. So far his emails have been spectacular so I have high hopes for some decent banter (though, according to The Rules, I won’t really be allowed to partake – women “shouldn’t talk so much” on dates).

And then, of course, there’s the useless and elusive B. Obviously he should be struck from all records – both public and private – but he does have a way of rearing his strangely endearing head. In fact, he rang me today (at the extremely sexy time of 12:15 in the afternoon). All I wanted to do was yell, “What is WRONG with you? What are we DOING? WILL WE EVER HAVE SEX AGAIN?”

Instead, we talked for a few minutes and then, keeping Rule #6 in mind (“Always End Phone Calls First”), I blurted out “Well, I’ve gotta go.”

“Okay,” he said, sounding a mixture of amused and perplexed, “Bye…”

I hung up feeling irritated (as I often due after speaking to him) but also strangely pleased with myself. Maybe I’m getting the hang of this…

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Dancing in the Dark

According to The Rules, in order to maximize my “creature unlike any other”-ness I should be keeping myself as busy as possible and constantly self-improving. “In addition to a healthy diet, we strongly suggest you shake your buns!” they shriek. The phrase “shake your buns” makes me supremely uncomfortable but I figure I should start as I mean to go on. In the spirit of this, my friend CK and I went to a dance class called Street Flava last night.

Now, I am the first to admit that my flava is definitely not street, but I do have a long-standing reputation as the girl most likely to gyrate on an elevated surface when hip hop is being played. So when we arrive at the studio, I’m feeling a little nervous but also quietly confident. “I’m good at this!”, I think. “I’m as just as good as those girls on The Grind! Maybe the teacher will spot my talent and take me under his wing…Maybe it’s not too late for me to be on MTV!”

There should have been a sign on the door reading “Abandon hope, all ye who enter.” CK and I are dressed to go for a pleasant run in the park while everyone else in the class is wearing somewhat more convincing street flava apparel. We exchange panicked glances. The instructor, an extremely well-muscled Indian guy with bleached dreads, starts us off with a warm up (which I can’t keep up with) before launching into an extremely complicated routine (forget about it). There’s stomping involved. And body popping. And something called krumping that seems to consist of shuffling ones feet faster than I previously thought humanly possible. I am unrelentingly rubbish at all of it. Really, honestly, shockingly bad. And I can’t even pretend otherwise because of the giant wall of mirrors in front of me. 

Suddenly, one of my longest and deepest held suspicions is proved true: I am a terrible dancer. Years of memories of me dancing on platforms and in the middle of circles come flooding back to me. It’s like that scene in Spaceballs when Mel Brooks gets twisted in half, looks down and shouts “Why didn’t anybody tell me my ass was so big?!”

I feel compelled, twelve-steps-style, to write to everyone who’s ever seen me dance: “Dear Scott, I am very sorry for the time I inflicted my body popping on you in that bar in Boston and for all the hurt I’m sure it caused you. I am now coming to terms with my illness and getting the help that I need.”

So, cheers for that, Rules. Thanks to your insistence that I “shake my buns,” I can now firmly cross off one item on my list of self-purported feminine wiles. Next up you’re going to tell me I have hideous hair, fat ankles and am crap in bed and then my self-image will be well and truly shattered.

First date on Friday…

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Pretty much every man I have ever been involved with has described me, at one point or another and always to my face, as trouble. And I’ve always been quite pleased with the description. “Yes,” I think, “I AM trouble. No one can tame me! I’m like Black fucking Beauty!”

But really, how sustainable is it?

The other night, after a quick after work drink with a friend, I discovered a missed call from B on my phone. After the indignation of The Wire incident I had changed his name on my phone to “Are You Pissed?” in the hope of saving myself from future humiliation. Instead, it just felt like my phone was judging me.

I was secretly delighted – I had the whole flat to myself and no immediate plans for the following morning. Perfect.

I texted back: “You rang?”

An hour passes. Two. No response.

Now, had it been July 1st and had The Rules begun, I wouldn’t have even sent that text message – I would have ignored the call altogether. But seeing as how I was still in control of my actions (I use the term “in control” admittedly very loosely), I texted him again.

“Were you just calling to say hello? Because I think we both know how I feel about that.”

The phone rings immediately.

“Alright grumpy! What’s wrong with calling just to say hello?”

The correct answer, of course, is nothing. It’s actually quite nice. But I can’t allow myself to go down that road because I know where it leads. B is a highly unreliable creature, easily spooked, and the less I expect from him, the better off I am.

“For Christ’s sake, B, what good is a phone call just to say hello? That’s useless to me!”

“You are vicious!” He says, laughing.

“Thank you,” I say. Vicious is a new one but I figure it can’t be far off from Trouble. “It’s true!” I think, “I’m like Nelly Furtado in that Maneater song!”

Later that night, I text him to say I have the flat to myself if he’s interested in coming round. My phone is silent for the rest of the evening.

The Rules say that women should never pursue men, not only because apparently men are meant to be the hunters and women the prey, but also because the act of pursuing a man puts the woman in a vulnerable position. You can’t be rejected if you don’t put yourself in a position to be rejected.

Right now, it’s a strangely appealing theory. It looks like trouble only gets me so far.

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The Fear…

I was talking to my flatmate the other night and we came to the conclusion that men fall into three categories according to their age. Men in their twenties are scared that we’re trying to wheedle a diamond out of them, men in their thirties are convinced that we’re secretly trying to get pregnant and men in their forties are scared that we’ll tell their wives about us. I’m assuming that once they hit 50+, most of their energy is spent on fearing death.

Take, for example, my recent experience with Doug, a cute, easygoing thirty-eight year old I met at a friend’s leaving party. After a couple of dates – on which, I hasten to add, we discussed AT LENGTH the fact that I don’t want to have children (he asked) – we went back to my place. All was going according to plan…until he freaked out.

“Are you SURE you’re on the pill?” he asked, terror in his eyes.

“Of course I am – do you think I’m on some sort of kamikaze mission?”

“I know, I know…It’s just, when you get to my age… women sometimes really want to get pregnant… and they lie about that stuff. So, you’re sure?”

So, to be clear: despite our repeated discussions about my determination to remain one of those terribly selfish childless people for the rest of my life, he managed to convince himself that I was only using him for his precious, precious seed. And I mean, he wasn’t exactly a genetic goldmine – he thought that Americans exchanged Christmas presents on Thanksgiving and didn’t know the meaning of the word narcissistic (oh, the irony). If he were a prospective sperm donor and I was in the market, I’m pretty sure I’d flip the catalogue page.

The thing is, the vast majority of my single female friends aren’t looking for serious relationships – they’re just looking for a guy who’s a decent human and decent in bed who they can have sex with every ten days or so. So where is all this fear coming from?

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