Right. So, with the recent passing last Tuesday of Singles Awareness Day, I reckon I should take a moment to reflect on love.
Whilst everyone sells love as a life-affirming bonding of kindred spirits, some sort of universal soul massage for two, all-too-often, love is a rather poorly thought out chemical reaction with long-term financial implications. Frankly, we all need to eat our vegetables, get a decent night’s sleep and focus on negotiating whose turn it is to change the toilet roll.
The problem is, of course, that there’s something about having this sort of viewpoint – especially when it comes in women of a certain age and very particularly when they happen to own cats – that turns potential partners off at twenty paces.
This, as you may have suspected, comes as somewhat of a problem for me.
“But why are you single?” cry my well-meaning and annoyingly rhetorical friends. Now, as that demi-goddess of the western chic(k) lit canon Bridget Jones has noted, there really is no good answer to this question. In fact, the best response so far has come from none other than – cue the stereotypes – my hairdresser.
“Nee man,” he told me over a trim. “The problem with you isn’t that you’re fussy. The problem with you is that you’re full of kak.” (As I think you’ll agree, this is sharp observational detail from the person whom I once found lying flat on the salon floor, head under a towel, because it happened to be his 40th birthday).
And that’s just the man I let near my hair.
Upon telling my father a story about an autistic, obsessive-compulsive homeless man I met one day on a walk, his only response was to ask when I might be bringing him home to meet the rest of the family.
Unfortunately, he has a point. See, there has been an illustrious lineage of horrible choices in my romantic life, ranging from Bible-touting abortionists with anatomical anxiety to binge-drinking actors with one too many romantic commitments. And those are just the attractive ones.
I recently had cause to consider this question of coupling more carefully while cheerily fulfilling my role as resident romantic pariah at a friend’s wedding. The bride had thoughtfully placed me next to the only other person – let’s call him Cecil – who I knew.
…at least, it would have been thoughtful, if Cecil hadn’t been the person I had conducted an ill-advised affair with, during which time I behaved with all the grace, tact and consideration of a baby water buffalo.
Cecil was looking great. He would be, considering the fact that, two months after unceremoniously ditching him over text message (I’m not proud), he had come into an inheritance, met the love of his life and gone on an epic cross-America road trip with said lady in a Cadillac, during which he proposed (thus leaving us with the Russian doll effect of talking about a wedding while actually at a wedding).
We both reached for the wine.
Several hours later, in that dangerous wilderness between the emotional end of the speeches and the godsend of the main course, I turned to Cecil. “Why am I aloooone?” I slurred. “Is it because I’m cold like, like [I searched for something appropriately chilly]…..like ice cream?”
To Cecil’s eternal credit, he did not panic.
“Ice cream is the perfect complement to a good meal,” he offered, edging his chair slightly toward the floral table decorations on his left.
I perked up.
“But,” he firmly said, “it doesn’t go with every meal.” He relented. ”I mean, you’ve got to really appreciate ice cream, save it for those ‘I cannot survive without an ice cream’ moments. Besides, [as he rose from the table, gesturing vaguely towards his cell phone] lots of guys like ice cream.”
Over dessert, which was warm chocolate tart and berry coulis, we discussed the finer details of this. Perhaps I should try posing as a student and join the mountain and ski club, he helpfully suggested.
Perhaps I could. But perhaps, in a yearning for more melodramatic crises and less liveable commitments, I would rather rack up Cape Town’s very own little black book of toxic liaisons. Should you be leaning towards similar explorations, I can assure you that the entertainment – if not the emotional – factor is unparalleled.
The dog days, as Florence and the Machine so lyrically tell us, are over. But goodness, somebody should let me know.
Follow Carla Lever on Twitter (@carlalever)
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