because none of us is fucking up like we think we are, is what i'm trying to say

A Valentine’s Day Post-Mortem



‘So, because he went to Amsterdam and didn’t have sex with a prostitute, you’re supposed to be… flattered?’ I said.

‘Apparently,’ she replied, blowing on her hot chocolate, steam floating up into the ether. Or maybe it was her breath. The only tables free at her favourite Italian bar were outside. Where it was about to snow. Breath could definitely be seen. It was raining and my feet were wet.

‘Does that mean you’re his girlfriend now?’

‘… No. I’m not sure I want to be.’

I sighed, shivering slightly. I sounded like I was on a broken ventilator. I looked at the men on the table next to us smoking roll ups. I mustn’t, I thought to myself. She followed my gaze.

‘If he can forgo a hand job for a crush, you can skip a cigarette.’

‘If I don’t smoke does that mean I can be your boyfriend?’

She smiled. ‘He was so proud when he told me, too. Like, “Look, I made this out of macaroni for you! It’s not a call girl’s vagina!”’

‘Well heck, he must really like you then.’

‘I think he really does.’

*

It’s taken some time, but I’m pretty sure I’ve largely decided that a) most men under 30 are shit, and a bit confused, or b) well. There is no b. Most men under 30 are shit, and a bit confused.

*

When I got an invitation to a “Screw Love” dinner for awesome singles via a dinnerparty club I joined because London is fucking ace like that, it was everything I could do not to reach into the computer to shout down the broadband line YES. YES I WILL SPEND VALENTINE’S DINNER WITH ELEVEN STRANGERS. Six men and five women I’d never met before. Because that is a 600% increase on the number of men I would otherwise have spent Valentine’s with, eating Ben and Jerry’s in my room and crying as I wanked, solo, again, because I am going to die sad and unloved but can’t admit that as a fear out loud because it makes me a Bad Feminist, Human, or Similar.

‘Are you sure you’re not just going to an orgy?’ everyone in the office asked me. I couldn’t, in all honesty, answer that I wasn’t.

I wasn’t too upset by that.

*

Instruction was to arrive at 7.30 for drinks, to eat at 8.30 p.m. The event was ten minutes from my house and so I decided, in my wisdom, to leave at 7.45 in order to equalise ‘fashionably tardy’ with ‘in time for at least two drinks before dinner’. Three drinks and I’d be demanding that we just skip to pudding and we put on some Beyoncé because, 'I just feel like she really gets it, you know? She really understands me as a woman.'

Any less than two drinks and I’d risk being so nervous that my first words to the person next to me would be, 'I DON’T WANT TO SPEND THE NEXT SEVENTY YEARS ALONE. HELP ME. PLEASE, HELP ME.' Balance.

*

When my brother’s Valentine date arrived to the house, I was sat in my thong on the sofa, doing a quick sewing job on the knee of my pleather trousers, and practising how I should greet The Strangers when I arrived.

'Hi! I’m Laura!'

'Hey, Laura, nice to meet you.'

'Hello! Hello! Hello!'

'Are you really practising how to say hello?' my brother asked me as he got started on his lamb steaks.

'I like the second hello,' his date said.

*

I was the last to arrive. I burst into the room and, forgetting about what I had rehearsed, said, 'Sorry, I’m so sorry, sorry- lateness is so crude- I’m sorry.' Somebody kindly handed me a glass of Prosecco. I downed it as I took off my coat- glass in one hand as I slipped out of the first sleeve, and a switch to the other hand as I did the second arm.

'What a great jacket,' somebody close by commented.

I put down my empty glass. 'Oh, thanks. I call it my blow job coat. It sheds hairs and they always end up on the tip of my tongue. I always feel like I’ve just given head when I’m wearing it.'

The room was silent. It wasn’t the entrance I had in mind.

*

Six hours later and there were three of us left: the founder, the guy who had sat to my left at dinner, and me. She opened another bottle of red. Jush for da road. We all toasted for da road! I went outside with the guy, to smoke. It always starts with a smoke.

*

At 4.30 p.m. on Friday I crawled into bed with my hangover. I felt horrific. I had a dreamless sleep and woke up at 9 a.m. the next day. Valentine’s Day was like it had never happened at all. 



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