If you want a litmus test for your level of bonkers, may I recommend an analysis of your thought process in the wine aisle of Sainsbury’s as you try to select what bottles to get for those strangers you’re having over for dinner:
"But if I buy the Shiraz on offer, they'll know I only chose that one because it was cheap. Maybe I should get fewer of the more expensive ones... But I just want everyone to have fun. We'll have fun if we're drunk. I'll get the stuff on offer. And one of the posh ones with the fancy label for when they arrive."
Friday saw me reach new levels of crazy as I cleaned my skirting boards- of course I couldn’t entertain guests if I hadn’t. In my imagination it was unfathomable to not fashion a pyramid design on the back of the loo out of all the extra toilet paper I’d bought, and at lunchtime it became inexplicably important to pick juuuuust the right books for the coffee table.
Two weeks ago I had friends over for dinner and served wine out of jam jars in lieu of doing the washing up, but suddenly, as I didn’t know the surnames of my dinner attendees, I decided to POLISH THE CUTLERY BEFORE I SET THE TABLE BECAUSE FUCK, MAN, THE JUDGEMENT.
I’d never been more concerned about playing house than I was knowing 5 amazingly talented and witty women were on their way to dine in it. I was like Trudy off of Mad Men, except less willing to put up with a smug bastard with funny lips as a husband.
The funny feelings in my tummy were the same ones I get before a date- that dull excitement and hope and the neurotic voice that tells me it just won’t work.
With a bum date though, your mate can call you to tell you about a problem with the cat wherein you must leave immediately. When this date- or dates, plural- are in your home, it’s pretty obvious there’s no cat, no problem, and no excuse. Debrett’s don’t cover that bit, the how-to-make-a-classy-exit-from-your-own-home manoeuvre. “Yeah- so I’m suddenly incredibly uncomfortable with this whole idea so I need you to put down your fork and… leave. Thanks.”
At 7.25 p.m. I was trying to light a candle off of the electric hob, getting frustrated because I hadn’t thought to buy matches and so was instead singeing the wick and making my house smell like burnt. Then the doorbell went. As I hung up the coat of my final guest I distinctly remember thinking to myself, “Yup. This is it then. We’re a go.” As if my date had just put on a condom and closed his eyes.
Glasses were filled with prosecco, soup warmed on the stove, and conversation came- much to my surprise- as easily as Nick Grimshaw in Harry Styles.
One guest casually mentioned that her ex-husband had been a chef, which: HI YEAH, SORRY- HERE’S ALL THE QUESTIONS I HAVE ABOUT THAT IN ORDER OF IMPORTANCE FOR YOU. As we hit the main course she further mentioned getting pregnant at 16, how her two kids lived in Brighton with her ex as she trained as a barrister in London; she wanted to fulfil what she knew was her potential. As the sun set over the London skyline six twentysomethng women raised a glass to how fucking awesome she was, of what we’re able make of our lives when the odds are against us and we want what is difficult in spite of ourselves.
It was largely agreed that The Liver Scientist had the best job, on account of the fact that, well- you know. You can’t wing that shit, can you? And the City Lawyer talked about her mum with such fondness and frequency I think all of us made a mental note to call our own mamas the next day.
The Digital Publisher possibly revolutionised my notions of men and dating: “There are probably about six men I know who I could marry and start a family with,” she said, “Love isn’t magic. It’s just timing.” And the luxury brand manager fresh off the boat from Bombay provided the hardest laughs I’ve given anybody for ages with her wry observations of western culture. I wanted to put her in my pocket to keep forever.
I needn’t have worried so crazily. It was, I think I’m trying to say, marvellous. It’s clichéd and Disney to admit, but those women who arrived at my flat were strangers, and goddamn it if I don’t want them all to be friends. And as they stumbled drunkenly out of my flat at 3 a.m., hugs and number-exchanging all round, I’m lucky that they all agreed they felt the same.
My advice? Whatever scary you've been putting off lately- just bloody do it.
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