Leaping into love

Ladies – splendid singletons – today is your day! Tradition dictates that February 29th – otherwise known as Leap Day – is your chance to propose to your man.

According to legend, St Bridget struck a deal with St Patrick, way back when, to allow women to propose to men every four years. (Quite why St Patrick had the authority to legislate on these matters is unclear to me, but legislate he did.)

Anyway, it turns out that Leap Day is bit of a win-win date for us single ladies: if you ask a man to marry you and he refuses, tradition says that he must buy you a gown … or twelve pairs of gloves, to hide your poor, ringless fingers for a whole year. Result!

Whether or not you can convince your intended to adhere to this part of the deal is, I suppose, a moot point, although I imagine you’re not about to spring a marriage proposal on any Tom, Dick or Harry that you’ve just met on the street. (That would be one way of striking up a conversation, mind you…)

Anyway, in an attempt to meet candidates for my own marriage proposal, I’ve finally done it: I’ve joined a dating site.

Despite my qualms about internet match-making, I’m pig-sick of my romantic success being limited to the under 25s and over 55s; I’ve begun to despair of EVER meeting an attractive single male in his 30s or 40s. So, with a heavy heart, I answer any number of ridiculous questions, trying to encapsulate my vibrance, energy and generally winsome personality within the confines of the categories and tick boxes before me.

It’s not easy. I fret about the subtext of every like and dislike on my list. And as for trying to pick a photo … I’d prefer to have my eyeballs scooped out with a teaspoon and fed to the ducks.

This is mainly because I’m wildly unphotogenic: if anyone has their eyes closed in a photo, it’ll be me. I’m always the one looking the wrong way, the one with their mouth open, the one with the weird facial expression that I could surely never replicate, even if you paid me.

I don’t look that bad in real life. I hope.

Finding a photo that makes me look vaguely normal – never mind attractive – is no mean feat, but finally I find a couple that I can tolerate and with trepidation, I publish my profile.

Within moments, I get a five-star rating … from John in London, aged 56. Shortly afterwards, I get a chirpy message from Mozza … aged 23. 56 and 23. I kid you not.

Now, I can quite clearly see what a 56-year-old might see in a 35-year-old … but at 23, my dear young friend, you should be out prowling the streets and howling at the moon, not approaching aging spinsters on the internet.

At first, I find I’m too polite: it seems wrong to ignore someone’s approach, just because I don’t fancy them and we’ve got nothing in common. They’ve made all that effort, after all.

I soon change my ways after I respond to a portly football fan who lists the number one thing he couldn’t live without as beer. I send him what I think is a reasonably kind ‘thanks, but no thanks’ sort of message, and he responds by saying, “Oh, sorry. I meant to contact the one below you.” Lame!

Anyway, nothing ventured, nothing gained: I decide to make the most of the occasion, and propose to the semi-suitable man. He responds, saying, “Sure, but only if we can do it in Las Vegas”.

Despite the apparently positive tone of the reply, I have a feeling he’s just trying to get out of buying me gloves. Bah! Looks like I’ll have to wait another four years to bag my man.

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