I knew the blazing sunshine and balmy evenings couldn’t last. It’s whipping it down. Ugh.
But even though the skies are leaden and the gutters are flooded, my cheery demeanour remains unscathed: since I decided to quit looking for the love of my life, it’s as if a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders.
As if to validate my decision, I meet a girlfriend for coffee and she tells me how unhappy she is: she’s found out that her boyfriend (or, rather, ex-boyfriend) had been sending intimate messages to another woman the whole time that they were together. And they were together for two years.
Later, another girlfriend who recently got back together with her first love tells me there’s trouble in paradise: he’d carelessly “forgotten” to mention the child he’d had in the inbetween years. Naturally, she’s not so much worried about the child as the dishonesty that has kept it hidden until now.
When I stop and think about it, I know any number of intelligent, attractive ladies, who each have any number of tragic dating stories that range from head-shakingly hilarious to downright disturbing. And as I listen to these stories, I wonder what on earth is wrong with the world? And, more pertinently, what’s wrong with all these men?
Maybe it’s the times we live in, or maybe it’s our time of life, but it’s as if all the good ones got snapped up early on, and all that’s left are the slightly imperfect ones – the shop soiled remainders that think nothing of behaving badly and breaking a few hearts along the way.
I feel as though I’ve got off lightly.
Of course, I do know some couples who seem perfectly content in each other’s company, and who treat each other with affection and respect. I salute them, admire them, and wish I was one of them. I’m also sure there are plenty of men out there wailing and gnashing their teeth, with equally sad stories to tell, but … well … where are they?
Still, I’m convinced that studious abstention is the way to go right now. I’ve got a new job, a new positive attitude … and I just don’t need anyone cramping my style.
Of course, there’s no accounting for random elements that are determined to make their presence felt.
I’m (once again) waiting in line for a coffee when the guy behind me, who’s been juggling mucus between his nose and throat for the better part of five minutes, decides to pipe up.
“It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? Just ridiculous!”
I don’t know why, but I feel that someone has to step into the yawning silence this comment has attracted. And of course, since no one else is volunteering, that someone is going to be me.
Wary of risking an over-involved exchange by actually speaking, I raise an affable, but quizzical, eyebrow in his direction.
“I mean, really!” he continues, “How long can it take to make a coffee?”
“Well,” I say, indicating the queue with a sweep of my arm, “it’s pretty busy in here today.”
“Of course,” he continues, as if I hadn’t spoken. “I blame the Germans.”
I bring it on myself, I think, as I mentally roll my eyeballs, he expounds some wildly complex theory about the coffee-snaffling qualities of the German race, and I feel the conversation slip into the absurd.
As I listen to him waffle on, a realisation hits me.
This, I think, is why I’m better off staying away from men, relationships and romance. Because no matter how uncomfortable the situation, no matter how agonising and annoying and undeniably wrong it all is, I have absolutely no concept of how and when to step away. I soldier on, martyr-like, to the bitter end.
Well, not today.
“I’m sorry,” I say, as I push past the raving nutter from Nuttersville, “I’ve got somewhere else to be.”
And I can’t be sure, but I think he even pauses for a second as he watches me go.