Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Chapter One...A Work in Progress

"No, Ore-gano. Oregano." Emma mouthed into her iphone as she pulled into the FastTech carpark.

"What is that?" Came the reply.

Emma closed her eyes in exasperation, remembering that she was actually driving a car she snapped them open before she rammed the shiny new volvo that was coming towards her. Putting her other hand up to say sorry whilst still speaking to Becca on the phone caused the driver to look alarmed before before rounding the corner and driving away from her quickly. Driving never had been one of her strong points; she was distracted far too easily.

"It's a herb Becca, you'll find it in one of the aisles of the supermarket that doesn't have wine down it."

"Oh, no wonder I don't know what it is then."

Emma heard her flatmate giggle down the phone, and wondered for a brief moment whether it was possible that Becca had actually poured wine on her cornflakes that morning.

"Okay, have you got that?" Emma asked, slotting her beat up Renault Clio in between Steve's Mazda and Amelda's gleaming Alfa Romeo. Clearly her work colleagues were far more eager to get into FastTech this morning, Emma was more eager about getting out.

"Yep. Beef mince, lean, tomatoes, firm, Oregano, green..."

As Becca began repeating back the shopping list of ingredients for Spaghetti Bolognese Emma looked up at the FastTech offices and felt that familiar feeling crash over her like a wave, another dull day, in a dull building, doing a dull job that she resented but kept her in wine. It wasn't that FastTech weren't a good company to work for but whilst at university Emma had higher hopes. However, graduating in the middle of the worst recession for decades hadn't been what she was expecting and with rent money hanging over her head and the only thing to eat in the flat being a can of mouldy baked beans her career in Events Management had never quite materialised and she'd taken the job at FastTech before she'd ended up eating her own arm.
And now here she was, two years later at the age of twenty four and doing a job where she was abused by customers on a headset for eight hours everyday and her boss was somewhere between completely psycho and oddly friendly.

"...I think that's everything, right? Emma?" Becca was waiting for a reply on the end of the line.

"Shit, sorry. Yes, that's right. Do you think you can get all of that?"

"No problem. Thanks so much for doing this Em, I do really appreciate it."

"It's fine, I'm looking forward to it, see you later."

Emma put the phone down and experienced a little frisson of excitement. Cooking was the only thing that excited her anymore, (okay, so she didn't currently have a boyfriend) and living with a culinary distaster as a flatmate meant that every night,when she walked out of the FastTech office at 5pm she would get to spend the next two hours surrounded by the fragrance of fresh herbs, feel the £100 carving knife that she had treated herself to one Christmas slice through onions and glide through chicken breast and smile at the satisfaction she got from seeing Becca's eyes light up when she put down two plates of steaming, perfectly arranged and deliciously scented food in front of them. There was something so warm and fuzzy about cooking for people, everyone was happier when they had a tummy full of nice food and Emma loved being the one to make them feel like it.

First though, she had to get through today. Jolting her out of her happy place there was a knock on her car window, Glenda was waving franticly at her from underneath a bright pink umbrella dotted with giant purple flowers. Emma buzzed the window down.

"Morning Emma, love. Are you coming in? It's frightful out here."

Glenda was a short woman, in her early 50's, she had a kind face and had worked for FastTech for twenty five years, if you asked her she would explain that after her first child was born she had taken the job part time to bring in a little extra money and had simply become so comfortable there that she'd never left. The idea that she might never leave made Emma want to throw up on herself.

"Morning Glenda. On my way. Is there room under that umbrella of yours?" Emma couldn't help but be nice to Glenda, she meant well and unlike some of the other cretins in the office she did genuinely care about everyone.

"Of course dear, come on." Glenda smiled down at her.

They huddled together underneath the umbrella and shuffled across the car park, Emma could feel the cold February sleet seeping into the back of her tights and once inside the building it was no warmer. Janet, the boss, insisted on only having the office heating on for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon in order to watch "over spending", in the meantime they all wore fifteen jumpers and tried to hide the fact that they'd swapped their heels for Ugg boots underneath their desks.

Emma waved goodbye to Glenda, who's cubicle was further down the open plan office and made her way to her own desk. Covered with stray pieces of paper, sales targets and the precious Customer Care Bible she checked out her damp hair in the black computer screen, even with Glenda's umbrella her dark blonde hair had flattened itself against her scalp in protest at the drizzle outside and the fact that it hadn't been cut in months. She really should get round to that. Becca had been frowning at her every time she walked into a room for weeks. A beautician herself, Becca always looked immaculate and frowned upon women who didn't care about their appearance with the same overwhelming attention to detail that she did.

Switching on her computer Emma began her morning routine of sifting through the papers left in her in-tray from Friday, when she had beat a hasty retreat from the office, the fact that it was the weekend and the opportunity to spend it blending flavours in their pokey kitchen and burying her nose in cookery books had become too much to resist and she had practically sprinted out of the office at 5pm. The now awake computer screen flashed up and announced 'Good Morning' to her before changing to the FastTech logo on her desktop, it had been of Patrick Dempsey with his shirt off but Janet had told her it was "inappropriate" for the office before staring at for a little bit too long.

FastTech were a computer software company, who specialised in "helping people" who werent IT literate, Emma, IT illilterate herself couldn't for the life of her understand why she had gotten the job. Had she thought about it more carefully, Geoffrey, the manager at the time, now sailing around the Med on his yacht 'Beyonce', was a bit of a ladies man and had been desperate to have some young blood in the office, when Emma had walked into the interview wearing her smart black suit she'd only ever worn once to a funeral, he had taken in her softly curled blonde hair, her moss green eyes and the air of eagerness surrounding her and had hired her on the spot. Grateful that she'd to both pay rent AND eat that month Emma had been too overjoyed to even realise that she'd be taking calls from confused and angry people all day who would need her to explain how to open up an internet window. She had been at FastTech for two years now and even though she had a cubicle (at the beginning she'd had to share a desk with fat Brian who liked to bring Egg and Cress sandwiches to work...everyday!) she couldn't see herself hanging around long enough to graduate to actual office status.

Hovering the mouse over the internet window she breifly considered whether to open up Facebook but a quick glance at the clock told her it was only 9:28am, she could wait until at least 10am before stalking all of the people she went to university with and weeping at how their lives has turned out in comparision to hers.

"Right, Morning all. Can I have some attention please?"

Janet's overly loud voice could be heard from the canteen on the third floor nevermind the entire office. Sliding down in her swivel chair Emma tried to hide from view, Janet probably wouldn't be able to see her anyway, at just a little over 5ft Janet suffered from small person complex and was always convinced people were talking down to her (excuse the pun), in turn she treated everyone with as little respect as she could making sure that everyone knew that she was the boss, even if what she was saying wasn't right. Having stood up for Glenda once after over-hearing Janet berate her for walking through the office too slowly Emma was now officially on her 'Naughty List' so it was best to keep her head down.

"As you all know, with the financial situation the way it is FastTech has been struggling over the last couple of months," A tension filled hush fell over the office floor as everyone tried not to think about the word 'redundancy' "I don't want you all to panic, as far as I'm aware there are to be no redundancies in this sector," A little of the tension ebbed away and Emma was surrounded by sighs of relief, "however, if it comes to it that and redundancies do have to be made I will obviously have to follow through with it, therefore I will be keeping a close eye on your work over the coming weeks. Thank you."

Janet turned on her heel, six inch, not that it helped, and slammed the door of her tiny office with finesse. Within seconds Glenda was over at her desk.

"Oh Emma, do you think we'll be alright? I'd never cope if I was made redundant, Trevor and I are thinking about buying a timeshare in Spain." Glenda fiddled nervously with the giant beaded necklace around her neck.

"I'm sure it will be fine Glenda, don't worry. And hey, if it does happen you'll have more time to spend in that lovely timeshare." Emma smiled up at her kindly as a new email notification popped up in the corner of her computer screen. Her stomach sprouted butterflies.

"I suppose it would be nice to spend more time with the Grandchildren." Glenda smiled, not very convincingly and shuffled off back to her desk before psycho Janet saw.

Emma hovered the mouse over her inbox, enjoying the anticipation of not knowing what the email was going to say but knowing full well who it was from. Michael. She clicked and it sprung open.

From: michaelhouldcroft@fasttech.co.uk
To: emmamidland@fasttech.co.uk

Subject: Important Business...

I know what colour your knickers are ;)

Friday, 29 July 2011

"You're not 15 anymore."

Sarah is...Excited!

[Anna commented on your status: About what?]

[Sarah replied to comment: New sofa arriving today :)]

[Anna left a comment: And you're excited about that?]

[Sarah replied to comment: Yes...I've been waiting all day!]

[Anna left a comment: Remember when we used to get excited about pink wine Sarah?...compare those excitements...]

[Sarah replied to comment: ...alright, point taken. Piss off!]

Turning up the Spice Girls to drown out the sound of my Mum shouting up the stairs for me to turn it down my 15 year old self sat cross-legged on my bedroom floor in front of the mirror and blew the excess eye shadow from the brush, (silver glitter shadow, free on the front cover of Mizz! magazine and totally in style!), gently sweeping it across my lid, before doing the same to the other eye, a thick layer of mascara (from the market on Saturday - £3.50 - bargain!) and no liner, because I hadn't quite worked out how to use it yet, and I was done. Standing up I smoothed down my silver PVC skirt, it stopped just before the knee so it wasn't really short enough but there was nothing I could do about that, I admired the matching top, equally shiny and halterneck, it always felt risky not wearing a bra but none of the other girls did.

"You look nice." Mum said as I came wobbling down the stairs in black wedged sandals. (I looked like a pale Turkey wrapped in Baco foil.)

"Thanks, can I have a lift?" I beamed back, though the shoes were maiming my feet.

Sure enough my Mum dutifully dropped me off at Becca's house and we proceeded to get "drunk" on the cooking sherry in her parent's alcohol cupboard whilst they were out before walking the short way down the road to Gary Rudd's birthday party - held at the local football club the night went by in a blur of glitter hairspray and the Macarena until finally, the part all girls dreaded, unless you were Kimberley Whats-her-face with her perfect hair swishing round her shoulders and tiny pink skirt that all the boys spent the night trying to see up, those first first chords of Robbie Williams' 'Angels' would blare out and everyone would pretend that they didn't really want to slow dance with a boy anyway. Boys smelled. Whilst eyeing the girls who were slow-dancing with their boyfriends evilly over the top of your glass of Cherryade.

Falling into bed that night at 11.30pm (I'd be so tired tomorrow, it's so late!), not bothering to take off my make-Up because my 15 year old self didn't see it as a big deal, I turned on the tiny torch I kept under my pillow and opened my fluffy pink diary (unfortunately this is true - I found it the other day!), pulling out the matching pen I proceeded to doodle love hearts round Jamie Figg's name and add our names up using the 'Love Calculator' before finally falling asleep, safe in the knowledge that at 89% me and Jamie were totally meant to be.

[Anna is...24 in 3 months. Fuck.]

[Gemma is...ENGAGED :)]

[Anna commented on Gemma's status: ..........?]

"Are you finished in the bathroom yet?" The Boy shouts. (Must point out that The Boy is definitely NOT Jamie Figg.)


"What are you doing in there?"

Kneading the last of the Clarins Night Perfect skin cream into my Bulldog frowned forehead, I brush my teeth, floss (God, I'm getting old!) and rinse and spit. I'm fairly sure that I've been in the bathroom for ten million years and I now know with certainty that I look worse than when I went in, it's like a disappointing episode of 'Stars in their Eyes'. Snuggling down into bed the skin cream wafts up my nose and I wonder how something that smells like tanning oil from the 90's can be doing anything for my skin overnight.

"Gemma got engaged." I say, sounding not at all judgemental.

"Hmmmm." Is the reply I recieve.

"Doesn't that scare you?"

"Not really. All of your friends are getting married or engaged or having babies. Emily just had a baby two weeks ago.

"Yeah, but we're only 23, some of my friends are still 22." I gawp in the darkness.

"It's called growing up babe, it's what people do. Go to sleep."

After those sound words of wisdom I lie awake for another hour, counting off the amount of people I went to school with who now have babies or are planning a wedding and it hits me like that cooking sherry used to, raw and rough...I'm not 15 and wearing silver eye shadow anymore.

"You've been to two weddings this year already and you're only just realising you're not 15 anymore? Really Anna? Really?" Emily eyes me over the table at lunch.

"It's just crept up on me!" I protest, sipping my latte sheepishly and staring at the baby gently suckling at the bottle Emily's clutching.

"Well, we're all older now Hun, we aren't 15 and ripping the song lyrics out of Smash Hits! anymore." Emily lifts up baby George to burp him. Christ, I sometimes need The Boy to do that to me!

My buzzing phone alerts me to a new email, a new responsibility. It's only work but still, it's something we never would have worried about at 15 and 16, Mum and Dad bought the food, Mum and Dad paid for the water, electricity and whatever meant that I had extra channels on the t.v. in my bedroom. I got money on my birthdays and my Grandparents would give me £5 a week pocket money. Life was good at 16. Now, I was spending my Friday afternoons in John Lewis looking for a set of silver steak knives to buy a Bride and Groom that I went to school with that they would never bloody use.

As if in protest of my 23 year old self I drove home from lunch with Emily and George with the Spice Girls on full blast in the car, who cares about the dodgy looks from that bloke at the traffic lights. Once home I proceeded to find my B*Witched albums out and dance around the house with a hairbrush...alright, I couldn't find my hairbrush so it was a can of deodorant...until all worries, stress, babies, engagement gifts and wedding outfits were banished from my tiny 15 year old self 's brain...thank God there was no cooking sherry around really.

When Adele and Keevy abruptly stopped singing half way through the chorus of 'Rollercoaster' I knew I'd been rumbled...sure enough The Boy was watching me from the doorway of the kitchen. In situations such as this there really is only one thing to be done...turning the stereo back on I finished my routine and flung myself into his unsuspecting arms.

"Are you being 15 again?" He said, admiring the bunches in my hair.

"Maybe." I looked innocent, (honestly, I looked ridiculous.)

"Then I'm afraid we can't do what I had planned for tonight," The Boy pulls out a bottle of Champagne from behind his back, " because Miss, you're underage...for both things."

Suddenly, my 15 year old self didn't seem so fun anymore, maybe being an adult has it's perks after all!! But whilst you still have that B*Witched CD stashed under your bed you can always go back to that girl you used to be...the fun parts anyway!


Monday, 14 February 2011

Valentine's Day - Friend or Foe?

Valentine's Day. The one notorious day of the year that everyone either loves to love or loves to hate. In my experience it can be spent one of three ways;

1) Completely ignored.
2) Loved up and romantic.
3) In bed, watching re-runs of Sex and the City with the only three men a girl really needs, Ben, Jerry and Mr.Big.

It just so happens that this year I will be indulging in option two and, without it being too sickly, enjoying my first Valentine's Day with the bf. However, they haven't all been like that, a particularly adventurous traffic light night speed dating incident springs to mind.
A suggestion made after copious amounts of Bombay Sapphire and too many viewings of 'The Notebook' (I wonder how many of you girlies will be Notebook-ing your men this evening!) Jen returned back to our flat with a look of genuine triumph on her face.
"I've signed us up!"
"For what? The Army? Carrie Bradshaw wannabes club?"
"Traffic Light Night" Jen flopped down on the sofa and helped herself to the open bag of Doritoes next to me.
Having just managed not to snort wine out of my nose in protest, Hannah got there before me.
I'm fairly sure the shriek could be heard from the top of our eight storey building.
"It will be fun! And no-one wants to stay in on Valentine's Day."
"Erm, I do!" I protested. I could see option three getting further and further away from me. Sob.
It was no use protesting, Jen was adamant it wouldn't be bad, with the promise on the table that she would cook every night for a week and buy the wine we spent a considerable few hours the next evening trying to pick out outfits that didn't scream any of the below;

A) Just sex please!
B) I really don't want to be here.
C) Please please marry me and save me from a life of living with cats and eating Marmite out of the jar!

In the end jeans, a nice top and a nicely styled black blazer did the trick...apparently for all three of us. God love identical high street fashion stores. And so, with apprehension in our eyes yet the grateful knowledge that the evening was being held in a pub off we went.

The pub was nice, the wine was chilled and after being there for ten minutes I had only spotted two guys that looked as if they still lived with their Mother's and one with potential murder in his eyes. Glass of wine in hand, it was time to head to our tables.
For anyone who doesn't know about or has never been to a traffic light night, it's speed dating but each girl gets a traffic light on her table, after each guy she presses; Red = Not interested, Amber = Maybe, Green = Get your coat! Then at the end there is a chance to chat to your maybe's or go get lucky with your Green's!

Well, my evening consisted of 'No Underwear Guy', 'Comic Book Guy', 'Snorter Guy' and 'Rotten Egg Breath Guy'. Needless to say my Red light button was starting to smoke. But then, whilst making slitting your throat actions at Hannah across the room, Harry sat down. (No girls, unfortunately not Prince Harry, I don't think he does speed dating in South London!)
Harry was 26, still lived with his parents, worked in a Lab and had, along with his cropped too short brown hair and nervous smile, a degree in Microbiology. But he was the nicest guy I had spoken to all night. All he wanted was to move out of his parent's house and find a nice girl that he could spoil.
Unfortunately I wasn't that girl but fairly safe in the knowledge that he was probably a virgin I pointed him in Jen's direction and waved him off.
In a slight wine haze, with our feet aching from last season's Kurt Geiger heels and Harry's number in Jen's iphone (no need to mention the virgin part to her just yet.) we intrepid singletons headed for home and a doctor's appointment with McDreamy and McSteamy.

Valentine's traffic light night wasn't a complete waste of time, we didn't make Jen cook every night anyway and meeting Harry had made me realise not all men at speed dating are terrifying. Just 90%.
So, whether your waiting for 24 Red Velvet cupcakes to bake in the oven or you're avoiding all restaurants, card shops and florists like the plague today, just remember, tomorrow's a new day and you don't need one day a year to tell someone, anyone, that you love them.

Happy Valentine's Day!! xxx

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

The Magic Number.

"Erm, 7 if I don't include the ones that I don't class as actually having had sex with."

During a conversation involving copious amounts of white wine and far too many tequila shots than is acceptable before you've left the house for a night out I sat open mouthed at the kitchen table as Sarah smiled innocently and sank another shot.
"You can't not count them if you actually physically had sex with them!" I shouted.
"Why not? If they didn't get me there they don't count." Sarah shrugged.
The woman had a point.
"So, when you're seeing a new guy and he asks what your number is, what do you tell him?"
"And, what's the actual number?"
Cue dramatic pause around the table.
"Okay, it's more like 12!"

We've all been there, that first awkward conversation with a new guy or girl when, even though you really really don't want to know, you can't help but say, "So, what's your magic number?"
Whilst all the time hoping and praying that they'll say it first so that you can change your own number accordingly. In a modern day era where tv shows like Sex and The City have enabled women to embrace their sexual prowess and it isn't seen as such a taboo for women to have a healthy and active sex life anymore why are we still so eager to keep our numbers down?

It, unfortunately, still has a lot to do with the old fashioned stereotype that if a guy has slept with a lot of different girls he is seen as a hero yet if a girl has slept with a lot of guys she is viewed as, well, a bit of a whore basically. And, even more disturbing than the fact that stereotype is still around is that, for once, it's not the guys of this world that are keeping it going...it's the girls!
Us women like to bitch, it's instilled in us to bitch, it's how we vent. We know it's not nice but we can't help it and after over hearing a standard 1am drunken toilet conversation in a club my suspicions were confirmed...

Drunk Girl 1: "She's all over him like a rash!"
Drunk Girl 2: "That's because she's probably got a rash."
(Alcohol makes us girls so eloquent!)
Drunk Girl 1: "Did you know she's slept with 10 guys!! What a hoe!"
Drunk Girl 2: " I hope he's got protection because he does not want to go in there bare back!"

From my position safely behind the bathroom door, perched on top of the toilet cistern, mojito in hand I tried both not to giggle and to work out whether if girls were treating their own sex like this could we really complain when men refer to us so objectively?

Back at the kitchen table which was by now covered in a thin layer of wine due to spillages we poured another round of drinks and discussed 'The ones that didn't count'. Emily had 'The Genie' - the guy who got a little too excited too quickly. Lucy had 'The Texter' - who was so addicted to his iphone he stopped during to read a message. Rachel had 'Sofa Guy' - Who had wanted to get down and dirty on her parent's sofa before admitting that he hadn't had sex before. And finally, there was 'Biology Boy' - Biology Boy was the sweet and kind ex-boyfriend of Gemma until the day he asked her if she had a clitoris and whether she knew where it was...seriously, I'm not kidding.
We did offer to draw a diagram but Gemma didn't think he'd appreciate it.
Biology Boy, or indeed any other man reading this who isn't quite sure where it is it's probably about 2 inches higher than where you normally focus all of your attention and it accounts for 85% of a woman's orgasm so when you find it, you'll know!

If we look at the stereotypes of Men celebrating the amount of women they've slept with (assuming that the stereotype is true for a moment) then the conversation I witnessed between five 22 year old males a couple of weeks ago took me completely by surprise.
"That bird from Brighton doesn't count."
"Mate, you're a man slag, they all count!"
Cue a lot of male cheering and back slapping.
"No! No! Shut the fuck up! They only count if they mean something."
I choked on my beer a bit at that point.
"If a girl means something to you, she counts. No matter how brief it was."
Looking around the room from my quiet place in the corner I witnessed, just for a split second, each of those guys remember sex with a girl that had meant something to them.
"Yeah, but you still fucked that Brighton slag!"
And then it was gone.

So, maybe we've all gone a bit sexually doolally in our time and there are guys, girls and scenarios that we'd like to forget but no matter what your real magic number is will we always only remember the ones that count...?

Thursday, 16 September 2010

"It's not you, it's me."

Almost a year ago...

"I'm really sorry but would you mind if we were just friends? I don't have time for a relationship at the moment."

Five months ago...

"Look, Kirst, I'm not going to drag it out, I think we should break up."

A few months after recovering from the text message dumping and the phone call dumping that I received all that time ago I managed to pull myself away from the freezer and the giant bag of M&M's and feel like myself again, they say what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger but it would seem in our current times of 21st Century dating each break up leaves you a tiny bit more self-conscious, a little bit more nervous and a whole lot more unsure of how to act with the opposite sex.

Women are often portrayed as needy, constantly wondering where their man is and, quite often, as Nags (no doubt that all of you ladies reading this are shuddering at the thought of being called that horrid word!) but after the two break up's I have been through in the past year I've begun to seriously doubt my own sanity and whether...in fact...it's men that makes us this way.

When you invest your time trying to make yourself the perfect girlfriend, the girl who wants sex as much as he does, who will watch sport and Topgear without complaint and finds cooking for her man just as enjoyable only to be told that the guy you've been dating for two months doesn't have enough time to be with you is it any wonder that us ladies get a little bit more insecure?

Which brings me to Rachel*, after recently being dumped by the man she'd been seeing for five months (him claiming that they just weren't "compatible" - that old classic!) it threw her into a tailspin, a large box of Maltesers and a bottle of Blossom Hill later it all came tumbling out,
"I just don't get it! We had sex practically every day! He introduced me to his parents for fuck's sake!!"
For the first time in a long time I simply looked down into my glass of wine and hoped it would provide me with some wonderous and inspiring answer to give Rach, to tell her that she had done everything right and had been a wonderful girlfriend and that some guy out there would appreciate that one day, it just wasn't him. But the truth was I was starting, for the first time ever, to wonder whether that was true!
In my eyes Rachel was perfect, is perfect, she's tall, brunette, has legs to die for, a beautiful face and a successful career but if men were dumping her for half arsed reasons what hope was there for the rest of us?

A few weeks later Rachel had thrown away the half eaten packets of Doritoes scattered around her flat, swapped the wine for mineral water and was seeing a rather gorgeous Junior Agent (Lucky Rach!). There was only one problem...
"What if he didn't like me? He hasn't called or text yet." Rach asked, the morning after their first date, her beautiful face creased with the worry lines etched across her brow.
"Hun, give him time. He's probably not even awake yet." I soothed.
But it was too late, I'd lost her to the worried and needy world, the gradual spiral of self-doubt caused by the guy who had broken her heart a few months before without warning.

Now, for all of the guys reading this exclaiming that women can be just as bad, I agree, we can be, I firmly believe that if my ex Tom* hadn't been cheated on for months by his girlfriend before me then he wouldn't have been the possessive, insecure and accusing person that he was in our relationship that eventually spelled the end for us. My friend Alice was the only friend of mine that I knew had had to break up with a guy several times in one hour before he finally accepted it and left her house crying. Sorry gift boy. So, I know that us girls can do the same thing to you too boys.

Coaxing Rachel away from her Blackberry and towards Topshop I found myself crossing my fingers that he did text her before lunch, otherwise I feared for both of our sanity's. (Fortunately, he did text her and they're going out again on Saturday night, happy times!)

It's widely believed that the people we meet and date throughout our lives shape who we are as people, it would be strange if they didnt, but seeing my confident, successful friend checking her phone every 30 seconds and worried that she would never be a good enough girlfriend made me realise that not everyone we meet has a positive effect on our lives. So, the next guy or girl you meet that acts slightly needy or nervous take a moment before you dismiss them and think about the person before you that could have made them this nervous, chances are, once you get to know them properly they could be the perfect boy/girlfriend you didn't know you needed.

Monday, 16 August 2010

The Five Date Rule.

Everyone has that moment when dating someone new, that moment when the kisses involve tongue and the hands are sliding south and threatening not to stay above clothing for much longer. My moment with MusicBoy* took place on a leather sofa that quite frankly wasn't comfortable and was sticking to my backside, feeling neither attractive on said sofa or particularly ready to experience sex on a leather sofa (both tacky and sweaty I would imagine!) I subtly pointed out that maybe we should go upstairs. But...that's where the delicious fumbling drew to a slow but satisfying close because, after all, it was only Date 3.

"You make a guy wait for five dates?!" Louisa, no-so-subtle and up-for-anything friend gaped at me across our shared double chocolate brownie dessert (because girl world rules state that if you share a dessert the calories don't count, FACT!). "Jesus, if you like him why are you torturing yourself?"
Watching Louisa lick her spoon with all the carefree seductiveness of Samantha Jones with a lollipop, I considered her very valid point but I had stuck by my five date rule since the age of 18, in my head five dates was the perfect amount of time to figure out whether I was ready to surrender to nakedness with a guy, why five dates I hear to cry? Well, here's why...

Date One (if gone well) should always end with a kiss, subtle, light but a definite "Id like to see you again" kiss. If date one doesn't end with a kiss then you can guarantee us girls are going home with our Marc Jacobs' clad tail between our legs wondering why you didnt kiss us.
Date Two should be just as casual but this time you learn more about each other and the Goodnight kiss lasts just a little bit longer than the previous one.
Date Three should see definite subtle hand holding, plenty of body contact and quiet conversations in public places with private jokes that no-one else in the room is in on except the two of you.
By Date Four we've definitely decided whether we want you to see us naked but we need to be sure that we're not giving it up to someone who's going to drop us like a hand-ball the moment the post-coital glow as worn off. Cue, plenty of over the clothes fumbling, slightly more passionate kissing and probably the suggestion of watching a film together (that won't end up being watched) with candles instead of lights and strictly no popcorn, sorry boys!
If you've made it to Date Five then ding-ding-ding you've done all of the above right and guess what...? We like you. But don't expect it to happen straight away, no no, for us girls sex is like prepping for a space mission...

There's legs and various other areas (ahem!) to be waxed, hair to wash, moisturiser to be applied (probably something fruity so that you remember the smell of us...sneaky!), the sexy underwear drawer is cracked open and we spend a massive amount of time agonising over whether red underwear says "I need to get laid tonight" or whether white underwear says "Sweet and innocent" or "wedding night". In the end 90% of the time we'll go for black, black screams sexy but not too sexy, most probably something lace and always, always matching.
Prepped and looking fabulous we spend most of the night with butterflies in our stomachs, eating very little and hoping you'll suggest candles when we get to your room because we all look better in candlelight. And afterwards, hopefully sleepy and satisfied we won't care about our fluffy hair and smudged eye make-up just about how we can now do that with you again and again and how all that waiting was worth it.

"But, you could have done all that without having to wait so long, it's just sex."
Louisa announced, starling the elderly couple at the table next to us and tossing the spoon into the now empty sundae glass. Wondering whether my five date rule was a little harsh I resolved to ask my other girlfriends how long they wait and the answers came back in these responses;
"Three dates"
"Whenever I feel like it"
"Eight dates"
"After four dinners"....and...the most common answer...
"Round about five dates"

Maybe my five date theory wasn't so crazy after all but, just for a moment, I considered Louisa, sexy, confident, independant and the last of my friends I ever imagined weeping into a tub of ice cream, surrounded by Maltesers and replaying the moment Big abandons Carrie at the wedding in the Sex and the City movie and decided to act like my friend for the evening and take a chance. Calling MusicBoy* after dinner I turned up at his door in nothing but a trench coat and a smile and...well, let's just leave it there.
But sadly, five months later (how, ironic!) MusicBoy* and I were no more, I didn't regret my five date rule only how much time I'd probably wasted worrying about it being the right amount of time so that I didn't appear outrageously frigid or a bit of a slut. It sounds cliche but when the time is right to sleep with someone new you know it, so next time I'll be doing less worrying and flying by the seat of my pants....literally?...who knows!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The Cheating Curve.

"Sexting. Meeting. Kissing. Shagging." I announced, no doubt sloshing Pinot over the rim of my wine glass.
"Kissing. Sleeping with." Emma stated.
"Having an emotional connection with." Gemma said.
"Facebook." Izzy piped up with.

Immediately about to ask Izzy what the hell she was going on about as we discussed what we each constituted as cheating, I stopped to consider the fact that over the past four days I'd had several "pokes" on Facebook from an ex that had been more of a brief kiss-and-run than an actual boyfriend but who currently had a girlfriend of his own. Unsurprisingly I managed to resist the urge to "poke" him back but when I later received a private inbox message asking me how I was (flirty winking face attached) I briefly considered replying with "Im great thank you, why don't you ask your girlfriend how she is?" before swallowing the comment down, hitting the delete button and sending the message off into internet oblivion.

After that little blast from the past and thinking about how many women I know have had a sneaky look through their boyfriend's text message inbox I wondered whether the new wave of social networking, fueled by the ease of checking Facebook and Twitter constantly through Iphones and Blackberrys' was making it easier for us to cheat?
It may only be a Facebook poke after all but if you're thinking of literally "poking" someone else instead of your girlfriend/boyfriend then that spells trouble ahead.

Note I have made careful use of the words Boyfriend AND Girlfriend because, trying to appeal against stereotypes, lets not forget that men are often the ones chastised for cheating but it's my belief that women are just as bad. We all make mistakes after all.
A point proved when, a few years ago, Jenny* turned up on my doorstep in the night before's clothes, mascara stains down to her chin and definate post-sex hair. Needless to say Jenny had made the mistake of falling back into bed with her ex when she had a new boyfriend, bad Jenny. But, despite her mistake Jenny was, and still is, one of the nicest girls I know and quickly fessed up to her boyfriend, who dumped her, as she deserved (her words not mine!) but by doing it Jenny did realise something, she wasn't ready for another relationship so soon after the ex.
There are plenty of relationships out there that I'm sure have survived 'Cheating Flu' because, simply, sometimes you have to fuck up to realise what you want, like Jenny. I'm not saying this makes cheating right, it's sad and painful but sometimes necessary?

I've been lucky in my relationships to have never been cheated on (at least that I am aware of), nor have I ever cheated myself, mostly because I fear that chances of me being caught are highly likely due to a conscience that won't even allow me to recycle a tin can without rinsing it out first. However, that hasn't stopped me Facebook stalking pretty girls that have written seemingly innocent messages on my ex's Facebook walls. If you're currently exclaiming that you don't do that you're lying and you know it!
And it hasn't stopped me from being the subject of intense questioning by Tom* when an innocent picture of a friend's Brother and I appeared on Facebook, immediately recieving a text from him that read, "That guy in that photo better be gay." I proceeded to sit through a two hour long argument about who he was, why we were out together in a club (No mention from Tom of the other eight people who were also out with us that night and in the photos too) and accusations that the smile on my face in the photo was "too suggestive." Needless to say I almost found myself wishing I had slept with Jack* just so that what I was being accused of was actually true.
I had no problem with him going through my message inbox on my phone because I knew he'd never find anything suspicious simply because there was nothing to find but he seemed to love winding me up just incase I had something to confess.

If I had a pair of Louboutins for everytime I've had a conversation with friends who've "seen" something on Facebook or "heard" something or seen a dodgy looking picture I would have a pair for every day of the month and a pair to sleep in (Please God, let the Facebook conversations keep coming hehe). It must cause arguments every night of the week in homes everywhere but we still insist upon checking it at least once a day.

With technology seemingly making us either paranoid or tempted to send that flirty message are we so caught up in analysing that photo of the office temp draped over our man at the work Christmas party in 2008 that we haven't actually told him we love him lately? It's heartbreaking when people cheat and it hurts like hell for a very long time but stop Facebook stalking and jumping everytime he gets a text, close the laptop lid, wave bye-bye to the paranoia and show each other all the reasons you have to not need anyone else but each other.