‘My criteria:’ I typed, ‘not too ugly. Or too good-looking. No actors, no army (obvs). Not really laddish (i.e. pictures of self with football tattoos, boozy mates etc), but not too posh (i.e. pictures of self aboard yacht or on skiing holiday in Verbier etc). No mutual friends, no trendy beard, no one who has a selfie, no one with a shirtless pic. No one posed with a sedated tiger. No one in fancy dress. No one called Gareth. No one posed with a child, or a cat. No one whose main picture is of an obstetric sonogram (yes, really). No one wearing sunglasses in the dark.’
I was texting my mate Tom, who had persuaded me to download Tinder – that dating app I told you about last week – and who had casually enquired about my success with it thus far.
His reply was quick and curt.
‘My criteria:’ he wrote, ‘if it’s hot, it’s hot.’
And I felt a twinge of excitement. (Or it might have been the hangover clearing, sometimes it’s hard to tell.) Tom’s words offered me a glimpse into the possibilities life might afford, were I to cast aside the complex judgemental rationalisation that has resulted in my romantic solitude, and jump right in by fucking loads of hot guys – instead of rejecting them because they’re from the Midlands, or because they use ‘lol’ indiscriminately, or because of the cartoon cats printed on the lining of their flannel shirt.
So far, 2014 has been a revelation. In that, just four days in, it has included multiple moments providing nuggets of wisdom that might well result in me, one day, acting as an oracle for some forward thinking cult.
Let me tell you about yesterday, a second example. I ate the only vegetables that had passed my lips in over 78 hours: a handful of pickled onions, plucked from a jar in the parental fridge and eaten with both the fridge door and my dressing gown open – so that as the juice from the onions dripped onto my chest, the yellow light cast by the fridge illuminated my translucent flesh in what I can only describe as a singly erotic manner. (Yes, I went to bed alone last evening. Why do you ask?) As I bit down and waited for the particular sour/sweet tang that might well be specific to the British, as a source of pleasure, I experienced a revelatory self-awareness.
I’m 30. I am eating pickled onions, from my parents’ fridge, in the middle of the day, naked (but for a threadbare dressing gown). I haven’t had a date in, quite literally, years. I owe thousands of pounds to creditors whose calls I am studiously ignoring while I spend my money on luxuries such as food and trips to the cinema. And I’m soon to be jobless.
I want much. Too much. From life. From men. From friends and family and my career. I want riches, and attention. I want wild romantic gestures from people I barely know. I want ever-lasting youth and beauty and commercial success and money. Loads of it.
In fact, I don’t only want these things, I expect them. I anticipate them, and – because these things are, currently, unlikely (particularly as I rarely leave the house) – I am continually heartbroken and disappointed. The secret to happiness, I realised, as I washed down the pickled onions with a lump of mature cheddar cheese and a swig of pineapple juice, straight from the carton, is simple: lower your expectations.
I must take decisive action in the expectations department, now.
Shit has to change if I want to be impregnated by the end of 2014, which I’m forty three percent sure I do.
So here are my New Year’s resolutions, should you care to know about them: I shall expect only disappointment, so that, like a Buddhist, I can take the inevitable on the chin while celebrating each triumph, which will feel like a joyous gift from the universe. I shall be less risk averse and judgemental. I shall adopt the phrase ‘if it’s hot, it’s hot’ as my own, personal dating mantra. I shall leave the house and, with any luck, I shall be either pregnant or published by the year’s end.
Wish me luck, darlinks.
*Image by artur84 at freedigitalphotos.net, my go to site for the perfect pic.