Why I’m going on 100 dates this Valentine’s Day

My finger hovered over my mouse – should I? Shouldn’t I? The object of my mental tussle wasn’t over yet another purchase of sequin-encrusted leggings for some future festival (hope lives), but a ticket. For online On Valentine’s Day.  

My friends used the pademic. as the nudge they needed to move in together, and a few even welcomed lockdown newborns – both canine and human. Not me. Irked at still feeling trapped in the starting block of Big Life Moments aged 34, I distracted myself with basic DIY, gallows humour pandemic memes and Netflix bingeing. I was busy instead of getting busy. 

I’ve been happily single, for the most part, and enjoy my own company (the joys of pleasing no one but yourself are hard to relinquish), but the onslaught of February 14 and all it brings means I find myself reflecting on yet another lap around the sun as a single.

My last Valentine’s Day as someone’s girlfriend was nearly 10 years ago, a realisation that shocks me even as I type it. My ex was a workmate who became a boyfriend, and after we split up, he remained a good friend. Years later, we would even share a flat for a while, but that’s a story for another time. Before him and since, my love life has been so chequered it could have a supporting role in The Queen’s Gambit. 

I’ve found that whatever green shoots of hope I’ve spotted on the many, many dating sites I’ve signed up to (Bumble, Hinge, Happn, PoF, Tindr et al) have wilted rapidly soon after. 

There has been an incredible gallery of unloveable rogues: the bigot who generously offered a date even though he didn’t “normally go forAsian burds, but you seem different to all the others” – despite his willingness to make an exception for brown ol’ me, I declined the honour. Then there was openly rude one who machine-gunned insults at me all night long before launching with a mouthful of slobber at Angel tube. And the weird twitchy one who was so adamant I didn’t pay for a round that he ripped my twenty in half in front of a bemused barmaid and later, scarpered mid-date leaving me in a heaving pub clutching a barely-sipped G&T.  

I must have bought into that wide-eyed romantic ideal peddled by Hollywood that meeting a decent bloke would just happen, as sure as paying taxes. Maybe a meet-cute when I popped to the shops one day, both of us chuckling as we reached for the last block of feta. Or a good-natured work rivalry that turned into something more. It might have done (hasn’t happened inthe last decade, but still) had the pandemic not put the kibosh on kismet.  

Covid has done many things, not least given us all the headspace to take stock of our lives. While B.C. I was happily swanning around London and working my way through a packed social diary, the pandemic has stolen a crucial year of my thirties. I’d always breezily assumed there was plenty of time, but that ticking – barely audible in my twenties – now seems to be clanking in my ears. The relation-ship has not quite sailed, but it is boarding and I need to get my skates on lest I find myself sitting on the dock on my tod. 

Surely speed dating would turbo-charge the experience and doing it on Valentine’s night puts myself squarely in Cupid’s line of fire. At this point, I’m not even looking for The One. Just Some One. 

This is why I now find myself a ticket holder for Eventbrite’s Date in a Dash event. It sounds promising: 100 potential matches beamed straight into my living room from all over the UK. That’s a really big net. 

Pros: no navigating icy pavements in treacherous heels. Cons: chit-chatting into a small screen for four hours, becoming more incoherent with every steadying sip of prosecco. If it all goes belly up, my exit is as easy as killing the power on my laptop and picking up where I left off with those box sets.  

Still, if the mountain won’t come to Mohammed, Mohammed will simply have to excavate her best underwired bra (currently MIA under a pile of elasticated things), whack on the special occasion-only lippie and venture boldly into the foothills. I just hope it’s populated with charming menfolk, rather than boss-eyed mountain goats. 

Hit me with your best shot, Cupid. 

My finger hovered over my mouse – should I? Shouldn’t I? The object of my mental tussle wasn’t over yet another purchase of sequin-encrusted leggings for some future festival (hope lives), but a ticket. For online On Valentine’s Day.   My friends used the pademic. as the nudge they needed to move in together, and a few…

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