In a series of personal end of year reviews I began looking back through the romantic escapades of 2013. Conveniently there happened to be precisely 13 men who had left a mark, good or bad, on my romantic scoresheet for the year. Some were mere flirtations, other fully fledged flings, but all inevitably short lived and emotionally futile. ‘The One’ remains at large, but here’s a lowdown on The Ones I’ve come across in the crusade this year.
1. The Old Reliable Who, it Turns Out, Ain’t so Reliable… When you live away from home it’s nice to have a regular squeeze to come back to for the holidays. Someone with whom you can enjoy a drink and a laugh before making valiant efforts to break the Guinness World Record for uninterrupted snogging in someone’s kitchen at 4am. A friend, you might say, with benefits which include the unspoken agreement that any romantic encounters are entered upon without the complications of actual feeling or any sense of emotional expectation, including exclusivity. Which is why I had absolutely no right whatsoever to feel disappointed or let down when Old Reliable proved so very unreliable by going home with a woman who at school we knew more affectionately as ‘Candle Stick Girl’ for reasons best left to the imagination. I hold no hard feelings but must admit, the magic’s gone out of it a little now.
And so to pastures to new…
2. The One I’d Rather Forget… Never has the phrase ‘Curiosity killed the Cat’ held quite such significance. This particular encounter introduced to my romantic philosophies the theory of ‘The Point of No Return’, an indecipherable moment in a friendship when it becomes too late to have sex. It is just not meant to be, the window of opportunity has closed and you must resign yourself to a purely platonic friendship. Rest assured that the Friend Zone is a wonderfully safe place not to be ventured out of, trust that if by this point the relationship has not taken a romantic turn it is just not meant to happen, because if and when it eventually does, it will be awful. Truly awful. Beyond words.
Of course, ever determined to find the silver lining to every unsatisfactory sexual encounter, there’s something undeniably empowering about responding to the sorry reassurance “Don’t worry this happens all the time, my ex-girlfriend used to get really upset. It’s not you, don’t take it personally” with “Why would I take it personally? This never happens to me”.
3. The One For Whom I Shall Always Be a Fool… It doesn’t matter how smart, strong minded and independent a woman you consider yourself, it seems there’s always that one guy who can get under your skin and turn your better judgement to mush. For me, he will always be that guy. No matter how much water has passed under the bridge or how stormy those waters may run at times, no matter how long his absence from my side or my mind, something always brings him back. He is where my mind wanders when I least expect it. And no matter how many times I think better of it and convince myself that such pipe dreams can come to nothing, that I am nothing but a fool, some little chink of light will break through and persuade me otherwise.
I am under no pretence that he is The One, but he is the closest I’ve come across so far.
4. The One That Almost Was… So close, and yet so, so, far. This flirtation went no further than the whisperings of sweet nothings in my ear, sadly materialising as just that, sweet but nothing whatsoever. Had the kiss that always seemed so close ever finally come it would have been the highpoint of my romantic career. I might have retired on it, satisfied in the knowledge that I had saddled the wildest of stallions. But it seems, it was not meant to be. There has always been something newer and shinier to sway his attentions and I’m not one to hang around in someone else’s shadow waiting to be noticed.
5. The One That Led Me On… Abandoned in the pub by friends after watching the match one Sunday afternoon I fell into the company and pleasant conversation of a handsome young chap who, I quickly calculated, ticked off more than half my extensive list of desirable qualities in a significant other. The conversation and drink flowed with such ease that the afternoon passed into evening without either of us showing any signs of leaving. We exchanged stories and numbers and then, bold with cider, I stole a kiss. In a moment of guilt he confessed to the girlfriend waiting for him at home. I left the bar and haven’t seen or heard from him again.
6. The Old Reliable Who Always Proves Reliable… It is my firm belief that every single lady should have a booty call to depend upon when times get rough, but finding the right one, devoid of emotional complication and feelings of regret or expectation can be difficult. The solution, I’ve discovered, is to maintain as much physical distance as you should emotional distance. An out of town booty call, preferably one with a healthy sexial appetite, a body of steel and a finely bearded jaw, is exactly what every girl needs. Someone who visits every now and then, lavishes you with romance and attention and then flaps off back to whatever life it is he leads elsewhere, allowing you to carry on with yours. Think of it as the hair appointment or spa date you treat yourself to a few times a year just to refresh and lift the spirits. I cannot recommend it enough.
7. The One I Really Needed… I have a great faith in fate. Mother always says, what’s for you will not pass you by, it it’s meant it be it will be, these things work themselves out. As such I have always trusted that whatever life throws at me it has good reason. There is a lesson to be learnt, a corner to be turned and as The Rolling Stones taught us ‘You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.’ When I met this One my self esteem had suffered particular assault and battery. I needed to have my ego rubbed a little, to be wooed, adored, to have the undivided attentions of some charming gent, to be reminded that romance is out there! The gentlest of kisses on my shoulder and my faith was restored. Had circumstances been different I would have gladly kept this One in the hope of something more meaningful, but it seems fate would not allow it, and I trust, it had good reason.
8. The One I Ran Away From… Butterfly kisses are a very sweet little thing to bestow on a significant other or a beloved child. At the right time, between the right people a butterfly kiss can be the most romantic little touch of affection. At the wrong time however, say in a bustling club in Siem Reap, with the wrong person, say someone you just met while dancing to Nicki Minaj, it can be the single, most off putting and downright weird thing you can ever experience. I’m sure he thought it was romantic to shower my forehead, cheeks and nose with butterfly kisses before even knowing my first name, but on that basis he was never allowed the opportunity to learn my second, as I hotfooted it out of there quicker than he could ask “Can I add you on Facebook?” But surely, no harm done? What happens in Cambodia stays in Cambodia. In Southeast Asia what are the chances you’ll ever see some guy who butterfly kissed you in a bar ever again? Significantly higher than you might imagine, I discovered, in an Aussie Bar on Koh Tao just a week later. Talk about a small and uncomfortable world.
9. The One Who Was a Wonderful Fling to be Flung… Ah, holiday romances, no matter how brief, they are always fondly remembered. Moonlit walks on the beach, slow dancing by the light of the fire throwers, serenaded with a heartfelt rendition of ‘The Rare Ould Times’ … it really is what a Dubliner’s Southeast Asian dreams are made of.
10. The One Who Broke a Little Bit of my Heart… It’s never pleasant to discover that you’ve been misused or lied to by a guy. I may be an old romantic but I am not quite so naive to expect complete openness from any man I’ve met in a bar (The One Who Led Me On being a perfect example of why) but when it comes to friends, and a dear old friend at that, you might expect a smidgen of honesty and integrity should you find yourself lip locked in a club in the drunken early hours of a Sunday morning. No expectation or promise of anything more, just the reassurance that you won’t be blindsided in passing conversation with mutual friends some weeks later when you learn by chance that said friend not only has a significant other but a mortgage with that significant other to boot. To be betrayed in such a way by some random guy is irritating enough, to be so misused by a friend is devastating.
11. The One Who Meant Absolutely Nothing… Frustrated by a series of fruitless romantic encounters, bored by the absence of any new social excitement, and let’s be honest, long overdue some fun between the sheets, I decided I was going to get laid. So I did. I went out with a group of friends on a similar purpose and pulled. Satisfied, our post-coital chitchat confirmed my suspicions that he would not, by some cruel twist of fate, turn out to be the love of my life. And so we parted with no regrets and no intention of ever seeing each other again.
Call it what you like, it works a charm.
12. The One I Really Wanted… I’ve mentioned my great faith in fate and it’s ability to throw you in the direction of things that you really need. Introduced by a mutual friend I was delighted with what fate had thrown in my way on this occasion. Tall, dark and handsome, funny, charming with a fine occupation and smile to melt hearts – Yes Fate! Excellent work! Hollywood could not have written a greater first encounter. By candlelight we talked, we laughed, we drank, parting on the street outside with the perfect goodnight kiss. I practically floated home. But there the Hollywood romance left us and through a combination of liquor, lust and late night texting our goodnight kiss gave way to a good morning goodbye in the not so romantic, but more familiar, scene on my front doorstep. I could already hear the old saying in my mind “Who’d buy the farm when they can get the milk for free?” But my worries seemed unfounded as our acquaintance continued to bloom through flurries of text messages over the next week. That is, until a point one evening when his part in the tete-a-tete ceased without explanation. I have never sought one. If he can’t commit to texting back, he certainly can’t commit to buying the farm. What diverted or dissuaded his attentions I don’t know, but in a year when I risk being ‘the other woman’ for a third time, I have decided that ignorance is bliss.
13. The One I Barely Remember… Concluding the baker’s dozen, and I’m quite confident, the year’s romantic prospects, so battleworn am I to pull out of the race by mid-December, was a handsome chap I met in a club who had a good three foot and four drinks on me at the time. A brief snog later I returned happily to dance away the rest of my Saturday night with friends, confident that it never would have worked between myself that and the tall, bearded chap. He was handsome and charming enough, but unreasonably tall, I’d have suffered chronic neck strain.
A year well spent? It’s hard to say. There may not be any trophies in the cabinet but it’s not a bad innings all the same. Undeterred, I look forward to 2014, if not with optimism, at least with determination.
So farewell to 2013, we hardly knew ye…