Ten years on from the wonderful, albeit uneventful years of secondary school, my love life is far from epic.  In fact, it’s so far from epic, that it’s virtually non-existent.  Yes, there have been dates, a love-hate episode with a guy at college, a period of being besotted with a beautiful but, as it turned out, an extremely boring med student at university. But other than that, I have nothing to offer the world of romance.  I literally have zero wisdom to impart to my non-existent children. Children I am unlikely to have without having found a man; an unfortunate necessity.

However, occasionally I can see the glass as half full, and although my quest to be part of a blockbuster of a love story might well have been a complete flop so far, I have gathered an awesome rabble of friends along the way.  Coincidentally, we are all rather pathetic in love.  So pathetic in fact, we began to try and outdo one another with our woeful dating stories.  Two years ago, after Jeremy had had to endure a date with a man who refused to wear deodorant, or brush his teeth more than once a week, our friend, Effie, came to the decision that we should meet once a week to bare our souls.  At these meetings, we would share our humiliating stories in courtship over good wine, good food, and the noise of a pub to keep up our spirits.

Two years, ladies and gentlemen, two years! And not one of us has managed to find someone to break us out of our funk of odorous dates, unsatisfying one-night stands, or men who wish to do nothing other than break our hearts to feed their ridiculously large egos.  One bottle of red soon became two, sometimes three, particularly around Christmases and birthdays. Jeremy even bought us cocktails last Thursday, being that it was his thirtieth and his boyfriend of six months had decided to dump him the day before.

“You know what that was, don’t you?” Effie declares through her plump, chocolate-coloured lips. “The bastard didn’t want to buy you a gift.  Jez, you are well off out of it.”

“Funnily enough, Effie, my dear, that doesn’t make me feel any better,” the poor bugger replies before slurping back his third glass of wine.

“Oh, Jez, what did he say?” I ask as I rub his back in soothing circles. 

You have to understand, this is how Effie and I work – she rages like a woman possessed on everyone’s behalf, whilst I lay on the soothing placations that don’t quite hit the target.  Jeremy can go either way, but tonight, unfortunately for him, it’s his turn to feel the abject pain of being dumped by yet another guy who just didn’t care enough to be at all tactful.

“Said we wanted different things,” he sighs, “and now that I was turning thirty, he didn’t feel right holding me back from seeking my end goal.”

“Oh, Jesus, how long has that line been around for?” Effie cries out with a tut at the end.  “Basically, I want to spread myself around, along with any diseases I might be carrying, and you’re holding me back!”

“Yeah, I hate it when they say that,” I huff, “it’s almost as good as when they say, ‘I’ve got issues.  It’s not you, it’s me.’  Every time someone says that to me, I want to stab them in the eye with a fork.”

“Lest we forget the classic, ‘I’m still hung up on my ex!’” Jeremy adds, prompting us all to nod along in agreement.  “If you’re still hung up on your ex, don’t ask somebody else out.  Go on Tinder or buy a box of tissues!”

“Course, half the time, being hung up on your ex means they’re not the ex at all; they’re very much the current!”  Effie points out.

“Christ, how skeptical have we all become?!” I moan. “Jeremy, you sure you’re gay?”

“Pretty certain,” he says as he clinks his glass against mine.  We’re so similar in what we want out of life – marriage, children, an awesome romance – people often say we’d make the perfect couple.  Too bad we’re attracted to the same sex.

“Well, you know I have no intention of ever having kids, not after having to bring up five siblings, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to settle down with somebody.  In fact, I think it makes it harder for me to find someone.  Remember Darren?  We could have been married by now if he wasn’t so intent on having a family.  Perhaps I should have just agreed, compromised.”

“Effie, you know more than anyone, how hard it is to bring up a child.  You shouldn’t force yourself into having children if you don’t want children.”

“I guess,” she sighs, which we all then copy in unison.  The crowd around us are laughing, drinking, and generally having a good time, while the three of us look like a group of sad saps.

“Alright!” Jeremy blurts out at the same time as slapping his hand against the table, causing Effie and me to snap up straight.  “I didn’t come here tonight to bring everyone down.  Yes, I got dumped, and before my birthday, but it doesn’t mean you two should be miserable too.  In fact,” he begins before chugging down his cocktail in one go, “I want each of you to go on a date before our next meeting.  Then you can regale me with what a fantastic time you both had.”

“Jeremy, do you know how hard it is to get a date?” I exclaim.  “It took me four months to gather up the courage to say hello to the last guy I dated.”

“Yeah, I can’t commit to that,” Effie says, “truth be told, I’m not entirely over Derek. The thought of acting romantic with someone makes me want to throw up.”

“Ok, fine,” he replies, “you’re off the hook, but next time, try going out with someone whose name doesn’t begin with a ‘D’.”

“Ha ha,” she laughs sarcastically.

“This means it’s all on you, kiddo!” he says, pointing his wine glass towards me.

“God, did you not just hear me?  I’m useless at asking people out.  You know I didn’t even go on a date until I was in my first year at Uni!”

“There was Eric,” Effie says, “don’t forget him.  He sounded yummy.”

“He was my semi-enemy,” I grumble with my eyes narrowed into venomous little slits.  “We hated each other.”

“Until you bumped uglies,” Effie grins deviously.  “That story was straight out of a romance novel.  Jez, have you heard this one?”

“Of course; I heard it before you,” he says while looking smug.  Truth be told, I can’t remember who I told first.  All I do know is that I must have been drunk, for I try to forget that story. 

“Wait, I know someone!” Effie blurts out all of a sudden.  “Well, he’s a friend of a friend, but I hear he’s great.”

“Excellent, problem solved!” Jeremy smiles widely.

“No! He’s a complete stranger,” I argue, “he could be a complete weirdo.”

“People date people off the internet all the time,” Jeremy points out, “just meet in a public place.”

“What’s his name?” I ask with a less than enthusiastic tone of voice.

“Daryl,” Effie replies, “supposed to be gorgeous too.”

“What is it with you and guys who have names beginning with D?” Jeremy asks, looking completely baffled by it.

“Great and gorgeous, yet strangely single,” I laugh with disbelief.

“Er, like you!” Effie replies, pointing at me with accusation.

“I…I’m not gorgeous,” I argue rather feebly.

“Enough, I’m texting my friend now,” Effie beams with delight, “you’re doing this!”

Jeremy begins grinning with his teeth, finding my being forced into a date I don’t want exceedingly amusing.  Still, it’s enough for me to concede.  He hasn’t smiled this much since Ian dumped him last week.  If it makes him smile like he is, I shall sacrifice my own dignity to go on this blind date of sorts.  And who knows?  Daryl may well be the one.  I have my doubts, but I could be pleasantly surprised.

“I hope you appreciate this,” I grumble around my glass, just as Effie shows me the returned text message confirming the date.

“I do, darling, I really do,” Jeremy says as he plants a kiss on my cheek, complete with a squeeze of my shoulders. I can’t help but give in and giggle with him. 

Damn it, I’m going to have to buy some new razors.

Next month:

Dating the great and gorgeous Daryl!

‘Mayfield 3: Save Us’ goes live on July 8th!  Pre-order your copy at: https://geni.us/OshD8i3

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