In her 1983 novel Heartburn, Nora Ephron explained her compulsion to turn aspects of her life into a repertoire of jokes.
She made everything into a story, she wrote:
‘Because if I tell the story, I control the version.
Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me.
Because if I tell the story, it doesn’t hurt as much.’
And so it is with me and this blog in which I am describing certain dates in such detail now because soon I shall tell you tales of other women braver than me and I want to secure your sympathies – so you are lusty for the retribution they take.
I know matters have gone irretrievably wrong when the line I’m going to tell the Millennial enters my head – the one that will make him laugh, with that adorable snort that’s addictive to provoke.
‘People say #MeToo ruined dating for men,’ I told him, of my second (and final) date with a man so full on in the first week I was already calling him The Mad Macedonian:
‘#MeToo hasn’t ruined dating for men – they’re using accounts of what sexual maniacs got away with as a tip sheet… We went to dinner at this place he picked that I thought was fancy since it was in Westbourne Grove, only to end up sat in too-fancy shoes on a table next to stacked chairs and a mop and bucket.’
‘For whatever reason he announced he had to wash his hands and that his penis was very small, and then, after we’d eaten, calculated my exact share of the bill and walked me to a bus stop where he grabbed me by the pussy. Donald Trump-inspired. Right in the middle of the street.’
That one was laughable at the time. Not tragic. Just deranged.
But the next man who caused a Millennial-ready line to pop into my head, well – I’d got my hopes up…
He was a divorcee which I thought exciting, since divorcees – it strikes me – believe love exists, and know they lost it. They were honest with themselves and brave too. So they’re back, hunting for what I’m hunting for, which no man I’ve met yet seems to be.
This man departed one October morning saying he owed me an orgasm. (Actually four but he wasn’t counting.) Cancelled all the dates we planned subsequently, without suggesting rearranging and – when I enquired – explained he was looking into a trip abroad since he had time off and nothing else to do.
‘This is the tale,’ I knew then and there, ‘of the man who’d prefer to spend seven days in Auschwitz than see me again.’
‘Of course I’m writing this later, much much later,’ Ephron admitted…
At the time, I did not laugh. I howled.
For more tales of Bad Romance come back next Sunday night or buy the book here.