Upon my return to college, I was surprised to find I have a new nickname. Suffice it to say that it involves the phrase ‘no-relationships’, and it was with this charming appellation that I was greeted by my male friends. This isn’t actually as cruel as it sounds – it’s not because I’m a) a militant feminist, b) a nun or even c) dreadfully smelly, but because d) I habitually refuse to go beyond the baby stages of dating.
Nevertheless, slightly hurt by the ‘always-the-bridesmaid-never-the-bride’ vibe around this title, I defended myself indignantly, citing examples such as my comparably chaste summer in order to show them I’m a new woman, no longer permanently riding a private rollercoaster of romantic melodrama and ready to face a brave new world of non-drunken dating. For whatever reason, (it may have been what my mother calls ‘my knowing look’, or it may just have been my, ahem, admiration of the new barman…) they remain unconvinced. Truth is, I’m not quite convinced myself. No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to stop myself bouncing from each brief encounter straight onto the next. The dubious opinion of my friends might even be because I’ve ‘bounced’ into most of them at one time or another.
‘Scrapes’, is how I prefer to term these little episodes. I feel it suggests something rather more innocent and wholesome than the reality, like I’ve accidentally got mixed up Famous Five style with some smugglers and ginger beer,in stead of some grubby boy from downstairs and too much cheap vodka. When friends look at me despairingly with the word ‘slut’ balanced delicately on the tip of their tongues, I optimistically hit back with the theory that I’m just a hopeless romantic, searching for true love and leaving no rock, stone, or half-decent pair of trousers unturned. Which is all very well until I have one of my frequent ‘let’s-have-a-mass-cull-of-Men’ moods.
The problem of course has nothing to do with man hating. Quite the opposite. Having had an exclusively female upbringing, I still haven’t quite got over the sheer novelty that is the male species. You’re so much fun! You can be teased, and punched and fed any sort of bad cooking in ways that seem absolutely thrilling to my over-feminised mind. (Random fact: in a test at the science museum, I was informed that my brain was unnaturally female. Draw your own conclusions.) You give hugs on demand; really big hugs which make me feel small and slim again even after weeks of mass jaffa cake consumption. You pay for alcohol (my personal favourite). You can reach high up things, lift heavy things, touch disgustingly dirty things, catch spidery things and do endless other things with things. Therefore, clearly, it’s not you (dear men), it’s me.
But now things get complicated. I’ve met someone, someone I rather like. If I can’t mend my ways, it will all go to pot with hurtling breakneck speed. If I can mend my ways, well it might all go to pot anyway because, funnily enough, he doesn’t live around here. The point is – watch yourselves, young freshers. However tempting a different liaison with a different neighbour each week may seem, let it go on too long (for example, the whole first year…) and you also could find yourself returning to jolly nicknames and a reputation to scare off any potential mate within 300 miles of St Mary’s.
Having imparted my weekly wisdom, I’m now going to continue my good deeds by rescuing a spider from certain death in my noodle soup. Who needs men after all?