Zoe is a changed woman these days, as her relationship with Guy continues to flourish. We're finding it hard to recognise the winsome creature that regularly drops 'I think this is it you know. I think he's the one!' into conversation (no matter what we might be talking about). He recently cut short a holiday to come back and see her and she's been living in an odd sort of Mills and Boon bubble ever since.
There's a new innocent(ish) breathless tone to her voice, although she keeps sacking me from being chief bridesmaid of honour-type person whenever I take the mickey out of her, which is pretty much all the time. But I am genuinely pleased she has bagged herself a 'good one'. It does mean we hardly ever see her any more as she navigates new-found waters of 'staying in' and 'watching dvds' whilst the rest of us carry on dragging our weary bones around the social circuit.
She did grace us with her presence last night as we gathered to watch awful TV and drink wine; Guy was out of town visiting relatives. She was with us in body but glued to her BlackBerry all night, her facial expression changing from concentration to beaming happiness as she composed the next sex text.
I considered whether I felt this way about any of the men in my complicated little life, and almost laughed out loud. I admit I am becoming increasingly fond of the beau the more I see him, although this is always late at night, and always at my flat. He has such a beguiling mix of crotch-grabbing arrogance mixed with genuine shyness. I was telling him about a recent visit to the glamorous and slightly dodgy burlesque club The Box and he replied 'Excuse my ignorance, but what actually goes on at a sex club?' Bless.
To his credit he's not easily scared. It should be easier to coordinate our hook ups given that several of his friends lives very close by to me, but the majority of MY friends live a few stops away on the preposterously-named Ginger Line, so inevitably, as he arrives in my 'hood, I am off out up north.
'Will we ever meet this guy?' my friend Glen asked last night. 'I doubt it, since none of us are ever at your flat at 2am', chipped in Steve, and he does have a point. But for now the arangement suits me rather well. He never stays the night, and I like the fact that I can wake up and eat chicken Supernoodles at 8am if I feel like it, rather than having to fuss around pretending that I'm a dab hand at knocking up impressive gourmet breakfasts. There's also no drudgery of washing his clothes or picking up wet towels - I am very happy to remain queen of my castle.
A completely rational and intelligent friend recently shocked me by bravely confessing that 'I don't actually feel like my life will really start until I get married and have babies'. I guess I am different in that noone ever put the batteries into my biological clock; I've known from a weirdly early age that I never wanted children. I've been patronised all my life by people saying that I will change my mind but I never have. Of course I am happy for other people and their longed-for embryos, but I look at their scans and endless volumes of baby pics and feel... nothing very much.
Maybe I AM selfish and maybe I just haven't met the 'right man', but out of all the things I fret about, and they are myriad, a child-free existence doesn't even feature.
I don't go gooey over bridal shops either, and there is certainly no wedding scrapbook hidden in my knicker drawer. I've acually been proposed to a few times. Once, three days after meeting a man in a club who was a friend-of-a-friend. On the outside he was a good-looking successful photographer with everything going for him. However it rapidly transpired that he was a chronic alcoholic on the verge of a nervous breakdown who just wanted someone to look after him. No thanks.
Another time was by a small-time 'dodgy geezer' who just wanted to escape his depressing routine; he actually mentioned the words 'starter home' during an impassioned down-on-one-knee speech - I think he was still struggling to get up as I slammed the door behind me. Many years ago I was in a 'proper' long-term-living-together five year relationship which may have been a more realistic scenario. We are still friends and I asked him if he'd ever considered it.
'I did once, but then you said something that annoyed me and I didn't' he said flatly, which made me laugh and sigh slightly in equal measures.
I dated a guy a couple of years ago for a few months before he dumped me, via Facebook chat from the first class lounge at Geneva airport which I thought was a classy touch. We have a mutual friend to whom he confided 'I just couldn't keep up with her'. Am I really that much of a handful? Perhaps. In a few more years I might think differently. But for now I kind of like it that way.