I've just been dumped by a guy before we've even been on a date. This is a new record for me. I often berate myself for my inability to sustain a relationship. If there was a theme tune to The Samantha Show, it would be Little Jackie singing: "I like failed relationships, I don't get far cos I'm not equipped!"
That said, I usually make it a few dates in, before it turns to shit. On this occasion, I was dumped after three weeks of WhatsApping, after meeting on a press trip abroad. We live in different countries, but daily messaging meant my self-absorption, chronic insecurity and pathological need for attention had a fair stab to shine.
The dumping was done - obvs - by WhatsApp and included the line: "You are lovely, funny, smart and attractive, but not here." Attractive? I want to ask if he means incredibly beautiful but the dumping doesn't invite debate. It concludes: "I will of course respectfully delete all the fun on my phone and ask you do the same. Sorry."
If he deletes anything, I'll revenge-porn myself. Stollen's in the shops and Baileys is on offer for £12 in Tesco - in other words, I'm tipping ten stone on the scales right now. It took a crash course in contortion to create the flat-stomach in the "fun" he's so ready to erase off his phone. I breathed in so hard, I crushed a kidney. I need to learn Photoshop, or any more sexting and I'll be crowdfunding for a dialysis machine.
To be fair, I'd seen it coming. He'd told me he had a high sex drive, but the physical side of our relationship consisted of me snogging a photo on my phone, then texting to tell him we'd kissed. I knew this dumping was not a drill. I spent half an hour crying, then painted my toenails and went for a run. That night, Ranch Mama Dena, who I almost once interviewed, wrote on Twitter: "Ships don't sink because of the water around them - Ships sink because of the water that gets in them. Don't let what happens around you get inside you and weigh you down."
Ranch Mama Dena of the premier legal brothel in Nevada speaks to me with these words and I take heed. I need to boost my spirits and turn my love life around. I scroll through the press releases packing out my inbox and reply to an invite to get Red Carpet Ready. This includes Christmas cocktails and a bouncy blow with Adam. Sign me up Scotty, I say to the PR, whose name is Filipe. I forfeit the festive manicure to knock back Willy Wonkas at the bar. These contain as much cognac as Doctor Self-Meds ordered. Brandishing a black strapless bra, I commandeer the designer dress rail and take selfies in the toilets. I'm on the road to recovery/ruin [delete depending on how much you're rooting for me here].
I sign up for Thanksgiving speed dating, taking place two nights later. This comprises men and cake - thanks, Universe! It's only when I arrive and find myself awkwardly avoiding eye contact, that I realise it isn't for me. I habitually harbour the illusion that I'm starring in the restaurant scene from Hello Dolly, but here I feel less Streisand, more stricken; less Lauren Bacall and more Lauren Goodger, at Mark Wright's wedding. I wedge myself in a chair and hope no one speaks to me, but someone does. He's 27 with a flock of facial piercings. If I had those piercings, wine would leak out of my face. I'd have Amaretto in my eyes. He tells me the last time he went on a date, the girl pulled out her phone and put Coldplay on speaker. They were in a pub in Shoreditch. He self-consciously uncoupled.
I take my designated seat and every eight minutes, a new guy arrives, with another dessert. It's like I'm living a Vanessa Feltz fantasy. By the end of the night I'm obese, with two bits of cake in my handbag for later - but no one I'd put in my basket. My second date asks me my five year plan and my third date asks if my job's dangerous. Only for my liver. I go AWOL to down a shot at the bar and return to find I've fucked up the running order. Date Three is still bobbing about by my seat, Date Four is hovering behind him, and the next girl along is sitting by herself. I'm tempted to join her.
At the end of the night, a guy I'll call Ian counts out his coins to buy a Coke, while he waits for the bar staff to make me a cocktail. He says: "There are several ladies I'd see again. You're one of them." I feel so special, I might treat myself to a tampon. I walk away and set down my drink at a table, in time to watch the Coldplay Uncoupler deal with an iPhone thrust in his face. He doesn't want to put in his number, but the iPhone's owner looks like she could knock out an Argos full of Ronda Rouseys on a Black Friday frenzy.
Ian comes over and shows me photos of his family at the sort of gathering I'd put myself in hospital to avoid, followed by 16 identical pictures of himself, from the time he was up a tall building. He asks for my number. I say there wasn't a spark. He says, "but you said you're a slow burner." I am 90% proof by this point. Confusing myself with Scarlet O'Hara, I declare I will never be one of the multitudes, making sandwiches for soldiers - I'll rip down the curtains to make myself a dress, because sod the civil war, I'm fabulous! Ian backtracks, saying I'm not one of several and promises he likes me best. Of course he does, but it's too late. Goodbye Ian.
Coldplay Boy and I are last to leave. He tells me he watched everyone arrive, and realised they all knew each other. They are all regulars. I'm mildly unnerved by this in a From Dusk Till Dawn sort of way, but Coldplay Boy plays video games, so I'm sure he's adept at slaying vampires. I haven't turned my love life around, but I have boosted my spirit levels, if not my spirits. I look to Little Jackie for a few words of inspiration to end the evening. She says: "I've got talent and I've got tits, I know I'll find another man who wants to get with it." Cheers, Little Jackie.