A hairy question

He was friendly. He was flirty. He was American.

But he had a moustache.

My Saturday night is now nothing but a boozy blur. But here’s what I remember. Some girlfriends and I drank champagne. We went out for dinner. We drank more champagne. We told funny stories and laughed hysterically. We drank more champagne. We had deep and meaningfuls. The restaurant closed. We found a bar. We drank more champagne. We cried and hugged each other. The bar closed. We found another bar. Decided, sensibly, that we didn’t need any more champagne.

So we ordered margaritas.

We danced. We drank more margaritas. Someone fell over. And when I reached the point where I needed to hold one eye closed to focus properly, Moustache Man suddenly appeared.

From what I remember, he was lovely. Outgoing, interested, confident and charming. New to London, and keen for adventure. Sympathetic to my lack-of-focussing-ability. A potentially perfect leading man.

BUT.

HE HAD A MOUSTACHE.

Now, you need to understand – I really, really hate moustaches. To me, they are the ugliest, dirtiest things in the world. A clean-shaven man? Lovely. A guy with a bit of stubble? Perfect. Sporting a full beard? Hot. But a moustache? Gross, just gross. Hairy, scary and (I don’t know why), but kinda pervy.

For me, November is a terrible month. As Movember takes hold, good-looking men all over the place are suddenly afflicted with a hairy upper lip. It’s terrifying!

And that – especially for a girl looking for love – poses a major problem. If you meet a moustached man in late November it COULD be that he’s a charitable, fun guy, out to raise some money and have a laugh. The moustache could be gone in days, revealing a handsome, clean-shaven Mr Right. Or, he could seriously think a moustache is a good look and HAVE ONE ALL THE TIME.

It’s a difficult time for a moustache-fearing girl.

Bring on December 1!

Technology’s a bitch

Twitter is playing matchmaker. And I don’t like it.

Every few weeks, Twitter sends me an email. The email suggests people I should follow, people that Twitter, in all its technological wisdom, thinks I have a lot in common with. That I would get along with. And you know who tops the list every single time?

My ex-boyfriend.

Yes, Twitter, I KNOW. We have a lot in common. We are friends with the same people. Our profile pics look good together. I certainly thought we were a good match, BEFORE HE BROKE UP WITH ME.

And you know what, Twitter? For months after we split up, I still had myself convinced he was the only man for me. It took a long, long time for me to get over it, to tell myself there might be someone else out there, better suited to me.

IT DOESN’T HELP IF YOU KEEP TELLING ME THERE’S NOT.

Twitter, why tell me this? If you’re so invested in us being together why don’t you bother HIM instead? Send him a memo. Hell, tweet him! Break the cold, hard truth to him, in 140 characters or less.

Idiot. You guys are a perfect match. Apologise, buy her many pink things and promise never to buy a dog. You’re welcome! #TwitterKnowsBest

And, it turns out it’s not just Twitter that’s playing back-to-the-future-matchmaker. I was complaining about the latest email to my housemate, when he told me about his experiment with internet dating. Turns out, of the thousands of women looking for love in London, the dating website hooked him up with not one, but TWO ex-girlfriends.

So what’s the deal? Is the internet REALLY unimaginative? Or have my housemate and I both missed out on the bona fide, technologically-proven person for us?

While you ponder that depressing thought, why not follow me on Twitter?

Animal instincts

OK. I’m going to admit something. And a lot of you are not going to like it.

I don’t like pets.

No. I REALLY don’t like pets.

I’m not a dog person, I’m not a cat person. I am a, “Oh God, get that thing away from me!” person. The kind of person who crosses to the other side of the street if they see a dog walker approaching. The kind of person who leans away awkwardly when someone asks them to pat their cat. The kind of person who gets disproportionately annoyed when people post pictures of their pets on Facebook. I don’t like the way pets smell. I don’t like their fur. I don’t like the fact that they hang around all the time, but don’t talk. What’s the fun in that?

I blame my parents. Growing up, we never had a pet (apart from a brief dalliance with crazy crabs foisted on us as a birthday present. We didn’t feed them. They died). My Dad, when he was a kid, conducted experiments on his pet cat, in an attempt to disprove they theory that they always land on their feet (he grew up to be a doctor, not a serial killer, by the way). My brother was allergic to dogs. As a family, we didn’t look fondly on pets. And with three siblings to play with, I never saw the need for a four-legged friend.

It wasn’t until I reached adulthood, that I realised that not liking pets was something of a social faux pas. You are meant to tell people their dogs are cute, even if they’re slobbery, barking, dirty, pooing, well, DOGS. You are meant to pat them. And not rush to wash your hands immediately afterwards. You are meant to find a story of a cat bringing home a dead bird amusing, rather than HORRIFYING (the only thing worse, for me, than the thought of an animal, is the thought of an animal with another dead animal in its mouth).

And when you meet a potential partner, you should do the same. Act interested when they tell you about their pet. Pat said pet when introduced. Go along with talks about the future, which involve a house and a dog. Try not to recoil in horror at the thought of a house with dog hair all over it. A future where you have to get home early, to feed the cat. A future that involves shovelling dog poo. For some men, the pet question is more important than the baby question. A future, with a pet, is non-negotiable.

So, I’ve been pondering this point a lot lately. Wondering if I should tone down my pet hate. Seem a bit more flexible about my future, be more polite about other people’s animals. Bury the fear and disgust, and just chill out.

Because this new me should be able to do it, right? Think about all the brave things I’ve done this year, the acceptances I’ve made, the maturity I’ve shown! Being cool around animals is just another self-improvement I can make!

Well yesterday, the universe decided to test me.

I was sitting inside, working on a job application, when A CAT JUMPED THROUGH THE WINDOW. INTO MY HOUSE.

And what did the new, chilled out, pet-accepting Claire do?

Screamed. Shouted, “Go AWAY! Go AWAY! I don’t LIKE YOU!” Decided I could probably touch the cat with the bottom of my shoe, without getting cat rabies. Tried to push it tentatively towards a door. Shouted some more. “Go AWAY! Get out of MY HOUSE! I really don’t LIKE YOU!”

After five traumatic minutes, the amused cat decided to take pity on the crazed blogger and wandered outside. I collapsed on a couch, heart pounding, vowing to never open a window, EVER AGAIN.

Yep, cool as a cucumber.

Chick Tick One: A new ‘do

So a few weeks ago, I made a Chick List. A list of things to do, changes to make, that could lead me to love and happiness.

To recap, the list included:

  1. Dye my hair red
  2. Try a new (and preferably strange) type of exercise. Tai Chi, capoeira, handball, something like that
  3. Take a photography course (and put some pictures on the blog)
  4. Buy some Doc Martens. And wear them
  5. Go speed dating
  6. Buy something expensive and selfish
  7. Take a trip on my own
  8. Make pastry
  9. Try tuna
  10. Break the law

Within a minute of posting the list, my phone started buzzing. This was a typical piece of advice from one of my best friends:

Do NOT dye your hair red. It clashes with pink!

From there, the feedback kept flooding in. Hair colours (with handy Google pics for reference), Doc Marten choices. As far as my appearance goes, it seems my friends and readers are really invested in my future.

It took THREE DAYS before anyone mentioned anything about me breaking the law.

Well, first lesson learned. People care more about how you look than your moral compass. THAT’S where I’ve been going wrong all these years! Armed with a bunch of pictures of Katy Perry (during her kinda-normal red-haired phase, not the crazy purple experiment) I sought out a London hairdresser, and a brand new look.

I’ve written before about how I’m not very brave. I’ve had a variation of the same haircut my entire life. My natural brown hair hasn’t been coloured for more than a decade (after a traumatic highlights debacle that inspired the name, ‘Skunkhead’). So understandably, I was a little nervous as I made my rambling pitch to the hairdresser. “I want it to be RED. But not SO red that it looks fake. Natural red. But a bit darker. A BIT fake. It has to look like I’ve been adventurous. But perhaps, it happened by itself. Oh, and I want to look FANTASTIC. Can you do that?”

This is the point where the hairdresser is meant to reassure you, to tell you you’ll look great, and everything will be OK. Well, not this guy (yes the hairdresser was a guy. Also, straight!).

“This is going to be a MAJOR change,” he said. “Are you sure you’re ready for this?” He looked dubiously at my face. “You’re pretty pale. You’re going to have to wear a lot of makeup. And those pink lips? You’re definitely going to have to change that.”

WELL. You can call me pale. You can criticise my split ends. You can even point out my grey hairs (and he did). But you will NEVER tell me to abandon my pink lipstick. Pink lipstick DEFINES me! Emboldened, I told the man to chuck even more red into the mix, and get dyeing.

And now, it’s done. You are reading the work of an adventurous, red-haired, pink lipstick-wearing blogger. One who might not conform to the colour rules of her local hairdresser (what do you know anyway, STRAIGHT MALE HAIRDRESSER?) or her caring friends, but one who feels PRETTY DAMN FABULOUS.

Next stop, bizarre exercise!

FootNote

By now, you must know how I feel about pink shoes. To me, they are the prettiest, happiest things in the whole world. When I’m wearing my pink shoes, I get an extra bounce in my step. They actually improve my mood. It’s weird and makes no sense, but I totally and utterly love them.

At last count, I had 24 pairs of pink shoes. Ugg boots, thongs (which might mean something very different to my US and UK readers!), sneakers, slippers, I have them all. But more than anything, I have pink heels. So, so many pairs. It’s ridiculous – they’re not even that different. They are ALL enclosed. I don’t even mess with the shade – they are ALL hot pink. But to me, each and every pair is unique and special. Some have sequins, some have frills. I love them all.

What I am far less excited about, are what lives inside the shoes. My feet. But they are the stars of a special post over at Toemail. Go check it out! It’s worth it, I promise you. There’s even a butterfly!

While you’re there, check out the rest of the site, and let me know what you think. I’m PRETTY SURE it’s a cute idea. I’m hoping it’s not a go-to spot for creepy men who like feet.

Here comes the bridesmaid

I’ve received two proposals since I arrived in London.

My first happened on a perfect summer’s day in Stoke Newington. The sun was shining. I had a bag full of new books and a belly full of cake. I was truly, deliriously happy. Unfortunately, the proposal came from a complete stranger.

“Can you spare some change?”, he asked, from his blanket on the side of the street. I gripped my bag tightly, smiled and politely declined. My beau peered keenly through his matted hair, looked me up and down and asked me the next, obvious question – “Will you marry me?”. Well, of course I was swept off my feet. We got married there and then, have bought a beautiful new box to live in, and are raising a litter of stray dogs.

Not really.

My second proposal arrived in the mail this week:

I received this beautiful gift from one of my very best friends, along with a card and message that made me cry. It’s the second time I’ve been asked to be a bridesmaid for one of my girlfriends and it’s a job that I love – not the least because I get my makeup professionally done, get to hold a bunch of pink flowers and am contractually obliged to pose for many, many photos.

Of course, I accepted the proposal with happiness. During a long text exchange with my girlfriend, where we discussed colour schemes, dress cuts and cocktail arrangements, I asked her about her plans for the weekend. Here’s what she texted back:

Having breakfast at the markets with another couple, then going to a native plant sale.

Here were my plans for the same weekend:

Friday night: Wear a really short skirt, get drunk and flirt with boys. Saturday: Stumble out of bed by midday, eat some bacon. Sunday: Play drunk Monopoly.

I was struck by a startling, worrying epiphany: my friends are growing up. And I seem to be growing down. In the three months since I left home, my friend has got engaged, AND bought a house. I have moved into a share home, stocked my cupboard with Berocca, and have decided I can legitimately wear Converse to a bar.

What’s going to happen when I get back home? I’m scared I’ll call my friend for a spot of ‘drunk shopping’ (an awesome game we invented where you go out for a champagne breakfast and then try on all the dresses in a store. It’s fun. You end up with a lot of dodgy purchases) and she’ll tell me she’s too busy darning her husband’s socks. Or renovating the kitchen. Or, GOD HELP ME, looking after the babies. Twins, because that’s where my nightmare-ish imagination is taking me.

It’s not that I don’t want good things for my friends. I do. But am I in danger of being left behind?

I’m on my way back to Stoke Newington. Maybe I should accept that proposal after all.