There was an article published in the Daily Mail today that struck a chord. It was, in fact, entirely out of character for the DM, it was sweet, uplifting and genuinely moving. It was the story of Zoë Folbigg, a woman who fell in love on her daily commute with ‘Train Man’ and, over a year later, went out with him, married him and lived happily ever after. Read the article here.
It struck a chord on a few levels with me, firstly because it convinced me that those sort of love-at-first-sight moments do genuinely still happen and secondly because her nervous, faltering attempts at attracting his attention are exactly how I would have gone about the situation. We are fed love stories on a daily basis, from the great loves in novels to the ‘it almost never happened’ romances in films. From fairy tales to mythology, from adverts to toys and even in nature, we are led to believe that out there, somewhere, is our Mr Darcy, our Prince Eric, our Ken or our lobster.
Even though the concept of ‘the one’ is open to ridicule and might even be an artificially created concept born from a saccharine and unattainable, idealistic notion of love, I am still a hopeless romantic and from my first taste of Disney and Hans Christian Anderson, I have been looking for someone indescribably but irrefutably ‘special.’ I waited to lose my virginity until I was in love and have really only had one long-term relationship that ended horribly – he floated the idea that we should get engaged, on a plane, during the worst turbulence I have ever experienced. I felt that sinking feeling literally, metaphorically and physically and we broke up pretty much as soon as we got home.
I have a university friend who was on a constant search for her ‘one.’ She was incorrigible and decided that everyone she met or went out with was ‘the one,’ from ‘piggy Mike’ who showed up at our house hammered and professing his love at 2am to ‘library boy,’ whom she relentlessly pursued during revision season before our final year exams.
I used to laugh, never taking the conviction of her ‘ones’ entirely seriously, but now, looking back, I’m both envious and incredibly impressed that she had the balls to do what she did, over and over until she found her real ‘one.’ She’s getting married next June to him.
After licking my post-breakup wounds for well over a year and moving in with a French girl who has an achingly cool and relaxed attitude to sex – one that was an anathema to the ‘sex is for love and marriage and promiscuity is only for the unladylike’ version I was raised on – I decided I should experience that most transient and sexually defining occurrence: the one night stand, especially as it has featured on my 30 before 30 list of ‘things to do’ since I was 16.
I’ve never been a one night stander. I attract wistful men who want to rescue me, never ravage me and, as I’m nearing the end of my twenties, I’m becoming convinced that I have about as much sex appeal as Anne Hathaway.
My idea of a one night stand is probably the same as most women: a David Gandy who smoulders across the bar and an instant sexual frisson takes hold, the electricity in the pit of your stomach that snakes over your skin and, following a wild night of passion, he leaves. In short, this:
Then it happened, in a rather grotty bar I fell into met a rugby player of a man with shoulders like Thor and a lilting Irish brogue. Did I swoon when I saw him? Did I feel butterflies? Nope, but five dirty martinis and a latterly much regretted shot of absinthe later I bowed to my own peer pressure and dragged him home for a night of carnal passion.
When you’re a few drinks down, there’s a moment when caution flies to the wind. Mine was when I thought I was Dita Von Teese incarnate, seductively shedding clothing and ignoring the deeply unsexy condom fumbles, the clumsy first kisses and embarrassingly loud finale – his, not mine.
Job done, box ticked, list crossed. I could now retreat back into my Amelie-induced fantasies of train station rendezvous. That was until three days later when I got home from work to find a letter addressed to: ‘The beautiful blonde occupant.’
There it was, that moment filled with possibility and potential that I’d been yearning for. That crazy, romantic, When Harry Met Sally, The Notebook moment, which could be the start of the love of my life. And how did I feel? Panicked, dizzy and like my stomach had taken up permanent residence in my boots. I still can’t decide if it was the absinthe-induced memories that came lurching back to me, his poor punctuation or the fact that he memorised my address but either way, that letter went into the bin. Turns out romcoms aren’t for everyone. But it hasn’t put me off hoping that at some point I will see or meet someone who sends my brain into chaos, who turns my bones to liquid, who will, instead of sending the contents of my stomach on an upward projectile, fill me with absolute certainty that yes, this is, without doubt, my ‘one.’