I guess it’s just that particular age when people start to really couple up. And not just with that once-off fervour that a few tequila shots at the local can induce, but in that proper “let’s Photoshop our faces together to see what our babies would look like” way.
In fact, one motivating factor for my move from Australia to London was that in my Canberra office of 30 people, my peculiarly singular status and lack of desire for a ‘better half’ with which to tend a vegetable patch with on the weekends had become routine office water-cooler conversation.
Add to this a wealth of coupled-up friends and you may has well have renamed me ‘Third Wheel McGee’. I had become quite good at hanging out with twosomes; at sitting alone at one side of the table whilst they smooched on the bench seat opposite, all the while the waiter standing in the corner shaking his head and bemoaning the aesthetic unevenness of the arrangement. I became a master in agreeing that nicknames like ‘schmoodles’ and ‘cuddly-butt’ were “oh so adorable” and was an expert at watching rom-coms from the single armchair whilst the couple pat each other’s hair and feed each other Thai takeout from a shared fork on the double couch.
But when I moved to London, a city where one does not need to sit at home in a onesie, Bridget Jones style, swilling red wine from a schooner glass and instead celebrating the state of singledom with half-price drinks and speed-dating, I didn’t expect to continue to be surrounded by couples.
Forget internet dating. If you wanted the nearest stranger come clamp their mouth over yours for all of eternity, then just be stood by me. I was a magnet for all things that came in pairs, a Mecca for those who walk down the street with their limbs entangled, a nerve centre for those who canoodle in the M&S line as you try to buy a microwavable roast for one.
While visiting a Spanish tapas hole in the wall in Soho, one where patrons arrange themselves along a long thin bar of stools while indulging in all things pig, I was confronted with a veritable wall of couples all facing inwards in a vertical line, their legs intertwined and in various stages of pre-coitus and undress. The entire restaurant was like Noah’s Ark — all in twos. I didn’t even really need to order, I could have just moved down the line, sneaking an olive from between that couple’s interlocked lips, taking a swig from the glass stolen over that girl’s shoulder while she’s busy climbing into that guy’s lap, siphoning a piece of prosciutto from that otherwise occupied man’s hand.
Of course, I didn’t. I just sat in the leftover corner space with my schooner of red and a wheel of cheese, trying to avoid the flailing limbs and contemplating charging couples for my services of having my mere presence reignite their lost passion.
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