It is always exciting to be in close proximity to someone who is dating. Actively, actually, going out, on dates. Truly meeting new people, of the opposite sex, sometimes blindly (extra fun) and getting to know them. For the married observer, this dating dance between your best pal and a series of different men, becomes a personal soap opera, played out in your own home.
Fritha was very against internet dating at first. Not in a contemptous way at all, more of a completley lacking in any enthusiasm, would rather eat my own knees type of way. Her reasons ranged from the likelihood of meeting weirdos, her insistance that the price (or 'single's tax' as she calls it) was outrageous, (fair point), the time it took up, and the fact that since she was more than happy to approach men she liked the look of in the street (she truly is more than happy to do this), there was no need for a middle man. 'Fine', I said, 'you comb the streets, and I will internet date for you'. 'Fine!' she laughed, and we each went our separate ways, her to order funky little cards with her name and number printed on them to hand out to said strangers, and me to sign up for a 3 month membership on Eharmony.
I met my husband when I was 24. We were living in a time when going out to pubs, clubs and bars was a regular occurance, midweek hangovers were the norm, and Peppa Pig was someone we had never heard of. This lifestyle strongly contributed to to the fact that I found my man in a sticky nightclub queue. In person. He had no profile, no 'about me' section, and there were no photos of him attached. I had find to find all that stuff out as we went along. Date we did, in more pubs clubs and bars, and then restaurants, and then on his sofa, then on mine, and then on ours. Our courting was relaxed and leisurely. Although I accidentally mentioned that I wanted at least four children on our first date, there was no real thought or talk of committment for a while. We had fun growing up together. Fast forward ten years and suddenly I was dating again. Admittedly for someone else, but dating is what I was doing, and believe me, it was a whole new experience.
Fritha was right. It did take time. Once the mammoth task of creating her profile and adding photos with just the right amount of sexy was complete, the day to day maintenance of 'my' profile and consistent communication with all appropriate matches could take up the best part of an evening. Firstly I would ask Frith to give a quick 'yes!' or 'no!' to the men who had responded to my online chat (and her photos). Sadly for me she said no far more than she said yes and so the challenge intensified. Once I had found someone who did not make her feel physically sick, it was then up to me to chat them up. Online. As Fritha. I would take myself into herself, and just write. It was quite easy really. Mention Digger the dog every other sentence. Say the odd 'out there' thing. Express her insanely amazing uniqueness in a way her own modesty would not allow, etc etc. Once a few banter filled messages had gone back and forth, if I felt 'we' were clicking, it got more fun. "And he's a policeman!" I would yell up the stairs in delight. "A WHAT?" would come the reply. "Absolutely not!" - rendering all my previous chat with the chap a waste of time, and plummeting me back to the drawing board. Sometimes I would find what I thought was an absolute cracker and it would make it to the stage where I had to pass over the communication steering wheel to Fritha herself . On occasion the man in question would ask why her writing style had changed so dramatically and I would have to shoot back in front of the screen and supervise. Occasionally she would go and meet some of the men. The first ever date however was so much dramatically shorter than he said he was in his profile that it understandably put her off. A whole evening perched on the Northern line only to be faced with an obviously rather daft liar, who only came up to her midriff. After that we made a new rule. Full length body shots were compulsory and from then on all dates had to come to her end of town. It was tough going. Sometimes I would find that a chap who was clearly interested in her would suddenly disappear. To where goodness only knows - it all became a guessing game and I would find myself very insulted on her behalf. It got a bit ridiculous. I would be checking my emails in bed and whining to my husband about it. "Why hasn't he replied?" strop strop. "They were getting on great, he was totally into her!" cue strange look from said husband and I would shut up. Eventually we threw in the towel. I suddenly found myself with free time to do things like washing and cooking and tidying up. And reluctantly agreed with Fritha that the internet route to love was too much hard work.
And so Fritha's future man is still out there, wandering about. Maybe wondering about her. I know we are all wondering about him. And while we wonder, Fritha's journey into motherhood is beginning. The fostering adventure has started and the ball is rolling. For a million reasons the man lucky enough to travel through life with her has to be one of life's most special. The fact that she is going to be a single parent is just one of them.