As a lawyer, I walked into a Soho bar. My first date appeared. I smiled at him, and said: "I am a human rights lawyer (grin)." "I work 60 hours a week (grin)." And watched him shrivel up. "I'm an engineer," he said (no grin). And then he was silent, so I told him I was reading Heidegger. He stared at me as if I had told him that I boil men's heads.
Then came Eric, and I invented a PhD in economics from Cambridge. "It was incredibly rewarding. Are you interested in economics, Eric?" He wasn't; he slunk off, and was replaced by Tony. I told him I have two cats and he looked hopeful. "What are they called?" "Roe and Wade, after the United States supreme court case that resulted in the legalisation of abortion." No smile after that, just a chair where a man had been.
I fought about the Arab-Israeli conflict with No 11, and about shoes with No 13. "My shoes are leather," he said, "but they have holes in them." "Don't buy leather shoes," I replied, refusing to pout, while he looked at me as if I'd shot him. And this, from No 18: "You really scare me." Word had spread about the monster on Table 17 - my final date didn't show.
The florist, who I modelled on Melinda Messenger spliced with a teasmaid, went to a "lock and key" party. Alan approached. "Hello," he smiled. "I'm confused by the game," I told him. "Please explain it." And he did. Happily. "What do you do," I asked (giggle). "I am a geneticist," he said. "What is that," I asked (giggle). He told me, and I looked impressed and uncomprehending. I raised my voice an octave, until it was a squeak. I stared at the floor, twisted my hands, and gibbered at him. "I cut the thorns off roses," I said. "I tie bows. I sweep floors." He replied: "I'll email you." I bagged one with my florist net! Then came Robert. "I'm a florist," I smiled. The reaction was instantaneous, passionate and almost molecular: "Can I buy you a drink?"
Then came Harry. "Let's not talk about me," I said. Bang - he asked me out. Just like that. On the spot.
I never knew it could be like this. Tom suggested we sit down. "Where do you want to sit," I asked. "In a chair? Is that a chair (giggle)?" By the end of our conversation I was opening my own florist's. And he was in love. I went on and on, loving the strange, new attention, saying the sort of things a fish would say if it could talk: "Why is water wet?"
I could have been engaged by 11.17pm. But instead I went home and sifted through the evidence. Only one in 20 of the men I met on the Soho love coalface wanted to date a woman who had heard of Proust (19 of out 20 cats don't prefer it). Yet eight out of the florist's 12 men wanted to be gibbered at again and again and again.
Everything my mother has ever told me about men is true. They didn't care that the florist couldn't recognise a chair. They liked it. The feminist revolution didn't pierce their hearts; it only made it into human resources. If you want to be loved, just scoop out your brain and act like a child. After 40 years of feminism we shouldn't really burn our bras. We should burn our men. Love may be dissembled but statistics never lie. Reader, let me tell you: men want me - and you - to be lobotomised.