Catherine Townsend: Sleeping around

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"Cut it," I laughed, sinking down into my trendy East London hairdresser's chair. "But nothing too drastic - if I end up with a mullet, I'll really be depressed." Since my break-up with Richard, I've spent a lot of time either wallowing in my tracksuit bottoms or out at tequila bars with my girlfriends.

But I got a wake-up call a few days ago when, after yet another night of shots, my stomach threatened to turn itself inside out and I decided that I needed to find a more constructive coping mechanism than Happy Hour. I've had the break-up, now it's time for the break-over. After all, being newly single is one of the few times when it's socially acceptable to revel in complete narcissism.

So in addition to my sexy new come-hither fringe that falls over one eye, I've had a Brazilian wax, manicure, pedicure, some type of aluminum body wrap that made me feel like a Christmas turkey and splurged on a gold corset that cost more than my rent - all guilt-free.

My mum says that a break-up is like bereavement - and I'm moving on to the acceptance stage. To start my dating detox, I had to quit cold turkey: I deleted Richard's phone number, e-mail address and photos from my inbox, erasing all my hopes for our future along with them.

Saturday night I had my first date since the split with a very fit art director. He looked gorgeous, and over Mexican food we discussed everything from South Park to string theory. Then, as he walked me back to my flat, I had one of those heart-stopping "will-we-or-won't we" moments under the stars. In the end all I got was a quick peck on the cheek, but I felt the thrill of potential - and realised that the possibilities for the summer are limitless. So what if the only person I shared a bed with that night was a giraffe cuddly toy?

"Just keep an open mind, and don't rule anything out," my friend Victoria said. "When one door closes, another always opens." I found out that she was right on Sunday when I spotted Grant, the dashing and hugely successful businessman I've always been slightly in awe of, on Kensington High Street.

I tried to follow him discreetly while crossing the street, but my new haircut meant that I couldn't see a damned thing and ended up crashing into him. Fortunately, we had a good laugh, and he casually mentioned that he'd broken up with his girlfriend since we last met - then invited me to a swanky summer party at the Orangerie. I told him about my heartbreak, and resulting "dating detox". He stepped closer and looked down at me. "If the guy didn't see that you were a once-in-a-lifetime catch, I would forget about him," he said.

My hands started to shake, and I blurted out "Yeah, um, see you at the party!" before jumping into a cab - headed the wrong way. I have a feeling that I'll be kicking the giraffe to the floor very soon.

c.townsend@independent.co.uk

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