Catherine Townsend: Sleeping around

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The Independent Online

Five minutes into dinner at my girlfriend Sarah's wedding last weekend, I knew for certain that I had been banished to the seventh circle of hell commonly referred to as The Singles Table. The bride's mother, bless her, had also uttered the words that should strike fear into the heart of every unattached woman: "Sarah's uncle Roger is single."

So I ended up next to someone's colleague who plays the bagpipes, a guy with a lazy eye, and Uncle Roger, who turned out to be fiftysomething, fat, balding and fancied himself a bit of a Casanova.

"I'm a big fan of Charles Darwin, because I think that men are biologically programmed to look for youth and fertility," he said, eyeing my chest.

Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled for my girlfriends who are in blissfully happy, loved-up relationships, but I've found that navigating the minefields of wedding parties can be a terrifying prospect. When I've brought dates in the past, watching public declarations of love makes us question the status of our own relationship - and there are always the nosy relatives who keep asking me when he's going to "pop the question". If I'm solo, everyone wants to know when I'm going to settle down, or they want to fix me up.

My male friends think of wedding season as hunting season. "Emotions are running high, free booze is flowing and picking up women is like shooting fish in a barrel," says one of them, Michael. "I learnt to ballroom dance for that sole reason."

I've done my share of picking up hot groomsmen. But at a girlfriend's "destination wedding" last year, at a couples-only resort in Jamaica, I learnt that hooking up at weddings has its downside. I had to share a room with a platonic friend, and after one too many piña coladas, we ended up in bed. The next day, I returned with a horrible hangover to find that he had strewn rose petals all over the room and written a poem to declare his love. All I felt like doing was putting my head in the toilet.

I spent the next two days hiding out at the pool bar, and was actually reduced to holding my breath underwater when he walked past.

I didn't want to suffer the same fate at Sarah's wedding, especially after the DJ grabbed the microphone and asked all the single women to come forward for the bouquet toss - which was between me and three 11-year-old girls. I let one of the kids win, prompting a visibly sweat-stained Uncle Roger to grab my waist and say, "Don't worry baby, you're not going to get left on the shelf!" Then, lowering his tone, he said, "I've got some Viagra back in my room." That did it. "If you like biology, you should look up the theory of sperm competition," I joked, smiling sweetly. "I have several lovers right now, and I find that it really works for me."

After getting rid of him, I headed to the dance floor and boogied all night with three very cute single males - all under the age of 12. We had a blast.

c.townsend@independent.co.uk

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