real life

A day in the life of a single person on Valentine's Day who's just petty as hell.

7am - My alarm begins to squark with a level of annoyance usually reserved for perky colleagues trying to sign me up for team sports. 

To avoid facing the day, I scroll Instagram looking for distraction in the form of news updates or pictures of old high school acquaintances disguising their MLM schemes as #newproject #girlboss.

Instead, my feed is groaning under the weight of gushy couple selfies, all accompanied by a range of imaginative captions along the lines of “the boy did good” and “I think I’ll keep him”. 

All penned by the same women who just days earlier were bemoaning the fact that these “boys” had forgotten to pick them up from work/refused an urgent request to buy tampons/left her dog outside in the rain resulting in Tuppy being placed on strong sedatives to combat her newfound PTSD.

Unfortunately, this heightened level of social media fiction can only mean one thing…

It’s Valentine’s Day.

Happy Valentine’s Day to the guy who belittles my favourite movies and was two hours late to my birthday drinks because he was caught up in a pub trivia tie-breaker. I love doing life with you. Image: Getty. 

8am - I have five minutes before my train is about to leave as I rush toward my local cafe, desperate to snag a coffee to see me through the morning.

(Well, I say “coffee” but it’s actually a Mocha, the drink of choice for women who have unresolved issues with their childhood).

I slam open the cafe door and it makes instant contact with the back of a man’s head. Knocking him forward and forcing him to tongue kiss the overpriced artisanal stack of avocado, halloumi, and bacon on the table before him. 

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Now, normally this cafe is the domain of weary commuters who line up like ants to collect their beverages and then quickly shuffle towards the door. All joined in the silent understanding that both chit chat and loitering belong in the bin along with the series finale of Game of Thrones.

But thanks to Valentine's Day, happy couples are crammed into every available space and I'm forced to awkwardly slither past them as I made my way to the counter.

At this moment my single status seems so obvious it's causing the diners to look at me like I'm one of those exotic slugs who favours dangling above its friends on a thread of mucus.

(Or maybe it's because I accidentally assaulted halloumi stack guy with a door, I guess we'll never know).

The lovely girl who passes me my coffee also places two heart-shaped cookies on its lid and chirps "to share with someone special". 

I look directly into her trusting eyes and devour both cookies in a single, violent bite.

9am  - I arrive at my office and make my way to my desk, skirting around colleagues who are huddled together over their phones ferociously comparing their V-Day loots. Like hunters returned from the woods and thirstily showing off their new collection of mauled carcasses.

9.15am - At my desk I see that some well-meaning colleague, obviously in need of additional tasks to fill their day, has left heart-shaped lollies on everyone's computers along with a gushy card.

I drop the card into the bin as I unwrap the sweet (and refuse to acknowledge that the upside of today is I somehow keep scoring free snacks) and pop it into my mouth.

A second later I spit it out onto the crumpled card, on account of the fact it tastes like cheap sugar and a mother's silent disappointment.

10.30am - By some cruel twist of fate, that I'm sure has nothing to do with my toxic personality, my desk is situated near the door of the office.

This means I often get stuck signing for deliveries but on Valentine's Day, this most unholy and disruptive of days, I spend more time signing for bunches of distressed-looking red roses than I do answering my emails. 

It's not even lunchtime yet and already the deliveries spilling into the office make it look like Cupid has devoured the set of The Bachelor Australia and then regurgitated it around my desk.

12pm  - There's a woman in my office who I know is called Astrid only because there's a woven name card from her failed Etsy store telling me this information, against my will, every time I walk past her desk.

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As one of the other few single women in our office, Astrid has been on my tail all-day because tonight is her much-hyped Galantine's Day Extravaganza and she's attempting to recruit me into her "we don't need no man" coven.

I've already told her I have no ill will towards people who celebrate Valentine's Day or spending the night at home alone.

Yet she can't seem to grasp the concept of me not wanting to take part in the ritualistic single girl practice of slugging down Fairy Floss Martinis while belting out an off-tune rendition of 'Truth Hurts'. In a deflection of inner pain so intense it would make even Lizzo wince in second-hand sympathy.

I manage to lose her by hiding in a bathroom stall, but unfortunately, the day is still young.

1.30pm - I decide it's time for lunch, to reward myself for not making anyone cry so far today, and head for the office kitchen. 

(Coffee shop cookie girl doesn't count, her eyes were barely welling up went I left.)

Unfortunately, I realise too late that grouped near the kitchen is a hoard of women I dislike to the point where I wouldn't be super sad if they were stung by a (non-lethal) jellyfish and couldn't immediately access First Aid. 

Of course, they're only standing there so they can watch the Hunger Games-style spectacle playing out in the foyer. 

Every time a new delivery rocks up there's a stampeded to see who The Chosen One is. While the remaining stragglers trudge back to their desks and contemplate closing their heads repeatedly in the microwave door.

The horde eagerly turn their eyes toward me, an innocent bystander just wandering by to see if the leftover Pad Thai she stashed in the fridge still looks bacteria-free, and immediately their questions and comments start flying.

"Hot date tonight?" inquires Bev.

"Have you thought about taking a canoe hollowing class? I hear there are men there," Sue says helpfully.

"Don't worry love, lots of men your age getting a bit antsy and divorced soon," soothes Moira.

"Maybe if you just smile a little more.... have you ever thought about using a scented neck cream?" wonders Pam.

"My uncle Roy and his dog Bouncer lived alone for more than 10 years. We all thought Roy would go first but then they found Bouncer's body under the house. He didn't do well around people. Roy died alone, and it took a while for the neighbour to find him," says Margaret.

I decide I'm not that hungry and make a hasty escape from the kitchen. 

All while wondering whether I was supposed to be the Roy or the Bouncer in that story...

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2.30pm  - Decide I can't exist on just coffee and misplaced spite and head to the building cafe to pick up a snack. The slightly broken looking man there tells me the special is a "Lover's Toastie" designed to be split for two. 

I decide that if death by giant sandwich is the way I'm supposed to go then I'm ok with that and order the one with extra tomato.

 “Just a single gal on V Day, existing on coffee and misplaced spite.” Image: Laura Brodnik/Instagram. 

3.30pm  - I'm deep in work mode when my phone buzzes with two separate messages from friends, both containing clearly copy and pasted Instagram artworks espousing some message about finding happiness in yourself/knowing you are loved/making a mark on the world.

I can't decide if it's more annoying that these messages are starting to have funeral overtones or that worry about being single would not have crossed my mind today had I not been reminded of it every five seconds.

4pm - Margaret tells Astrid the Roy/Bouncer story and she flees the office in a flood of tears. 

4.05pm - The Galantine's Day Extravaganza is cancelled (sad). 

5pm - There's a flurry of excitement in the office as everyone spruces up and prepares to head out. Hopeful that their date nights will play out like a less problematic Katherine Heigl rom-com. 

In a fit of rogue passion, Moira cracks open the leftover Christmas party wine and starts handing out glasses. 

I manage to dodge her welcoming, outstretched hand and swipe a full bottle on the way out. 

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It's hazard pay at this stage.

Bouncer, 1980 - 1991. Image: Getty. 

5.45pm  - Arrive home to my apartment building and spy my annoying neighbour Duncan cosied up on his couch with his girlfriend. 

The same chick who once started a fire in our building after she arrived home inebriated and stuck her shoes in the oven, thinking they were garlic bread, then went to bed.

I spy their Valentine's Day takeaway accidentally left by my front door and slowly starting to dampen from the rain that has just arrived. 

I step over it and close my door, leaving it to congeal as they stare through the window, eagerly waiting for their feast to arrive

(What? I could have just stolen it for myself, I think this shows real personal growth...)

6pm - 8pm - Drink stolen office wine. 

8pm -10pm - Drink strange cocktail mixture from the birthday hamper I promised one friend I'd deliver to another, but then forgot about it.

10.30pm - Lie in bed and think about how this day is done and dusted for another year.

Then I remember that the world never really stops seeing single women as something that needs to be fixed, changed, pitied or, the very worst, outwardly empowered. 

Effectively making every day Valentine's Day. 

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