Charlie waves from the window as you roll down the street towards the gourmet burger place on the high street. Cheeseburger, onion rings and coleslaw are the perfect ballast to the booze you’ve sunk tonight. With one final beer you toast to your excellent form. You were riding high on the crest of your celebrity-snog wave already, so to have your number taken by a very eligible bachelor was a bonus – and seeing Charlie admire you so openly was the cherry on the cake.

‘I’m on fire!’ you say, putting away the last onion ring.

‘I wish I only had your luck,’ Alice moaned, pulling a ‘poor me’ face.

‘You so do have ‘my’ luck – and more – and you have done for ages. You just don’t know what to do with it.’

‘You’re too easily distracted by that bloody builder,’ Simon nods, wisely.

Alice harrumphs, and orders a milkshake to make her feel better about her shambolic love life.

The three of you carry out a full post mortem on the evening. It was a great party. Sitting there in your bare legs, tipsy and giggling, slurping as you swap party gossip with your brilliant mates, you feel super young and fabulous.

‘Let’s take our fabulous asses home,’ Simon suggests.

You peel your thighs off the leatherette and head out onto the street, chilly in your shorts. By the time you get home you’ve pretty much sobered up, and hit the sack feeling hung over and old.

You are poring over a class schedule for the dance school down the road when the phone rings. It’s a complicated matrix of teachers, rooms, courses and prices, and in your jaded state it’s hard to get a handle on it. Alice wants to find a street jazz or hip hop class on a Tuesday or Wednesday, after 8pm and not costing more than £10 a class. You’d settle for any old class with a dance style you’ve heard of. So when the phone rings you leap up, and pass the schedule to Alice. She can apply her hangover to it, see if she fares any better.

‘Ah, just the girl,’ says a familiar voice. ‘So you got home okay.’

‘Yes, thanks Charlie. I had an excellent burger and then we headed home. Did you stay late?

Charlie can’t remember much past 2am, at which point he was sitting in some ropey Camden bar giving Jay advice on relationships. He admits the irony of his position was lost on him at the time – but he laughs at it now. It took 17 texts from Nita before he finally let Jay go home.

‘God,’ he chuckles. ‘Yeah, maybe I should have come for that burger with you guys. I’m sure Jay could have done without my pearls of wisdom. So is it just me who’s binge drinking now I’m single again?’

You laugh, and shake your head. ‘Oh no, I’ve done my fair bit of it too. Mind you, I’m not sure it’s just about being single. Let’s face it, we did enough boozing when we were together.’

‘Did we?’ says Charlie, as if struggling to recall some forgotten childhood trip to Legoland.

‘God yeah. Especially at the start, all those cocktail bars and that pizza place with the six quid bottle of red. Don’t you remember?’

‘Yes, you’re right, we did. Ah, happy days, eh?’ he says, without a trace of bitterness.

‘Well, we didn’t keep up the pace for long, did we?’ You add, keen not to let this trip down memory lane get too rosy.

No chance. Charlie chips in, ‘Till the last few weeks when you seemed to be on an absolute mission,’

‘Ah yes. That. I did want to skip the Friday night in with a DVD and go to the pub a bit more often. I must have known we were doomed.’

Charlie can hear the smile in your voice, and teases you. ‘You wanted to go the pub to get drunk and argue with me. No wonder we were doomed.’

You sigh, amused. ‘Let’s not go through this again.’

‘No, you’re right, let’s not. I’ve been trying to block it out. But I still bear the scar where you stabbed me with a cocktail stirrer that night…’

‘The argument about Adidas? I was right though, wasn’t I? Adi and his brother Das!’

‘The violence was uncalled for. But yes, you were right. You’re always right.’

It’s nice chatting to Charlie like this, and half an hour goes by as you settle into the sofa and chuckle at the light banter. Meanwhile Alice has grabbed a highlighter and is furiously illuminating the class schedule. Looks like you’ve got a busy week ahead. Charlie is hectic at work, but suggests a drink next weekend.

‘Umm...’ For a moment you are unsure. Does he mean just you? Or the whole gang?

‘Listen Sarah, just because I was fool enough to call it a day, we don’t have to stop binge-drinking together, do we?’

‘No, we don’t,’ you concede. ‘Hey, maybe we should grab a smoothie, or a cup of tea, or something healthy somewhere.’

‘Alright, if you insist. You’ve changed, my girl.’

‘Come on, it’ll be lovely. Two old friends just enjoying a nice cup of tea, chewing the fat. You can admit I was always right, and I’ll treat you to a flapjack.’

‘Whatever you say Sarah. Tea, flapjack, friendship, whatever. It’s not exactly setting my world on fire but I’ll take what I can get.’

For your first class of ‘New York Street Jazz with Luis’, you decide to go for a Hollywood off-duty look, with an artfully ripped, beach-faded t-shirt and your yoga pants. You pull a face at Alice’s leotard and legwarmers look – literally, just a leotard and legwarmers – wondering if she’s gone too far.

‘It’s a bit Kids from Fame, isn’t it?’ you suggest, gently.

‘What are you talking about? It’s New York Street Jazz – those kids lived and dreamed the streets of New York. Here’s where we start paying, Sarah, with sweat!’

‘5, 6, 7, 8!’ you cry, hitting her with a high five.

Alice took your advice, and toned down her outfit with the addition of some shorts, though she tuts at being made to ‘take all the booty out of my look’.

When see the other class members, it’s clear that Alice could have got away with the Fame look. You feel positively overdressed. You and Alice are surrounded by attractive, thin people with cool hair, stretching, doing arty little moves in front of the mirror, and drinking water from serious looking sports bottles. Perfectly toned arses abound in leggings, leotards, and hot pants. You look at Alice and swap nervous smiles.

Your sense of inadequacy deepens as the class begins. Luis is a sadist, firing moves you’ve never heard of at you in an incomprehensively fast sequence. Line dancing it is not. His Brazilian accent makes it harder to understand, but as you look around you realise that even if you understood what he was asking you to do, you could never replicate the leaps and shimmies the rest of the class are performing.

At your side, Alice is struggling too. She scowls, wipes the sweat from her brow, and says, ‘Let’s go.’

So your dream of dancing like Beyonce died minutes after you entered the dance studio. You and Alice head home, open a bottle of red, and switch the telly on. Who needs to go dancing when there’s so much good rubbish on TV these days?

Sebastian, the cheesy banker from the party, is clearly a believer in the Tuesday rule. You know, never call the girl you met on Saturday night before Tuesday: Sunday’s too soon to call, Monday’s a bad day for everyone. He had called while you were struggling to strut your stuff.

‘Hi, yah, Saraaah,’ he booms. ‘Great to meet you Saturday. Wondered if you, ahm, fancied a drink sometime?’

With the air of a man driving his Benz to the golf course, he left you his vital digits. You don’t have to think twice about it. You are so not going for a drink with this cheeseball. The polite response would be a phone call, but you’re a woman broken by dance, you don’t have the strength. A text isn’t ideal but it’s better than ignoring him, which some women would do. So you compose a quick brush-off text and feel quite pleased with yourself.

Poor Sebastian. He was putting it out there and you dismissed him with a text. You never know, he could have been a lot of fun. Some of your best mates do boring corporate jobs and have the demeanour that stinks of it – but years spent round pub tables, watching rubbish on TV and sharing takeout with them, you know differently. Still, you’re not prepared to give this guy the benefit of the doubt.

You’re probably right about Sebastian. He’s certainly no Charlie. An image of Charlie, being all funny and handsome and kind, wafts across your mind. Alice, in search of a hair band, emerges from the bathroom and interrupts your reverie.

Over a cup of tea you tell her about Sebastian. She giggles at your impression of him, and approves of your text. You agree he was a prize chump and not worth pursuing.

But when you say, ‘He’s certainly no Charlie,’ she pounces.

‘I knew you were thinking of getting back with him!’

‘I’m not, I’m really not!’

 

Aren’t you? This is your final choice now...

 

If you are thinking of getting back with Charlie, go to Chapter Seven II to face the consequences

If you are planning to explore single life a little longer go to Chapter Seven XVIII to face the consequences