How not to get burned by holiday romances

I’m not sure what the name for them is, but I love those magazines that deal in true stories. You know the ones: really badly designed, more stupid than a block of wood, and filled with puzzles, baking recipes and real-life stories of bizarre things that happened to yakkety English women with no sense of privacy.

Yeah, they’re great.

Around this time of year they always feature at least one story about a “holiday romance”. Naturally, these have gone grievously wrong in some way.

“Turkish stud bedded me – and took all my money.” “Sizzling senor told me he loved me – but was only after one thing.” “I thought our romance would last forever – then I realised he was a dead crab half-stuck inside a coke bottle, and not a person as I had mistakenly believed.”

This sort of thing is generally accompanied by a terrible photo of a woman still suffering the lingering effects of both emotional anguish and the kind of sunburn that was actually made illegal in 1970, when they discovered that roasting yourself with gamma rays from a giant ball of fire in the sky could be potentially harmful to health.

However, much as I may snark and sneer, there is some truth to what these hysterical scaremongerers say. Holiday romances don’t always end well.

Let me give you an example: me. I once had a summer romance. (Technically it wasn’t “on holidays”, because we were all poor back then so nobody ever went on holidays. But it was during “the” holidays, so it counts, within the spirit, if not the letter, of the law.)

How did it all go? As Milhouse said on The Simpsons, “We started out like Romeo and Juliet…but it ended up in tragedy.”

If that fiasco had been in a true-story magazine, they would’ve had a bad photo of me, more sunburned than a red-head on the hot side of Venus, looking forlorn and depressed, possibly holding up a different but equally bad photo of me and her “in happier times”. Underneath there’d be a caption: “I thought it was forever – it didn’t even last as long as Frank and Roo’s fling in Home & Away.” (Ask your parents.)

I got burned, and burned bad. In both senses of the word. So to prevent that happening to any of all-a-y’all, here are my Top Tips for Holiday Romance:

  1. Don’t drink too much while on holidays. Alcohol makes us do very foolish things when it comes to sex and love, e.g. have the first or fall into the second with someone totally unsuitable.
  2. Golden rule: if you seem to have more than ten fingers or toes, you’ve drunk too much.
  3. He who looks like Johnny Depp through the reality-warping lens of your beer goggles, will look like Johnny Rotten in the cold, harsh light of the dawn.
  4. Never believe it when a charming waiter tells you he’ll follow you to the ends of the earth if only you’ll allow him the singular honour and privilege of gaining access to your undergarments and the palace of heavenly delights which dwells therein. He won’t.
  5. Ask him to write you some poetry, though. That guy’s got a way with words.
  6. Golden rule number 2: if you’ve slept with more people than you have euros in the bank by the third day, you’re probably being a bit indiscriminate. Get picky, guys!
  7. Yeah, oral counts.
  8. Don’t offer too much personal information to your holiday paramour, e.g. your email address, birth certificate, bank account number and sort code, PIN for all your cards, log-in details for online shopping etc. Not that he’ll steal any of it, but a little mystery’s always good in a relationship.
  9. If you catch your new man offering to sell you to his uncle for some camels, run away very quickly.
  10. Actually, hop onto one of those camels. Four legs are quicker than two.
  11. Golden Rule number 3: if you think you’ve just met the life of your life during a foam party at Costa del Scumball, you almost certainly haven’t.
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