My best friend and I were living together. I had finally left my long-term girlfriend at the beginning of the month. The novelty of sitting around feeling sorry for yourself wears off quickly. He had been internet dating for a few months, but without much luck. Just one oddball that he found interesting and entertaining, but distinctly not relationship material.
His preferred dating site was offering a night out to members that was a cross between a comedy night, a speed dating event and a pub quiz. Ladies would be assigned to tables where they would remain for the evening. The men would move between the tables after a few questions in a pub quiz that involved topics such as love, romance and relationships. It was a manner of getting everybody at the table talking, a la speed dating, but on a group basis. After a couple of rounds when men had changed tables a few times, proceedings would be interrupted by a stand-up comedian. After that the quiz and table swapping would resume. Nice idea right? It’s all in the execution.
My friend and I would go together, but truth be told I wasn’t that interested, I was far more interested in changing my belly-button fluff. He needed a wingman and I felt compelled to oblige given that I was staying with him and had done so at short notice. This was a big step in his world, walking in to a room full of single women. I found the thought of it slightly daunting myself. It didn’t seem too far off from walking past the cosmetics counters in a department store, staffed by those overly made-up women who glare at you if you’re a man, as if you had just groped their backsides.
I arrived early and scouted around the venue, walking through the roads and sidestreets of London that surrounded it. True to form, my mate messaged me that he was going to be late. He’s always late. I reckon he’ll be late for his own funeral. So I had little choice but to enter the venue a few minutes before the stipulated time. It was in a pub that had turned it’s main floor in to a seating area with collections of tables and chairs. There were about a dozen people present, mostly women, scattered about. The hostess at the door took my name and gave a me a table number to start off at.
I stiffened my spine, took a deep breath and walked toward the bar. I got the distinct impression that eyes were following me. I ordered a cider and looked in to the mirror behind the counter that spanned the wall. I noticed two women at different tables looking in to the back of me. Drink in hand I turned to go find my seat at table 8. The table was against a window and two relatively attractive fair-haired ladies in their late twenties or early thirties were sitting there talking to each other.
I sat down and introduced myself to them. They reciprocated and easy conversation ensued. They were friends and one of them (the less attractive one) was actively looking for a new relationship. The more attractive one, ok the one I fancied more, wasn’t looking as she had just come out of a relationship. We chatted about anything obvious and it became apparent to me that the less attractive one was very chatty with me, very forthcoming in conversation and was leaning in towards me. The one I liked the look of was leaning back in her seat with her arms crossed.
When I told them that I was there just a wingman for my best friend and wasn’t on the prowl as I had also just come out of a relationship, the whole dynamic changed in seconds. The less attractive one sat back in her seat and didn’t say a word to me the rest of the night, while the one I fancied unfolded her arms and became very chatty.
The venue was filling up quickly and eventually another youngish lady joined our table. She was petite and so softly spoken that I couldn’t hear a word she said. Then two guys in their early thirties joined our table and the whole tone of the evening took a turn for the worse. These two were so noisy, boisterous and embarrassing that I could only but keep quiet for a few minutes. The less attractive gal starting chatting to them, encouraging them almost and the noise level became unpleasant. I suspect that they had some Dutch courage in them. It became impossible to hear anything that the softly spoken little pixie said, even though she was sitting at my shoulder. A few more men and women joined our table, but I couldn’t catch their names as the two jackasses were making so much noise.
Eventually the master of ceremonies took to the stage, welcomed everybody and explained the procedure for the evening. After 3 quiz questions, all the men were to move to another table in a clockwise fashion. Ladies “teams” would remain seated and claim the answers or points for their table, the men were just helping out. Each table had to have a name. One of the jackasses suggested “Quiz on my face” and for some reason, nobody suggested anything else and table 8 became known as that.
Inane questions about all things related to love then ensued. This resulted in pandemonium at all tables. Most of the men at all the tables went in to over-drive trying to show off and it became almost impossible to hear anything. Because it was so noisy, the only way to make yourself heard was to be as loud as possible – and everybody across the room was doing this. It was a horrible experience. Is this what happens when a room full of testosterone and oestrogen meet?
I sat back in my seat, slightly disgusted with proceedings and really not enjoying myself. The attractive gal to my right leaned forward and we started chatting as best we could, ignoring everyone else. She had an easy smile, twinkling eyes and pleasant demeanour. If I was on the prowl, I would go for her. Looking around the room I could see three more women that I liked the look of. Going to their tables was going to be interesting but hopefully we could hear each other.
The comedy act took to the stage and she was Romanian with a perfect grasp of the English language with only a slight hint of an accent. While she was doing her routine, I became aware of the fact that the attractive gal to my right was repeatedly knocking me with either her left leg or left arm. I thought nothing of it and dismissed it as just her being a fidget.
It was time to move to the next table and all the men stood up. It was only then that I noticed how short the two jackasses at my table were. I’m six foot one inch tall and these two twats barely came up to my shoulder. I wondered if there behaviour was driven by Short-Man’s Complex. I now thought of them as two little yapping dogs, mouthing off in an attempt to get attention – any attention. I bade the ladies at my table farewell and moved over to my new table.
There were five women in their late twenties or early thirties at this new table. The Twats and two other oddballs caught up to me. I deliberately moved as quickly as I could wanting to have a few moments alone at the new table. I introduced myself and shook hands with each of the ladies, repeating each of their names as we shook hands and made eye-contact. One of them I liked the look of, but before any clever conversation could commence The Twats started their loud boyish behaviour. I looked at the ladies and could see that they were a little taken aback, not knowing what to say.
Three of the ladies were work colleagues, while the other two were independent. “Quite brave of a woman to come to an event like this by herself” I thought to myself. Or really desperate…or really easy…or badly wanting a baby. One of them, Helen, who had come by herself, wasn’t the best looking gal at the table (only one was), but she had bags of confidence and was quite lively. For some reason I believed her the type to take one guy home on the night and have a good time in bed with him, then kick him out asap and never see him again. I could never be with a woman like that.
Three questions were fielded and raucous pandemonium reigned almost throughout. I didn’t get much chance to talk to any of the girls and the one I liked the look of was seated furtherest away from me. Then it was time to move to a new table. Once again I moved fast because at this new table there was a very pretty blonde that I wanted to talk to. Not because I was hoping anything would come of it, but largely because I find blondes irresistible. Sad but true. After the round of quick introductions I immediately started talking to my target. It turned out that she was Czech and her English was not good at all. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. What must it feel like to be in city like London, single and not being able to speak the language? Especially London where everything moves at lightning speed, people don’t have much time for each other and there are multitudes of accents and cultures to contend with.
The room quietened down as the master of ceremonies was speaking. Except for one of The Twats (the gobbiest one) and one of the oddballs who were engrossed in a heated debate over something. Everybody near to hand was staring at them, but they were oblivious to the world, intent on their little duel of egos. The Oddball was a lanky, geeky character with a bizarre name. When introducing himself he compounded his bad initial impression by spelling his name out, emphasizing that it has a “y” and not an “i” in the middle of it. Their high-spirited exchange wasn’t going to end soon and even the MC had stopped speaking and was also looking at them. I tapped the oddball, who was to my right, on the shoulder and told him that the MC was speaking. He stopped momentarily and then resumed his heated exchange with The Twat. Only they were speaking in the room and everyone present had now turned to look at them.
I was getting annoyed by these two, so I grabbed the Oddball by the shoulder and said “Mate, shut up! You guys are disrupting the show. Everybody is looking at you.” Undaunted, he shrugged my hand off his shoulder and turned to The Twat, intent on carrying on. The Twat meanwhile had heard what I said, looked around and realized what was happening and turned away from the Oddball. Thus their argument died and the MC recommenced with proceedings.
Many people kept their gaze on these two numpties for a few seconds afterwards. I reckon most were thinking what I was thinking, which was “And that’s why those two are single.” They used their personalities as a contraceptive. This evening was becoming a drag, perhaps not just for me.
My mate then arrived, late and last, as was his style. He always claims something about making a grand entrance. I always say a lot of negative things in response. He joined his table, acknowledged me with a smile and got in to the spirit of things. I wondered what he was going to make of all this.
Three more questions and much more noise. I didn’t bother making small-talk with any of the other ladies present at my table. I was now not in the mood. I looked over to my friend and saw that he was leaning forward, a stern face, battling to make himself heard at his table too and probably struggling to hear anybody, just like everybody else.
There was a pause in proceedings and another comedian took to the stage. His routine wasn’t that funny and I suspect I detected a collective sigh of relief when he left the stage. It was time to change tables again. I made a beeline for the next table because a little cutie that I had been eyeing all night had a seat open next to her. I was trying to make the best of the evening and seeing if I could strike up a conversation with her was an appealing idea. She was just over five foot, thus short, petite frame and had long, curly, light brown hair…and big fat juicy boobs.
I got my seat next to her and didn’t waste any time in getting chatting to her because I knew the window of opportunity was short. There was a lull in proceedings, so I got more time with her than I had anticipated, which was good. We chatted amiably about all sorts of things. She was Scottish, from the Highlands and had been in London for a few years. She was very friendly, bubbly and conversation flowed easily. She was asking questions and initiating topics of conversation which gave me the impression that she was enjoying my company. The conversation took a turn for the serious when she started asking about children. I answered quickly and honestly that I had decided against it. It was as if I had hit her through the face with a fresh, wet Scottish salmon. Her whole demeanour changed and she partially turned away from me, her face visibly unhappy. I was astounded by her sudden change in attitude. I tried to continue the conversation, but she wasn’t interested, only giving curt replies and little eye contact. The evening was getting worse with each change of table. Could it get any worse?
The usual three questions were fielded amidst the predictable torrent of verbal diarrhoea and cock-fighting between the guys. Surely women were not enjoying this spectacle? Perhaps they were inwardly laughing at these jackasses, especially The Twats? I tried making small talk again with the Scottish lass but it was obviously wasted breath on my part. I couldn’t make conversation with the other women at the table as they were mesmerised by the shenanigans of The Twats. A drinks break was called and the bar was flooded within seconds. Great, already bad behaviour was now going to be compounded with alcohol.
For the lack of anything else to do (I’m not a big drinker and the bar was crowded) I turned one more time to the Scottish lass and asked if she would like a drink. “No” was her curt reply. “Rude little bitch” I thought to myself.
I was starting to look forward to the next table change. In fact, I was starting to look forward to the evening ending. I looked over at my mate at another table and could see that now he was slouched back in his seat, his hands playing with his phone, not talking to anyone and looking around the room. It seemed he wasn’t enjoying himself either.
The table change was called, I bid the ladies at my table farewell and moved over to the next table which had been obscured behind a column. There were four Chinese ladies sitting there. Only one of them spoke English. I was spotting a trend here. I was dreading the next table change. What awaited me then? Medusa, Catwoman, Miss Haversham, Cruella Deville and Sharon Stone?
Even The Twats fell silent at this table. The Oddball starting texting people on his phone. I tried to get a look at the next table. This was where the last of the three cuties that I had spied out earlier in the evening was. The optimist in me said, “Things can only get better”. I made some small talk with the Chinese girl who spoke English, largely as a way of defusing the obvious tension and discomfort in the air at this table. What the hell were they doing here? What was their game or expectations? I was too polite to ask.
The last of the three questions were fielded and the answers were scribbled down by a lady at each table and then taken to the stage where the MC sat dealing with the administration of them. It was suddenly and unexpectedly announced that the evening was ending. People were surprised, as was I, but I was also slightly relieved. I was willing to forego meeting the last cutie. What was the point? I wasn’t looking for a relationship.
The scores were totalled and the winning table was…Quiz on My Face. Back where it all began, all those hours ago, two in fact. Back where there was time for a decent exchange of banter and even an involuntary touch or two. Back where someone not looking had met someone not looking. A wingman met a winglady.
The MC invited people to partake of the bar revisit someone you “found interesting” and almost immediately unnecessarily lour music started playing. I thought for a moment about going back to table eight, a.k.a. Quiz on My Face and chatting to the very first two gals I had met. I looked over at my mate, saw the pained expression on his face and knew instantly that he wanted to go. His tilting his head towards the door confirmed it. I bade my table’s ladies farewell and made my way over to the door where my mate and I met up. We agreed that we wanted to leave. As we turned for the exit I noticed the Scottish lass walking past. We made eye-contact, I said “Good night” with a smile. She just glared at me and walked out. I was stunned by her behaviour.
Outside my mate and I walked past a table where the four Chinese women were sitting smoking. They just looked at us as we walked past. I felt a little bit bad about not going to say a few words to the two girls at table eight, but I was happy to be leaving.
My friend and I sat on the train home discussing the night’s events. We were of a like mind – that it was an unpleasant experience. Neither of us were keen to repeat it.
Before I fell asleep I thought about the behaviour of the men that night. It bordered on disgusting. Women can not find that attractive, all that verbose, loutish behaviour, chest-thumping and cock-measuring. I was so very different to all those guys that I observed. How would I be received by women? What was my marketability on the dating scene? Who could I meet?
I was very curious. There was only one way to find out.
I decided to go internet dating.
And that is how it began…all so innocently and so well-intentioned…