I have a dentist appointment in London in the late afternoon and just before leaving home I got an email from a dating site. It’s advertising their monthly singles evening in a pub in central London. I buy an off-peak train ticket to save money, deciding to kill time after the dentist at their ‘event’.
You can not imagine how far out of my comfort zone it is to walk into a setting like that, all those single people, oestrogen and testosterone in the air, booze-fuelled antics, all sorts of crazy people, knowing full-well that I never hit it off with anybody on that dating site, all the women off it who I had taken on a date were hard London women with clear agendas involving money.
I decided to push my boundaries as part of overcoming my Avoidant Personality Disorder. Having time to kill I tell myself that it’s okay to just sit quietly in a corner and observe the shenanigans. Treat it as research for my blog. Yes, research, there that feels better. I won’t strike up a conversation with a single woman. I’ll just sit and analyse the rabbits during mating season. I’ll leave at 7pm.
I get there just after the doors open at 5pm and there are three other women already there sitting chatting. I buy a cider from the bar and find my ideal spot where I can see everyone arriving and do my voyeur thing. I start thumbing my phone.
A few minutes later a voice asks if the seat opposite is free. I look up and there’s a cute little 30-something girly with light-brown hair blinking at me. She starts talking to me. We get along fine. She starts playing with her hair. I notice that she has a tongue-stud (which means cock-sucker extraordinaire). Despite sounding thoroughly English, she’s German. She has even lived in South Africa for a while and loves Cape Town. She wants kids. I’m actually not that attracted to her, good banter, but that’s all.
A fat, ugly English guy in a grey suit arrives and he buys a bottle of wine and stands at our table. I find that odd. The whole place is empty and he stands on top of us. He makes no effort to talk to us nor makes eye contact. Within 15 minutes he finishes the bottle of wine and goes back to the bar. The German girl says to me, “Did you see that?” and we laugh. I don’t want to spend the entire evening talking to her; it’s not what I came here for. So I decide to test something. I start telling her about my blog.
She asks me more probing questions about my blog, so I tell her, not really sure how she’ll react, but I’ve learned that women don’t like the idea of possibly being an entry in somebody’s public diary. I sense her withdrawing and it doesn’t take long before she says that she has to go home. I ask her her age and she tells me 33. By now other people had arrived and she could have tried her luck elsewhere in the room, but she left. I’m disappointed in myself that I might have ruined her evening.
As she’s leaving two other women come up to her and ask, “Are you leaving?” She says she is and they take the two seats opposite me. The one woman is a mixed race brunette and the other is a stunning milky-white-skinned brunette. The latter gives me the look women make when they fancy a man. I’m surprised. This isn’t what I came here for; I just want peace and quiet.
I ignore them and they start talking to each other. As they get seated the English guy returns with a bucket of ice and Moet champagne. Nobody says a word to him and he just stands there, but by now the place is nearly full so I excuse his presence. I notice the stunning brunette occasionally looking at me, smiling and then looking away. She is easily the most attractive brunette I have ever seen. She has beautiful blue eyes.
For more than two years all I have been interested in dating is blondes. It’s the default filter on all the dating sites that I’ve used. Now Life is teasing me with a beautiful brunette.
I’m intrigued. My people-watching idea becomes an afterthought. Has Fate handed me an opportunity here? Only one way to find out. How do I do this? A plan comes to mind.
The mixed-race friend is telling the stunner about her new boyfriend’s latest text message, complaining that she can’t figure out the sub-text to it. I see my chance.
“Excuse me, but if you would like some help in translation, I can help. I speak Man,” I say.
“Do you understand Australian Man?” The friend asks.
“Almost. I’m South African,” I respond.
“Oh my God! My best friend is South African!” exclaims the stunner.
From that moment on the three of us engage in good banter. I make a concerted effort to deliberately address the bulk of my interaction to the friend. I want to build anticipation in the stunner, who I am interested in, as well as not come across like any other guy by showering the prettiest girl with all the attention. She’s probably used to attention from men. I’m playing subtle. The friend leaves to go buy drinks and order food.
The Englishman to my left is making his way though his champagne and tries to strike up conversation with any woman who passes by on the way to the bar. I don’t know what he’s saying to them, but they all stop, pull a funny face, either say nothing or utter something short, then continue on their way.
Conversation with the two ladies in front progresses at a pace and the stunning brunette hangs on my every word. We swap names and she struggles with mine. She looks a bit young though. No more than 33 I surmise. It doesn’t matter to me as it’s not likely to lead to anything. This is just fact-finding of some kind, I tell myself. As we talk the stunner starts asking me all sorts of personal questions such as why did my last relationship come to an end, etc. I feel like I’m being interviewed for a job. I give the friend a bemused look and she just smiles knowingly.
I then turn the tables and start asking questions of my own, but being more indirect. I start guessing their nationalities because I detect an accent in the stunner. I start with the friend, making the stunner wait for my attention. I guess the Caribbean influence correctly but am off the mark; she’s quite a mixture. The stunner I initially think is Czech, which she instantly rebuffs, but I’m convinced of it. So I suggest Polish, to which she has an offended response. (Polish women have a bad reputation as sluts amongst the Eastern European women). Only someone from that part of the world will know that and react as she does, so my initial region is correct, but I still think she looks Czech. Then it dawns on me and I say it, “Slovak!” and her face lights up. The friend smiles.
I’ve been on dates with two Slovakian girls before and I found them delightful. Their culture is considered as stuck in the 1930s by the other Eastern European cultures (I’ve worked with many people from that part of the world.) I find that appealing, because my mother brought me up to be a 1950s gentleman. Only someone equally old-fashioned would appreciate my manners.
After a bit more of a grilling by the stunner do I realise that her and I are actually a good match in many ways. She doesn’t want kids, loves travel, has an intellectual/cultural bent, is amazingly 43 years old (the same as me)…and we fancy each other, but I’m trying hard to not let it show. I find my thoughts wondering if there is relationship potential here, after all, happiness is not a hair colour. The now-drunk Englishman lurches forward and says something to the friend. She pulls a quizzical face and moves back away from him. We resume our conversation.
I get a tap on my shoulder and turn to see the Englishman shouting at me, “You, sir, are a user!”
“Sorry, what?” I retort, shocked at the insanity of this intrusion.
“You’ve only had one drink the whole time you’ve been here. Look what I’ve bought in the same time. Don’t you know how to socialise?” he bellows at me at the top of his voice.
People around us are shocked and things go quiet.
“I don’t have to be drunk to have a good time. Now leave us alone,” I say as calmly as I can.
No, he won’t quit. He keeps ranting about how little I have spent compared to him. I realize that every women he has tried speaking to has rebuffed him. His ego can’t take it. His sense of failure compels him to assert himself somewhere, somehow and he’s seemingly chosen me because I’m close at hand. He keeps going on as loudly as possible about my ‘bad form’ and I can see that he’s not going to stop any time soon.
“Mate, what are you trying to do here? Are you trying to provoke me into going outside with you?” I say. That makes no difference and he keeps sounding off like a little baby sitting alone in the middle of a room all by itself. He keeps going on and on. You can’t reason with a drunk; my father taught me that.
In front of me is the type of guy who would have been a bully at school. Bullies only respect someone standing up to them. I’ve never been afraid of a bully, so I lean over into his face, our noses almost touching and say as menacingly as I know how, “I used to be a bodyguard in South Africa. You can’t imagine the things I can do to your corpse.” (Which I mean. Gore does not shock me; I’m desensitized to it from all the things I’ve seen in my life.)
I turn away from him and try to resume my chat with the two sweet women before me. Their faces portray absolute horror at this arsehole’s behaviour. I notice that people around us, men and women, have now scattered, anticipating a fight. This guy is big, but I’m taller, stronger and I’ve never lost a fight in my life because I’m always willing to go that one step further than the other guy. However, that’s not what I came here for. I’m not going to let matters degenerate into childish fisticuffs. I’m getting too old and wise for that shit.
He starts saying all sorts stereotypical rubbish about South Africans, being a bigot, revealing to all and sundry just why he is single. He’s making a complete arse of himself and some people are starting to laugh at him which makes him think twice.
People resume talking and his audience is thus gone, so he simmers down and finishes his last glass of champers. I’m keeping half an eye out for a glass or bottle coming my way from my left. I try to carry on as if nothing has happened, but the two women in front of me are in shock, their faces ashen. What was a pleasant evening for some is now destroyed. The stunner gets up and runs away. The drunk slob moves off too.
The friend says to me, “Jesus, that was intense. She’s gone off to have a cigarette now.”
My pumping heart slows down upon hearing that the stunner is a smoker.
This is how life fucks with me.
I think my facial expression showed what I was thinking and feeling because the friend says, “oh, she’s not a heavy smoker, only two or three a day.”
Her words don’t change my sense of disappointment. I make small talk with the friend, trying to calm her down which I succeed in doing. The stunner returns, reeking of smoke and visibly shaking. I succeed in calming her down too. I leave them to finish their food in peace and go to the bar to get myself another drink. While I’m standing in the queue, I feel a hand getting slapped down on my shoulder. I turn and its the drunk, argumentative Englishman; I’m ready to duck a punch.
“Mate, I just want to say, no hard feelings, heh?” he says with a bad slur.
He’s more drunk than I realized and he stammers so badly that I can’t make out anything he’s saying to me, but the tone is conciliatory. I discern him saying, “I’ll see you here in twenty years time,” which makes no sense to me, but I just smile, agree and make appeasing, passive overtones. He shoves a twenty Pound note in my hand and drawls, “Here, you’re a good chap. Buy yourself a drink on me,” to which I say thank you. He’s such a fucking idiot I may as well take his money. I don’t think he has much idea of what he’s doing or saying, but eventually he staggers off.
I return to the table and the ladies look pleased to see me. I guess they were checking out my body while I was standing in the queue. Until now all they could see was my torso and they had no idea how tall I was. The stunner gives me a beautiful smile and I look around the room of at least 200 people, mostly women and realize that she is the most attractive woman here. How lucky am I ?
Not so lucky.
To be continued…