I feel I must start this post with an apology for my absence these past months. The truth is that I somewhat gave up on the dating game and blog posting because nothing (honestly, nothing) of consequence happened in my love life that was worthy of documenting. However – all that has changed. I write today to tell you that I decided to determinedly put myself back Out There by attending a singles night hosted by Match.com.
Ruby, my best friend from work, received an invite to the event and took me along with her (obviously I haven’t joined Match.com myself – have you seen their monthly rates?!). I was really looking forward to going as I’ve long thought that meeting someone on a singles night would have huge benefits which other types of dating (particularly online dating) doesn’t have – such as meeting in a casual setting, knowing instantly whether you click with another person, and having the safe knowledge that everyone you’re talking to is actually single.
The event was held at a swanky bar in Shoreditch. We arrived late because the night had clashed with our manager’s leaving drinks from which we’d had to drag ourselves away. The bar was absolutely packed. We shot each other a confused glance – were all these people here for the singles night? There was no way of telling. We were basically just walking into a packed bar in the same way that you would on any weekend. We purchased our drinks and, losing our nerve somewhat while staring at all the people chatting around us, wandered to a table in an alcove to plan our strategy for the evening.
Thankfully we didn’t have to wait long to find out how the whole thing worked. A man came over and introduced himself to us and we were soon all chatting away. Unfortunately, another man had also made his way over to our table - but not to talk to us. Man number two proceeded merely to sit on the end of the table and stare at Ruby and I. And I mean really stare – predator-in-undergrowth-about-to-pounce-on-prey-type staring. After ten painful minutes of seeing him in my peripheral vision and trying to politely ignore, I could take it no longer and suggested that we stand up and mingle. Unhelpfully this didn’t lead to any actual mingling, instead our small talk with the first gentleman totally dried up (he didn’t seem to have quite grasped the art, preferring to let us ask the questions and give nothing back). We quickly made a feeble excuse and headed to the bar again.
While standing and waiting for Ruby to buy a drink I don’t think I’ve ever felt more on show in a dating setting. Perhaps it was pure paranoia, but I really felt like I was surrounded by men and women purely judging and sizing each other up, like wild animals at a watering hole. Within seconds I’d been approached by another man.
‘Hi, I’m Danny,’ he grinned manically. His clammy hand grasped mine vigorously; his whole body was shaking with nerves.
‘I’m Minnie.’ I replied smiling, trying to look friendly and put him at ease.
‘Hi,’ he said again, ‘it’d be nice to kiss everyone when you first meet them wouldn’t it? But you couldn’t really do it here, or it’d just be an orgy of kissing, ha ha ha.’ He trailed off into nervous laughter.
I was saved having to respond to this by Ruby appearing with the drinks.
‘This is Danny,’ I said, by way of introduction and diverting his attention.
‘Hello, I’m Ruby,’ she said, offering her hand, which he simultaneously shook while going straight in for a jerky, head-butting kiss on her cheek. I cringed with sympathy for Ruby. All I could think about was how to get away.
‘Can we nip to the loo?’ I said, with a pointed look in her direction.
‘I want to leave,’ were the first words out of my mouth as soon as we’d escaped to the safety of the toilets. The situation was going from bad to worse as far as I was concerned. I felt awkward about the whole thing and completely put off by Danny and the Staring Man. Where were all the handsome, normal, single men I’d envisioned? We agreed that we would finish our drinks and then make a hasty exit. With a sense of impending trepidation we took a deep breath, and went back into the bear pit.
Luckily, things brightened up from there. We met three guys who were young, friendly, and easy to talk to and we spent the rest of the evening chatting to them. They were all very nice, but meeting them highlighted another problem with singles nights – when you realise that someone is nice but not fanciable, how do you negotiate leaving them to go off and find someone else you are attracted to, without having the first person see the whole thing and be mightily offended? (Of course, they may not necessarily have been offended, but it’s an awkward thing to do when you have been chatting to someone and building up a rapport for a good half-hour).
Soon after polishing off our second glasses we left. I’ve no doubt we looked a sorry sight - a despondent twosome moping through London in the rain, lamenting the total failure of the evening. The highlight of the night? The curry we popped in to eat en route home. I’m genuinely gutted that I couldn’t have been more wrong about singles nights. I hope I never have to go to one ever again.