Monday, 19 March 2012

Speed Dating and Psychoanalysis

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is worth more than precious rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. 
Proverbs 31:10,11 

Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?
Amos 3:3 

I am taking another huge image risk here. And not just by starting a blog with bible quotes. I'd like to tell you about a double-edged sword that I walk along every day. But before I do, I also want to tell you about a very strange Thursday night.

I was on Facebook last week. I saw Bar 38 update its status saying there was a speed dating event that night. I asked if it was free. Whoever was handling social media that day replied that it indeed was cost-free.

I made a split decision to get down there. I rolled in just on time- 7pm- and met the organisers, a group of mostly law students from one of the city's universities. One of the girls explained that the event was some kind of university project, raising money for Scope, a disability charity. There was a £5 entry fee.

Discrepancy number 1.

That was no problem, of course, so I paid and waited. After all, most speed dating events cost about £15. I chatted to a few others taking part while latecomers travelled in. By 7:30pm, 5 participants had arrived. Out of an alleged 100 who had confirmed.

Discrepancy number 2.

Some more people strayed in to take part eventually, and others left after waiting longer than they wanted. I told the event organisers where I'd heard about the event. They told me they didn't know Bar 38 had a Facebook page, and weren't aware that the bar had mentioned it to anybody.

Discrepancy number 3.

Bar 38 is one of the most dynamically designed bars in Manchester. Take a look.

All of these are upstairs shots. Downstairs, there's another serving area and a dancefloor. In this space the organisers had set up two rows of chairs facing each other. The organisers managed to scrape together a few more men and women for the event. Unfortunately, this took so long that some of the people who arrived on time lost their patience and left.

Discrepancy number 4.

We took our seats- men on one side, women on the other. There were maybe fifteen of us in total.The organisers explained that we had five minutes to “date” each person. At the end of the five minutes a bell would sound and the women were to move to the next man. And so it began. There were a few fit women, but most of them had boyfriends and were only doing it for Scope.

Discrepancy number 5. Just rip my heart out in the name of charity why don't you?

The good news out of all of this is that the students managed to raise £130 for Scope.

After this, the organisers invited me to stay out for a few drinks, which was cool of them.

It was at this moment that things started going downhill. In walks Organiser Laura's Gay Best Friend, who immediately hits on me.

This is something that happens to me all the time. If I am within 2 metres of a camp gay man, he will try it on. Every time. Now, women love men with ridiculously inflated egos (despite what they tell you). So I put this theory forward to them. I got the typical “can you fit your head through the door” treatment for a few moments. (“If I angle it right, I can normally squeeze it through,” I replied.) Unfortunately for me, the gay theory is pretty solid. As I've got a lot of female friends, I do meet a lot of gays, and they do try it on. As a straight man, it's important to be somewhat cold and indifferent towards a gay admirer. If you're in the slightest bit nice to them, they try even harder. That can lead to suggestive comments and unwanted physical contact.

I explained this Laura and her friends. Her angle: as I was dressed in blue jeans and a white shirt, I'm obviously a straight man. So it's obviously just a joke, and he's not actually interested in me.

I disagreed, though, and told her that he wouldn't bother doing that if he wasn't interested. After all, would she “jokingly” come on to a guy- or even a girl- that she wasn't interested in? I also suggested Gay Best Friend should go on a night out in Oldham and try his “joke” on a few of the men there, and see how funny they found it- and what would be left of him in half an hour.

It didn't help that we'd got a minibus taxi as a group to the Gay Village on the other side of the city by this time and I was now surrounded by skinny men in tight t-shirts prancing around everywhere. Gay Best Friend was in his element. I was undoubtedly out of mine.

There was a divide growing, and growing fast. She just told me to “leave him alone”, as if I'D been giving HIM shit, and reminded me that he was her good friend. Apparently law students also double as amateur psychoanalysts, as they claimed I had some kind of insecurity. If I was insecure, I said, I wouldn't have come to the Village.

I dropped it and hoped that she- and Gay Best Friend- would too. This divide was turning into a canyon, so I edged the subject back to the event. Laura wanted to know why I'd resorted to speed dating. 
I mentioned that I'd tried speed dating before, ( see here and here) I explained that the majority of my male friends had settled down, and when they did go out they only went to Oldham. (By this time, Oldham is a post-apocalyptic hellhole in their minds.) So I was always looking for things to do to meet new people. This pushed psychoanalysis into overdrive, and I got told something I've heard a million times: going out with the intention of meeting people never works.

You should just meet people naturally,” she suggested.

She suggested meeting people in work (where everyone's taken). She asked if there was anything else I did where I could meet women. I said I do loads of gym classes, martial arts, I've done internet dating a few times and that taking up more hobbies would only stand to make me look more like a scatterbrain than I possibly already do. So basically, I was being told- in so many words- that I shouldn't have turned up to the underpublicised and underattended event that they had put on, and that I had paid to take part in.

And that brings us aptly to the “double-edged sword” I opened with. I get accused of two things all the time. One is trying too hard- being too eager to find a decent woman. The other is not trying hard enough- not stepping forward and asking for what I want when I see it. Being the black-and-white-minded person I am, I don't see how I can be guilty of both. And I regret the things I didn't do a lot more than the things I did.

I told them it had been a great night and I was going. I swapped numbers with Laura but left it there.

I'd like to throw this debate out to you. What counts as stepping forward, and what counts as trying too hard?

Oh, and while were at it, where is the line with gay people? How much “joking” should a straight man have to take from a gay man before having to be a twat with him to put him off?


James Harlington said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CageFightingBlogger said...

Thanks James. I actually find that politeness makes the situation worse- they try even harder. It's neccesary to be somewhat cold towards them sometimes, which can be hard if you're- like me- inherently nice.