Admittedly, it didn’t start well…
Last week my lesbian friend F calls me up: “fancy coming speedating with me on Monday?” she asks. I am perplexed.
“I’m not sure we fish in the same pond…”
“Oh, don’t worry,” says F, I’m done with women. I want a man. And I don’t want another artist with a huge ego and no money, so let’s go speedating in Mayfair. Lots of rich and lonely city bankers there. There’s a “single night” at the D. Club next monday.”
Her logic is so surreal I think, what the hell, I have nothing to do on Monday – except watching the new series of “American next top model”… (Before my feminist friends start screaming: I watch it only for its comical value. Moreover, I used Tyra Bank’s posing techniques at a casting last week and I landed on a 2000 pounds commercial. So shut up).
Really, it’s true that sitting at a table for an hour while 20 men parade in front me trying to chat me up for 3 minutes is no ideal way to find the love of my life… But it sounded fun, and I had no real reason to say no to F. What’s the worst that can happen to a woman on a speedating night? I thought. Having her self esteem destroyed on finding out none of the male attendees fancies her? Being an unknown actress I have my self esteem destroyed on a regular basis, so no big deal.
“Besides, it’s a truth universally aknowledeged that most men aren’t that subtle when it comes to picking up women, so somebody will tick our name,” adds F.
In case you’re a speedating virgin, or one of those types with boyfriends, girlfriends, partners, husbands, wives and children, surfing through modern life convinced finding a soulmate is easy (what do you know? The last time you were single the Duran Duran were the hippest kids on the block), preaching that the world is full of single people! go out, join a class, be open... (yes, sure, YOU try!) INSOMMA, if you’re a stranger to the contemporary dating world, let me explain the rules of this particular game:
A bar or restaurant. Lots of little tables which only sit two. One table for each woman, an empty chair in front of her. Everybody has a badge with a number and their name on, plus a card with a list of numbers (belonging to the members of the opposite sex) followed by boxes:
interested for romance – interested as a friend – not interested.
Then a geek who pretends to be cool arrives with a bell and asks the guys to sit at one of the tables and start chatting to the woman who occupies it. Every 3 minutes the geek rings the bell and the guys swap to move to the next table and chat with another woman until all the men have met all the women. When the process finally comes to an end most of the women run away in dispair while most of the men hang out and get drunk. This unless you’re lucky enough to fancy somebody.
I’ll divide the men I met in 4 groups:
1) Balding, overweight, slightly sweaty. They are succesful at their jobs because dealing with numbers and abstract financial therories is so much easier than dealing with people, which terrifies them. To fight nervousness they’ve had a few drinks beforehand and they tell you so. Typical conversation:
– Hi… I’m Ralph (or Paul, or Robert, or Alvin)
– Nice to meet you Ralph. I’m Lara, how are you?
– All right, all right
– How’s it going for you? Have you done speedating before?
– No, no… It’s quite nervewracking… I’m used to talking business but when it comes to women… I’ve had a couple of drinks to cheer myself up, you know, ah ah, ah ah
– (yes I know, you’re purple, your breath smells and you laugh like a sheep)
2) Superconfident, in designer suits, they didn’t drink beforehand but possibly snorted coke at home. They shake your hand so firmly you loose two fingers in the process, then they stare at you in the eye as if they had a past as serial killers and knock you off with a river of words
– Hey lovely, already bored? Waiting for somebody to impress you, ah? I bet you have already decided this is a waste of time, women are always so impossible, what is it exactly you want? You should all come with instructions
– Er… actually…
– I see you have a foreign name, where are you from? No, let me guess, Spanish? I’ve been to Spain last month for work, that was after I came back from Paris, or was it New York? I’m not sure, but you foreigners are always so classy and sexy, ah? I travel a lot for work, I feel constantly jet lagged, so basically it’s not even worth trying to go to bed, of course you Spanish people know a thing or two about staying out until late, which part of Spain are you from?
– I’m not Spanish
– Really? Oh, right, and what is it that you do? Let me guess… You’re a teacher
– I’m an actress
– An actress? Am I supposed to know you?
– Not really.
– But I mean, is that a job? Like, what do you do all day? How do you pay your bills?
– Uh, nice meeting you, bye!
3) Depressed. Crumpled suit. They probably just lost a million in shares.
– Hello, I’m Lara?
– Oh, well, all right, all right… What do you do, Lara?
– I’m an actress
– Oh, you must have such an exciting life! I’m a finance analyst
– Not really. My life is boring. I used to have dreams, I wanted to be a musician…
– Which instrument did you play?
– Oh, I never played anything. It was just a dream. Now it’s just work work. Numbers. Money.
– I see. Can I buy you some Prozac later?
4) The ones who are there by mistake. Dressed in ASDA’s jeans and a fleece. Beer belly
– Hiya, how’s life treating you tonight?
– Fine, fine. How about you?
– It’s been brilliant, loads of fit women here, ah ah. And place’s posh, innit? What’s your name, love?
– Lara, my name’s Marcus. You have abit of an accent, don’t ya? Where you from?
– My dad’s from Cyprus. Never been to Italy though, it’s a shame. I go to France a lot though, for work
– What do you do?
– I’m a truck driver. Listen, do you need to do this ticking business? Cant we just swap numbers? I’d like to see you sometime
– Ah, well, I think it’s against the rules… Sorry!!
By the end of the evening I was truly depressed, and not because nobody had ticked my name (7 people did, including the depressed one and the truck driver. 6 People said interested for friendship. There were 20 men there in total.) But because if this is the “real” world, if these are the men with the “real” jobs, I’d rather retire into my broken universe…
You see, the guys at the D. club were rich and succesful, if you measure success with money and social respect. With the exception of the truck driver – who was definetly the most fun, however ugly – they were City men, bankers, managers, finance wizards, corporate lawyers with bonuses 7 times their wages. They drove Mercedes, owned houses in Kensigton, travelled by taxi… Pity in most cases the bigger their bank account the smaller their worlds in terms of creativity, fantasy and open mindness.
And the look in their face when they realised I don’t have a “regular” job!!! That I dont go out for drinks with my colleagues on Friday night, I dont fight with my boss to get a leave and go on holiday. They were lost. And I swear I wasn’t playing “the actress”, I wasn’t trying to impress them with my bohemian lifestyle. They just assumed we had nothing to talk about as if no comunication was possible with somebody so different from them. I was shocked. They couldn’t label me, they couldn’t categorize me, place me, fit me in a box. And this threw them completely. The shy and depressed ones looked at me as if I was a sort of mythical creature living in a world of art with not one trouble in her life. The arrogant ones pitied me because in their opinion I was a looser. They all stared at me as if I was an alien just landed from Mars. And in a way I was. I do live in a different galaxy.
The saddest thing of all was that ,overall, their passion for life was the size of an undernourished ant.
True, in MY world men are just actors whose wallet is the size of an undernourished ant and whose creative world is so huge it usually smashes you into a million pieces. It drives you crazy and you want to stop it to kill them and their oversized ego. I’m used to men who travel by night buses carrying a second hand paperback of Shakespeare’s sonnets (even if just to impress, the equivalent of a fancy sport car you’d never drive). Men who have written at least one novel and one play and are never available in the evening because they’re are rehearsing a profitshare show in a pub theatre while working in telemarketing during the day. Men who say their dreams are “architectural structures”. Men who get on my nerves because they’re unreliable, lost, and convinced their talent will be enough to allow them to go through life without ever paying back their credit cards debts…
Oh, God, do I really want to go out with another actor?
So what’s the solution? I can already hear you, you people with wives, husbands, boyfriends, partners, children and long term relationships: “You went to wrong place, from one extreme to the other, you need a professional – maybe a doctor, an engineer or somebody in the media world – but with an open mind and lots of interests, who can appreciate you and what you do, but at the same time be reliable and well sorted, so that you can build a future together…”
Sure. And do you think these men grow on trees? That I can order them by post? Do you REALLY think that if the world was full of all these phantomatic perfect single guys, we – who, unlike you, are constantly looking out for them, proactively searching for them everywhere – wouldn’t have spotted them by now?
Honestly, you drive me crazy. Not to mention those of you who say (and I’ve heard it more the once): Maybe if you found a job… You know, in a TV production company, or as a secretary… Those places are full of men…
Listen up you fools. I HAVE A JOB! I’ve been working for 19 years without ever being in debts, which in the arts world is almost a record! I’m not going to give up on my career and what I love in order to get an office job with the sole goal of possibly meeting a MAN!!! This is stupid! What I do IS a job. The fact that I like it doesn’t make it less demanding. The fact that I dont have a regular income and I struggle sometimes doesn’t mean I’m ready to give it up.
I’m not after a man who can pay my bills, thank you very much. I’m after love. Now… how pathetic is that?
And stop trying to bring to mind the name of that colleague of yours, so nice, so sweet, so single, what was he called?Accept the facts. You were lucky! We’re on our own and it’s bloody tough. The good men, once we’ve past 35, are mostly taken. I’m not saying there can’t be a couple of “survivors” out there, but to find them is very difficult. Live with it. We do. We have to.
Uh, I feel lighter now. Have a good weekend everyone