Flirt-free fraternising

11 Oct

We all know our complex modern lives have impacted on the ‘evolution’ of dating. Even though many people have the resources and ability to socialise, our demanding schedules have resulted in a massive industry based on Introductions for Executives and Speed-dating for University Graduates. Technology has provided us with internet dating so we can meet people online when it suits us. We can log on while checking emails, bidding on eBay and catching up on headlines. We’re so struck down with RBS that everything must provide the maximum result in the minimum timeframe. So really, the event which opened my weekend on Friday evening shouldn’t have surprised me. But it did.

It was just after 6pm and I was waiting to cross College Street near St Mary’s Cathedral. The plan for the evening was a good round of surveying, followed by take-away and quality couch-time.

A man on the opposite side ducked across the road while the pedestrian lights were still red. I probably glanced at him (no doubt wondering if he had a death-wish running across four lanes in peak hour) but there was definitely no lingering gaze. He circled around me when he reached the curb and said,

“Can I ask you something?”

“Sure,” I replied, thinking he needed directions.

“Are you in the mood?”

I think the look on my face made my “No I’m not” redundant. I turned away from him to look at the traffic lights, which were turning orange, signalling my escape was about four seconds away.

“Oh ok, no problem darling.”

Um…do I know you? Firstly, you don’t get to call me darling. Secondly, you’re damn right it’s not a problem.

The pedestrian lights turned green and I stepped off the curb onto the road. As I hurried away, he called after me, “I like your hair.” I think I mumbled a thank you, wondering why he hadn’t chosen to open with a compliment. It wouldn’t have changed the outcome but somehow it would’ve made more sense.

I crossed through Hyde Park completely confused. The beautiful beds of red and pink flowers seemed a waste. Had Sydney become so removed from romance that even the pretence of it was extinct?

Just so you completely understand the scene, here are some things you should know:

  •  The man in the starring role was no Johnny Depp/Colin Firth/Hugh Jackman. He was also considerably older than me.
  • He didn’t appear deranged. He wasn’t attractive but at a glance he seemed like a normal person.
  •  I wasn’t dressed like I was on the prowl. I was still wearing sensible work clothes, including a jacket and a scarf. In fact, when I’m out surveying I tend to be more conservative than when I’m socialising, because I consider it work and my clothes reflect that.
  •  I was in no way exhibiting any of the signs I wrote about last week, including the infamous palm-flashing.

So why did this guy think he had a shot? And if this was a regular strategy of his, what was his success rate? I know I don’t look like the kind of girl who’s open to flirt-free fraternising. If we’d been in a bar and there’d been a few glances, a smile, a bit of banter, I could understand. But there was no context to his question. To ask me outside a Catholic cathedral, surrounded by other people (including children) and in daylight, seemed like an unusualmanMap wonders if romance is dead choice.

I reached Ryan’s Bar wondering if this was a sign of things to come. Was romance dead? Had our lives become so perfunctory that it no longer had a place? Was this a new standard procedure I wasn’t aware of?

The outdoor bar was thick with men. Usually my heart skips with nerves before I start surveying but it was too preoccupied with its romantic future. I plunged into the body of suits and approached two friendly looking men. They were nice guys: normal, helpful, single. They didn’t ask me if I was in the mood. They were the first of many great single guys I met that night.

I left a few hours later, weary from being on my feet for so long but relieved. In the course of conversation, a few guys had mentioned they like to feel chivalrous, to embrace the rituals of romance. In that concrete quadrangle packed with men, there was hope. As I headed home, I looked forward to a late dinner, my pjs and a taste of romance in the future. And just to be certain nothing spoilt that hope, I walked home via a different route.

I’d love to know if this has happened to anyone else out there (men too!). Is this something that goes on that I just didn’t know about? Clearly there’s a market for straight Grindr after all!

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7 Responses to “Flirt-free fraternising”

  1. Rister October 12, 2010 at 8:43 am #

    Firstly, your writing is just amazing!!

    Now, I had mixed emotions reading that. I went from a repulsed smirk to a giggle!

    I can’t really say that especially in that context I have experienced the same.

    I have had experience with the much older man seeking me out on occassion. I have never said older man were repulsive either but as someone who retains a ‘youthful’ look I get creeped out by the ‘grandad’ types who look at me like they want to pinch my cheeks and sit on their lap.

    I then think men my age aren’t interested in me because I don’t look old or mature enough. Please note there is no ‘tooting’ of my own horn here either – its a pain.

    I would have likely reacted the same way and I love your stay safe actions of walking home a different way.

    I really have no other words – so weird! ha ha

    • Lucie Stevens October 12, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

      Oh Rister I can just imagine some grand-dad type patting his thigh hoping you’ll take a seat! Reminds me of “Uncle Geoffrey” from Bridget Jones…ew….

      Maybe we need to wear badges saying, “Despite appearances, I’m in my 30s!”

  2. MK October 12, 2010 at 9:48 am #

    So why did this guy think he had a shot?

    Because confidence is a must have in the world. How many times do you see couples where you think “he/she is batting above average” or “how did THEY score someone like THAT?” If it doesn’t come down to looks, then it’s money humour or confidence.

    Take it as a compliment. He didn’t know how much you earn or how funny you are. He liked the look of you enough to ask a bold question hoping that you had some time and were so inclined. It takes a fair amount of courage and confidence to pull something like that off and if the situation was reversed I’d be walking home with a smile on my face feeling good about myself.

    • Lucie Stevens October 12, 2010 at 9:10 pm #

      Maybe MK, or maybe he was just heading to William St for one of the ladies and was hoping to save himself 50 bucks!
      I suppose I just don’t like to think that I look like someone whose doesn’t deserve at least some kind of effort, or at least an exchange of first names…

      • Another dodgy guy October 12, 2010 at 11:33 pm #

        50 bucks, I wish I could get a lady on William Street for that much.

  3. Lucie Stevens October 13, 2010 at 9:18 pm #

    Sorry Mr Dodgy…I’m not really up on the current rate…

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] kind human being. He was also single. But he said something very disturbing (and no it wasn’t, “Are you in the mood?”). He told me he never speaks to women he doesn’t […]

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