Facing fears

29 Nov

Single women are often riddled with fears. Some of them chronic and difficult to address:

Some of them are less serious and cause only mild discomfort:

  • Do I really have to sit at a singles’ table at a wedding?
  • Do I have to arrive at an event alone?
  • Do I have to defend my singledom again to a narrow-minded person?
  • What will I do on New Year’s Eve to distract myself from having no one to kiss at midnight?

And some of the trivial ones I have are totally ridiculous:

  • How will I eat at all the restaurants I want to while I’m single?
  • Will I be able to lift heavy grocery bags if I’m old and alone?
  • How will I avoid attending events I don’t want to if I don’t have the excuse, “Sorry, my partner has a work/family function that night”?
  • Will I perpetually find myself seated on the corner of the table because I create an odd number of diners?

But sometimes, we have no choice but to take a deep breath and blunder forth into the dark, preferably clucking a wing-girl’s hand for support.

There are two things I fear which I’d managed to avoid for years, wearing skinny jeans and going to Ivy. So far, they’d both been easy enough to side step. Skinny jeans were never looked at let alone tried on, and I don’t have friends who have any interest in going to Ivy, so a night there was never in question. Unfortunately, circumstances forced me to face these two fears.

Circumstance 1: Upcoming trip to New York

I’m off to New York at the end of December, which I am supremely excited about. My List of Crucial Things To Do in NY isn’t actually a list, it’s a notebook. And then there’s my List of Chores To Do Pre-NY, which I wrote a few months ago. On the bottom of said list was the item: Purchase skinny jeans to wear with boots. I’d written it last to avoid it as long as possible. But I knew I had to accept that, other than hiring a ski suit, skinny jeans tucked into boots would be the best way to survive the cold. Just to be sure there wasn’t an alternative, I asked the sales assistant if there was such a thing as jeans that aren’t skinny from the waist to the knee, and then are skinny from the knee down (a reserve-flair if you will) but alas, such a jean doesn’t exist.

With the help of the lovely sales assistant and a wing-girl, I got myself through the experience with the consolation that I can by some long t-shirts to stop me feeling naked.

Circumstance 2: Men love IvymanMap meet poison Ivy

One of my survey questions is: What’s your favourite pub/club/bar is Sydney? When I was surveying in the inner west, only a few men named Ivy. Unfortunately that isn’t the case in the CBD. Many men love Ivy. I am researching places men love. Ergo, I must go to Ivy.

The thought of entering one of the most notorious pick-up palaces in Sydney by myself overwhelmed me with fear. Luckily I was saved by a wing-girl’s friend, who’d won a voucher for Ivy’s Mad Cow restaurant. Knowing I’d have the support of friends, I realised it was time to climb that long staircase off George St.

Numbed by drinks I’d had with some publishing peeps beforehand, I arrived at about 9pm. And what I have to say is this: at Ivy, men are EVERYWHERE. Post-work guys in their 20s and 30s fill the many areas of this enormous venue. With attractive, well-dressed guys in the mood for fun, it’s like the races without hats and horses.

But you must be warned: this is not a venue for the faint-hearted. I have never felt so assessed in my life. As I hunted for Mad Cow, wishing security handed out maps upon entry, men looked me up and down as I passed. The circular staircase in the centre seemed designed so guys could survey me from every angle to deem if I was worthy. And although this assessment didn’t feel malicious, it felt like I should expect it, like I was the product of a MasterChef Pressure Test. I would be placed on a table, examined in detail and then judged by a panel who’d score me out of ten.

By the time we left, the crowd had coagulated with the arrival of girls in pretty dresses.

“Are we the only ones wearing jeans?” Wing-Girl 1 asked.

“Yep,” said Wing-Girl 2. “All the out-of-towner girls have frocked up for the night.”

So this is my advice to the steely ladies who aren’t afraid of Ivy’s male-scrutiny. Arrive well before 10pm on a Friday night, when the cover charge kicks in, music converts the space from bar to club and swarms of girls in their 20s arrive. You might end up meeting some decent guys who work nearby. If not, you and your friends will have fun laughing at the judges while they consider the next dish.

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