It was the worst singles night in the history of mankind. I should know.
Listen, I will put up with pretty much anything in the name of trying to meet that elusive soulmate/Mr Right-now/someone who gets part of my name right and does not have really bad breath. I have, as recounted here, been to a night where I had to sniff smelly t-shirts potentially worn by my future beloved. On other occasions I have put up with milling around random bars whilst rather sinister ladies called Matchmakers forced me to talk to verbose men about football. That was called an anti-dating night, as it did not involve any speed dating. And for me, it was true, no dating happened. At all. I have even attempted to climb out a toilet window after turning up on a blind date, to find out my date was hogging the only doorway, which was almost as wide as he was. He may or may not have resembled his photo, in the way that that a small lamb resembles a five-tonne Bullock. With horns.
I am not afraid: to admit that I am single online; to date blindly; or to speed date. Hell, I’ve even been on holiday with all singles. There’s no way I am in denial. And my standards are so low, I don’t think even Usain Bolt could limbo under them.
But this singles night, it was a step too far.
It all seemed so innocent. Ping pong. Yes, a dating night based on playing your paramour at table tennis. What could possibly go awry? As you gazed across the pleasant green meadow of reinforced plastic, your future bride/groom would tap a little white orb of loveliness in your general direction. You would laugh coquettishly and then wave this dove of joy back, to wing its way into their heart.
The night was called ‘Balls to Dating’. A typical recent trend in singles nights is not only that they seem to have increasingly bizarre themes, but also to pretend they have nothing to do with dating, being single, or anything so embarrassing. But this night did, oh God, if only the flashbacks would stop.
I managed to persuade a friend to escort me to this doomed soirée. Only thing was, she wasn’t single, so I erm, had to pretend we were just going for an extra-sporty night out. I casually mentioned the singles side when we were almost there (a slightly dingy bar-entrance in Holborn), it was too late . . . and it all got so much worse.
As we approached the bar, and received our hand stamps, they should have just fixed a millstone to our necks and branded us lepers. We descended to the sweaty basement, to discover about 300 people crammed into a not-very-big space. We had just entered a scene from a bad high school movie. It didn’t help that the organisers, in the pursuit of cash, had clearly got the balance wrong, and there were roughly twice as many women as men (and they were hot women, very hot). Instead of joyfully embracing this, and doing little dances of delight, or pluming their feathers in joy, herds of males were clustered, petrified, plastering themselves around the walls and hunched at the bar, darting angry glances and carefully side-stepping any female contact.
It didn’t help that the organisers had decided to organise table tennis tournaments which did not involve couples competing, or even matching people together, but instead were highly individualistic competitions to knock each other out. In desperation we both decided to get horribly drunk and try to beat everyone at ping pong. We hit several men in some rather sensitive places (by accident, I stress). Though to be honest I got shoved out of the way by some other overly-competitive boys who seemed less keen on dating and more keen on trying to kill me. With a bat. This was not what I was expecting.
Clusters of feral women had taken to bunching in corners, behind protective protruding surfaces, and throwing ping pong balls at random mates from afar. Others were simply beached on benches. At one stage a small Italian took to stalking us around the room until we had to physically restrain him. At least he was making an effort.
As my friend pointed out the whole business of being single gets so much worse when you are all fenced off together and forced to dance to the rhythm, of the date-makers’ music. Which was way too loud. We are not all defined by being single – the fact we have not yet hooked up with the love of our lives is not something that somehow unites us or makes us the same bunch of losers.
Number of drinks bought for us: nil. Number of drinks we bought anyone: nil. We would have stood more chance of meeting a couple of guys if we had picked a pub, any random pub, and just gone out for a drink. At one stage I did manage to win us free drinks through a bit of pretty shit-hot dancing (what can I say? I rock).
Singles nights aren’t too bad, right? This was just a one- off right? It’ll all be ok, yeah?
No. It won’t. Don’t do it. I have conclusively decided that they are the devil’s work. If I ever think about going to another one just stop me and give me a good dressing down. Do anything else – proposition people on the tube, get drunk and go clubbing, talk to people in the street. Go on! Anything but this. We are not singles. We are human beings. Punch the air now and say it with me. For the sake of man(and woman) kind.