Strangers In The Night
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Two Fridays ago I was enjoying a drink on a rooftop City bar with my friend Mary. She’s the type of girl who, even if she had turned up having not showered for three days and sporting facial stubble, men would still probably find irresistible.
There we were, perched at the bar and deep in debate over the future of The X Factor, when two men sauntered over. We’d seen this before – all girls have. Bloke #1, ‘Friendly Fella’ we’ll call him, seemed genuinely interested in chatting one of us up and, unsurprisingly, veered toward glossy, model-esque Mary. Bloke #2, clearly dragged along for the ride had ‘Reluctant Wingman’ written all over him.
Friendly Fella kicked things off: ‘Excuse me, er, sorry to bother you but do you know what time this place closes?’ We smiled and gestured to the ‘ROOFTOP SHUTS AT 1AM’ sign flashing above the bar.
‘Ah, 1am, cool. Hey, do you know where’s good to go around here after 1am?’
Friendly Fella seemed cute. We suggest some local spots, he then launched into an anecdote about last night’s ‘wild’ antics. ‘It’s probably not a good idea to go too crazy tonight considering how much I had to drink last night, if you know what I mean! Ha.’ We knew what he meant.
He then cracked a joke (something about two Scottish men at a bar, but told with an American accent. I can’t remember the details, but we found it hilarious) and the ice was firmly broken.
Up until this point, Reluctant Wingman had made no sound whatsoever, but had checked his Blackberry twice. Friendly Fella glared at him, nodded toward me then turned, beaming, to Mary and the two instantly delved into City-chat.
Reluctant Wingman said nothing. I sighed but, without wishing to spend the remainder of the evening alone, took matters into my own hands. ‘Sooo, what do you do?’ I ventured. ‘Trader,’ says Reluctant Wingman, eyeing up a blonde waitress who passed, clearly mentally rallying up how many pints Friendly Fella owes him for this.
‘Wow! That must be fun. And your accent, it’s….?’
I nod. Silence. I’d have better banter with an empty ashtray.
Mary then noticed and kindly beckons the waitress over. She’s swapped numbers with Friendly Fella, who is now whispering furiously in his mate’s ear. He looks apologetically at me, makes excuses, promises to call Mary later and the two scuttle off. We turn to the bar and go back to discussing the future of The X Factor.
Now, I understand it takes a lot of guts for nice guys to chat random women up in a bar. There’s a distinct possibility of rejection, failure and embarrassment. That’s why women rarely do it. But we always appreciate a man who does and, better yet, if he genuinely makes us laugh. Friendly Fella might have used one of the oldest icebreakers in the book, but following up with a joke, being genuinely charming and friendly and not-at-all sleazy was, most women agree, the right way to talk to women.
What let him down was his twat of a mate, who made no attempt at hiding his disinterest at being there and couldn’t even bring himself to engage in a pleasant chat. Women also recognise the importance of a wingman – we don’t expect every hot man to have an equally hot friend (although, obviously, that would be nice) – but if you’re going to rope in a partner in crime, at least rope in someone who actually wants to be there.