Login   Sign Up 


Mixed singles

by shandypockets 

Posted: 01 October 2005
Word Count: 1228
Summary: It's not my party, but I'll cry if I want to.
Related Works: The gland that time forgot • 

Font Size

Printable Version
Print Double spaced

Just when I’d resigned myself to spending the next couple of decades catching up on my TV viewing, my friend Diane called with an invitation to a party. I readily accepted, even though she suddenly got cagey when I pressed her for details of who would be there, how much free alcohol there might be, if I should bother having a shave, etc.

“I’d better explain…it’s a singles party.”

My immediate reaction was, of course, I’d rather be throttled to death with my own small intestine, but vague curiosity and a stunning lack of alternative plans saw me swallowing my ego, along with several large vodka tonics, and showing up.

It was to be held at the flat of one of Diane’s friends, but we met in a nearby pub for some last minute Dutch courage. Diane explained that most of the people attending were from an internet dating website that she’d been loitering on for several months without any noticeable success. I wondered about the wisdom of meeting people in the flesh that you hadn’t even fancied online, where they could easily lie about their height, dental hygiene and former membership of Hitler Youth.

We arrived, and were greeted at the door by the organiser. Cath was what my Grandma would have called “no stranger to the dessert trolley”, but she was apparently worth her weight in, well, money, as her enormous flat made my own look like the hovel it coincidentally was. In a flagrant display of disposable income, she had even hired a little cockney serving girl to take coats, pour drinks, be mistaken for a guest, and so forth. The waitress had already been approached by about three of the less aspirational males by the time we got there, and Cath warned me off trying to fraternise with her.

I disobeyed these orders almost immediately on an early search for ice. The girl, who looked like a street urchin that Cath had just found on the street and commandeered to carry around canapés, came into the kitchen with some bottles of wine, wondering which were red and which were white. I told her that it was probably best to keep the darker bottles out of the fridge. “I just don’t know my wine,” she protested, though apparently abstract concepts of primary colour differentiation looked as though they were a bit of a strain, too.

About 25 people had arrived and it took me just as many seconds to form inappropriate snap judgements and rule every single one of them out of my long term future. It didn’t take much with me – a slightly annoying laugh or badly chosen watch and that was pretty much it. You’d think I was in any way attractive myself and fending people off with a pointy stick, but my selection criteria are simply a cruel twist of nature that I’ve learned to live with. Admittedly, there was one really cute girl, though you’d apparently had to camp outside her the night before in order to get a turn at being rejected, so I resigned myself to taking my chances with the remainder, Diane having quickly abandoned me to flirt with a hairy accountant.

I perched nonchalantly on the arm of the sofa, only knocking a few twiglets onto the girl sat there, who turned out to be so posh that she was completely bewildered by anything not said in an accent associated with minor aristocrats.

Even though it’s my least favourite question in the world, I asked her what she did for a living.

She frowned and said “I live in Chelsea.”

“Nice work if you can get it,” I offered.

Her face contorted, searching for something, anything that could connect our two universes, and in the silence that followed, empires rose and fell, and several species of fish evolved into tree-habiting mammals.

I was about to repeat the question, just to see if she’d misheard me the first time, when the serving urchin lurched past with a tray of prawns in her hand and a lit cigarette in her mouth, creating a sufficient diversion for me to spend some quality time in the kitchen with some gin.

I was annoyingly disturbed by two Irish guys who, by the end of a five second conversation had marked me out as someone not operating in a professional capacity of any kind in the financial services industry. They suggested that a career in investment banking could be the answer to my problems. I didn’t remember telling them I HAD any problems, though it was probably just physically apparent by that point. Then began a lengthy discussion which involved them telling me what was wrong with every female they’d ever been out with. At one point, one of them was trying to convince me that the boundaries of what could be considered ‘unfaithful’ behaviour were “actually pretty tenuous”, and that given the right context, even receiving oral sex could be considered not much more than enthusiastic flirting.

The smoking servant appeared in my peripheral vision with two packets of frozen pizza squares and a quizzical look on her face, so I hastily excused myself and ducked back into the fray. I thought my luck had changed as the inaccessible cute girl brushed past and started to make smalltalk, but sadly she was quickly grabbed by a pasty looking software engineer who to be fair HAD been waiting in line, and he seemingly had an uncontrollable urge to explain his job to her in microscopic detail.

I concentrated on looking vaguely lost for a while, until the hostess noticed that she’d better try and occupy me before I tried to ask the waitress out or gnawed off one of my own limbs in frustration, and told me to find some music. The hi-fi was so expensive as to be indecipherable. I jabbed a few random buttons, and handily found a radio station playing early Nirvana. This didn’t go down as well as you might have thought, even though disaffected nihilism seemed like a fairly appropriate anthemic choice for the evening. The hostess grabbed back the remote, and I spent the rest of the evening feeling jaded and experimenting with various substitutes for tonic.

As the singles filtered away, I remember thinking that the long journey home was not an attractive prospect and promising to wash all the glasses in exchange for a night on hostess’ sofa, only breaking about two of them before she stopped me. She helpfully pointed me in the direction of the last tube, Diane having long gone off with the accountant, whose personality obviously compensated for the disturbing amount of body hair that was visible even without him disrobing.

I think the moral of the story is: Never ever agree to ever go to any parties ever. As an unnecessary reinforcement to this theory, I spent the journey back wedged between two elderly gents who were in an even worse state than I was, and who definitely didn’t work as financial services professionals, let alone reside in Chelsea for a living. As one fell asleep dribbling on my shoulder and the other started an aggressive verbal fight with his bottle of cider, I could only focus on the poster opposite.


Favourite this work Favourite This Author

Comments by other Members

sahelsteve at 22:02 on 01 October 2005  Report this post
apologies in advance for such a brief comment - i liked the gossipy tone of this very much, and most of the gags really work well - particularly enjoyed the residing-in-Chelsea-for-a-living thing, the empires-rose-and-fell silence and the small-intestine-throttling. it's a good piece; good luck with it.


Richard Brown at 22:16 on 04 October 2005  Report this post

Great fun - a rattling good read! There's a wonderful underlying 'will boy meet girl?' suspense and, as Steve commented, some very funny moments. I too found the 'living in Chelsea' career tale very amusing.

Just a couple of suggestions. I found the 'etc' at the end of the first paragraph a bit weak (it generally seems to me to be so in literary works). Given your great talent for quirkiness I would have thought that a catalogue (teeth flossing, spot squeezing, deoderant applying or similar) might have set the 'going out on the pull' scene even more precisely.

The other comment concerns the use of the word 'girl' in relation to the 'servant'. Maybe I'm being too preciously PC but it jarred a bit, especially when she turns out to be not the brightest. Would it be too corny to use 'wench' or some such word which would be seen to be more evidently, and clearly deliberately, pushing the limits?


To post comments you need to become a member. If you are already a member, please log in .