All the lights were on in the town. People were talking, laughing, singing, and the birds were chattering merrily in the dusky glow of the sky. I was walking towards the pub in my best pink shirt, hair slicked back and armpits freshly washed. It was a Tuesday night, and I was on a date.
Any of you who know me will realise that this isn’t a common occurrence. For those of you who don’t know me, well, sorry for shattering your illusions of the Adonis-like figure behind these infrequent internet ramblings. Anyway, for once, I was pretty happy with myself; a girl had actually agreed to go on a date with me, and who knows what might happen...
It was a shame that the cynical, bitter, and unfortunately all-too-logical bit of me that lives in the real world wouldn’t let me forget that this was a blind date, set up by a charity (not just for me, I’m not quite at that point yet); and unless the adjective was a literal description of the girl in question she probably wouldn’t be that thrilled when a pygmy sasquatch in a salmon camp shirt walked in through the door. But hey, there was always a chance that she’d be drunk already (I’d been unfortunately detained by a catastrophic gravy spillage from which I was still wincing), so some hope remained.
As I’ve said, this was a blind date, so the only thing I knew about the girl I was to see was that she was blonde and would be wearing red. I entered the pub and pretty much immediately spotted her. My cynical side chuckled to itself evilly as I realised she looked just like Clare Balding.
I decided, however, that I wasn’t that shallow, and it was only fair to go and talk to her. That beggars can’t be choosers and that my desperate overarching loneliness was slowly eroding my soul had no bearing on this decision; it was more to do with the fact that she’d bought me a pint, so it was only polite to drink it.
After about five minutes into the conversation I was wishing it was vodka I was drinking rather than just Peroni. Yes, it was awful that JLS were breaking up; no, I couldn’t remember where I was when I heard, because it wasn’t the Kennedy assassination and I’m still not sure of the difference between them and the Jonas brothers. Still, everyone’s nervous on a first date and so, again, I gave her the benefit of the doubt, and kept drinking.
We talked for about an hour, me listening to inane chatter about the new One Direction single while the slow process of inebriation rendered her more and more attractive, before she suddenly took my hand.
“Do you want to do something really naughty?” she asked me.
I weighed up my options. On the one hand, I was bored shitless and no amount of beer could stop me thinking I was co-hosting an Olympic event on the BBC; on the other, a girl had just touched my hand.
“Yes ok whatever you say please,” I seductively whispered.
“Well, there’s this party I wanted to go to, but it might not be something you’d be in to. It’s called the Vagina Party; are you up for it?”
My throat seemed to close up so that I found it quite difficult to reply, but after a couple of false starts that made her forehead furrow ever so slightly, I managed to croak out “yeah sure I’m up for that sounds great,” and without further ado we walked out of the pub to go to this Vagina Party, with me wondering what the hell it was. It had the word “vagina” in it, which could only be a good thing, especially considering I was on a dry spell that would put Death Valley to shame; and the word “party”, whilst alien and terrifying (there was a reason for the dry spell, after all), is also generally considered a good thing, especially if you’re going with a girl rather than despondently walking in alone and hoping someone, anyone, will talk to you or even cast a glance your way. And whilst I’ve mentioned before she wasn’t rivalling the Mona Lisa as an image of classic beauty, I couldn’t help but muse about what the night might bring; a party, dancing, drinking, a girl and a guy... Maybe I’d even get a hug at the end of it.
So I was actually in quite a cheery mood as I followed the girl down a dark alley to a red-painted door through which loud and bass-heavy music played.
“This is the back entrance,” she said. “No need to pay.” I’ve never been a fan of paying to go through the back entrance, so I put up no objections.
It was only as we went through the door that I wondered what she meant when she had said “It might not be something you’d be into”; surely most guys would like to go partying with a girl, especially when the party is titled after the particular anatomical area they are interested in, so why would she think I wouldn’t be up for it?
And then I looked around and it was all made clear. This wasn’t anything like I thought it would be. Not at all.
I was the only man in the place. Literally, the only man. Every single other person was a woman, ranging from my age to much, much older, all of them dancing in front of a live, loud band which was currently banging out Electric Six’ smash hit “Gay Bar”. I saw one girl whose only attire were some strategically positioned post-it notes, another with the crotch of her trousers covered in what I sincerely hope was tomato ketchup, and one who’d gone the whole hog and literally constructed a papier-mâché lady cave which fit around her torso like the world’s weirdest smoking jacket. All my previous private jokes about the girl I was with looking like Clare Balding were immediately put into perspective as I saw two girls ferociously making out against the far wall, their armpit hair glistening in the strobe lighting. I knew now why it was called the “Vagina Party”. In the dark, cramped, low-ceilinged room we had emerged into, there was not a single penis other than my own.
Dimly, through the shock, I felt a tug on my pink shirt. Clare (she shall forever be remembered as “Clare” in my head, as the hours I spent with her discussing terrible boy bands had forever wiped her real name from my mind) wanted to go and dance. I’ve always been reluctant to dance, recognising that I look like a raccoon who’s accidentally placed a paw into a fire when I attempt to do so, but have always found alcohol helps ease my fears; and given the sobering effect of realising what this party was, I felt the need for some delicious liver poison pretty keenly.
I motioned to Clare I needed a drink, and turned to the bar in the corner just as the heavily pierced barmaid drew down the metal shutter to signal it was closed. She smiled at me, and I allowed myself to be led on the dance floor, where I was immediately introduced to two of her friends, the girl with the post-it-note dress and a plumper girl wearing so much jewellery she nearly drowned out the band as she danced. I busted out a few moves, and they were drunk enough to not immediately throw me out of the room, which I took to be a good sign; they even seemed to enjoy my impression of Michael Jackson circa 2010. Despite it all, things were actually going rather well; and about to get even better, I thought, as Clare pulled my head towards hers.
When my lips met fresh air, I first thought that I’d simply missed (it’s been a long time); but no, she’d moved her face away from mine and instead was about to shout something into my ear.
“You’re so much fun!” she said. I was definitely, definitely in here. Stay focussed, Matt, don’t screw it up now...
“I’m just sad there aren’t any guys here for you!” she continued, and then danced off to look for another of her friends, leaving me with two girls I’d just met who were dancing together like they knew each other very, very well. I looked down at my salmon pink shirt, and felt like crying. Here I was, dancing, stone-cold sober, with a bunch of girls writhing all around me, mocking me with the occasional touch on my arm when I knew I had no hope in hell of going out with any single one of them.
“So not much different from all the other parties you’ve been to after all,” the little cynical voice inside me said.