As a shy, somewhat introverted anxiety case, alcohol has been my friend in social situations. Moving to a country of 360 million where you know .. let me see…?…um.. no-one, means every occasion, every party, every interaction involved 100% strangers. Cue panic attack. Now add in the desire to be alluring to the opposite sex in a ‘interview’ type situation. Well, its no wonder that I was looking for a way to lessen the horror. Everyone knows that a glass of wine or two can reduce inhibitions, but I discovered that alcohol actually has some positive super powers when used by an anxious Brit on a first date.
1. It enables you to cut through the bullshit really fast.
Mark was a plastic surgeon who was recently divorced and fresh meat on Match.com. While he was a little short for my tastes, he was cute, had crazy dimples and he really liked The National. Plus a doctor.. my mother would be so proud and maybe free Botox could be part of the deal? We met for drinks and it became apparent really fast that while Mark was accomplished professionally, he sure hadn’t spent much time learning how to behave on a date. After 30 minutes I don’t think he’d paused for breath and he certainly hadn’t asked me anything about myself. He talked about his day, his surgery, his new residents and his ex wife’s curtain fetish. The longer he went on talking, the more nervous I got, and as I tried to look engaged, tried in vain to understand what breast flap reconstruction was and tried to think of ways I could contribute to the conversation, the more I drank. Three vodka tonics later I decided that while Mark looked pretty and he was clearly accomplished, he was kind of a bore… so I told him. Out loud.
‘You know. You’re really boring”
It had the desired effect. He did stop talking. Bolstered by my apparent success (alcohol) and superior conversation skills (alcohol), I decided that honesty was going to be the best policy with Mark.
‘You haven’t asked me anything about myself and I’m wearing a new dress which I spent a LOT of money on and while you’re cute you’re REALLY boring.’
His mouth hung open and he looked completely confused. I doubt he got much of that as the chief reconstructive breast surgeon in Denver.
‘And I’ve got really nice boobs and you haven’t looked at them once’. I was slurring by now but I figured he hadn’t walked away and as he was now – as instructed- looking at my breasts, I could potentially have a chance to resuscitate this boring date. (I do have nice boobs).
‘Soooooooooo. Do you want to make out?’
I’ll give him this, he did laugh, he did pay the check and he did get me home in one piece.
We dated for a month until I realized that no amount of free Botox was worth a drinking problem.
2. It gives you superhuman strength
Greg was an architect with a head of curls, big brown eyes and a shit eating grin He also weighed 110lbs soaking wet. But hey, I like them skinny and he had good hands.
I’d spent a chilly afternoon at his house with friends, carving pumpkins and prepping for a Halloween night out where I’d felt the frisson of attraction. He kept touching my arm, pushing my hair out of my eyes and the compliments were flying. Finally my friend Sarah pulled me aside and asked ‘aren’t you into him? He’s flirting like MAD and you’re not giving anything back’. After a quick primer on American flirting (play with your hair, lean in close to talk, try not to swear so much, play up the accent), we headed out to a bar to start the night. I’m not good with men who find me attractive, especially if they’re cute. It tends to render me mute and I replace sentences with jazz hands. Great if you’re into mime, bizarre if some guy is trying to hit on you. I decided to knock back a shot or two to relax.
30 minutes later I was spinning poor Greg around the dance floor like ‘Stars on Ice’ to the classic ‘You Spin Me Round (like a Record)’. I think at one point his feet left the ground and my big finale twirl spun him off the dance floor and into the DJ. I guess I didn’t know the power that two shots of tequila can bring to your moves. Needless to say, I never heard from him again.
3. It makes you very decisive
The first think I noticed about TJ was his string of beads. And his blindingly white teeth that just sang ‘LA’. The first words out of his mouth ‘ So I just got done with my therapist…’ confirmed that a) this wasn’t going to be a love match and b) this was going to be painful. I looked at my glass hoping that he’d take notice and offer up a refill but no, he just jumped right into his summary of the previous hour/week/lifetime of therapy.
‘So she said that my relationship with my mother was an extension of….’
I felt like Charlie Brown and the teacher ‘ wah wah wah wah’. This was our first date. The first minutes of our first date and you’re talking about your relationship with your mother? And what your therapist thinks about said relationship? Way too much information for a stalwart Brit. 15 minutes in and he still hadn’t paused for breath or a drink..and he was deep into an explanation of how his mothers lack of affection during puberty had ruined physical blah blah blah. I couldn’t even fake interest so I excused myself to return to the bar for a refill. I ordered a shot and checked over my shoulder at TJ who was was busy studying his beads. What was in our future? Celery juice and sweat lodges? Tantric yoga and long evenings “sharing”? I had already heard too much about his relationship with his mother for my comfort, where would conversation go next? Yikes.
Grabbing my purse I walked out the door. Rude? Yes. Necessary? Totally. Decisive. Yay for alcohol.
Of course alcohol also makes you sloppy, slurry, really can mess up your make up and does have a tendency to inform some very bad decisions. No-one ever thought ‘you know.. I’m going to have a couple of drinks then make a BETTER decision’.
But that’s for another day.