On The Pull by Rob Radcliffe
So I’m single again! I’ve found being single, approaching my forties is a vastly different landscape to when I was in my twenties. In my twenties, I’d just about fuck anything that moved.
‘Do you move?’
‘Yeah, yeah I do.’
‘Fancy a shag?’
‘You know, I do. I noticed you also moved and thought, well, why not.’
Hit your mid to late thirties and try that approach and you’re getting kicked out of the bar/restaurant/public toilet, it’s a minefield. To start with, I can’t just go to the pub and pull a girl. I found that out a couple of months ago when a couple of mates invited me downtown.
‘Come on Rob, there’s loads of it out there, you’ll be swimming in girls.’
Yes, this was my chance to get back out there on the scene. I used to tear it up back in my twenties before one of the tearees “decided she was pregnant” and then proved it nine months later. It would be like that all over again, that carefree, fun-loving, no strings, let’s just shag the night away awesomeness which happened so long ago it seems like it happened to another person.
I was pumped, this was going to be my re-birth, like a phoenix from the flames, I would emerge at the bar, my wingmen there beside me, so that I wouldn’t be just a bloke stood at the bar. Tonight would be my night.
It didn’t happen that way, for a few good reasons:
1. When I was tearing it about in my twenties, the girls, young women, my tearees, were also in their twenties. Now, I’m a decade older but the girls at the bar aren’t. Oh no! The ones back when I was a young pup are all married with kids, arses exploded, tits down to their navel, crow-footed messes. They too are approaching their forties, but the girls in the bar are all still twenty.
2. There is now a language divide. Slang changes with each generation and you sort of hold on to the slang you have always used. This means you find it hard to understand what the fuck these girls are saying even if you do build up the courage to chat to the twenty-year-old, supple skinned, sequin faced beauty who’s wearing a bra, not for support but for enhancement. She’s twenty, she still has age and gravity on her side, no support is needed.
Egged on by my mates, I approached one such creature at the bar. She had thrown me a smile as she’d entered the pub. With the benefit of hindsight, I now believe she was probably just suffering from wind. I’d like to say our interaction went well but she didn’t “get” when I was being funny. She just acted all insulted and stuff (good old sarcasm, it would seem the millennial snowflakes never received the memo). Then it was her turn to talk, and in between words and phrases I had no hope of understanding, she appeared pretty dull anyway.
3. The third reason why propping up the bar, when you’re newly single in your mid to late thirties, hoping to get laid, is that to them, you look fucking ancient. It doesn’t matter how you do your hair, or how much you moisturise that parched palette of eyes and noses and mouths…maybe just the one nose and mouth… it doesn’t matter. You will never look as young and vibrant as the little shit sat in the corner, cap on head, shirt done up, right to the top, wearing trackie bottoms and trainers with his hand around his balls, who seems to be a magnet for all these girls, speaking words you could never hope to understand… no matter what you do.
Plucked all those greys have you? Yeah, that was a painfully pointless exercise. The twenty-year-old isn’t even going to get close enough to you to notice. Leaving the greys and trying the Clooney look? George Clooney is a multimillionaire actor known all over the world for his good looks and cool as fuckness. He attracts women because he is George fucking Clooney. If he had a bright red Mohican, he’d still be George Clooney. You’re not. And fuck it, these girls don’t even know who George Clooney is to make the comparison. Their famous people are little shits on Instagram you’ve never even heard of. It was women of your generation who swooned for the Cloon, and now they’re at home with their exploded arses, tits down to their knees, crows feet slowly but surely taking over their faces, looking at their hubbies thinking,
’Your shit grey hair is nothing like his in Oceans Eleven. Shit husband. I stuck with you all this time in the hope you’d grow old gracefully and look at you!’ The husband turns, almost knocking over his plate of sandwiches he has resting on his beer belly, he’s got problems too, his missus’s crows feet are engulfing the leathery dehydrated palate of eyes, noses and mouths…yeah, she has two of each… he used to love to stare at all day when he was stalking her into submission. What happened there? No amount of pampering will rejuvenate you and the girls down the pub are too young to understand you’re trying to get sex out of them when you offer to buy them a drink.
True story this, back to my mates and me in the pub when I found myself “on the pull” after a decade of relationships.
Now, I must state, for the purpose of this little story, the friends who I’m out with are all in their mid-twenties. We arrived at the bar on a busy Friday night, all suited and booted or rather I was wearing jeans and a top. My “wingmen” were in an array of trackie bottoms, trainers, t-shirts… they weren’t dressed for the night. And, that’s another thing, whatever the fuck happened to having to dress up to be able to get into a pub or club on the weekend? Back when I was tearing it up, if you weren’t wearing shoes you’d be walking home to get some, the bouncers just wouldn’t let you through the gates. Nowadays… as we walked into this bar, I saw one guy wearing a bright pink cap, basketball jersey, and green tracksuit bottoms with one leg rolled up to his knee. Surrounded by girls he was. Bopping about like he owned the place, he was about eleven with a little stick-on whispy beard reserved only for kids just going through puberty and very old Asian men. So, we’re at the bar and we’re ordering drinks. The guys are already scanning the joint like horny wolves in a sheep pen… is that right? No, sorry being a horny wolf in a sheep pen would imply the wolves want to fuck the sheep. Doesn’t work like that, does it?
‘Oh God, I’m horny.’
‘Why don’t you go and fuck some chicken nuggets?’
‘What? I eat chicken nuggets?’
‘So you admit to liking them then? What’s the difference?’
‘The difference is, that is something I’ll devour when I’m hungry, not horny.’
‘Alright picky. Jeez, no wonder you never get laid.’
Okay, I’ll rephrase. The guys are already scanning the place like… horny sheep in a sheep pen—I’m sorry, this is the shittiest analogy ever. They’re looking for women alright!
I’m standing at the bar, oblivious, trying to catch the barmaid’s attention but as I will later find out, I need to be wearing a bright pink cap, basketball jersey with one of my tracksuit bottom pants rolled up to my knee, if I’m ever going to get noticed and get a drink. My mate Ste leans over and immediately gets served because he isn’t invisible, he was born in the right decade.
With drinks in hand, we head off towards a group of girls. I’m still feeling good about myself, I’m looking alright, I know I smell fucking amazing, this is going to be great. Joe bounces up to the group of girls, all shiny silver makeup, glitter on their gravity-defying tits, lip glossed up to fuck, you know the sort. He just puts an arm around one of them, whispers something in her ear and she’s all laughs and flirty. In turn, her friends turn to the other two and start chatting, and I’m stood there just behind them all, wondering why the fuck I ever agreed to come out tonight. Joe turns to me and winks… obviously not grasping the concept of what it is to be a wingman, having just barged right in there and Jedi mind tricked this girl into submission. I just stand there smiling, like a prick, drinking my drink. And then, I notice, wait, there’s one girl left. She is also stood there saying nothing, unpaired, smiling like a prick. We could be smiling buddies. This is my one. Oh, Joe you old son of a gun you. You counted, didn’t you? You knew there was four of us and four of them. You did the maths. Taking another gulp of my drink I smile at my one and say hi. She returns said smile, we’re all friends here. I then wiggle my empty pint pot and roll my eyes. Silly me, I had no one to talk to so I drank my drink really quickly. Oh, well, best go and get another. I offer to buy her a drink and she says, great, slurping at the last of a bright pink something in her glass. It’s working. This is the best night out ever!
‘Aww, aren’t you a gentleman,’ she says, escorting me back over to the bar. Turning to her we smile at each other but I can’t think of anything to say to this person who, the last time I was in this situation, would have been in primary school, and she seems happy to just wait for the drink in silence.
So I buy the drink, fucking DOUBLE pink gin and lemonade and as I turn back to order my own drink she fucks off back to the group. No ‘thanks’, no, ‘I’ll see you back up there’, nothing. And that’s the problem. I had nothing to say to this girl because we had nothing in common. I couldn’t be funny, didn’t even know where to start to try and make this girl laugh. I wasn’t privy to the Jedi mind trick tactics my mate, Joe had used. So, I remained at the bar sipping my drink realising I was now that weirdo who stands at the bar all alone, smiling at any girl who approaches, offering to buy them drinks. In the space of ten minutes I’d gone from super pumped to be out on the town once again, free and single, to what the fuck am I doing standing here? This is wank. It’s about confidence, about being in a comfortable environment. Now, I’m a pretty confident guy, I can usually make girls laugh which feeds the confidence and leads to an upward trajectory, but when you end up standing there on your own, at the end of a bar, in a decade you don’t recognise, full of fucking twats with pants rolled up to their knees and 12-year-olds with little old Chinese man beards sitting back cupping their balls, as all the gravity-defying titted children with glitter brains swoon around them, you know you need to leave.
And so I left, mentally firing my wingmen because let’s face it, they were shit wingmen. I headed off into the night, alone, realising this scene had changed and so too, had I. I went back to my own pub where everyone knew my name, back to comfort and familiarity. Then I texted my ex-girlfriend and called her a bitch. But, the problem wasn’t her, it was me. I thought I could jump back on the horse after a decade away but the horse kicked me off and told me he was there for the kids. Who was I kidding? I didn’t even have a little wispy beard and I’d been under the impression all this time that your pants were meant to be worn with both legs rolled down.
@Rob Radcliffe 2019 – reproduced by kind permission.