Monday, January 08, 2007

Age Discrimination

Apologies that it has taken me so long to write this. I would love to say that it is because I have been so busy since Christmas, but the God’s honest truth is I have just been far too lazy.

And this isn’t the story of New Year. New Year makes for a dull story – a tale of people not turning up, of heavy drinking, no phone reception, meeting random parents and hiccupping. No, this is the story of something that happened just before New Year. This is the story of a near miss. As far as Beverage is concerned, it is a missed opportunity. As far as I am concerned, it was a lucky escape. However what is clear is that last night we ran the real risk (or opportunity, depending on your perspective) of copping off with two women who had the combined age of around 80.

Now I will be honest here. I don’t like discrimination – I think it is a blight on the face of the human race. The age discrimination laws do have some validity. However, when it comes to personal relationships – even casual shags – I maintain some standards. I have to be vaguely attracted to the person, even when I am absolutely wasted. And, yes, one of the key factors is age. Ideally, I am interested in people who are similar in age to me (27, if you are interested). Say, five years difference either way. You can call me vain, you can call me shallow – fine. You are probably right, and I dare say I am missing out on a whole world of older women, but so be it. That is the way I am, and I am completely at peace with this. Beverage, however, does not see things in the same way. It is one of those differences of opinion that make us such unlikely, but also such strong, friends.

The evening started in the early afternoon. Beverage had just returned from Wales, and I was nursing a crippling hangover (the previous evening I had been out with friends from work from about 2pm to about 10:45pm – an incredibly drunken evening that included someone falling off their chair, the worst pub toilets in the world [ever] and the repeated phrase “will you write my book for me” followed by the repeated reply of “no”). We were joined by a variety of different friends throughout the afternoon, including a friend of ours call J who opened by calling me a cunt – something to do with getting his girlfriend really drunk. Now, I had no idea that H was in, as J put it, “such a state” – probably because I was in such a state too. But the beer wasn’t too flat and the banter was good – a nice relaxed afternoon that included the phrase “where the fuck did you get that shirt from?” and “how can you be downsizing your house when you are buying another house with the same number of fucking rooms?”

Then Beverage and I decided to move into another pub. Just for a bit of variety. On the way Beverage bumped into a girl he knows (the way I could tell this was because he bear-hugged this girl and lifted her into the air). We had a beer with her and after her departure to go dancing we resumed our normal conversational topics. Such as how great we are, how we like getting drunk, and how funny and clever we are when drunk. Nothing like a deluded drunken conversation to fill an evening in the pub.

I don’t remember when it happened, but at some point there was this tall blonde stood behind us. She was trying to get to the bar, so we let her through. And Beverage being Beverage, he could not help himself. He had to flirt with her. He will literally flirt with any woman. Any woman at all. As long as they are not fat.

Anyway, the woman got her drinks and wandered off. And we went on with our high-brow intellectual conversation about how drunk we were going to get on New Year’s Eve and how bad we would feel on New Year’s Day. And then I noticed it. The woman was back. And she had brought her friend with her.

The first woman turned out to be a married mother of two, whose first language was Finnish or Norwegian or some other Scandinavian dialect. She was on her first night out without her husband in a long time, and it turned out that she had the house to herself that evening as well. Her friend was very much English – in fact, if I was trying to place her within the UK, I would go with “Essex Chav”. Her friend was about 40, divorced with children. And was also on her first night out in ages. It became very clear very early on that these women were looking to get laid. Nothing wrong with that, I hear you say. No – just as long as it does not involve me. Unfortunately, there flirting was like a red rag to a bull for Beverage, so before I knew it he was chatting avidly to the Essex Chav. Leaving me with the Norwegian.

The conversation was not scintillating. Partly my fault, I will concede, because I really, really, really did not want to talk to the woman. She protested, saying I was being rude and ignoring her. She was 100% right, but the chivalrous part of me (oh, it is in me somewhere, believe it or not) did not allow me to admit this. Instead I blamed my taciturn and irritable conversational style on my crippling hangover. I looked to Beverage for support but he was lost in conversation with the Essex Chav. I realised I was trapped, desperately trying to avoid being chatted up by a Scandinavian married mum. Things looked bleak. Very bleak indeed.

And then I had a wave of genius. I texted my friend A, asking her to help me, begging her to save me from the attentions of this mad Scandinavian. And she obliged, asking me to join her whilst she smoked a cigarette ‘round the corner. And for at least five blissful minutes I was free – able to have a witty and intellectual with someone who was not a good 13 years older than me*. But the cigarette break/excuse ended, and I had to go back and face my Scandinavian nemesis.

Things had hotted up in the brief time I had managed to escape for. Beverage was doing very well with this Essex Chav woman, and the Scandinavian seemed to be very happy to see me. So happy, in fact that she started kissing my face randomly (no mean feat as she was half a foot taller than me). And from somewhere we had acquired a balding, tubby middle-aged man in a shell suit, who was whispering in my ear that “someone’s getting some tonight.” I wanted to reply “yes, but not me” but I now realised that I had descended into some sort of drunken, middle-aged nightmare that no amount of quipping could get me out of. So, to avoid being molested by a mum, I decided it was time for us to go and pick up Beverage’s bag from the first pub.

When it became clear that we were leaving the women wanted to follow us when they had finished their drinks. Like a fool (or someone who wanted them to follow us, depending on your viewpoint) Beverage told them where we were going, so I had to muddy the waters by naming another pub that we might go to. And then, wonderfully, we were free.

Of course, I had to spend the rest of the evening commiserating with Beverage about the fact that he was not going home with the Essex Chav. I pointed out that she was really old, and was a mother, and was divorced, and had a massive belly. But there was no consoling him, and instead I had to counsel him against returning to the pub for a second pop at the ladies in question. Mainly through using the time-honoured phrase “if you go back then you are on your fucking own.”

I am sure there is a moral to this story. I just don’t have a clue what it is.

*Well, I say witty and intellectual conversation – I probably just gibbered at A in a drunken and incoherent manner. But I stand by my second point – at least she is a similar age to me.