Before I go to bed, I like to unwind and switch my brain off from work or socialising by either watching a TV show or playing an online game.
At the moment, my favourite is Reversi. I play it on a site where there’s a chat feature, and it generally annoys me when people try to get me to talk, as I want to concentrate and play, not make small talk with strangers. However, very occasionally an interesting conversation will occur, and I am, of course, all in favour of interesting conversations.
Last night, I was beating my opponent for the third time in a row with more ease than is usual for me, when suddenly he said “where are you from?”. “Ireland”, I replied. “Oh”, came the response, and I expected the follow-up to be “I’m from…”. It was not. “I’m… well, drunk, actually.” he said instead.
This amused me, so I responded with a smiley and we got talking. He was very nice, and a traveller too, at that moment playing Reversi from his hotel room in Hungary, where he’d gone to speak at a conference. I very much enjoyed our conversation, until he made the mistake of lapsing into the flirting that most guys in those game rooms usually launch straight into. I find this incredibly off-putting. Still, as it wasn’t “wat r ur measurmnts? wat u wearin?” straight from the start, and since he was somewhat tipsy, I let it slide and brushed off his more flirtatious remarks as best I could – mainly because I was thinking that he was the sort of person I could get on with quite well, and that maybe we could continue to have friendly conversations in the future. Silly me!
I informed him that no, I did not have MSN, and that while I did have Skype, I preferred to only use it to talk to people I know. He left it for a while, and we continued the enjoyable conversation. Then, all of a sudden, came the “would you say you’re pretty?”. Sigh. “Erm, no, not particularly.” I gave up on the potential new friend idea and just went on playing. “Now, hang on”, says he. “You write well, you have a good sense of humour, and you seem clever. All you need is a nice smile, and I think we can safely say you’re pretty. Do you have a nice smile?”
I had to laugh in spite of myself. Drunk and predictable he may have been, but he was smooth. “I’ve been told that I do”, I replied. He sent me a smiley. Our conversation continued on the topics of literature, travel, and languages. He insisted that I must give him my email address when we finished our games, because he would like to continue to talk. What a nice guy. My faith in men mankind restored, I looked forward to getting to know my new friend via long, interesting emails. (I much prefer this to IM-style conversations – I am, after all, a girl who wrote 20-page letters to penpals every few days as a teenager.)
“Are you slim?” he said suddenly, apropos of nothing. My illusion of a friendly, sincere, non-sleazy non-creep vanished. “Not that it matters”, he added. Huh. “No, I wouldn’t describe myself as slim…” I told him, “and if it didn’t matter, I doubt that you’d ask!”. There was a pause. “OK, it does matter”, he said. I glared venomously at the screen. “You need someone to be slim before you’ll have them as a friend?!” I asked incredulously.
I kid you not, his response was to suddenly speed up his moves in the game we were in the middle of, and say “last game for me!” as if we’d exchanged no other words. I left before he could at the end of the game, utterly disgusted – mainly because I’d gotten my hopes up that here, for once, was a nice guy who wanted to be friends rather than pick up brainless tarts. Is everyone so shallow? Do no men actually want to form meaningful friendships based on shared interests and good conversation? Is everyone out there just trying to get laid? And if so, is “slim” always going to be more important than anything else? My experience thus far has given me no evidence to the contrary.
I have no desire to enter into a romantic relationship any time soon, believe me. But I do think it’s ridiculous that my odds of even forming new friendships with anyone of the opposite sex are very… well, slim, because they won’t even get to know me if I can’t provide proof that I’m no larger than size 10 and therefore a possible future notch on a bedpost. Why would they assume I want them in that way? Is friendship on its own not a desirable thing any more? Are men only friends with women if they think they’re a future “possibility”? Is there any other reason why men, either online or in a social venue, wouldn’t approach a woman unless she was slim and attractive? After all, why should it matter if they just want to make friends?
This is starting to read like a Sex and the City voiceover, so I’ll stop.
So many questions, though.
And a very loud “Gah”.