Lucy is fucking fed up.
She’s now spent four cunting years swiping her way through the men of London, with absolutely zero success. Lucy has no bastard clue how some people can join dating apps, go on just one or two dates, and find a partner – but whatever their secret, it ain’t working for her.
If she’s ever going to have sex again, she needs to find another way.
What about joining a Meetup group?
She searches online, but there are just too many to choose from. Should she go walking? Join a writing community? Practise her French? Drag out her rusty Art skills? Learn to fucking knit like the sad lonely old lady she’s destined to become? Might as well get in early eh?
There are groups for all of these activities and more – but how does she know if they’ll be any good? And more importantly, how can she tell if there will be any single men there? (Spoiler alert: there won’t be.)
Lucy’s been to Meetups before. She’s done Spanish conversation, hiking, photography and two different types of dancing. But while interesting, these groups have always had the same fatal flaw as everything else Lucy ever does: no attractive single men. Not one.
What about sporting activities?
Lucy could try Parkrun, Tag Rugby, British Military Fitness, or learn to play tennis. There’s bound to be men at those, right?
But no bloke is ever going to fall for Lucy once he sees her cackhandedly fumble a rugby ball or lie on the ground weakly after managing just a handful of press-ups. Meaning they’ll have marched briskly off in the opposite direction long before she gets a chance to demonstrate her other ball skills.
So what about dating events?
Lucy’s been Speed Dating before and found it more painful than stubbing your bare toe on a chainsaw. But there is one company whose events don’t sound quite so excruciating. Smudged Lipstick do dating with a twist, events where you get to soften the awkwardness with activities like wine tasting or Jenga or video games or dirty Scrabble. They sound far less terrible than regular Speed Dating, so maybe they will attract a less terrible clientele?
But when Lucy goes to their website she hits a snag. Literally every single night is sold out for girls. A fucktonne of tickets available for boys, but if you’re a woman looking for love, well, the disappointment you’re already used to will stand you in good stead.
What the actual cunting fuck is wrong with men? Lucy rages. Do they not realise? How fucking stupid are they anyway? Here is an army of single women, outgoing, interested, looking for a man; being bold, getting out and about, taking chances. So where are all the bastard men? Sat at home on the sofa scratching their balls? Out with their cunt mates getting wasted? Having a cry-wank in front of porn and wondering why no women will shag them? Too busy sending photos of their dicks to ladies on dating apps? Don’t they fucking realise there’s a literal army of amazing women willing to pay good money in the hope of meeting them? So where the actual fuck are they?
All these fantastic, interesting women looking for love, and men are either too driven by their dicks to care, or too fucking useless to notice. It’s a fucking travesty.
The Smudged Lipstick website allows her to put her name on the waiting list in case someone else cancels, so without much hope of ever getting a ticket, that’s what she does. And about an hour later, much to her surprise, she gets an email. Two spaces have become available for Connect 4 Speed Dating, that very evening. Fuck.
Lucy doesn’t have plans, but she’s working from home, hasn’t showered or dressed, and the event starts in just two hours. In a mild panic, she messages a couple of single girlfriends to see if they might want to take the other ticket for moral support. One replies swiftly saying she’s busy. The other doesn’t reply at all. Fucking fuck.
What should she do? The clock is ticking. It’ll take her about 45 minutes to get there. If she’s going to go, she’ll need to jump in the shower, like, ten minutes ago.
Lucy’s usual approach to decision-making is that she will always say yes to something if she can’t think of a valid reason not to, and not being dressed or having anyone to go with doesn’t qualify as a valid reason. Not at all. Fuck it. She buys the ticket.
Anyway, she thinks as she plunges into the shower, maybe this is one of those defining moments people tell overly-romanticised stories about. Maybe this is fate finally stepping in. The story she’ll tell the non-existent grandkids: “I nearly didn’t go, but then I thought ‘fuck it’, and that’s how I met your grandfather. Can you believe it?!”
In a record-breaking 50 minutes, she showers, washes her hair, blow-dries it, puts a full-face of make-up on, and dresses in her cute black shirt dress with blue and green stars on it, heeled ankle boots, and scarlet lipstick. She feels pretty. This had better be fucking worth it.
She arrives at the Northcote pub in Clapham bang on the dot of 7 pm. As a West Londoner Lucy rarely travels to this part of town, and has never been to this pub before. It looks welcoming and is very busy, though Lucy can’t see any obvious sign of a speed-dating event. Where the fuck is everyone?
Alone in the bar, she’s not sure what to do, so decides to go to the loo to check that her appearance hasn’t become too bedraggled on the journey over. As she follows the signs upstairs to the Ladies’, she passes the open door of a function room where she spots two guys arranging Connect 4 sets on a row of tables. Aha! This must be it… except where are all the participants?
Somewhat embarrassed at apparently being the first to arrive, she sidles awkwardly into the room. “Um… hello? Is this Speed Dating?”
The shorter of the two guys steps forward to greet her. “Yes! Hello! I’m Jordi.”
“Lucy.” They shake hands. “Where is everybody?”
“We’re just setting up,” says Jordi. “It doesn’t start till 7.30.”
Well why the fuck did the website say seven then? Am I literally the only person in this world who can be relied upon to bloody show up on time?
“Ok cool,” she replies with a smile. “I’ll just go get a drink.”
Back downstairs, Lucy orders a glass of wine and perches on a bar stool. She scans the room, trying to work out who else might be there for the event. Some of the men are quite attractive, but Lucy knows better than to hope that those guys are there for Speed Dating. Her luck simply isn’t that good.
She sips her drink, trying to look approachable. A woman alone at a bar wearing a short skirt and red lipstick: surely someone should come and chat her up? Isn’t that how these things are supposed to work? But no one does, so eventually she gives up and gets her phone out. FML.
After half an hour of idly scrolling the internet, Jordi comes to get her. Everyone’s arrived, and they’re ready to start.
Reading the room
Upstairs a small group has gathered. Ten girls and ten guys, standing or sitting awkwardly separate, girls on one side, guys on the other, like at a shitty school disco. Lucy looks at the guys. At least three quarters of them are shorter than her, most of them look a fair bit younger, and not a single one catches her eye. Fuck’s sake.
Jordi explains how the event will work. Just like regular Speed Dating, each girl gets a table. The guys move round the room. Each ‘date’ lasts six minutes, during which you can play Connect 4 or simply chat. Everyone gets a scorecard on which to mark if they fancied the person, liked them as a friend, or aren’t remotely interested.
“But it’s best not to get too competitive about the game,” warns Jordi. “It’s not a good look.”
Lucy laughs. As if! Who’d get competitive over a stupid game of Connect 4?!
Connecting… or Not
Lucy arms herself with another large glass of wine, and the dating starts. Her first date is Gerard, who is French, small, skinny, and nerdy-looking. Lucy doesn’t fancy him in the slightest, but he’s gregarious and chatty, so the six minutes pass quickly. They play several rounds of the game, and Lucy wins them all. She remembers Jordi’s warning and tries not to show her delight too much. She marks Gerard on her card as a no.
Next up is Dominic, who is also a couple of inches shorter than Lucy. He has pale skin, over-gelled hair styled into spikes like the ‘edgy’ one from a 1990s boy band, and is wearing a sturdy gold chain round his neck. He tells Lucy he’s into cycling, and it turns out he lives near her, so he suggest they might go for a bike ride some day. He seems nice, so Lucy notes him down as a possible friend.
Lucy gleefully wins all the rounds of Connect 4. She wonders if she should be letting the guys have more success. Will their fragile male egos be threatened?
Dates three and four are both memorable in their unmemorability. Both Asian, one works in finance, the other in IT. Neither has much to say. Conversation falters and they just play the game, which it turns out is a bloody ace way to ease the bowel-loosening awkwardness when you’ve run out of small talk. Lucy offers up a silent fist bump to whoever came up with the idea of adding the distraction of a game to the excruciating horror of Speed Dating.
The only other white British guy in the room is her fifth date, Tom, who is bald and has a strong West Country accent. They talk about accents for a while, but Lucy can only do one – her own – so they soon drift back into the same safe topics: where they live, what they do for work, what they do in their spare time. Lucy’s getting bored and begins losing, but she no longer cares.
Dates six and seven are both Italian: Giorgio and Rafaele. They work together in something to do with software, and are bubbling over with stereotypical Italian joie de vivre (or whatever the Italian version of that is). Lucy likes them both, but doesn’t really fancy either of them, since, like just about every other guy in the room, they are both shorter than her. But they’re nice, and perhaps they have some hot, taller, Italian mates?
Of the two, she prefers the second one, but when she goes to mark him down as a possible friend, there’s a problem: she can’t remember which is which. Was the second one Giorgio? Or Rafaele? She hazards a guess and ticks Giorgio’s box.
Date eight is so unmemorable that Lucy doesn’t even write his name down.
Her ninth date is the guy who was setting up the event with Jordi when she first arrived. Lucy’s confused. Doesn’t he work for the company? Why is he now on a date with her? She has a sneaking suspicion that perhaps Jordi couldn’t get enough men to book, so he roped in his colleague to stand in. This guy’s probably not even fucking single.
When she challenges him, he explains that although yes, he’s Jordi’s mate, he’s definitely single and looking for a date. So that’s OK then. His name is Sri, and although she doesn’t fancy him physically, he’s funny and charismatic – so much so that they barely play any Connect 4. Lucy marks him down as a maybe.
Last up is Jamal, who is roughly the same height as Lucy and extremely handsome, with smooth brown skin and chocolately eyes with impossibly long lashes. He tells Lucy he used to be a professional dancer before moving into software development, and Lucy tries not to be too obvious about checking out his toned physique. She immediately rules him out as being way too hot and too young to ever be interested in her, until he reveals he’s actually 36. I mean, that doesn’t solve the hotness issue, but being four year’s younger is OK, right?
They hit it off so well that they don’t play Connect 4 at all, and instead just chatter away like two good friends (or at least, good friends where one of them might be up for the other doing rude things to her) until the bell rings to tell them the game is over. But since that was the last round there’s no need to move on, so they remain seated and carry on chatting for another ten minutes, until eventually Jamal gets up to go to the loo.
But now Lucy’s faced with a dilemma. Does she sit here waiting for him to come back, as she would if they were on a real date, or should she get up and join the rest of the group who are now mingling at the bar? If she waits, would that look too keen? What if the loo thing was just an excuse to run away and he never comes back?
She decides it’s not worth the risk, and joins the others. If Jamal wants to get to know her better, he can come over.
But when he comes back a few minutes later he simply grabs his coat and leaves without saying goodbye.
Well then, Fuck You, Jamal!
There isn’t really anyone Lucy’s interested in talking to, so she decides to go home. But before she does, she hands in her dance card: a wildly unlikely and optimistic ‘maybe more’ for Jamal, and ‘friends only’ for Dominic, Giorgio and Sri.
Next day she gets an email with her matches. And it turns out her spontaneous speed dating experience has been about as successful as Sony’s attempts to make minidiscs a thing.
She matches as friends with Dominic, the cyclist and Giorgio the Italian, which would be nice if it weren’t for the fact that she got the wrong one! The one she meant to match with was actually Rafaele. Awkward!
What’s worse, when Giorgio emails her, she notices that his address contains his name and the number 90. Could that be his year of birth? He’s 11 years younger that her? Completely stuck for an appropriate response that would let him down gently, Lucy shamefacedly decides to pretend the email went into her junk folder, and doesn’t reply.
And what about lovely Jamal? Well after all that lovely chat, he doesn’t even match with her as a friend. What the fuck?
FML, she thinks. Back to square one for the bajillionth time. She’s been here so many times she’s worn a hole 53 metres deep in the floor.
But still, aside from the lack of decent matches, Lucy decides she’s glad she went. At least she can say she tried, she had a laugh, and actually neither the event, nor the other participants, were anywhere near as terrible as she thought they would be. She might even be tempted to go again sometime. After all, you only need to be lucky once right?