It’s your typical Saturday night out and about with friends, everyone is up for a dance and a good time. Drinks are flowing, gazes are wandering, the weather is warm and everyone’s living it up before winter casts its depressive shadow over Melbourne.
But underneath this, there are unspoken motives and desires at play. These kinds of nights can sometimes unfold like stories. I have collated a bank of these and here’s one from the vault.
I was at my favourite local pub where a guest DJ was not only playing terribly obscure tracks, he remained obliviously defiant as person after person approached him, blocking out everyone’s distaste with his headphones.
Despite the rowdiness of the crowd, it was a good conversation starter. Two men began talking to me as I poured myself a glass of water at the bar. I found one guy attractive so I went with it.
“What’s up with the music?” I said.
“Yeah it’s pretty bad,” the cute one said.
“It’s a dictatorship,” I said. “He’s dancing while everyone is standing around shrugging their shoulders.”
Maybe he was doing something nice buying me a kebab and I shouldn’t complain – heck, I got a free kebab. But what’s the point?
The conversation flowed from there, our friendship groups merged, and we were all dancing (as best we could). I continued my dalliance with the cute man. There was the exchange of information about occupation, background etc. between sipping our drinks, and we were getting along, laughing and being flirty. At one point he said to me “I’ll be back, but don’t go anywhere, stay here.” That felt nice, like he didn’t want to lose me in the night, and his words had the possibility of a date after tonight.
But as the night drew to a close, he told me he was leaving with his friend and shook my hand. “It was really good to meet you,” he said. I said, “you too”, etc. etc. and waited. He didn’t ask for my number.
My friend and I also wanted to leave, so as we all walked out together he asked, “Do you feel like a kebab?”
I was sort of hungry and I thought that maybe he was too shy to ask for my number and this was his way to try again? In line at the kebab van he insisted on paying.
So we all sat down and ate our kebabs and discussed politics. But it started getting really late so my friend and I said “we’re going” and again he said “nice to meet you”. He still didn’t ask for my number.
It got me thinking about men and intentions. Maybe he was doing something nice buying me a kebab and I shouldn’t complain – heck, I got a free kebab. But what’s the point?
Was the kebab or, say, buying me a drink, an exchange for this play? If so, I’d rather not play at all.
Say this guy had no intention of seeing me beyond tonight yet he kept me around, giving him attention; attention I probably wouldn’t have given him otherwise had I know I was just a one-night amusement, was that the right thing to do? And if that was the case, was the kebab or, say, buying me a drink, an exchange for this play? If so, I’d rather not play at all.
I’ve been in situations like this before. I met another guy a few weeks prior and he too used the “I’ll be back, don’t go anywhere, stay right here” line on me and even outlined the section I was standing in. The result? I hung around with him all night, drove him home (no funny business) but he never got back to me again.
How early on, when a guy meets a girl on a night out, does he decide it’s just play? Maybe he is already seeing someone? But it’s fair to say that this kind of behaviour can sometimes make me feel like a disposable play object in the same way that a cat plays with a toy for a bit, gets bored with it, and moves on to something else.
There are women who go out to hook up for a night and men desperately seeking a relationship. But generally speaking – let’s be honest – women are more romantically inclined, and men know this. Are they afraid we’re going to nab them and lock them down when they prefer to roam free? When men go out on a Saturday night they know what women want, and they know how to play to that desire, to get what they want – a little fun and an ego boost.
It would be different if this kind of interaction is uncommon but it’s not. A girlfriend of mine recently said she never expects anything from guys she meets at a bar. But is this just an idea we plant in our minds to excuse the rubbish behaviour men dish out to women when alcohol can be conveniently used as an excuse? Or should men simply just pull up their socks and act with a bit of respect, treating us like humans not hot interchangeable chicks?
Side note: Boys, while you are at it, do you mind not sliding your arm around my waist as you walk past me when I don’t even know you? It’s my body and I didn’t give you permission to touch it.
Koraly Dimitriadis is a freelance columnist, poet, makes film and theatre and is the author of Love and F**k Poems.