Remember the simplicity of being single in your 20’s, in particular during the 90s? The weekend began on a Thursday night with a cheesy 80s night in the pub where you pooled your money on the bar and scraped together enough to get mildly tipsy in advance of payday on a Friday.
There wasn’t a make-up video in sight, no contouring or eyeshadow blending, no spray tans or ghd curls. We all had our smokey brown palette that we layered up in a vaguely smudged manner hoping it would make us look sultry and sexy in the low disco lights. In reality we probably looked more like panda bears, but who cared?
Men chatted to you at the bar, flirty comments shooting back and forth as you waited for your cocktail special of the night. Sometimes you might even find yourself the lucky recipient of said cocktail as a member of the opposite sex made an attempt to woo you before hitting the club.
Yes, it really was that simple.
Of course, there was the genius invention of the slow set. The rush off the dancefloor as the disco beats slipped into a romantic tune was legendary. Of course you shuffled around with your friends, nonchalantly eyeing up the lads in the vicinity and hoping the local weirdo didn’t make a beeline in your direction. You had to be very careful who you made eye contact with during the Lionel Richie numbers.
I fondly recall being asked to dance by a nice young Meath lad from the country. As we walked down the steps towards the sunken dancefloor, I took a little tumble and landed on my knees in front of him. I still laugh about it today. In case you were wondering, we did date for a while after that.
There were usually a couple of slow sets – or as Billy Connolly referred to them as ‘walking around slowly holding on to eachother until the music stops’. You might be lucky enough to bag a kiss during the first one but if not he might come and find you for the second where you’d be sure to get a snog.
Discos had to serve food at the time, something to do with their liquor licence so you got your little pink ticket as you went in the door, for use later on in the dining area. In typically Irish fashion, when the hunger pangs took over, or the drink needed some soakage, you lined up to get your basket of chicken and chips…
It wasn’t unusual to meet the man of your dreams over a chicken leg.
Of course we had no mobiles then, only the mammy and daddy’s landline, so if you were asked for your number you wrote it on the back of your nightclub concession with lipstick. A quick goodbye kiss and a promise to ring you ‘during the week’ and away you went in the taxi. The essential post-mortem took place after mass on the Sunday morning with choruses of ‘who was yer man’ and ‘morto for you’.
Then followed days of wondering what day he meant by ‘during the week’. I always thought it was a Wednesday. Every time the phone rang your heart would beat like a racehorse and you’d wait for your mam to stomp suspiciously up the stairs to tell you there was some lad on the phone for you.
And on it went, whether he phoned or not you layered up that brown eyeshadow, donned the ‘jeans and a nice top’ and hit the disco again the next weekend.
So as you can imagine, finding myself single again in my late 30’s was quite the eye opener. Can you imagine the horror when I found out that the slowset was no more? How on this holy earth were you supposed to meet a man if you couldn’t grab on to him in the dark and sway around to a bit of Cher.
I had a few nights out with friends but boy did I feel old. I was surrounded by beautiful young things, perfectly made up and coiffed, teetering confidently on their high heels while yanking down their short dresses so they didn’t reveal their g-string.
Men didn’t buy me cocktails, or chat me up when I went to the bar. Oh I missed the 90s.
And then I found internet dating. Well well well.
Off I went, ‘fishing’ for a nice man to wine and dine me, make me laugh as I flicked my hair seductively and reeled him in until he was putty in my hands. Yes I know, that’s a lot of mixed metaphors but I bet you know exactly what I mean.
Now of course you have to make a profile, starting with a name. It can’t be too ‘fun’ or you’ll attract the wrong sort altogether. My first profile name was ‘fitforanything’. That wasn’t my finest choice, I’ll let you imagine the rest.
You go on to list your age, marital status and eye colour. Then comes the dreaded question regarding your body size. Now, I’m a big lass and don’t see the point in making a secret of that. But it soon became apparent to me that curvy means a very different thing to a man than it does to a woman. I settled for ‘big and beautiful’ even thought I felt nothing of the sort and thought it sounded kind of arrogant which was the complete opposite of my personality.
Your profile is only just live and the messages come rolling in. I had visions of dozens of guys sitting at their computers refreshing the ‘new members’ section ever few minutes just so they could see what was on offer. I realised pretty quickly that young guys had a thing for the more mature ladies – I can only assume in the hopes that they would find someone very experienced in the bedroom.
The years that followed were full of absolutely hilarious, scary, romantic, painful and no show dates. From the guy who showed up in full African safari gear to the one who I was convinced had a sex change, from a handsome teacher to an anxious young lad in his 20s and everything in between.
But that’s all for another blog ……..