A bit of everyday wisdom, offered with tedious regularity to single adults and, latterly, wurkin’ it in abbreviated form as the title of a popular dating website (with which friends of mine have had success – although: no, thanks, it’s not for me) is the metaphorical truism ‘there are plenty of fish in the sea’. (I call it a metaphorical truism both because the phrase is a metaphor and also because, in reality, the depletion of the oceans’ resources due to human greed has resulted in there being hardly any fish in the sea. Which, as well as being ecologically alarming, has had a detrimental effect on my battered cod roe consumption – by which I mean, can you get it any more, and if so where?)

People want to tell you it’s easy to meet eligible, solvent, stable, stimulating men – either because they’re undiscerning themselves, or because they’ve been in a relationship with the same person since their teens or early twenties and therefore have no idea about the current dating landscape and should, frankly, work on finding topics of discussion that will not require offering romantic advice to their single friends. Although, who can blame them? Had I been having sex, exclusively, with the same person for a decade or more, I too might be eager to respond to stories from the front line in a way that would make me feel like I was still in the game.

For the record: it is not easy to meet eligible, solvent, stable, stimulating men. Especially not ones who are good-looking enough that you’d consent to see them naked and fascinating enough that you’d consent to meet them for a fourth date. And, crucially, also attracted to you.

It is not easy to meet eligible men full stop. (Although, I have found it easier since I started wearing liquid eyeliner and smiling more often. Habits which coincided with each other, for reasons I don’t have room to expand upon here.)

Thus, when a company called ‘smeeters‘ (a contraction of ‘single meeters’ or ‘social meeters’ or, possibly, depending on what you’re in this for, ‘sexual meeters’) contacted me and asked if I’d like to try out their services I said ‘yes. Go on then. Why the fuck not?’

This was the deal: I was invited to select two single female friends and take them along to a designated bar, where we’d be introduced to three single men, provided with one free round of drinks, and left to our own devices.

Weirdly, when I met my girls to brief them on the evening, drink a bottle of cava and eat cold meats, there was a smeeting going on behind us. This suggested that smeets are a fledgling ‘thing’ and that I might, for once, be riding the crest of a fashionable wave – as opposed to standing at a beach bar, drinking a Bloody Mary, watching it crash into the sand.

‘Let’s relax and enjoy it’, I told my single friends, Cecilia and Dionne (whose requests to appear in this blog under the cover of pseudonyms I’ve refused, because their real names sound like pseudonyms anyway), ‘but we must also remain dignified. And we must not drink too much booze. And none of us are allowed, under any circumstances whatsoever, to have sex with any of the men, because then I’ll have to write about it.’

And we all nodded, and we sipped on coupes of cava and we threw back salami – which the venue we’d gathered at had, inexplicably, chosen to serve on a chintz patterned cake stand (when did London so wholeheartedly embrace twee, and please, can it stop?). And we knew that we had never gone anywhere without at least one of us breaking at least two of the rules I’d set for the evening, and that, in any event, should one of us decide to fornicate with a stranger, especially if that one of us was me, there is no way I would write about it, and post it on the internet, where it would be read by mum.

Our smeeting was fun.

No, really. Apart from a minor hiccup when the barman mistakenly told us we’d arrived a day late, and nearly caused us to leave before we’d begun, it exceeded expectations. Dating with your mates in tow is a simple but genius idea – primarily because it shortens the odds of anyone being awkward or visibly nervous or very badly behaved. Things that are, in my experience, highly likely when it’s just you and a stranger sat in some dank venue making small-talk, with the unspoken potential of the future looming between you.

My friends looked dazzling, as they always do. Cecilia with her sparkling earings and long legs draped in dusty pink silk and Dionne all sheer black skintight blouse and cleavage. I must say, I wasn’t looking too bad myself – what with the requisite smile and the eyeliner and a wicked set of tiger patterned nail extensions that made me feel fierce and that drew compliments from no less than five people. Which is no mean feat for nails.

And the men! I know you’ll want to hear about them. They were, like my girls, charming, laid-back and good company. The smeeters people certainly did a better job than I am usually capable of on the not choosing total arseholes front.

One of the guys (Craig?), was a jolly, quintessentially English tennis-coach-turned-something-in-an-office type, and the other two were Canadian. One of the Canadians was called Mike and the other one, Colin, was a sturdy ice-hockey playing former high school jock. All big shoulders and white teeth wholesome maple-syrup manners.

I, obviously, broke the ‘don’t drink too much booze’ rule within fifteen minutes of arriving, and therefore did not listen to Colin the Canadian’s protests that he had in fact never played ice-hockey (or much sport at all). Rather, I spent the entire evening referring to him as an ice-hockey player, because I was pissed, yes, but more significantly because my fantasy about him was more important than his actual real-life personality – which I think is the definition of objectification.

In hindsight, objectifying pleasant men in public might not have been a high point in the history of my dating behaviour.

But fuck it. What are you gonna do? I mean, there are plenty of fish, right? And it’ll only cost me fifteen quid to smeet some more of them.

* In the interests of not being a corporate whore, I should probably point out that I did not pay anything for my smeeting. I got it free on the proviso I write this blog. I’m not sure how I feel about paying for dating services (I’m still holding out hope that someday, someone I meet via conventional means might be tempted to buy me dinner) but Cecilia and Dionne reckoned it was decent value, and say that they’d definitely do it again.


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