My friendship with my old friend Nap (short for Napoleon’ after she had said proudly while surveying a map of the States where she was going on holidays, “sex-wise, I’ve almost conquered Europe. America isn’t going to know what hit it!” ) is based on a solid foundation of booze and questionable behavior. On the off chance I ever kill someone she will be the person I call to ask for a hand moving the body and her response is almost guaranteed to be somewhere only the lines of, “fine, but I’m driving, you can’t parallel park for shit”. So when she called to blackmail me into accompanying to a dating class she had heard about I knew my chances of wangling my way out of it were between slim and none. Nap wanted to go because she had just been unceremoniously dumped by the latest in a string of slim hipped, incomprehensible Latinos with little English and plenty of zest for life. (A euphemism for “mad for the drugs and staying out late salsa dancing”). Julio had forgotten to tell her he was returning to Brazil which was probably not his brightest idea as I wouldn’t put it past Nap track him down, make his Mum adore her and strong arm him into marrying him. She loves a chase, that girl.
The dating class was being held in a run down community centre by a self professed “love guru” incongruously called Megan. Due to Naps inability to arrive somewhere anything less than half an hour early we were the first to arrive and amused ourselves by guessing what the class would be about.
"How to catch a man using a large net, then skin and prepare him" was my guess.
"The best way to fake a pregnancy to get the ring on your finger," was Naps.
A bulky, scraggly haired girl who looked like she had worn velcro underwear then rolled around on her floor until all of her clothes had stuck to her sidled in wearing black sunglasses and peering around suspiciously. Clearly she was also here for the class.
"Are you here for the finding a boyfriend class?" she whispered to Nap.
Hearing this I hissed at Nap, “I thought this was just a dating yoke?”
"It is" she turned to me, "and we are" she assured the stranger who looked visibly mollified. If someone as stunningly beautiful as Nap was going then it must be ok.
A few more, perfectly normal and nice looking girls arrived. Two middle aged men arrived, looking delightedly around the sea of women waiting patiently for the teacher. One of them immediately approached Nap.
"Sean O’Brien. Divorced. Two kids. Starting again. You?" he barked.
"Annie. Too young for you." she replied shortly saved by the arrival of the teacher who smiled benignly at us all and assured us into an undersized classroom.
"Tell me some of the common problems men and women have when they begin a relationship?" asked our teacher Megan with a gentle smile. I knew I wasn’t going to warm to Megan the second I met her. She was stunningly beautiful, all cascading black hair and huge green eyes, slim and supple with a sweet smile and gentle mannerisms. Not that there was anything not to like about her, but I would rather the teacher had looked like a troll so we knew we were going to get our moneys worth. Megan had clearly never had a moment of man trouble because lets face it, when you look like a supermodel, who wouldn’t want to date you?
"Um..communication?" suggested one bespeckled girl who looked like a librarian and had a notebook and pencil ready in hand to record the pearls of wisdom that would fall from Megans’ lips.
"Women want to control your every move," spat Sean.
"Men hate when you try to take over the world," I suggested, earning myself a dig in the ribs from Nap.
"Women don’t make the effort anymore," Sean tried again.
"Football" was Naps one word contribution.
Despite our lack of stellar brainstorming Megan dutifully began to write all suggestions down, smiling benignly the entire time and urging us to open up and say what was on our minds, after all this was a place of trust, she cooed.
An hour later we had covered relationship problems (which could be summarized as “men are stupid and women are crazy” - they weren’t the most enlightened group I had ever met) and moved onto common traits of both sexes. Men were “manly” “have egos” and “didn’t like to be controlled” they didn’t like “neediness” “crying” (both of these gems were from the Librarian who imparted them with a sad ‘I should know I’ve tried’ air’) or “girls who didn’t like their mothers”. Women on the other hand were “sensitive” “cruel” (Sean) “kind” and “liked babies” (again from the Librarian).
At the point we had done such good work we got the chance to go and buy some of the cafeterias’ brown water that they were passing off as coffee and stop by the cake stand which was there to raise money for orphans in Nepal. As a bonding exercise we had to go two by two with someone from the class we didn’t know (I was getting the strong feeling that Megan didn’t have enough material for the four hour seminar and was trying to draw this out). My partner was called Cathy and she had either hated me on sight or didn’t enjoy small talk because she spent the entire fifteen minutes torturing me with a detailed analyses of every relationship she had ever hand and where they went wrong. Maybe she was a lovely girl but I was always slightly wary when someone tells you how their ex faked their own death in order to break up with them. Surely once that happens you take a look inside and think, “could I be doing something wrong that this person thinks it would be better to pretend to be dead rather than actually break up with me? Am I giving out some sort of signal?” That another of Cathys exes had taken out a restraining order after she accidentally ran over his cat gave me pause. But I’m a cynic! Tuning out Cathy I looked over to Sean and The Librarian at whom Sean was barking, “Then she said. She didn’t love me. Anymore. Me!” The Librarian in turn was looking deeply sympathetic and murmuring platitudes. Nap was patting her partner on the back who also looked like she was unloading and caught my eye and mouthed, “sorry!”
Megan was waiting for us at the classroom door, nodding to people who came bearing cakes or cups of coffee, scowling when she saw my empty hands.
"You didn’t buy a cake?" she asked with a definite edge to her voice.
"I’m on a diet," I lied listlessly.
Clearly sensing I was trying to shortchange the orphans Megan resumed her usual saccharine expression and said, “that is one of the things I will teach you in this class girls, men do not like women who diet. They like women who eat, but are also in shape naturally, and that is dealt with in my follow on lecture about eating what you want and still maintaining the perfect body”. The Librarian dutifully began to scribble this down.
During the break Megan had clearly decided to focus on the women of the class and ignore the men, who it would appear did not need to do anything to make a relationship work expect be supportive of a woman as she tried her best to change into the perfect specimen of womanhood that he so deserved. Over the next three hours we were treated to a list of things that men do not want you to do, these include being flirtatious with other men, wearing revealing clothes (I’ve yet to hear a man complain about female flesh but Megan was a “guru” and I was not so I will take her word for it) calling them, texting them, wanting to see them and generally showing by any slight indication that you have any interest in them and might want to pursue this. The upshot of what we learnt was that men have the brain capacity of a gnat (when not fretting about your satorical choices) and can be landed quite easily by agreeing with everything they say (“But not by being a doormat, you must always be strong on what you want,” Megan lectured us sternly, my query about how to reconcile these unlikely things was met with a sympathetic smile. Megan had already marked me down as a failure) Another ways to win their affection involved cooking for them, getting along with their mother and friends and being generally agreeable and supportive of their every move. (Once you have caught the man through these nefarious means you are allowed to then change your personality completely and revert back to the opinionated, culinary backward harridan you have always been).
Then it was time for the Q&A section, “My ex boyfriend used to turn off his phone and hide from me when he wanted to go the pub with his mates, how do I go about making sure that never happens again without having to worry about police charges?” asked Nap looking as innocent as a child while Megan sucked in a shocked breath. Clearly Nap was as irritated by the nonsense Megan was sprouting as I was. “I think you have to look at your own behavior on this one” Megan replied after a moment, “what are you doing that he was too scared to tell you he wanted a night with his friends?”
Nap looked thoughtful, “maybe it was threatening to break his kneecaps so he could never escape my love?” she replied slowly.
My hand shot up, “where do you stand on me paying men to date me?”
Needless to say the dating class was a waste of time. Although we so badly needed a drink afterwards that we ended up going to the nearest bar and we both got dates out of that. That is actually a funny story but best saved for another time.
- allovertheviews posted this