I stand at the bar, clinical with its swilling, suited clientele and chrome surfaces, and watch: two women in the corner clinking glasses of white wine. One man and a woman a bit further down the bar, shoulder to shoulder, facing the dance floor. Four women who are joined by a fifth, clip-clopping in her heels back from the toilet, and there, over there by the mirror, is one lady. Very pretty, short brunette hair, sat on a cubic leather stool, checking her phone, looking around. She’s been there for about twenty minutes doing exactly the same thing and, frankly, she looks lonely. So I gulp down my drink and stroll over, nervous as hell because this is the first time in my life that I’ve ever approached a strange woman in a bar and I have no idea what’s about to happen. She looks up as I reach her and I want the shiny black tiles to part and swallow me whole. I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t be doing this, talking in a silent goldfish-type way to this lady who doesn’t know me. My arms swing by my side and I don’t know what to do with them as they feel kind of … well, limp. I tuck my thumbs into my pockets and then realise I’m standing like a cowboy, but one without a hat, or a pistol, or appearing to be cool, and I wish I hadn’t necked that drink, because I could really do with a glass to nurse right now.
‘Can I help you?’ the lady asks.
‘Ah.’ I say, looking at her. ‘Ah.’ She cocks her head slightly and frowns at me, drawing her legs into the stool and leaning back a little bit too far for her to be entirely comfortable. I realise that I’m scaring her and decide to do something about that. ‘Hi. My name is … er, Dave.’ I breathe deeply, scratch my head quickly and then triumphantly finish my bit, ‘and I … I, well, I’m single.’
She straightens up, smiles, pushes herself off the stool into a standing position, and then she moves towards me slow and feline, sexily, gripping my jacket with both of her perfectly manicured hands before pulling me towards her slightly parted lips, all red like strawberries, her eyes closing behind a hundred thick, curly black lashes. And she kisses me, flicks her tongue against my teeth, snake-like, as though she wants to taste me with all of her senses. She moves her lips across my cheek, towards my earlobe, nudging, squeezing, whispering, ‘let’s go…’
Oh bugger, I really cocked that up. She’s not kissing me. Of course she bloody isn’t. She’s still sat there on her stool, reaching down and gathering up her bag, staring at me one last time before jumping to her feet and spinning towards the door. ‘Good for you,’ she growls, and she’s gone.
I’ve always had a hunch that I’m not very good at approaching women in bars, and now I’ve actually tried it my fears have been confirmed. I’m left alone in the middle of a crowd, standing in front of an empty stool with red cheeks and a pounding, painful heart, looking very much like a rubbish cowboy.