Ready, aim, fire.

Friday night, despite suffering from a monstrous hangover from the night before, I went to a cheesy bar in Shoreditch with my flatmate, her eighteen year old sister and sister’s two friends.

Aforementioned sister and company had pulled out the full arsenal (heels, dresses, mobiles tucked in cleavage) and looked amazing. I, on the other hand, pulled on a striped dress and some leggings and managed to remain in my heels for a whopping 45 minutes before changing into the grungy flats tucked in my bag. They were hounded all night – every time I looked over at them a different man was lurking nearby or chatting one of them up. At one point (and this is a first for me) a guy made polite conversation with me for three minutes before asking for an introduction to one of them.

The only person who did approach me during the night was a large, stern-looking man who grabbed my hand in a vice-like grip and pulled me off the dance floor, explaining as he went that his boyfriend of five years had always wanted to sleep with a gorgeous woman but was too shy to approach me. Admittedly, the boyfriend was pretty hot, but I really didn’t want to get between the two of them (both metaphorically and physically speaking). I won’t even begin to go into the fact that the vibe I apparently give out is “willing guinea pig for gay men looking to experiment with their sexuality” as it’s too worrying to think about.

The whole incident was quickly forgotten when the DJ started playing early ‘90s hip hop and I happily spent the rest of the night busting out my best suburban American dance moves and asking my flatmate to hold my bag while I did the running man to Kris Kross (and yes, it did occur to me that I was probably the only person in the bar that remembered Kris Kross the first time around).

Anyway, while I was out for a run the next morning my flatmate was chatting with sister and company about the night before. The conversation turned to me.

“Does she always get that much attention from men?” one of them allegedly asked.

“All the guys were checking her out,” said another.

First of all, I will say that they could have been being polite (in which case, bless them) or they could have misinterpreted the looks of abject horror I’m sure my dance moves were attracting for admiration. But if what they said was true, when did I stop noticing men noticing me?

I remember when I was their age and my college roommate and I used to go out in Boston with our fake IDs. The two of us were an extremely dangerous combination. We would knock back a whole bunch of vodka shots before doing laps around the bar (making exaggerated eye contact with every remotely attractive male in the place as we went) and then climbing on to the nearest elevated platform and doing our best Girls Gone Wild impersonations. It was like we were playing one big game of Battleships with our sexuality, deploying it in a freewheeling, scattershot manner with the hope of sinking a couple of tankers along the way. At the end of the night, we’d go home and compare notes on who kissed the most guys, who had been bought the most drinks, who had been given the most phone numbers. The men themselves were inconsequential; it was all about the divide and conquer.

I guess as you get older you become more discriminating about where you point the big guns (or perhaps just nervous about whether or not they’re still loaded). But watching the girls in all their youth and splendor made me realize that I’ve been sat camouflaged in a sand bunker recently. That is thoroughly against the ideals of the book, which encourages the reader to mow down everyone in her path: “The eagerness for conquest does not die because you achieve a victory. You may cherish the booty you have won, but you still turn in search of new triumphs.”

As a result, I’ve decided to bust out the arsenal this week. I’m going to flirt with EVERYONE. I’m going to make eyes at strangers on the tube. I’m going to wheedle free drinks out of bartenders. I’m going to smile at fellow runners as I run past. I’ll either emerge with a couple of pelts under my belt or I’ll be taken away in a straight jacket.

Oh! And Triathlete texted last night asking if he could take me for a drink soon – the standoff is over and I have, for once, emerged victorious with prestige intact. So I guess I’m giving him another shot – I’m willing to overlook his use of emoticons and his recent jackassery solely because he is so good looking. If worse comes to worse, I can stick in some ear plugs and just stare at him.

Don’t ever say that women aren’t as shallow as men.

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