Monday 26 September 2016

There is nothing worse than being 'that girl.' Sipping overpriced Pinot Grigio, smiling politely as you forget everyone's names

Ailbhe Malone

Published 30/11/2012 | 18:00

It's 4pm on a Saturday afternoon, and I am waiting for a flu to come on. Or a little plague (nothing major). Or maybe the washing machine can break down mid-cycle.

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Anything to delay what's about to happen this evening. The time has finally come. After four years together, I have to meet my boyfriend's work colleagues.

I am so not into this. Why do we have to meet? I have my work friends and he has his. There is nothing worse than being 'that girl'. You know, sitting sipping on a glass of overpriced Pinot Grigio, smiling politely as everyone remembers your name and you immediately forget theirs. I don't want to talk to Anne Marie from reception. I certainly don't want to try and remember which one of Pat's sons is the bold one.

I can't ditch this, though. I've made a commitment. I try to create a serene environment as I get ready to leave the house at 5pm. I light some candles, put on a record, and hop in the shower. Hair washed and make-up on, I feel like this evening mightn't be too bad. I absently mindedly blow out the candles, and pick them up to put them away.

Bad idea. The hot glass burns my right hand. Argh! Argh! I run to the cold tap and hold my blistered fingers under the cool water.

As the burn subsides, I notice that in my haste, I have dropped the hot candle on the floor, and I watch the wax seep into the carpet. Crap.

Pulling my shoes on with one hand, and picking the wax out of the carpet with the other, I frantically grab my coat and head towards the door. I am running so late. Hang on though, where am I going?

I pull out my BlackBerry on the way to the bus stop and double-check the email. We're going to a comedy show, that I knew. But it's on . . . a boat? What?

This is so confusing. I follow the directions to the vessel, growing increasingly crankier with every step.

My boyfriend greets me at the door. "I haven't had dinner and I burnt my hand," I mutter. "Nice to see you too," he replies.

Inside, his colleagues are seated in rows. There are a lot of them. The boat rocks slightly as I reach over to shake hands. Someone passes me a glass of wine, and as the lights dim I sit down.

I mishear the name of the girl next to me, and ask her to repeat it. Unfortunately this coincides with the MC coming on stage.

"Oi!" he shouts in my direction. "What's so important?" I feel like I'm back in school.

"Sorry," I mumble, knowing that if I explain my situation I'll be prime fodder for the rest of the evening.

Two more glasses of wine, and the show is over. A total of three glasses of wine plus no dinner means that I am in optimum charm mode. I formulate a plan.

I will be friendly, but vague. Praise outfits and their work, but no politics.

Just as I'm getting the hang of things, the chairs in the venue are being stacked next to the wall, and a sound system has appeared.

"What's going on?" I ask the colleague closest to me. "After the comedy show, it turns into a nightclub!" she explains excitedly.

I was not prepared for this. 'This is just like a wedding,' I tell myself. 'You're great at weddings.'

"Handbags on the floor ladies!" I hear myself cry on auto-pilot, as Hold It Against Me comes on.

Thank God for Britney Spears.

Day & Night

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