Tuesday 12 November 2019

Katie Byrne... Chat up? please just shut up

Why I'm sick of hearing men's well-worn chat-up lines

Katie Byrne is tired of the old 'chat-up' routine
Katie Byrne is tired of the old 'chat-up' routine
Katie Byrne

Katie Byrne

I've never been comfortable with the tired old routine that is the "chat-up". Even the word makes me feel a little queasy. In my experience, a chat-up tends to involve two strangers talking about the pluses and minuses of their respective locales - Sandyford? Is that beside the sea? No. That's Sandymount - when one just wants to have sex and the other wants to run away and hide in the smoking area.

Chat-ups are forced, stilted and, at times, utterly excruciating. The toleration levels of women vary in this regard, as do the techniques of those doing the chatting up. Some men have yet to master linguistic communication; others are all talk and no trousers…

Let's start with the most primitive, the Level 1 chat-up if you will. This species can be found roaming freely in their natural habitat of crowded dancefloors after 2am.They are solitary hunters and commonly engage prey with the unsolicited bottom pinch. If the object of prey is wearing a hat - or, indeed, any form of easily removable headwear - he will grab it and put it on.

Occasionally, this species executes a bizarre mating ritual which involves entering the potential mate's personal space and performing a deranged, vaguely intimidating dance. Think Martin Sheen in the hotel room scene of Apocalypse Now.

It's fairly safe to conclude that the Level 1 approach yields little to no success. At least, I hope so...

The next evolutionary stage of the chat-up is characterised by a broader range of vocabulary. They tell 35-plus women that they don't look a day over 21, and mothers and daughters that they look like sisters.

Level 2 are co-operative hunters. The 'alpha' will approach on behalf of the group with a question. Something like "We're having a competition to see who can work out where you're from/what you do for a living/what colour underwear you're wearing..." At this point you look around to see four men of a similar predicament watching from afar. At least two of them are wearing check shirts.

Another is laughing so hard that the beer is swilling out of his pint glass. He'll tell this story tomorrow. "Peadar is a wild man. He has no fear. No fear"

Occasionally Level 2 men tell you that you're "the best looking woman in here". What they actually mean to say is: "My only experience is of deeply insecure women, therefore I think all women need extreme validation". Moving on...

Level 3 is where we meet Mr Smooth. What's interesting is that he doesn't approach, per se. He just magically appears beside you in a poof! of self-satisfaction.

He's not like the other guys. He's witty. He's pithy. He's possibly a sociopath. Are you flirting with me? I don't know? Am I?

Level 3 men have a special talent for making you feel obligated to watch a show for which you didn't even buy a ticket. They also like to think that they have a special talent for unravelling the female psyche. Let me guess, Taurus?

He's a "nice guy", though. How do you know? Because he's told you three times already in that trademark bada bing, bada boom intonation. Where did they get this line? Did they all watch the same movie? It's like listening to a pull-string doll with 12 different phrases.

You're my best friend - I'm a nice guy.

To all self-proclaimed nice guys, here's how it is. When you tell a woman that you're a nice guy, she immediately assumes that you're anything but. She imagines a secret sex dungeon in your mother's basement and an internet browsing history so filthy that it should be in quarantine.

But wait! He has photographic evidence. It's around now that he produces his phone to show you the screensaver shot of his niece/nephew (he doesn't say the words "favourite uncle" but this is where he's leading). Sometimes it's a photograph of a dog that looks as sick of his owner as you are at this point. Suddenly the fella who asked you if you were Jamaican earlier ("Because you're Jamaican me crazy!") is beginning to look appealing...

Mr Smooth doesn't go out without a fight. He somehow steers the conversation towards sex. This is when he lowers his tone, leans in and shares something that he has only ever shared with every other woman he has tried to sleep with. He utters the immortal line, "I take pleasure from giving pleasure".

I still haven't worked out how to respond to this line. Good on you? Fair play to you? Give it a lash, Jack? How do you respond to a statement that contradicts everything it sets out to achieve?

Mr Smooth wants you to believe that he wrote The Art of Lovemaking. In reality, he has just admitted that he is at least 10 years late to the party. Worse, he has the cheek to think that this makes him the Ascended Master of One-Night Stands.

What happens if you go home with Mr Smooth? He probably says, "I work hard, I play hard" when he opens his drinks cabinet. Maybe he says, "Wait 'til you try my Eggs Benedict" when he opens the fridge.

Later, in the bedroom, he insists that this has never happened to him before. He's in good company, though. His conquest earlier claimed that she doesn't normally do this…

Chat-ups - they're a sorry charade.

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