Belfast Telegraph

Why can't men chat us up without their wingman Arthur Guinness?

By Joe O'Shea

Ask the average, single, lady for their biggest gripe about men from here and the chances are they will moan: "They only ever chat to you after two or three pints in the pub."

Of the many criticisms and calumnies hurled at us long-suffering men from North and South of the border, this is perhaps the most damning -- the accusation that we are basically useless at seduction without our regular wingman, Arthur Guinness.

Girl-about-town and daughter of the late Gerry Ryan, Ms Lottie Ryan, is the latest Irishwoman to bemoan the lack of sober, strictly vertical guys out and about of a weekend night.

And while we could point out that Lottie might want to start hanging out in classier dives, we must also defend our gender compatriots from this stereotype that is as utterly unfounded as it is 100% accurate.

By the way, Lottie points to the recently-ish sober Colin Farrell as the perfect example of an Irishman who doesn't need a drink to chat up the ladies.

And this is true. Colin doesn't so much need a drink as a large, pointy stick to deal with the women hurling themselves at him from the moment he sticks his head out the front door.

In Colin's case, a whiskey haze would only serve to artificially double the number of fake-tanned, Farrell-seeking missiles coming at him and quite possibly send our boy screaming into the nearest monastery.

So yes, most men do need a couple (at least) of stiffeners before launching themselves desperately in the general direction of a woman.

But there are some very good reasons for this. And women from here should realise that this, as with so many other uniquely Irish relationship problems, is totally their fault.

Our native species of females are almost uniquely, in non-burqa compliant countries at least, hard to approach.

As Lottie points out, in most European countries and especially in the US, it's quite acceptable for a guy to randomly approach a girl and ask her for her number and a date. It's a civilised, grown-up dating culture.

But you should try to do this in Belfast, Cork or Galway. Seriously, go up to a girl on the street or in a cafe and try to chat her up. You are as likely to spend the next hour talking to a guard as the lady in question.

A lot of women tend to assume that if you are a stranger showing an interest in them, you are some sort of escaped weirdo. It may be a sensible defence mechanism, but it does make life difficult for single guys.

A friend of mine was recently chatted up by a charming French man while out strolling in Dublin city centre and they later went on a date.

When I asked her how she would have reacted if an Irish guy had tried the same strategy, she basically said: "First, no Irish guy would EVER do that. And if he did, you would know right away that he was some sort of weirdo."

And there you have it -- random French guys are charming; random Irish guys are weirdos or losers.

We could also point out that with a lot of women, their favoured combination of hair/make-up/outfit really only starts to make sense after a couple of drinks.

Trust us, the beer goggles are handy for combating the glare from bleach-blonde, big hair, purple frocks and a complexion that looks like she lost a fight in a spray-tan booth.

And why do guys get all of the flak for going overboard on the drink? It's not as if most Irish ladies spend their Saturday nights sipping a dry sherry.

We have a drinking culture in this country and we are all in it together. The lines between male and female behaviour are becoming blurred and we didn't need the movie Bridesmaids to tell us that.

If you were to try negotiating a city-centre bar stone-cold sober after, say, 11 o'clock on a Saturday night, you would find that most of the women at the bar were not that interested in charming small-talk and witty satire on the IMF bailout.

The problem started (at least for my generation) in the single-sex schools, segregated sports-hall dances (boys to the left wall, girls to the right) and pretty messed-up national attitudes towards sex that were prevalent for decades in this country.

We can hope that it is going to be better for the current generation of young guys and girls who may be able to actually talk to each other in a social setting without necking four vodkas first.

In the meantime, the best advice for single women might be to relax a bit, flash the odd smile, allow for the fact that the guy who is nervously trying to initiate a conversation may not be a stalker-in-training.

The only thing you have to fear is fear itself. . . and maybe that guy in the purple velvet Showband suit, muttering to himself in the corner.

Come on girls, sober or slightly the worse for wear, we're doing our level best.

Irish Independent

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