I’ve been chatted up a fair few times in my life. From wolf whistles out of dust-ridden white vans, numbers on napkins and iron pumpers in the gym telling me “you’re doing that all wrong” as I squat with my legs far too far apart, each time the encounter is riddled with pure, unblemished awkwardness and sweaty palm syndrome. I’ve watched girls dismiss chat up lines with a simple schoolyard slogan of “take a picture it’ll last longer,” and then there’s the straight-to-the-pointers: “OI, WHAT YOU LOOKING AT?” Finally, there are the girls that simply shrug it off as if it were a honking car or a pesky fly, no attention paid and for the chatter-upper, no digits gained!
Me? I chat back to them. I panic and find myself submerged in a painfully irrelevant discourse about what I do for a living and which “ends” I’m from. I’ve even given boys my number - and I have a boyfriend, might I add - through sheer hair on end panic. I changed a digit or two (duh!) but why am I stranded in this sticky web of cringe in the first place?
Once, I had a man meander over to me by The Southbank Centre – I was about to review a restaurant and was far too hungry to be dealing with pointless chatter. I could see in my peripheral vision that he was encroaching at a rapid speed with an aim to burst my security bubble (and delay my dinner). The chat up was as awkward as I envisaged. “Babe, you’re gorgeous. Like, really gorgeous. Let me take you out?” I did my dicey, over girly “ha, ha, ha”; a laugh that would turn feminists in their graves. However, the tête-à-tête rapidly turned from awkward to dark as he nattered on about how he liked to harm cute things. Yep, that’s a f*** off from me.
Granted, when I’m drunk things turn out a little differently - no, not like that, get your minds of the gutters! But I mean, I’m totally liberal with my words after a tequila slammer and a few pornstar martinis. Yikes! Then and only then will they get the cold shoulder and a slur of expletives dependent on how ballsy I’m feeling. Not that I want to be this hulk like persona whilst sober, but what’s the balance and how does one reach it? Politeness, you jest. Yes, but try and be polite to a high-vis vest wearer telling you that you have a nice pair of waps - to put it bluntly. Easier said than done, eh?
I reached out to my Whatsapp group of groovy ladies, the bulk of which are currently dipping toes into the rippling dating pool. How did they deal with the mindfield that is being chatted up? One quickly commented that she in fact couldn’t comment due to never having been chatted up.
Bullshit, I scoffed at my screen. But, upon final admittance that she’s a total hottie and most certainly has, she declared that being chatted up in groups is not “the one.” To be honest, kudos to the guy/ girl who disrupts the banter of friends that are chatting over Aperol Spritzes, sharing memories of having first fags and breaking into the village train station. They’re brave, they’re ballsy, and as far as Romeo-cum-Cassanova is concerned, the person they’re chatting up could have a boyfriend sat right next to them. Chatter-uppers don’t care!
One of my other ladies repping L.A. claimed that, across the pond, the guys are kinda expected to buy your next round of Mojitos or, to put it bluntly, piss off! “In the US it’s expected that they buy you drinks. If a guy was chatting me up without offering drinks I’d straight up say “look I came here to catch up with my friend.”” A girl gotta drink, ya know!
The general consensus amounted to three key points: firstly, they’re all usually nice to the chatter-uppers, secondly, it’s a darn shame it takes saying “I actually have a boyfriend” to get rid of the them and that no very rarely tends to do the job and thirdly that if we’re wearing headphones, BOG OFF!
Of course, chat ups don’t just happen in the physical world, but the virtual too. Dating apps are awash with “I want to cover you in peanut butter and lick you until my peanut allergy kills me” chat up lines. Here are a few comebacks for those absolutely outlandishly comments:
Chatter upper: I just wanna take ur clothes off
You: Please fold them neatly
Chatter upper: Hi where you located?
You: Out of your league
Chatter upper: I wanna see you
You: Go on my Instagram
Chatter upper: Talk dirty to me
You: Garbage can, laundry, kitchen
Chatting up is also a positive thing though – if it weren’t for slurred introductions and offers of sex, how would we ever get together with anyone?! And let’s face it, if Tom Hardy came bowling over to us with a one-liner we’d probably buy ourselves a medal let alone another drink.
I often wonder how previous generations did it. I can imagine it consisted of sweet nothings on the dancefloor over the ebbs and flows of Ella Fitzgerald, and not Steve from Sainsbury’s chiming “If I said you had a nice body, would you hold it against me?” Yes, the generations before us did it right. They’d write letters, they’d run in the rain to the nearest phone box to try and catch you for a natter before supper. They’d buy you flowers!
One of the funniest conversations I have with my ladies’ circles around the topic of catcalling. Namely, when a man twit-twoos from a car or a big old bit of scaffolding. What’s the goal, eh? Are we meant to drop all, fall at their feet with unblemished desire and run off, Julia Roberts like, into the sunset? No!
Yet, at the end of the day, chat up lines are awks AF. But we kinda love them too. They inject a good ol’ dose of sexiness into our, at times, mundane lives. And for that reason, awkwardness can take a back seat!
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