The event was taking place at a Ft Lauderdale bar on a July evening. I was very excited about going, but I had made the mistake of reading different blog posts about Stir events, and knew of their reputation for being awkward; accordingly, I made a note to myself to go and see without any expectations. The blogs also advised to go alone, but I felt that I would not survive a second by myself, so I begged my best friend, whom I call my sister, to go with me and she agreed. She is already in a relationship, but decided to come for the moral support.
I had a huge smile on my face up until the moment I walked into the event. I started to second guess the dress and shoes I wore and asked my sister if she was sure I looked okay. She looked at me and asked: “you look fine, but do you have other clothing to change into?” I replied that I did not. She said “exactly”. At the sign in table, we collected tags to write our names on, along with the most important aspect of our lives. My friend chose to go with her name only, and I wrote “life” under mine (I was nervous and couldn’t think of anything). Shortly thereafter, a man arrived at the event, waiting in line to check in. He seemed nice, and he smiled at me. But being shy, I looked away quickly and focused my attention elsewhere.
We walked into the venue, which was separated into three sections. The section on the right resembled a small living room with several couches, right in front of us was a door leading to the outside balcony, and on the left side was the bar which took up over 3/4 of length of the room. Finally, directly facing the bar was another sitting area. The atmosphere itself was quite soothing and welcoming, and there must have been over thirty men and women at the event.
At the sitting area on our right from the entry were a few scattered men sitting, obviously not enjoying themselves by the looks on their faces. At the bar, everyone seemed to be doing what they were there for: mingling. We decided to get drinks, so we walked up to the bar and ordered. We were now facing the entryway. As I looked to the left end of the bar, near the entry and small “living room” space, I noticed a guy sitting quietly, and he was looking right at me. I thought he was attractive, seemed interesting, and felt the urge to go to him, but I was shy, so we took our drinks, walked past him into the living room and sat down. My friend was most likely sensing that I was planning on spending the evening relaxing with her, so she got back up, told me to just get in there and meet people, and went outside to the balcony.
Left alone, I awkwardly walked into the bar, not daring to look around me. As I walked in the middle of the room, my shoe flew off my foot. I had to of course, chase after it and put it back on. I felt I was embarrassed enough, and wanted to regroup, so I found a spot in the sitting space facing the bar. It’s not that I felt unattractive. I looked nice that night: straightened my hair, wore light makeup and a dress that was quite flattering. The women there were also beautiful. We were all different, of all colors, ages, shapes… I simply did not feel comfortable walking up to men.. at all! Besides, the moment I walked in, I had a complete mental block preventing me from thinking coherently.
As I sat, less than a minute later, a man that must have been sixty years old walked towards me and asked if he could sit next to me. I smiled and said of course. He asked me why I was not talking to men. I guess he already knew why, because he went on to say that he could tell I was shy, but he thought I was the most beautiful woman in the room (how sweet, though a lie I thought). He told me that I could have any guy I wanted. All I had to do was show him who. I looked around and noticed in disappointment that the guy at the bar had left, and everyone else was pretty busy. I looked back at him and shook my head no. He went on about his taste in women, about his retirement, about his travels, about his friend who was actually the one on Match.com (he was there for moral support, but was also single)… It was entertaining to me to listen, and I was glad not to have to say too much, due to my mental block. He asked me questions which I politely answered. We talked about work, about past divorces, about goals, then we laughed about it all. I was having a wonderful time.
However, my wing man wanted to spend some more time discussing my personality. He said he noticed I was extremely shy, and urged that I just needed to overcome that issue and talk to men because he was sure they would like me. He said again that he could help me, and could get someone for me. He said that even though he likes Asian women because that was his taste, he still thought I looked beautiful and shouldn’t have a problem talking to any man if only I tried. He assured me that he also would be happy to date me, but he was too old for me. He repeated that he would gladly go get whichever man I liked, adding that if he knew then (in his younger days) what he knew today, he would have approached me. It felt like he wanted to choke the shyness out of me, but deep down I could tell he perhaps had regrets from his past, and saw me as a way to fix them. I appreciated his efforts, really I did. But I was starting to feel claustrophobic, especially because he spoke so loud that everyone could hear him and even turned around to listen in periodically.
People who are introverted do not do that well in social settings, especially when they are being pressured to.
We moved to the bar to chat some more, and at this point my friend walked back in and joined us. She is the opposite (effortlessly charming) and chatted with a few people. As my wing man and friend urged me again to go and meet the men around me, tried to convince me that my fears were all in my head, and that I could just do it, I expectedly closed up even more and decided to ignore them. I noticed women around me lightly going from man to man, chatting, and collecting numbers, but I was now too mentally exhausted to follow their lead. Soon, my wing man had to leave. We exchanged numbers and said our goodbyes.
My friend seemed to have been at her wit’s end. She grabbed a random guy from the bar, placed him in front of me and told him I wanted to talk to him. Then she walked out again. He was a year older than me, in law school, liked to read books, had recently moved to Florida from South America (which explained his accent), but used to live in Canada (which explained why he spoke English fluently). He also enjoyed playing the guitar and etc. I said a few things about myself as well. It turns out we had a lot in common. He stopped talking for a moment to take his phone out of his pocket. At the time, it was intriguing to me why he would take his phone out. During those few seconds, I thought that maybe there was an important phone call he needed to make or he found our conversation boring and wanted to end it by asking for my number politely, plus I thought, he broke eye contact with me about twice during our conversation so I wondered if he was even interested. As he took his phone out, I told him that I had to go find my friend, and walked outside to do just that.
We walked back inside a few moments later and sat near the living room space. We chatted with a man who was not on the website. He was most likely in his late thirties, and mentioned he was just stopping by to find women he could take back home. Did he mention he had a hot tub? I can’t remember much about him. He did say he was surprised when I said I was single, because I didn’t seem as though I was looking. He actually thought our roles were reversed (that I was there for support). People continued to chat and mingle until the event ended, and they didn’t seem awkward at all, as I continued to observe them. They seemed at ease and comfortable.
In retrospect, I am realizing that this was simply not the event for me. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it. On top of it all, I had the best support system with two people who tried all they could to make this event a great one. But I am a person who enjoys doing more physical and interactive things, like dancing and kayaking, and I am not very adept at small talk. I’m not that great at expressing myself either to new men that I like and try to interact with; in the earlier days of my last marriage, I used to write my ex husband letters because I could not find a way of saying important things to him out loud (we only dated 7 months before getting married). Men who are my friends and whom I’m not attracted to however, find me charming and outgoing. This is nothing new, but this event taught me in a more brutal way that I should align myself more with activities that bring out the best in my personality, not the ones I know will make me feel awkward. For this reason, I do treasure my experience.