Apparently going to the pub is not always about getting hammered (or pissed). These commercial locals are also about building bonds and friendships, sharing memories, and generally are very community-oriented places, where members will loyally visit this establishment several times a week, and get to know other members too.
So here’s what happened to me
There is a pub that I like, as they have good drinks and food at a cheap price, as well as they serve food at the latest hour that I have seen so far in London (11pm). So on Wednesday night about two weeks ago, I came down before the kitchen closed to put in my order for food and a drink.
Now contrary to the definition of “pub life” that I gave above, I was not feeling social during this visit. Rather, I just wanted to take a break from the books, and get some food while mindlessly staring at the TV or people-watching. Now, I had sometimes felt that people would watch me too, but I always brushed it off. I only come once every couple weeks at most, so I don’t recognize anyone, and surely no one recognizes me.
As I went to the long table, I sat in someone’s seat, and an older gentleman next to it told me he was waiting for his friend to come back. I apologized, and then took the seat next to it. I made a joke to him about my mishap (I don’t remember what I said), but sure enough, his lady friend did return and I was invited into the conversation. This girl was piss-drunk, and introduced me to random people who so happened to walk by us.
I couldn’t help wonder why she seem to know so many people at the bar…but, this is my American bias speaking. However, when I’m figuring out how to go soon, another gentleman sits across from us, and inserts himself into our conversation. He’s polite, but remember, I’m not feeling especially sociable. He ends up asking for my number, and I settled by adding myself to his LinkedIn profile.
The pub life, outside of the pub
So, this brave gentleman– we will call him Paul, does end up taking me on a date a few days later. And you know what, it was a great date! What I thought would take 2 maybe 3 hours at the most, was like 6. Wine and conversation at a jazz bar, a ferry boat ride back to the original pub where we met, and then a late dinner where he spoon-fed me pieces of his steak. Then, the romantic text message the next day….and the next…and yeah.
But I’m not into him.
He wanted to meet again, but I gave a white lie about having my tournament all weekend (I was lined up to play, and so was the team, but it fell apart last minute). The following week, when I stepped into my pub local, people were definitely staring at me. Some even came up to say hi, and asked if I remembered being introduced to them. This week, I had a late night meal with an acquaintance who wanted to offer me freelance work, and we were at the pub. Paul happened to stop by and he came to us to invite me over to his table. I replied that I’m on my way out, and when I’m finished with my meeting, I will stop by briefly to say hi to him and his companions.
Later, as he walked me to my building, I explained that I’m not interested in seeing him romantically. He was a great guy and a great catch, but I’m not interested. I don’t know why, maybe I’m very preoccupied, but I really didn’t connect on this level. We finally ended with a hug and he asked to give it a chance, and I simply said no.
The moral of the story…
So pubs are very community-oriented, it was likely that the stares were not just my imagination. After telling my story to some folks, I was told that many local pubs have a strong loyal customer base, where the patrons usually recognize each other. Thus, it’s possible that as a newbie, I received some curious looks– especially after going on a date with Mr. Paul. Because of this close network, gossip and news also spread quite rapidly in pubs too; which may help explain why a few people had came up and asked if I was “the American”.
Also, saying, “No”, and I did it rather quickly. It has been some time since I dated, however, I do not feel pressured to date or be in a relationship with someone.
Being new to London can be lonely, my social life had not picked up this summer, even while joining sports clubs or all those folks who said they would call me to go to a beer garden. So it was very tempting to finally have someone that wanted to take me to eat and drink a few nights a week and have great conversations.
However, as much as I wanted that, it wouldn’t be fair knowing what his intentions and feelings were.
Guys, a little advice; a woman usually knows within 30 seconds of meeting you, if sex is a possibility. I knew when meeting Paul, and especially knew after our first date. “Giving it a go” just means lowering our expectations for any blossoming of feelings.
It’s weird, especially as I close in on my thirtieth, it does seem that more guys that I come across are willing to “try” and “give things a go” even when there was nothing to begin with. Like, trying to start a fire with damp wood.
Girls, always go with your gut instincts, don’t string him along. If you’re not into him — tell him up front. It’s hard, and I know it is, but its the right thing– especially after learning from past experience, it’s never good to revert to those habits. However, it doesn’t mean that good conversation can’t happen over lunch instead of dinner.
Oh, and what did I learn about pub life? Well, I’m just going to keep bouncing to a different pub and keep these Brits guessing, heck, I may show up as a Canadian next week, eh?