Last Friday, after work, I found myself eating vegan (i.e. fundamentalist vegetarianism) on a fucking bus in London's fashionable East End™. It was my mate's girlfriend's birthday, and I was surrounded by 80% women, mostly single.
The odds were good. Very good. Or they would have been had I not been a) vulgar within the first three seconds, and b) insulting.
My first mistake was to exit the meeting place that was the Vibe Bar, announcing loudly and within lady-ears that it was a "Nest of cunts".
My second was when we were sat on the top deck of the restaurant. A section of the girls were lost in their own bubble, clapping their hands wildly as they shrieked at one another in some kind of high-pitched conversation competition, fighting over the one digital camera as they did so.
Apropos of nothing, I felt the need to mimic their camp clap as I yelled, 'God, I love hanging out with screeching women.'
I silenced the bus.
Truth be told, I had more pressing concerns beyond regretting making women hate me. How the hell was I going to fill up on vegan food, a cuisine that shuns everything of animal origin? Goodbye cheese, auf weidersehen milk, au revoir eggs. And as for plump chicken breast on a bed of slaughtered calf with a coulis of cowsblood, FORGET IT.
Nonetheless, my tofu was fine, if missing a little je ne sais quoi (meat). Eating vegan is like watching the world's shortest film in the world's most expensive cinema. However, I did get to eat next to a charming Italian lady who, dare I say it, seemed keen.
And I didn't seem to repulse her.
In fact she even seemed a little bit flirty.
So I was utterly thrilled to return to the bus having used someone else's toilet, and saw her leaving only midway into the evening.
We kissed goodbye on both cheeks. 'I'll hopefully see you again', I said.
'I hope so', she replied.
Then she walked away and I sighed, because I knew that if I ruled the world, the whole planet would die of apathy because I'm incapable of doing anything.
The bus thinned. The shriekers had gone, and paid their share ruthlessly individually. (FEMALE READERS: I have never eaten out with 18 people who insisted beforehand that the waiter kept a detailed record of who ate what. Please tell me this isn't normal lady behaviour, and if it is, remind me to never buy a couple of bottles of wine for the table because it'll be descended on like vultures dive-bombing a corpse and I won't get so much as a 'cheers'.)
A delightfully intriguing Australian lady chatted to me from across the bus, then came and joined me. An interesting turn of events. Before long, the small group we became headed to a bar on Brick Lane that specialised in £40 cocktails served in a plastic fishbowl with enough ice in it to sink a small trawler.
So we had another. And another. Whilst outside having a little cigarette and a chat with the Polish bouncer, my friend's girlfriend came out to call me an idiot and demanded I make a move on her antipodean ladyfriend.
'Yeah, she's into you.'
'But what about the guy she's with?'
'They're just friends.'
Jesus. An in. A definite, guaranteed, something-may-happen in.
And here's what did happen: We chatted. We flirted. She sat on my hand at one point. I kept it there, and no-one cared.
Apart from the guy she was with.
'Leave it,' he said to me later. 'She's not that keen.'
Now I'm no detective, but her body language, my flattened hand, and the 'Well do something then' instruction made me think she was keen. Furthermore, I'd chatted to this guy earlier, and he was a decent chap. I also spotted him as a fellow member of the Unrequited Club, and I began to feel for him. I imagined what I must have looked like through his eyes; some slobbering, inebriated chancer who'd just bumped into the love of his life while he watched, praying the earth would swallow him as his friend he could never upgrade into his girl cut his soul to shreds. Oh I've been there many times, and there was no way on earth I wanted to be the bloke who fucks people over like that, perhaps because I can't.
So I stopped being horny and didn't do anything. It wasn't difficult. A short while later I was instructed to escort lady to the toilets, which in the event ended up as her dragging me down there in hurried silence. And as we approached the door and she pushed it open, I walked away listening to the telltale sound of violent projectile vomiting.
We all left the bar after that, I took a couple of wrong buses home, and ended up walking for ages and collapsing in bed, alone, at 6:30am.
Total commute across London: 3 hours.
Sense that I did the right thing: Vague to middling.