Date Night #3: And Bingo Was His Name-o…

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Ah date night. That wonderful night when you screw your courage to the sticking point and put yourself out there for one more spin on the merry-go-round of love. This one took place at The Shortlands Tavern in Shortlands, for a ‘meet the parents’ bingo night…

Of course, I was slightly terrified. Although V. and I hadn’t been dating all that long, we had already ended up living together, so it seemed inevitable that a meet the parents evening was on the cards. It’s a right of passage that every nascent relationship has to go through at some point, but some people deal with it better than others. Over the years I’ve heard so many horror stories and have even had a few myself – I’ll never forget the Dad of a girlfriend I once met, a military man, who silently spent five minutes looking me up and down before turning to his daughter and saying “He’s an ugly-looking f****r, isn’t he?” After hearing a few of my friend’s other tales, Robert De Niro’s lie detector test in Meet the Parents doesn’t seem that far fetched at all.

I had described her mother as a strong, funny woman, who wanted to make sure any prospective son-in-law would be worthy of her daughter. Her Dad was described as a laid back WWI enthusiast with a penchant for photography and Metallica. In order to make the meeting as relaxing as possible it was decided that it should take place during a bingo night at her parents local. Of course this was a bit of a double-edged sword. The balls would obviously provide a distraction if conversation ran dry, but they might also make it harder to get to know her parents properly, what with all the fat ladies (88) and Bishop Desmond (22)’s flying around.

While I waited for them to arrive, I fell into conversation with a guy at the bar who had appropriated a look I could only describe as ‘Lumberjack fisherman’.  “Don’t worry mate,” he said. “Just be yourself. At the end of the day, the worst thing you can do is try too hard. Hopefully they’ll like you, but really that’s just a bonus – the important thing is that they see how much you love their daughter.” I thought about V. and how much she made me grin every time I saw her, and I realised that this part at least would come easy. But his ‘trying to hard’ comment echoed in my ears, and I worried that maybe the flowers I’d bought for V.s’s mum were a bit much. Maybe I could… but then the door opened and it was game on.

As it happened, I needn’t have worried. V.’s mum was as stylish and funny as her daughter, and her dad was great company and full of anecdotes. As the gins and pints flowed, so too did the conversation, and while the bingo certainly brought out a competitive side of V. that I’d never seen before, it proved a great ice-breaker as we raced to complete our cards. Every time one of us got down to needing one or two final numbers to complete a board, the tension rose to hilarious levels, but despite me sitting there trying to psychically manipulate the balls, Cameron’s Den (10) never came up for V., and another punter snagged the prize. So despite our best efforts, none of us managed to win anything, but it didn’t really seem to matter, as we’d all had such a good laugh.

After the bingo we chatted for another hour or so, and by the time V.’s parents left, it felt like the evening had been a success, especially as they’d invited us to Sunday lunch.  On my way out, the fisherman-lumberjack, now significantly more inebriated, grabbed my arm. “I think you… you did alright there, mate,” he slurred slightly. “I reckon you’re about 80% there. Just don’t mess up on Sunday and you’ll be fine. You’re a… you’re a good lad.”

On the walk home, V. told me I’d done pretty well. “My mum asked me ‘Do you think he liked us?’” She laughed. I couldn’t but help grin, as I realised that her mum had probably been just as nervous as I was. It’s easy to forget sometimes that we’re all just people, hoping that we make a good impression. But I felt happy that things had gone well. “I take it you liked them then?” I smiled at her. “Bingo.”

 

If you’d like to try your hand at their monthly Bingo night, check out The Shortlands Tavern website for dates. The fish and chips they serve are pretty excellent too.

 

Jon Hamblin writes ‘The Things I’ve Done To Impress Women”, an award winning blog that details his frequent failures to impress any women ever. Read about his other Date Nights.


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