It’s not every day you get the invitation to stare meaningfully into someone’s eyes for a whole two minutes, exchanging nary a word, but that’s what’s landed in my inbox today.
A friend, mindful of my unrelenting failure with the opposite sex, has forwarded me an email invite to an Eyegazing Meet Up, where equal numbers of men and women will attempt to find love in total and utter silence. I’m intrigued.
Billed perplexingly as, “the Cadillac of ice-breakers”, surely it has to be an improvement on banal chitchat and those awkward, unintentional silences that stretch their toes among the unsuspecting participants of standard get-to-know-you dating events?
Besides, I’m curious to know what sort of a person goes to Eyegazing sessions. An added incentive is that it’s in central London, where I’m unlikely to know anyone and even less likely to bump into them again if it all proves a bit too quirky for my taste.
So here I am, at a cosy little bar near Earl’s Court, all lined up with other hopeful singles, and ready to get gazing. After a quick explanation of the etiquette, our compère cranks up the music and our first two minutes begin.
Guy #1 can barely look me in the eye. Luckily, my total lack of shame or, some might say, decorum means that I have no problem eyeballing the poor fella for the full two minutes. He has quite a benign presence, and it’s no problem to gaze into his eyes before we thank each other and move on to the next person.
What’s surprising to me is how some of the guys seem to take it as an exercise in intimidation. Surely if you’ve made all the effort to come to an event like this, at the very least you should be open-minded towards its potential benefits…?
But here I am exchanging menacing stares with some guy I’ve already branded an arrogant idiot, before he’s even said a word. Of course, it says a lot about me that I rise to the bait, but as he shoves his face intimidatingly close to mine, I respond by lurching even closer, and we end up glaring fiercely into each other’s eyes at a distance of 3.5cm.
Gazer #3 fancies himself as the comedy element, and glides his head up, down and from side-to-side, all without ever breaking eye contact. I raise an unimpressed eyebrow by way of response.
Finally I meet another normal human being – an Italian guy whose eyes are friendly and smiley and we pass our two minutes in companionable silence.
Having lived in Italy for a few years, I seem to be an Italian magnet, and he and I gravitate to each other in the break. Although he’s great company, he doesn’t set my heart a-flutter. But he’s here with a female friend, who also turns out to be great fun. We arrange to go for a drink together soon.
So alas, no romance, but at least I’ve made another couple of interesting friends. But I’m still bloody single. Hmmmph.