In December I rejoined the Out website which, since I was first a member (back when the Internet was all fields,) has become much more focused on real-life social events. Put that together with my new drive to socialise and I was bound to give it a go sooner or later. I saw a "Coffee Posse" (I know) advertised at the Powder Monkey - when I registered my interest I hadn't even been there, now it made three weeks in a row! I figured somewhere close to home would be best for my first event, in case I hated it, I'd have a short escape route.
Things didn't start too encouragingly. I had planned on actually ordering coffee (most people already seemed to be on the beers.) But after waiting behind two people getting cappuccino at the bar which took ages, I figured a J2O would be quicker, while still keeping me off the alcohol for a while. Good idea as it turns out - talking to them later it seems the cappuccino was pretty rank. Not ideal for an event called a "Coffee Posse" but hey ho. I found the little sign advertising where the website people were sitting - again the setup downstairs in the PM isn't ideal, as we had a long bench with stools at the opposite side of the tables - it meant a lot of people could fit there, but mingling with a lot of people at a time wasn't easy. As I was sitting next to two people who'd come together, I was bit cut off from half the group, and didn't find much to talk about with the other half. I thought I'd be going home after one bottle.
Ironically, it was people leaving early that shook things up a bit, meaning that we had to reshuffle, and I ended up closer to the other half of the table. Some of the "old hands" also took it upon themselves to mingle, and it got a lot more fun. A list of names of people I met now, largely to help remind myself (although I'll still forget lots, I'm sure...) Alex (the organiser), Rob, David, Russell, Paul, Jan, Jim, John, another David, Matthew... and several others. Lots of nice people, some interesting conversations. I spent much of the time sitting next to David, and we got on pretty well - or at least I think so, either that or he was just too polite to move seats as soon as my back was turned. At one point, when we both had our arms crossed, we were compared to the two grumpy old men from The Muppet Show (anyone remember their names?) He's a Doctor Who fan to the extent that even I was out of my depth some of the time, although people did seem to agree with my summing up of why it was OK for the the 4th Doctor to be mad, but not the 10th. (Namely, that Tom Baker's version was mad as in actually insane as opposed to David Tennant's mad as in "I'm mad, I am!")
Other topics of conversation: Some of the Powder Monkey's peculiarities, such as refusing to call the milk jugs "jugs" and insisting they were "milk pourers." (I thought maybe calling them jugs offends the lesbians.) Also the video screen attached to the jukebox, which mostly showed music videos, sometimes showed plugs for events at the bar, and occasionally would show little clips unrelated to the music, like snowboarding, the pyramids, and hot-air ballooning. I was hoping we'd get some nice pottery next but it wasn't to be. I actually had a bit of a dodgy stomach yesterday, but managed to get over it and soldiered on, despite a couple of trips to the loo. But the loo was another recurring topic of conversation, specifically the fact that the urinals not only have lips but also teeth; and are filled with a mountain of urinal cubes. Look, it just loses something in the retelling, OK?
Far from leaving early, some of us were still there well into the evening. As the music got more dancey we had an attack of middle age and decided to leave and get something to eat. People didn't fancy noodles, which doesn't leave much in Greenwich. Despite John's insistence that anything other than McDonalds is too expensive, we ended up at the Mexican place, Desperados, which after 8 years in the area I still hadn't been to before. We should have known it would be an interesting experience when, the ground floor not having room for a party of 8, the man at the door said in a thick accent "This my cousin! He take you upstairs, look after you!"
The upstairs seating area is a bit of a triumph of space-saving, although perhaps best avoided by claustrophobics - the wooden booths are surrounded by a network of pipes, and stepladders lead up to a second set of booths located right above them. It was like being in a Tex-Mex themed submarine. Our table barely had room for the eight of us - I was lucky to be at the end so at least had some elbow room at my right hand side - and a view out of the window. Gratuitous cameraphone use alert!
I had a BBQ cheeseburger which was both reasonably cheap, and not too challenging for my dicky tummy. It was pretty good and everyone seemed to enjoy the food, although Rob's never turned up until we complained. Then we got the bill, each worked out how much we owed, put the money in, and came up short. Huh? Turns out they'd added a bottle of house white to our bill, which we hadn't had. Bit of a barney ensues, with us eventually just giving them the money we actually owed, then walking out. I think they thought that as a couple of us were vocally drunk, we'd be easy marks - naughty Desperados, won't be getting my custom again in a hurry! (I'm sure they're gutted.)
The excitement wasn't over, as a worse-for-wear Alex was approached by a dodgy character asking for a second pound for bus fare. For some reason Alex decided to lecture him on how getting an Oyster card would mean he only had to pay £1 per bus journey, not £2. This didn't impress the guy who yelled at him that despite being surrounded by his mates, he'd still be happy to slit his throat. Alex was last seen heading towards Greenwich Market while the junkie was distracted, only for him to go running after him a couple of minutes later. I was assured I didn't need to worry, that Alex can take care of himself and this was par for the course. Oh well. Rob, David and I headed off to the other side of Greenwich, where David had his bike and Rob and I got on a bus.
Overall one of my better ideas was that, apart from one vodka and coke with food, I stayed off alcohol - around new people getting drunk makes me less sociable, not more. Well worth going to, it was a nice crowd and a couple of people I wouldn't mind seeing again outside of the Out context. I've already signed myself up for next month's Posse, as well as for bowling. I'm told the bowling events come with additional lessons in sign language for some reason. Could be interesting.