Sunday Mail South Australia column – The one about picking up chicks

I’m exhausted. Possibly because I’ve spent the past month trying to pick up women. I know. WEIRD. And Brad – my husband – has been completely unhelpful.

You see when I left Brisbane in January I also left behind a group of fabulous girlfriends.  My tribe, as I like to call them.  We understood each other. Had each other’s back. And could ring each other during Masterchef with a crisis and know our calls would not be screened. (Now that’s friendship).

But what I miss most are our nights out. Having Thai food, a few glasses of wine and hours of conversation with my closest female friends is to me what mainlining coke off a hooker’s stomach is to Charlie Sheen. Best. Time. Ever.

But then in February Brad, Ava and I moved to Adelaide and I’ve gone from having a tribe of gal pals to having, well, none.  Bummer dude.

And so Operation Nigel No Friends began.

My first strategy was to try turning Brad into a surrogate girlfriend. Annoyingly, Brad is apparently incapable of handling the sheer number of thoughts I have. Thoughts that I feel the need to share.  (When you’re a female and hanging out with your closest friends, there simply is no internal filter. If you think it, it comes out your mouth seconds later. Or even simultaneously.)  I began to notice Brad’s eyes glazing over when I tried to talk to him about whether or not he thinks Dannii Minogue and Chris Smith will have another child. Or if he thinks I should grow out my fringe. Or why Jennifer Anniston chooses such moronic film roles.  Or what the hell Pru Goward was thinking when she compared Jackie O to Michael Jackson.  Sometimes I’ve been talking for a full ten minutes before I’ve realised Brad has actually, err, left the room. Or is, you know, trying to stab himself in the eye with a fork.

So I’ve been left with little choice but to go out and recruit new friends.  Which is why I’ve spent the past month plastering on my cheeriest smile and skulking around playgrounds, libraries, cafes and my gym trying to pick up chicks.  And frankly, it’s  exhausting. It’s exhausting trying to look friendly but intelligent, able to have a laugh but sincere. And all without looking like a stalker.  You know things are desperate when you’ve started using your toddler as your wingman.  “Mummy will give you a biccie if you go and play with that little girl in the yellow hat,” I’ve whispered into Ava’s ear while giving her a gentle * cough * shove towards the playground.  The next thing you know and I’m sidling up to my target saying, “Oh, aren’t those two having fun together!”  This worked particularly well on one occasion … right up until Ava started licking the swing. And then decided to throw bark at the other child. (It happened once and I told her off immediately, I swear.)

But let’s say there’s no bark throwing. No licking of playground equipment and you do SOMEHOW get to first base  (the exchange of mobile number or email addresses). That first get together is like being on a first date. Do you just agree with everything the other woman says? (I am so with you on hating all those cooking shows on TV. You like The Kardashians? I like the Kardashians too!). Or do you demonstrate your interest in current affairs and your ability to have serious discussions? (So. Libya. Thoughts?).  Or do you do the equivalent of wearing trakky dacks and an old t-shirt and just be yourself? (My daughter knows every episode of Olivia The Pig off by heart and last night I fed her weetbix for dinner).

Decisions. Decisions.

I’m pleased to say I am slowly forming an Adelaide posse. Well, not a posse exactly. Okay, I have one friend and her name is Erica.  But so far, so good. For starters, we’ve already organised a girls night out.

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  1. Dale Kerans on April 17, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Poor Bec! lol yes it is very difficult moving somewhere new and ‘starting over’ with the friends thing…I know, I had to do it when we moved from Brisbane to the Downs….took a while. Hope you and Erica hit it off, and it leads to bigger and better things…or at least one more friend to add to the group! And thanks for the smile over Brad’s reaction…I have a hubby like that too…good luck! hugs…Dale xx

  2. ex-london- Gal on April 17, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Oh I know that feeling so well! I remember after moving to London finally being invited on a ‘date’ by a group of cool, nice moms I had been targeting for months – I was so nervous – what should I wear?…. we were going to see Starskey and Hutch so decided to go in my best 70’s gear complete with plaits… when I arrived they looked at me strangely and I had to say “Oh, in Australia we always dress up when we go to the movies???”

    They forgave this strange personal habit and became some of my closests friends to this day!

  3. Tania on April 17, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Hi Bec,
    had a good chuckle re your write up in the sunday mail today. That’s because I can relate. Being from Adelaide originally, I’ve travelled and worked in other states and countries. But upon returning things had changed.
    Those here who haven’t experienced a bigger world probably won’t testify to this, but a good majority of the locals are very ‘clicky’. The travellers tend to be more open minded. And like myself welcome those from all walks of life. I love hearing about others peoples exciting experiences.
    I’d be glad to catch up. If you have plenty who are interested, please let me know. We can all get together for a good gas bag. I’m late thirties and looking for those of a similar age.
    Kind regards


  4. Mrsski on April 18, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Hi Rebecca
    I was tickled pink when I saw your column starting to appear in the Adelaide Sunday Mail, 15 months ago I moved here from the D’Downs area and had read your column up in the QLD Sunday Mail. Now here you were (are you stalking me?). The first column had me nodding my head as it mirrored my families experience – we love it here, have done from the very first week. We have lived in various places (Sydney, Townsville, Albury, Melbourne, Brisbane – in no particular order) but this was our first foray west of the east coast. The only sticking point for me has been making the friends. I am an outgoing (read: could talk the leg off an iron pot) sort of a person and have a wealth of experiences and bizarre stories that could fit almost any occasion…and yet finding common ground to “start” the ball rolling has been more difficult than anticipated. I wish I could go back to being a kid for a few moments and sidle up to a likely looking candidate and ask “will you be my friend?”. It is lame trying to explain to my new “acquaintances” that I am lonely and I am looking for friends. At what point can you introduce someone you know (have met 2-3 times, have shared stories with and stood around in the school yard after dropping off the kids with) as a friend?
    Here are my tips for what they are worth (I have 12 months on you but I don’t think I am much further ahead in the “making friends” stakes). Keep putting yourself in those opportunities where you might meet your next “best friends”. As lame as it sounds….tell people you are struggling with this issue – although I conceed you have done this in spectacular style with your column, I have not been quite so public or wide reaching as you :). Find a new hobby (I took up a short 12month uni course and learnt how to crochet). It will get better if you want it to. You are doing all the right things, just as I am. The difference is the audience, Adelaide people already have their “tribe” and aren’t always aware that people like you and I exist that need ‘bringing into the fold’. Keep telling them you need a place to belong and they will get it eventually, let’s both pray it is sooner rather than later.
    For what it’s worth I would be your friend in a heart beat (no I am not stalking you 🙂 ). All the best with your mission.
    Cheers Mrsski

  5. Sharon on April 18, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Hi Bec – I am with ‘TC’ I had a good laugh reading your write up as well. I have always lived in Adelaide but have travelled extensively. My husband and I have always considered a move interstate but we are slightly reluctant due to family and friend support here in Adelaide. I am a mother in my late thirties and have often wondered how hard it would be to enter into a new group of friends interstate. Adelaide circles can be quite clicky, but once your child starts kindy/school new friendships arise (thankfully). Happy to catch up for coffee. Cheers Sharon

  6. Chell on May 2, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Hi Bec – your adventure into finding new friends in a new city will strike a cord with many women. Having a toddler or being pregnant gives you a free pass to all those mother groups all looking for friends with children the same age. I found it easy making new friends with a baby in tow. I moved to Brisbane 4 years ago as a single mother with two school aged children, working full time and still haven’t made a single friend I can call upon for coffee. The difference being that when your working from home with small children, you do have more time to meet up during the week when Hubby is at work. Once the kids start school and all the Mums are at work for volunteering at the tuckshop your chances of hooking up with potential dates is reduce to almost zero. Good luck with your search for a girlfriend or two! Cheers Rochelle

  7. Em-shazzam! on June 1, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    It is so hard making friends in Adelaide. I’m an Adelaidian but I’ve lived overseas so I have a bit of an outsider’s perspective. In Adelaide, you can see someone 5 different times at 5 different events and they still won’t think it’s cool to talk to you. Or even let on they recognise you. Most times you need someone to introduce you – like people will only make friends with people who come with a reference!

    But the coolest people in Adelaide are the ones who buck that trend. They *are* out there. I find the same thing that works for guys picking up works for making friends in Adelaide: pick your target and then be super confident.

    Happy scouting!

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About Bec

Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.

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