Dear Auntie Seraphic,
I'm Canadian like you, but I've been living in the UK for two years now. My very traditional Catholic parish's choirmaster (an elderly widower) likes to have the choir over to his place for a buffet lunch after noon Mass is over. It's basically informal, and sometimes I'm the only woman who goes. (It's a Gregorian Chant choir, or schola, as you like to say, and there aren't a lot of women in it.)
Anyway, most of the guys in the choir are way older than me, and pickings are slim, Auntie. So on the few occasions cute new boys show up to Mass and get invited to the choir lunch, I have waited for someone to introduce me to them. It almost never happens!!! Being a lady, I sit down right away so that the men can sit down, but that often means I'm stuck talking to the same man all afternoon. Meanwhile, all the others form impenetrable circles of men.
On the one occasion I introduced myself to someone, and he practically ran away! What is a girl to do?
Dear Miss Timmy's,
First of all, I must inform our readers that you are referring to Canada's favourite brand of coffee, and that this is a secret code amongst Canadians, a way of identifying each other as Canadians without having to sew the Maple Leaf flag on our knapsacks, etc.
Second of all, I must remind you that you are in the United Kingdom, and if you are spending your social life in drawing (pronounced "droring") rooms with traditional Catholics, you have to understand that nicely brought up Englishmen do not approach females at social events unless they (the men) are drunk or thirty years older than you.
I have it on very good authority that the way Englishmen and Englishwomen, and even Scotsmen and Scotswomen, who have been to (or are at) university win sweethearts is to have a Deep Meaningful Chat at 3 AM at a party after both parties are at least slightly drunk. Another authority has informed me that there would be no marriage and no indigenous birthrate to speak of in Britain if alcohol were suddenly banned.
Thirdly, since it is your parish, and your choir that is having the lunch party, it is YOUR job to approach the shy strangers to say "Hi", not vice versa. (Of course, if you're on friendly terms with your choirmaster, and he won't tease you mercilessly afterwards, you could try asking him to introduce you.) Frankly, I cannot think of a better place to approach cute new boys than in your aged choirmaster's droring room after the noon Mass. Think of yourself as a hostess or, to use a most untraddie phrase, minister of hospitality.
The easiest way to get into a knot of woolly, tweedy Englishmen is to pick up a bowl of crisps and offer it to everyone in the room. This way you get to interrupt, to smile, to introduce yourself, and to make a graceful exit. It's like speed-dating on speed. At a particularly boozy occasion, you can volunteer to refill glasses. This can only serve to make you popular.
Meanwhile, most men in the universe (even in Britain) have forgotten the rule that men shouldn't sit when a lady is standing. At a casual gathering, the dim recollection that this rule ever existed is most unlikely to stir in their minds. So never mind that. Grab the crisp bowl.
Finally, if you introduce yourself to a likely looking lad and he runs away, it's definitely not you. It's him. In my opinion, young traditional Canadian men are not afraid of women, but they are deathly afraid of feminism, whereas young traditional British men are not afraid of feminism (because they refuse to acknowledge its existence) but they are utterly terrified of women. Thus, sigh not so, but let them go, and be you blithe and bonny converting all your sounds of woe, into hey nonny nonny, as a trad Catholic Englishman once said.
Incidentally, there is nothing like teaming up with a bunch of women to create an impenetrable circle of your own. The sight of a lot women completely ignoring them and having a marvellous time drives men mad. When I leave my dinner table with all the women because the port bottle has appeared, some of the men look affronted, some are envious, and when they rejoin us, they all want to know what we talked about.
Grace and peace,