Chaperone, sidekick, wingman, call it what you want but never underestimate their value. They are an integral part of any social situation, helping their mate attract or deter wanted/unwanted attention. It's easy to spot them; step into a bar and they are usually the one hovering like a bee next to their mate, close enough to offer assistance, but far enough not to get directly involved.

Wingmen are the answer to everyone’s prayers because of the support they offer. They are your extra pair of eyes and ears. They are on beer goggle alert, slapping you round the face with a wet fish (metaphorically speaking) when you’re about to hook up with a munter. They consciously mastermind and monitor every hurdle, task and scenario that you have to overcome in order for you to obtain your goal, whether it be attracting the attention of a desired target or deterring the affections of a drunkard trying his/her luck. They can be your inside man or your escape route and have the ability to make the situation run as smoothly as possible without having any direct involvement.

Men and women use ‘the wingman’ for completely different purposes. Men use their wingman to combat the difficulty of singling out the woman they want, whereas women use the wingman as a body guard. Male wingmen will distract the other girls attention, and sustain the conversation long enough for his mate to get a look in. He ensures his mate looks presentable at all times, prevents interference, pumps your ego, adapts to any situation, and he will have no problem in telling you if you are wasting your time on a girl when you could be getting more successful results elsewhere. The female wingman has a similar role but offers a different kind of support. She will bat off unwanted attention, fend off ugly men, and play ‘the loner’ if you wish to talk to the fit guy at the bar trying to ease you up.

Notably, there are many pitfalls to being a wingman, which is why I feel their duty can be highly under-appreciated; they do not get the venerable credit they so often derserve. Male wingmen will willingly go to the ends of the earth to help their mate gain the attention of their desired target, even if they are made to look like a pillock. The male wingman has to take one for the team, chat up the fatty so his mate can get the batty, and in doing have to endure dull banter and dry conversation. He may even have to take on a whole group of disgraceful looking girls knowing he will get shot down, just so that his mate can go in for the kill. He will downplay his strong points and flatter his mate to build him a more desirable persona. The male wingman has a mutual understanding with his mate that he will do whatever it takes for him to score. Friendship at it’s best.

The pitfalls of being a female wingman are just as bad, if not worse. They are seen as the loner, the extra, the ugly friend, the cockblocker. But they have to ignore this nametag and keep their eyes and ears peeled for lecherous perverts prying on their mate. Along with having to endure long bouts of insincere flirting with the male wingman, she may have to deter attention, sweep her mate away from multiple men and in the worst case scenario step in and offer an escape route. Take for example my good friend, who stepped in to help me last night. There I was minding my own business at the petrol station, filling up on diesel when, out of her peripheral vision she spied two perverts at the ATM machine by the kiosk. As I stood there dolled up to the nines, one of them beckoned me over and shouted: “Oi! Oi! My size…come chat to mans, one minutes babes, come. What’s your number?” Instinctively my girlfriend  wound down the window, stuck her head out and retorted back “It’s 9-9-9. If you can’t get through to her on that line, you may as well tell them you’re a rapist while you’re at it.” Job done, danger averted, the enemy fighter was on my tail and my wingman fired the shots.

The trouble is everyone wants a wingman, it’s just nobody wants to be one. It’s an undesirable role that can be awkward and highly stressful and it takes a lot of effort. You have to be on the ball at all times even though you aren’t the one who’s reaping the rewards. It’s a selfless duty that you sometimes have to undertake for the glory of your friend, but just think of it as an IOU. The next time you’re out and in need of a wingman your mate will be there just as he/she was for you, saving you from a sticky situation which you otherwise wouldn’t be able to get out of. And you will thank your lucky stars, so always remember to return the favour.