Tuesday, April 13, 2010
100 Proof: How to get picked up at a bar by an ex-cop
Do NOT take out your notebook and write in it. This proves you are semi-normal, instead of abby-normal, like all writers.
Don’t talk to anyone but the bartender. This makes you look available.
Don’t talk to yourself. This makes you look creepy.
Don’t whistle. Not even once. Seriously. Who fucking whistles any more?
Instead of looking at the ex-cop, stare at the TV screen over her head. Bonus points if the TV is playing a soccer game. Double plus bonus points if one of the teams is Manchester United.
Glance now and then at her and her two companions. While glancing, try to figure out which one is the friend and which one is the mother of the girl who looks like Jennifer Connelly. Remember to look back at the TV once you notice the honking big diamond on the third finger of this girl’s left hand.
Pay no attention to the ex-cop as she gestures your way. Concentrate on the game. This is like wearing a sign that says I AM SUCH A SPORTS-LOVING GUY.
Only look up when the ex-cop asks the bartender to get your attention. This is like wearing a sign that says I AM AN OBLIVIOUS MALE. Which, when translated into Female English, reads OH C'MON--YOU'VE KNOWN HOW TO DEAL WITH GUYS LIKE ME SINCE HIGH SCHOOL.
Stare politely at the ex-cop as she applies a layer of lipstick at you. Whatever you do, do NOT do a double-take at the exaggerated way she’s smacking her lips, and on no account allow your face to reflect the WTF-is-she-doing thought that is now filling your head.
Listen politely to the ex-cop as she calls out: “So what does it take? So what does it take to get your attention?” Repeat above.
Introduce yourself as the ex-cop comes over to sit beside you. Listen attentively as she explains how she and her best friend and her best friend's daughter were wondering why you were looking at the TV instead of them. Do not under any circumstances defend yourself by telling her that the Penile Hive Mind is always more attracted to images of people than it is to real people. Explaining the male fascination with porn is always a turn-off.
Watch the ex-cop return to her original seat. Glance briefly at the game again, but do not linger. Spend more time watching the ex-cop. This is the equivalent of wearing a sign that says I AM A MALE WHO LISTENS.
Make sure there are no other women at the bar. Wearing a sign that says I AM A MAN WHO LISTENS is the dating equivalent of a prospector holding up a gold nugget and yelling “Look what I just found!” and actually expecting not to get trampled in the ensuing stampede.
Wave to the other two women as the ex-cop introduces you across the bar. And stop staring at the Jennifer Connelly lookalike. She's married, asshole.
Shout "Nice to meet you!" across the bar, then say to yourself, “What the hell” and bring your beer over to where they’re sitting. And while you're at it, kiss your ass goodbye.
Ignore the bartender’s evil little grin. Because she knows you, she will be able to predict what is going to happen during the next twenty minutes. Because she knows you well, she knows it is useless to tell you what is going to happen. And because she knows you very well, she is texting a friend to bring a video camera so she can record this for posterity.
Engage in small talk. This includes explaining (1) where you work at your day job (but not mentioning the writing), (2) why you’re at this particular bar (but not how often you come here), and (3) why you are single.
Do NOT go into details about your past. The more details you supply about an ex-girlfriend, the more you look like someone who is picking at a wound, instead of allowing it to heal. And while there is not a woman in the world who won’t fall like a ton of bricks through greased air for a wounded man, she will only do it if the wound isn’t autographed.
Show an interest. When the ex-cop mentions her son, ask her how old he is. When she tells you, calculate her age and wait for the inevitable next question.
Be charitable. When the ex-cop asks you how old you think she is, subtract five years from your initial calculation. Then sip your beer and subtract three more. Then tell her the final adjusted number.
Express surprise. Fifty-five? Really? Come on--that's a speed limit, not an age.
Lie. When she asks you your age, shave five years off the truth. Do not under any circumstances answer this question by adding, "But I'll always be nineteen inside," or, "But emotionally I'm twelve," no matter how true this is.
Find a common ground. When the Jennifer Connelly clone mentions that she just moved back from London, ask her where she lived in the city. When she mentions that it was right next to a section of the Old Roman Wall, tell her about the day-long walking tour of the Roman Wall you and your ex-girlfriend did that Sunday years ago.
Know the value of the conditional tense. When the ex-cop hears this and says, “See? I could do that with you. We could both do that one day in London,” nod and say, “Yes, we certainly could.”
Know the value of silence. Then say nothing, trusting that after a moment's pause the ex-cop will immediately bring the conversation back to how dumb you were to watch British soccer players instead of three women across the bar.
Ignore the female friend who just sat down at the end of the bar. You can glance at her, but Jennifer Connelly will see it, so do not wave or make your presence known until you walk past her on the way to the men’s room. Then and only then can you give her a quick hug and say hello, knowing that Jennifer Connelly is watching your every move.
Point out the regulars. When you return from the men’s room, make it a point to nod at a couple of regulars at the bar. Then point them out to everyone, making sure to include your female friend and adding as casually as possible, “Huh. Her boyfriend must be working tonight.”
Be upbeat. When Jennifer Connelly’s mother asks whether your girlfriend is working tonight, laugh and say, “I’ll tell you when I’ve met her.” Then reflect on how much of a sucker you are for the clever one with the sharp wit. And the daughter who looks like Jennifer Connelly.
Stand your ground. When Jennifer and her mother go to the Ladies together, and the ex-cop starts leaning against you while she’s talking, do NOT back away. Backing away is rude. And since there is an occupied bar stool behind you, it is also physically impossible. The best you can do is not push back, but let yourself be pushed, as if the two of you are squaring off in a social judo match.
Blame the alcohol. When everyone is ready to leave, and the ex-cop wants to know if you’d like to come with them to the next bar, tell her when you have to be at work the next morning. When she says she gets up thirty minutes earlier than you do, blame the alcohol. When she points out that she’s been drinking vodka and you’ve been drinking beer, explain to her that Guinness is different. And slur your words a little, okay?
Pat yourself on the back. Because at no point in the conversation did you bring up the fact that the ex-cop had food stains all over her blouse.
Take her cell number. You never know, right?
Tell her you’ll call her. Because it’s only polite.
Don’t call her. Don’t even think about it. I mean, what are you, nuts? She has food stains all over her blouse.
After they leave, look at the bartender and say: “What just happened?” Try not to kick her when she says: “And I got it all on video.”