I know what you're thinking: Why does this suddenly sound like a Sex and the City column written by Jane Austen? Hang in there, gentle reader.
The women reading this will get what I'm putting out. When you and your friends go out hoping to chat up some fellas, taking the time, of course, to groom yourselves properly and maybe even apply an essential oil or two, you have one thing on your mind: the need to feel pretty via validation from men.
But therein lies the rub.
You see, it has been my experience that when I go out with a girlfriend for the sole purpose of meeting men -- makeup applied, yabbos hoisted, open yet mysterious looks on our faces -- absolutely no one shows any interest in us. Not even the guy in the Manowar T-shirt.
Again, I know what you're thinking: Them gals must be pretty fugly. Well, I can't speak for myself, but as for my friend Melanie, she is extraordinarily beautiful and under most circumstances renders males embarrassingly timid.
No, it's what we have taken to calling "Murphy's Law of Romance." If you want guys to approach you, they won't; if you want to just sit quietly and catch up with your girlfriend, you will be inundated with unwanted advances. It's gotten to be a running joke with Melanie and me, and we decided to go out and test our theory one more time last week.
We chose Amber on 14th Street, where Church meets Market. I have seen some of the best-looking guys in the city in this place, the drinks are reasonably priced, and the sofa seats are placed close enough to one another so as to facilitate the exchange of pickup lines. Amber used to be the Zodiac bar, but it just tweren't in the stars for that club, so now the place is filled with Mojito mint leaves, early-'60s thrift store furniture, and the downy haze of cigarette smoke bathed in a soft yellow light (yup, it's a smoking bar, and a legal one, too). It took Amber a while to grab people's attention, but once it did, oy. Now it's usually packed to the gills by midnight.
We sat at the bar after asking two guys to move down a seat so that we could both sit together. They happily obliged with a twinkle in their eyes that read, "Great, womenfolk to flirt with." Oh man, we couldn't have been happier. The guy on the left, John, looked like Meat Loaf if he were part of the Culkin family, and his friend, Sandeep Tata (no joke), was well scrubbed and personable. They were just desperate enough to talk to us.
"Whatcha reading?" I asked John, who had a small stack of science fiction in front of him. He mumbled something inaudible and I smiled and nodded, eyebrows raised in the "Wow, how neat!" formation. We exchanged pleasantries and Sandeep chatted up Melanie.
In the background, more and more people began showing up, all of whom were inordinately stylish and attractive. We all want to be at the places where the stylish and attractive hang out, but once there, are we not wondering if we are stylish and attractive enough to be in their company? These thoughts raced through my Corona-soaked brain as I shifted my focus to the guy who was the obvious owner of the place. You can always tell the owner of a place because he's the guy who smiles at you every time you make eye contact with him. I passed him on my way out of the men's room (don't ask) and he beamed one my way, and now, as I sat at the end of the bar, he emptied our ashtray with a flourish. He was also the only one in the bar wearing a too-tight International Male shirt and black Levi's. But what really gave him away was when he chewed out the bartender in a string of expletives over by the ice chest. What a dick.
My anthropological observations were interrupted by John's voice. "Melanie," he said, pointing to her, "I love that necklace. And you," he said to me, moving his index finger my way.
Ah, what I came for, a compliment from a guy. It was coming, that firm acknowledgement veiled in alcohol-greased niceties that would say, "I think you are cute."
"You totally remind me of my aunt," he said proudly. His aunt? Melanie began to chuckle. I think he could see my face fall a bit, because he hastily added, "But that's a good thing! It has a great association for me."
OK, I'm listening.
"She was awesome. I always wanted her to baby-sit me."
The multi-CD shuffler that passes for Amber's DJ selected a Pinback song (other faves include everything from Bad Company to Franz Ferdinand). I gnawed on my lime. Melanie wasn't even halfway through her beer.
Suffice it to say that at this point I wanted to skedaddle. The International Male asked if he could refresh my pint. Melanie asked if we could stay for one more drink. Apparently Sandeep Tata, electrical engineer extraordinaire, was quite the conversationalist. "Sure," I said. My pride had been trampled on with extreme prejudice, but I surrendered for the greater good of my friend's love life. I am a team player. I could wait. Besides, our theory had been disproved, and John had plenty of reading material to choose from.