In the job of pouring cocktails for a living and in general running a sideshow, your friendly bartender has certainly witnessed the gamut. Especially when it comes to guys and dolls “hooking up”. He’s seen all the moves, he’s heard all the lines (“Is this your first time here, Miss?”), so little at this point surprises as far as “approach” goes. The plot and dialogue don’t change, just simply the players. But there’s one scenario I recently witnessed that veered off the script completely, and one that I might suggest if you want to be different. It’s subtle, it’s cerebral, and all you need is a pen, a brain and a newspaper. Here’s the approach…
I saw this guy who was sitting at the bar working on The New York Times crossword, an act right there precluding any notion he’d spent the previous three hours working on his Ab muscles. A man, it implied, of the mind and not the torso. (Though he he may have jogged to the bar to get all his axons firing.) And as this guy proceeded to tackle his project, taking an occasional sip of his Hendrick’s martini, he caught the eye of a woman who was watching his progress, or at this point his lack of it. For he was stumped, it appeared, by the shy, baffled look on his kisser.
Now before I proceed with this Barland dance, let’s all agree that everyone likes to feel smart, right? Meaning we love to be asked a question to which we know the answer, it just makes us feel great. So our puzzler not unaware of this fact decided to try and make his onlooker feel great… with a question from his puzzle.
“Do you do puzzles?” he asked, breaking the ice.
“Ah, no, not really,” the woman replied, “I’ve tried them in the past but I just don’t have the patience.” Then she took a sip of her wine which was Pinot Noir.
“Oh well,” he said with a sigh, “I was going to ask you a question but never mind then.” Then he sipped his martini.
“Oh no, please ask me,” she said, “not doing puzzles doesn’t mean I won’t know the answer. Please, fire away!”
“Of course it doesn’t,'” he said, “geez, that was stupid of me.”
They were both in their mid to late twenties I would guess, both well dressed straight from work, and both were holding a smile that said this might go somewhere. Even if he stumped her.
“Okay,” proceeded the puzzler, “here’s your question. Are you ready?”
“Ready,” she declared loudly, bigger smile now.
“Okay,” he said, “here goes…” then he asked her the question.
Now I don’t remember what the question was so I’m not going to make one up here, but the woman remembered the answer which was all that mattered. The puzzler had thrown out the line and the hook was set. For from there on out they were bonded together in a feeling of easy good cheer, she feeling proud she had helped him out, coming off smart in the process, him feeling glad he’d created a common ground for them… a premise from which to proceed in getting to know each other. Because after that magical Q & A moment and a couple of laughs about “patience” she said she had lacked, the woman then said (The woman then said), “Do you mind if I slide my drink over there and join you?” And join him she did.
But whether the guy had planned the whole thing I’m really not sure as I type this, maybe he actually did just want her to help him, but I seriously doubt it. You could see when he first had broken the ice there was more on his mind than “Nine Down” (or was it “Fourteen Across”?), he really wanted the answer to, “Who is this woman?”.
And there you have it! A Barland way of saying hello and maybe a whole lot more… hopefully a future Sunday morning sprawled on a king-sized bed, doing the puzzle together after all night bliss… and all because of a man, a pen and a newspaper. The cerebral approach!
Uh-oh, I just had a devious thought that was most un-cerebral.
See, just as there are cads out there when it comes to those torso-ed beauties… the aforementioned Ab-noxious guys with all the bad bar lines… there’s also got to be a cad out there who does puzzles. There just has to be. And here’s how he’ll show his prowess with the power of the puzzle. (Geez, this is devious, I’m embarrassed I thought of it.)
This cad will bring up The New York Times, early in the morning on-line, then using all the sources available within his radius of reference… the dictionary, Roget’s, the Google network and phone calls as life-lines to friends who are smarter than he is… he’ll complete the puzzle and give it a good, hard look. (A long, good, hard look!) After which, in an outdoor cafe later that day in full view of many alert lovelies, he’ll whip out the actual newspaper version and fly through the thing as if he were George fucking Will! As if he’d never seen it! And no one will be the wiser except for this dumb ass.
Yes, this man is out there, this puzzler with no sense of conscience, if not I’ve just created him as of this writing.
Hmmmm, now if only I could figure out One fucking Down in today’s New York Times enigma… an eight letter answer to the question “pop-up generator”… it’s sunny outside and there’s outdoor dining across the street! Better sign off and see if I can use one of my life lines…
See ya’ next week-end, dear reader, after Confession.