The Cerebral Approach

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.

33 Responses to “The Cerebral Approach”

  1. 1 Paleoprof April 2, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Great post as usual. I am terrible at crosswords so I’d need the young lady’s help a LOT.
    oh and um… computer? 🙂

  2. 2 jc April 2, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Well, viagra only has 6 letters. it’s not the pop-up generator in your puzzle.

  3. 3 Ken April 2, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    Scrib: Yes, the cads will always be with us. But what a great pick up line! I thought I had invented a great approach when, in the late 70s, I suggested we take the only script that was available to both of us, go to an empty classroom, and run some lines.We both got cast. We ended up taking that show to the Kennedy Center.

    But I’m out of the dating game. And crossword puzzles never did it for me,

  4. 4 scribbler50 April 3, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Paleoprof: Crosswords are great, I do the Times every day, but I refuse to go Google to bail me out. I’ve been puzzling since before computers so it feels like cheating to me. (I reserve all my cheating for Uncle Sam!)

    jc: Hah! You are the best!! If Viagra had eight letters I’d’ve put it in. (No pun intended! 🙂 )

    Ken: Ahh, the old carry-a-script-along ploy… “Hey, look at me, I’m in show biz!” Glad it worked out though.

  5. 5 physiobabe April 3, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Now that’s a pickup. Oh, yeah!

  6. 6 scribbler50 April 3, 2011 at 11:29 am

    physiobabe: Ya’ like that, huh? The slow but deliberate prowess of brain over brawn.

    I like the way you think.

  7. 7 physiobabe April 3, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Brains over brawn wins the day for me. Every time.

  8. 8 Donna B. April 3, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Put me out of my misery and tell me the answer! Please?

  9. 9 scribbler50 April 3, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Donna B: If you’re referring to the eight letter answer to the clue “Pop-up generator”, it’s “fungo bat”. In case you’re not aware, the fungo bat is used in baseball warm-ups to hit high fly balls to the outfield. What made it hard though, which they’re so damn good at, is the wording which makes you think of “Pop-ups” on the Internet.

    No more misery, Darlin’.

  10. 10 Paleoprof April 3, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    My brain just doesn’t work that way for some reason. BTW do you remember an old Roger Moore Movie “Ffolkes” Moore plays a mercenary. At one point he breaks the bad guy’s code on the spot in no time flat. Someone looks at him and says “I suppose you do the times crossword in 15 minutes” he replies “It has NEVER taken me 15 minutes”. I think Physiobabe would have melted on the spot 🙂

  11. 11 Jennifer April 3, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Brains definitely win over brawn… and if they’re humble, humorous brains… oh dear…

  12. 12 scribbler50 April 3, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Jennifer: Why I think I’ve hit a chord here, nice to hear.

  13. 13 Anonymoustache April 4, 2011 at 7:40 am

    Great post, Scrib50!
    I am a crossword addict and will do them anywhere…on buses, trains, planes, bars….you name it. Wouldn’t have guessed fungo bat if you’d spotted me the f-u-n-g- and bat!! Learned something today….!

  14. 15 scribbler50 April 4, 2011 at 8:54 am

    Anonymoustache: Two things… First off, I’m not surprised you’re a crossword addict as your plays on words in so many of your comments here (some of them downright brilliant!) have displayed at the least you’re a wordsmith extraordinaire.

    And secondly… I agree, “fungo bat” is exceptionally hard especially laid out nakedly as it was in my post. But had you seen it in the framework of the puzzle with the luxury of all the solved words which abutted it, I’m sure you would’ve (if I may, Herr Wordsmith) hit it out of the park!

    Later, friend.

  15. 16 Autistic Lurker April 4, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Scrib, are you reading my mind?

    At my usual bar, some month ago, I was reading the newspaper (politic section) and then, a 35-something woman asked me if she could take some sections of the newspaper and then, we chatted for a few hours.

    Half an hour after she was gone, the barman served me a shooter which I later knew it was that woman who paid it out.


  16. 17 scribbler50 April 4, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Lurker: See that? More proof that the “word” is mightier than the “sordid”.

  17. 18 Jennifer April 4, 2011 at 11:44 am

    However, don’t underestimate the power of the properly placed sordid word.

  18. 19 Anonymoustache April 4, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    As I’ve said before, what you do every week is serve up this literary treat. Whether a sumptuous repast some weeks, or a satisfying snack on others, this literary treat never fails to hit the spot. All I do is partake with glee, gorge myself with this treat, and then, essentially, belch loudly! And you hand me praise for that….you are too kind, bro, but thank you.

  19. 20 scribbler50 April 4, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Jennifer: Well aren’t you the sexy little… ah… er… um… Damn! I can’t think of a proper sordid word to use!!! 🙂

  20. 21 d-a-p April 4, 2011 at 4:49 pm



  21. 22 scribbler50 April 4, 2011 at 5:55 pm


    (T) H-A-T

    (H) A-S

    (A) P-P-R-O-P-R-I-A-T-E-L-Y

    (N) A-I-L-E-D

    (K) I-N-D

    (S) E-N-T-I-M-E-N-T

    PS: I tried to fix your comment so the “o” was in the proper space, as I’m sure you intended, but this system keeps lining it up the way it is. Your cleverness shows nonetheless however, so thanks, Bud!

  22. 23 Courtney April 5, 2011 at 8:32 am

    hmm, I think I would totally fall for that, actually – I love crossword puzzles but don’t do them nearly enough. I’ve never spent time in a bar by myself, though – although tonight for the first time I actually will – husband is putting the baby to bed for the first time (he must master this as friday night I am actually going out with girlfriends for the first time since her birth) and I have decided to go get a glass of wine and a dessert at one of our favorite restaurant bars to reduce the rising anxiety I have about him taking over this duty! My first alone time in a bar – should be fascinating!

  23. 24 scribbler50 April 5, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Courtney: Good for you on your night on the town, you deserve it. And try not to worry about hubby (okay?) meaning enjoy that glass of wine and your time with your girlfriends, I’m sure he’ll pull off his Mr. Mom duties like a champ. “Cheers!”

    And congratulations on your beautiful new daughter.

  24. 25 Brenda April 5, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Once again, you are a life line, Scrib. Guffawing out loud down here. Ab noxious? Marvelous. how bout gym nausea?
    But there’s a guy drinks at a bar near me who I’ve been watching pick up girls for a while now.
    “So you must be a local,” he says to his lovely “mark.” I mean, everybody else here looks like a such an out of towner.”
    This is a destination dining kind of joint, right? So 99 times out of 100, the drinkers/women are all out towners. Tourists. Which is why the girl beams at the compliment and slides over to join him.

  25. 26 scribbler50 April 5, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Brenda: I love “gym nausea”, and it sounds like you have a real pro down there plying his charade. But hey, sleaze factor aside (as hard as that is to do), sounds like he’s got a pretty good scam going on. However, HOWEVER… if he ever tries to pull that off on a woman who has a camera hanging from her neck, two pieces of luggage and a bus ticket sticking out of her purse, you better step in and tell him he’s gone too far!

    Thanks, dear friend!

  26. 27 Pharm Sci Grad April 8, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    A nice uplifting tale this week – how lovely. That one’d get me too! Brains are forever you know. 🙂 Cheers!

  27. 28 scribbler50 April 8, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Sci Grad: Brains ARE forever, and they require not one single sit-up!
    Glad you enjoyed, my friend, cheers back at ya’. 🙂

  28. 29 Pieter B April 14, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Intelligence is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

  29. 30 The Hornet April 15, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Most cerebral!

    This tale reminds me of a funny story: My college buddies and I have an annual Vegas trip we do, usually either the first weekend of the NFL playoffs or the first weekend of March Madness, whichever works out best for the majority of the guy’s schedules. Well, no surprise, these bacchanals are invariably unspeakable gambling and boozefests — and sometimes more — and more often than not there’s a late night run to an establishment specializing in female entertainment (of the dancing variety).

    On one such occasion, one of the fellas brought along a paperback book! Yes, you read that right, a paperback book! For the life of us we couldn’t understand, and much joking ensued on the cab right to the strip club. Once we got there, however, Art went into cerebral mode, finding a little corner booth by himself and setting to reading that paperback. Well, you want to talk about a chick-magnet-in-a-titty bar, every girl in the place was drawn to this guy paying them no mind — nor any money — and reading a paperback! They were all over him, and I’d say that paperback touched more skin and went more places in two hours than the fingers of every guy in the place did all night.

    Ultimately there was one girl who had actually read the book — wish I could remember the name (but I do recall it was not a “bodice-ripper”) — and got into a deep, soulful discussion with Art about it. They talked for what seemed like forever.

    And when the rest of us got ready to leave, Art said simply, “I’m going home with her.” And he did. In fact, he spent the rest of the weekend with her. And he’s been a legend ever since.

  30. 31 scribbler50 April 15, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Pieter: Judging by the preceding comments, especially those from females, you’re absolutely right.

    The Hornet: Damn, that’s a great story… right out of the movies… I just wish you had checked in last week so more readers could’ve seen it. It’s definitely one of those “Who woulda’ thunk it?” kind of things.

    Thanks and Cheers… to you AND the bookworm!

  31. 32 The Hornet April 15, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Sorry I was late to the party with my story. I try to check your place out each Friday (just works out that way) so I guess I’m several days late each time. By the way, you’ve got a great site. You and your stories remind me so much of the #1 bartender at my favorite watering hole (McCarthy’s Irish Pub) here in San Luis Obispo, CA. You guys have the same “voice.”

  32. 33 Autistic Lurker April 15, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    I’m halfway tempted to go to a strip club with a book (something like Blink by Malcolm Gladwell) next time time I’ll go to one….


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