Monday, December 19, 2011

Tales From The Meet Market

I was standing at the end of the bar looking at my phone. It was my first slow moment in about four hours. The bar had been busy, but it was getting late and things were tapering off -- enough that when the house phone rang, I answered it. (Answering the phone is what the fancy voicemail system and the manager are for. The bartender is for stuffing twenties in the drawer, and that always gets first priority.)

"Hi, are you still open?" asked an adult female voice.
"Yeah, til 4," I said.
"How's your night going?" she asked.
"Great! How's yours?" I probably sounded a little too chipper, like to the point of sarcasm, but she didn't seem to notice.
"What are you doing after work?" That was a weird question. It's not the first time I've ever been asked that by a stranger, but I don't believe I've ever been asked by a stranger over the phone.
"Going home!" This was true. I had to get up in the morning and go to my day job.
"Are you horny?"

Here I paused for just a second. I'm not really eligible to have this conversation. But how often do you get to talk dirty on the phone with an adult female voice? So I say, "Yeah, aren't you?" I do not say it sexy. I say it the way I would say it if the question was "Are you going to try the ice-cream cake?"

"Yeah, I am," she said. She said it sexy. She did not sound ugly, and despite the fact that it could obviously go nowhere, some part of me wanted to go forward with some sexy talk.  
"What do you look like?"
Fun is fun, but I now realized it was time to pull the e-brake. "Six foot nine, Samoan, four hundred pounds," and I hung up the phone.

I thought to myself, that was a pretty funny conversation. Too bad nobody will believe it. I told some people at the bar -- the gang from the bar next door that had just got off work -- what had just happened and they laughed and everything but I could tell, they didn't really believe it.

Then my friend Paul, manager of record that night, comes down the steps. "Paul! Listen to this. This girl just called on the phone--"
"Six foot nine! Samoan! Four hundred pounds!" Paul exclaimed.

Paul had been in the office when the call came in, on his hands and knees under the desk, putting envelopes in the safe. He'd reached up to the phone on the desk and put it on speakerphone so he could talk from under the desk, but I came on the line and took the call while he listened, so he heard the whole thing.

Randomly calling a bartender and hitting on him sight unseen is pretty weird behavior, and I'm sure her dad would be very proud. But from my post behind the busiest bar below 14th street, I have seen more than a few cases of weird behavior in the bizarre mating ritual of the untethered New Yorker with an unobstructed view.

One story leaps to mind above all others: I was working at another bar in south Park Slope on a busy Saturday night. The place had a good DJ and there was a nice dance party happening in the back room. A group of ladies came in who I recognized because they had come in a few times over the last few months. I remembered them because it was apparent that they were not born as women. They were good customers, I had no problem with them whatsoever, but they did stick out a bit. (You just can't wear that much makeup.)

They stayed out in the front room while people came back and forth from the dance floor in back. One of them was soon joined by a sweaty white guy in a white t-shirt, a bit of a Kevin, who had been on the dance floor. He ordered a drink, she began talking to him. She was African-American, very short, kind of round. She wasn't as totally, embarrassingly unconvincing as a lady as some of her friends, but you didn't have to look at her long to get the picture.

This fellow talking to her either didn't know or didn't care. He soon lit up and judging by his body language was 100% delighted to be talking to this enchanting discovery. He never stopped looking at her, never stopped smiling, and was soon stroking her hand.

The clutch of people at the end of the bar, who the guy had come in with and were giggling amongst themselves as their friend, seemingly unawares, flirted shamelessly and directly with an obvious female impersonator. They argued whether one of them should step in, physically separate them, and tell the guy what he was doing. But when he took her hand and stared into her eyes, they realized things were about to go to another level and the decision made itself. The argument instantly shifted from whether it should be done to who would be the one to do it.

Meanwhile, this couple was only getting closer, staring into each other's eyes more intently than most new couples (and believe me, I have been present at the conception of many a relationship). Suddenly though, the lady excused herself and went to the restroom. The guy was still beaming even after she was gone. He was totally, visibly smitten.

His friend stepped in and said something. I watched the action from the end of the bar, with his crew. None of us could see what the guy was telling his buddy -- his back was to us -- but the other guy, who was facing us, never came down off his love cloud to even pay attention to what his friend was telling him.

Soon enough, Miss Thing came back, makeup freshened. Concerned Friend retreated back to the end of the bar, and the young couple immediately started making out. The group hit Concerned Friend with a blizzard of questions, and Concerned Friend isn't sure if his buddy understood what he was being told or just didn't care. "She's beautiful," he was reported as saying, over and over.

Seldom have I seen a more passionate bar makeout session than the one that now unfolded before the horrified faces of this guy's friends. But as the facemashing continued, they all seemed to sort of get used to the idea, and decided he was a big boy who might even know what he was doing, and went about their drinking.

After a while Miss Thing excused herself to the bathroom again, and the guy was once again left alone, now not so much beaming as looking like the cat who ate the canary -- very happy and very pleased with himself.

Except now, thanks to the huge amount of makeup his date had been wearing to stay smooth and not stubbley, and to the force and passion of their out-making, the guy looked like a little kid who had just eaten a plate of brownies.

I would gladly pay $1,000 for a color photograph of this moment. $1,020 if it was in a really nice frame.

I have more stories like this but that's enough for now. I'd like to close on a tangentially related note: If you are lucky enough to find yourself in the arms of someone you just met in a public place, particularly a bar, extra particularly if you're sitting at the bar, go ahead and make out with them. Make it meaningful. Be passionate. It's all good, new love is awesome. I first hooked up with my wife that way.

But: you have fifteen minutes before it gets weird. If you must make out longer than fifteen minutes (and I think fifteen is generous -- a lot of people would cap it at ten), once again that's awesome, it indicates a level of interest and passion that most of us envy. We just don't want to see it play out right in front of us. Get a room.

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