“I can only remember one of them, man. Last night is almost as blurry for me as it is for you.” Lenny sat across from me in our usual booth at Pedro’s. Pedro’s is a small Mexican restaurant that’s owned and operated by a Mexican family that got sick of being migrant workers. It’s the best damn food in the city, and Lenny and I eat here all the time. We’d finished our meal today and were nibbling on the endless supply of free chips and salsa. “The matchbook girl,” he said as he looked at the matchbook, “Susan was a Stuckey-Chick.”
For years, my friends have called me by my last name because I was one of several Bens growing up. Many of them have since shortened it to ‘Stuck.’ The term ‘Stuckey-Chick’ refers to a certain type of girl, which apparently is the only type of girl I really date. They’ve always been small, petite, and attractive. A history of mental illness isn’t required, but it usually comes with the package. So ‘Stuckey-chick’ can mean a tiny woman, or it can mean a psychopath. It could also be both.
“All right, so we went to Buddies around seven, right? By nine, I was pretty blitzed. This receipt is from last night, and the timestamp says nine-thirty. So I didn’t get Kara’s number until after that. And if I closed out the tab, I’m guessing we hopped.”
Barhopping is a pastime that I will usually avoid. When I go to a bar, I like to claim a spot, mark my territory, and settle. Most of my single friends prefer to cram as many different settings as they can into one evening. Lenny is the archetypical bar-hopper. It drives me nuts sometimes.
“Right. After Buddies, we bounced over to The Pub, and that’s where the night starts getting blurry to me. You were talking to every girl that you saw, so there’s no telling who the receipt-chick is.”
While Buddies is wall-to-wall people packed into a bar the size of a shoebox, The Pub is a bigger shoebox. Buddies is usually full of undergraduates, which leaves me feeling old. The Pub is an older crowd, though. It’s where I usually choose to hang out if we’re going somewhere to be social in that area.
“Every girl? You sure I was still with you? That sounds like someone else.”
“You said you wanted to test out your Nice Ass approach as much as possible. It was magic, Stuck. You had every girl smiling before you left them for the next one.”
My ‘Nice Ass Approach’ was the prototype for a new method of meeting girls. For the past several months, I’d done a lot of reading on the tactics of pick-up artists and started testing them out little by little. They worked too well.
The biggest problem I had was that it felt like I was being someone else entirely. I had to be a total jackass, and it never felt natural. I’ve always been a Nice Guy. You know the type. He’s the guy who hangs out with fifteen girls, all of whom regard him as a big brother and would never, ever, consider the idea of having sex with him.
The second biggest problem was that the price of getting a woman to fall prey to such a formulaic pick-up was that I had no respect for her. While I could’ve taken the majority of these girls back to my place, I had no desire to.
And so I decided to create a hybrid personality: the Nice Ass. It’s a mixture of the jackass and the nice guy, and feels far more natural to me. Last night was the first trial run, and I blew all the research value of it by getting drunk.
“I wish I could remember the details. I wonder how it would’ve worked if I was sober.”
“I didn’t even know you were drunk until the end of the night. Even then, you were acting sober. Certainly not a blackout buzz, especially for you.”
“Yeah, I was wondering about that myself.” I’ve only blacked out from alcohol once before in my life, and it was at a New Year’s party in high school. I remember someone handing me a full bottle of Smirnoff and then I remember waking up the next day in the front yard of a stranger’s house with an empty bottle of Smirnoff. “I would guess that Kara would be from The Pub, since I would have had the receipt on-hand. Knowing you, we probably hopped again after there.”
“That sounds like me. You can’t assume Kara is a Pub girl, though. You would’ve had that receipt with you all night. I would think that if you were in a bar, there would be plenty of other things to write on that were handy. So where would the napkin-girl and the V.P. have come from?”
“Well, the napkin is white with no marking on it, so that might rule out Buddies and the Pub, because Buddies has their name on their napkins, and the Pub uses those sandpaper-brown paper towels. But she could’ve had the napkin in her purse, so we can’t assume.”
“And the veep?”
“I’m not thinking about her yet. She’s intimidating.”
“Dude, it’s a business card.”
“It’s an intimidating business card. Besides which, the only real clue there is that she thanked me for a dance. Where the hell would we have gone that I could dance with someone? The Vista?”
The Vista is my choice area for bar selection. Buddies and The Pub were in an area known as Five Points, which is overrun with college-aged kids. While The Pub has an older breed of patron, they’re still mostly grad students or recently graduated. The Vista is full of bars that cater more to the thirty-year-old crowd.
“Man, she’d be first on my list. She’s the vice president of I.T. at Portasys. You know she’s loaded!”
“Could be. But she’s also probably bossy, overbearing, and dominant. She’s last on the list to call back.”
“It’s too early to talk about calling them back, dude. You have to wait a few more days.”
“Christ, what is it with the whole mandatory waiting period deal for callbacks? Do we have honest feedback about this from women, or is it entirely a self-imposed theory created by men who are afraid to look clingy?”
“I’m telling you, if you call any of them back before 48 hours, the girl will think you’re a stalker.”
“And I’m telling you, that if she’s the girl of my dreams, she’s thinking about me right now, thinking about how dreamy I am, and wondering if I’m going to call her. If a girl thinks I’m desperate for calling her after 24 hours, then she’s too judgmental for my tastes anyway. I’m going to call at least one of these girls, probably Susan, before the day is over.”
As if it knew we were talking about it, my cell phone buzzed. I flipped it open and looked at the number, which was one I didn’t recognize. I scanned over the four numbers on the table looking for a match, but it wasn’t one of them either. Normally, I’ll let an unknown number roll over to voicemail. Given the situation, though, I pressed the Send button and answered it.
“Yellow?” My friends will often tell me that I don’t have an accent until I answer the phone. So many times I will exaggerate my accent on this greeting so that it becomes a completely different word.
“Is this Ben?” A girl’s voice was on the other side and, from the sound of her voice, she was nervous.
“It certainly is.” Nice Ass answered before I could even think about it. The biggest secret that all pick-up routines have in common is confidence. Answering with such an absolute affirmative is far more confident than a simple ‘Yes.’
“It’s Mary. We met at The Saucer last night.” The Flying Saucer is my bar. If there could only be one bar in existence, this would be the one I would choose and the others could fall to ruin.
“You’re the one who was insanely attracted to me and wouldn’t stop laughing, right?” She had written ‘You are too funny’ on the napkin, so it was a safe thing to say. Judging from her immediate laughter, I knew I was in. Lenny had left his side of the booth and was now within cuddling distance so he could listen in.
“I know that calling you back the day after we met is a little bit clingy, but I’m going out of town tomorrow and won’t be back until Friday afternoon. I didn’t want you to think I was avoiding you.”
“Nonsense. I would think that you were on vacation. And while I appreciate you calling to invite me for a week-long retreat to some tropical location with you, I have to decline because of the short notice. Instead, how about we get together next Saturday for drinks?” Again, the laughter was immediate.
“Darn! I was so hoping that you could squeeze in a trip to Cozumel. It’s going to be lonely without you.” I liked Mary already. It’s one thing to laugh at my jokes. It’s another thing to roll with them and come back with your own. I was looking forward to next Saturday.
“Very sorry. Perhaps it will work out next time. So I’m going to pencil you in for drinks next Saturday, Mary. Eight o’clock?”
“Definitely. But not at the Saucer. It’s too loud there.”
“You know where the Red Tub is?” I asked.
“I’ve heard about it, but never been there.”
“It’s quiet. I’ll call you Saturday afternoon to confirm. You might be worn out after a week of sunbathing.”
“That sounds great. I’ll try not to exhaust myself on fru-fru drinks and tanning. I’ll talk to you then.”
“I’m looking forward to it, Mary.” I clicked the button and closed the phone.
“I told you girls think it’s clingy to call the next day.” Lenny grinned.
I couldn’t help but grin back.