That evening I lay on my couch, looking at the receipt, the matchbook, and business card. Despite Lenny’s advice, and Hollywood’s reinforcement of that advice, and despite the fact that Mary had already called me today, I was going to call at least one of these three women before eight o’clock. I had programmed the four numbers into my phone, and added in the number that Mary had called me from earlier. In case I’d given my number to any of the other girls, I didn’t want to appear clueless if one of them called me when I didn’t have their numbers in front of me.
Susan was a safe bet because Lenny remembered her. She hadn’t given any clues about our meeting on the matchbook, aside from the matchbook itself, but I had gotten a few details from Lenny and scribbled them under her number. She was a petite blonde with shoulder-length hair, and her beer of choice was Newcastle.
Lenny and I have a running theory about how the beers that women drink reflect something about their personality. A Budweiser girl, for example, is either a girl who is dating a frat boy and he bought it for her, or a girl who is drinking beer just because it’s expected of her. A Guinness girl is usually a woman who is self-confident and knows exactly what she wants. Newcastle girls tended to be a little on the earthy, tree-huggy side.
I set the matchbook back on the coffee table and picked up the receipt from Buddies. I couldn’t shake the idea that Kara was going to be a Pub girl, despite Lenny’s correct observation that the receipt would’ve been the first handy piece of paper regardless of location. One of the rules of picking up girls, if you intend to try for more than one, is never let them write their number on your skin. Other girls will see it. If I’d met her at the Pub, she’d probably be cool enough to take a phone call the next day without psychoanalyzing it into an expression of clinginess. But there would be a serious lack of information going into the conversation.
The only other option was Diane. I wasn’t joking with Lenny when I said I was intimidated. Portasys, despite having a stupid tech company name, was reputed for hiring only quality people. For this girl to be a vice president of IT there, she would probably be out of my league. If she drank beer, I’d bet she was a Guinness drinker. More likely, she drank fine wine.
I had to laugh at myself with that thought. Here I was, painting a picture of some corporate, high-class, go-getter in a man-tailored business suit from her business card alone. Laughing, however, did not change the fact that I was intimidated. I set her card back on the coffee table with the decision not to revisit that one until Tuesday at the earliest.
In the end, Kara won out and I dialed her number at fifteen minutes before eight o’clock. The phone rang three times with no answer, and I could imagine her looking at her caller ID thinking, “Oh my god. He’s a clingy one! I’m not going to answer it.” The line picked up and paused, indicating that a machine was answering the call. The recording was one of those sickeningly cute ones where two roommates made the message together.
“Hi, this is Sheryl.”
“And this is Kara!”
“We are totally not answering the phone right now.”
“Because we’re both on dates with very rich men.”
“And we’re going to marry them.”
“So you have no shot at getting into our pants.” There was a long pause here, and I was waiting for the inevitable beep, formulating a proper Nice Ass reply for this recording. Before the beep, though, both voices came back in unison.
“Unless you’re richer than they are!” And then the beep came. Luckily, Mary had given me the perfect story to use.
“Hey, this message is for Kara. This is Ben. We met last night. I hate to call the very next day because it might look too clingy, but I’m traveling to Greece tomorrow on business for the entire week and would rather appear clingy than not interested. My multi-million dollar company is looking to acquire another one that is based in Athens, and I have to go and check it out to see whether it’s worth our time.” I paused a suitable length of time before wrapping up. “So maybe that will indicate that I’m richer than that poor slob you’re seeing. Sheryl, I’m sorry, but I think you’re stuck with yours for now.”
I left my number and ended the call, feeling fairly satisfied with my message. Rather than thinking about when Kara would call me back, I was thinking about Mary’s story about going on vacation. It was an ideal line to use to dodge looking clingy, and I began to wonder if Mary was really going out of town at all. If she wasn’t, then I would have an all-new respect for this cunning girl with the easy laugh.
My phone rang while I was still holding it. From the ring style, I knew before I opened it that it would be Lenny.
“Are you watching television?”
“You know I’m not.” Television has recently become a barrage of reality shows, which I absolutely loathe. How can you create such an unrealistic situation, film it, and then call it ‘reality.’ A true reality show would be something akin to my life. The sitcoms of the day were just modern versions of the same sitcoms I saw growing up, so there was no reason to tune them in. There were only a few shows that I liked, and I preferred to watch them on DVD anyway, so I had cancelled my cable subscription many months before.
“Turn it to channel five, right now!”
It was just before eight o’clock, which meant the local news would be on. I fumbled for the remote and gave life to the television, changing the channel before the screen warmed up. The sound was fine though, and a woman’s voice was talking about an upcoming job fair at Portasys. For Lenny to call me immediately, rather than mention the job fair later, I knew exactly what he wanted me to see. The picture came in and showed some footage of booths and several would-be applicants shuffling between them.
“A job fair. When is it being held?”
“Shut up and keep watching, dork!”
The fair footage gave way to a too-close shot of the local newswoman’s face.
“This is Jenny Simmons, here at the preparations for the 2006 Information Technologies Job Fair. We’re talking with Diane McLeod, Vice President of IT at Columbia’s own Portasys, Incorporated.”
The camera zoomed out to allow a shot of both Jenny and the woman whose business card lay on my coffee table. She was absolutely beautiful. Green eyes sparkled within a frame of brunette hair and a genuine smile adorned her face as she talked. She was dressed in formal business attire which accentuated her femininity instead of concealed it. Lenny sullied my appreciation of the moment by speaking.
“Dude, you danced with a smoking-hot corporate chick!”
“There’s no way I’m calling her now.” I had noticed something about this woman that any man would fall for which ruined her for me.
“Why not? If she danced with you, you’re already in!”
“Because she’s wearing a wedding band.”