Saturday, May 26, 2007

barscene with glasses

Last night I went out the way most single New Yorkers do, the way people do on shows like Sex and the City, the way that includes bars, cocktails, and men who claim to know you from somewhere. Except, well, it was my first time.


I've been to bars before, drank, even chatted once or twice with strangers while drinking there, but I've really never gone out to a pick up bar (do people call still them that?) with the intention of playing the game. Most of my previous bar-visiting was with Veronika, and I think between her default I want you to die now look (used on everyone besides hopeless alcoholics and men with French bulldogs) and my reluctance to talk to men whose musical and literary tastes have not been pre-approved, we really didn't get much, well, "action." So last night was, hmmmm, entertaining.

I went out with the most beautiful woman I know, which may have something to do with the fact that there was no lack of "action." The stereotype turns out to be true: all you do is walk around with a drink in your hand and men walk up to you and start (mostly) inane conversations, if you talk to them for a while they buy you another drink. It was a little unnerving. I didn't know what response they expected from me, so I tried for polite, distant, and vaguely funny. I found myself curious, what do these people do with themselves when they're not drinking alcohol and talking to strangers? Are they really getting what they want out of this? All three places we went were packed. The men mostly seem surprised when I asked them what they did for a living. Am I not supposed to ask this? I wondered. Most conversations turned around my glasses (was I a librarian?) or the fact that I was from Oregon. My friend kept blurting out to people that we'd met at a Russian Orthodox Church, which isn't true, but it got a lot of play. I was asked to show my cross as proof, and then the men dangled their gold crosses in return. I was surprised how many of them wore crosses.

The majority of the men we met were lawyers or in some sort of finance field. They didn't seem too happy about it, either, and they were all drunk. The nicest award goes to a police officer named Rafael who stepped in when a Spanish man insisted we take his number, despite my friend's forthright assurance that neither of us would ever call him. Rafael was there with a group of friends from high school, all native New Yorkers, who more or less worked in blue-collar jobs. While Rafael talked to my friend, I more or less met all his friends. They were hilarious, sweet, kept calling my friend "Courtney Love," and were anything but sleazy. Unfortunately, they also talked a lot about television, and I had no idea how to participate. But they made sure we got in a cab safely when we decided to head over to the Samovar.

If I had really been looking for a man last night I think I would have been depressed afterwards, but it was more experiment than anything. Now I know what to do at a "pick up bar, "--hopefully I won't have to use this skill too often.

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