I walked in to a boutique … something I have literally never done, let alone on a Friday night with a name tag that had a little sparkly pink heart on it. All right, let’s be honest: they had me at "open bar." Two buds and I were the only younger fellas there, a scene we’ve become all too familiar with in Sarasota.
We quickly befriended the most important person in the room---the bartender---ate some chocolate, flirted with obviously-married grandmas and mistook some tightly-wrapped lady unmentionables for pocket squares.
The drinks were tasty, but we quickly tired of girls on the clock and women with rings. There was so much girly, Valentine-y stuff that a bull’s head would have exploded trying to decide which direction to charge.
I went outside to ponder my next move. When I went back in, I found my two friends conversing with a pretty young lady and her even lovelier mother. As my more socially-deft friends moved the conversation along, I began to learn about the pretty girl. She started college at Vanderbilt---so she must be smart. She finished Auburn---being from Detroit, I've always thought there's something almost exotic about Southern girls. She got her master’s at Purdue and moved to Chicago afterward---90 and 45 minutes respectively from where I got my master’s. In a few short minutes, we found several conversational launch pads set up for us.
I awkwardly tried to insert myself into the exchange, both verbally and physically. I’m a serviceable social being once I’m in conversation, but in breaking the ice I'm usually graceless, especially when getting boxed out---even among friends, there’s competition in this jungle. Yet again, it seemed the gregarious salesmen would win out over the measured writer.
Luckily, one of the cool things about being a guy is that in nearly all instances, the better man wins and with minimal drama receives a tip of the cap. Unless, of course, you’re at a 'roid-raging Ed Hardy festival----you all know what venues those tend to happen at---there, the cap may be replaced by a table. Once I wiggled my way into the party, I successfully managed the occasional quip, but what happened next was quite unlike me. By some miracle of the cosmos, I grew a pair and charmingly (IMO) asked the girl’s mom if I could ask her daughter for her phone number.
Is this what Will Ferrell's character in Old School felt like after he spewed his uncharacteristically coherent and potent debate argument (exhausted, vulnerable and disoriented)?
Not only did I get her number, but her mom drove us to my car located at my friend’s place (the entrance to which unfortunately resembled a dark alley) and dropped both of us off so we could continue the evening.
Is this what happens with even a momentary lapse of self-contempt? We proceeded to bop around town---Darwin’s on 4th, Evies and the Sports Page, my preferred close-it-down spot. The mix of barkeeps, the juke box and always-interesting mash of service industry people, actors, musicians, old folks and superfluously drunk people always tickles my not-so-sober fancy; I can’t help but wonder what the heck all these different people were up to tonight and how their paths ended here. I like plunging girls that interest me into the setting; if they don’t get it, they likely won’t get me. I found myself excited to introduce her to a couple others that typically share elbow space at the bar.
One of the cast of characters, who also regularly finds his way to the Page at the end of the night, went out of his way to tell this vixen---who had agreed to become one with me in spontaneity and stray so far off her intended path---what a good guy I am. He even spent the last of his cash on a way-too-expensive glass of scotch for the lady. Again, another example of why I’m happy I’m a guy. Just when I thought the night couldn’t get any more, let’s say, fascinating, this final glass of savory brown liquor triggered the biggest revelation of the night.
“I write an anonymous column for a popular Sarasota website, and this night is bound to make its way to its pages,” the tall blonde said.
I did a few things throughout that evening, some described here, some not, that weren’t totally in line with my character. As such, here I am attempting to beat Blonde Out of Water to the punch ... or at least meet her there.