Katie and I were standing side-by-side at a Soho bar drinking vodka sodas and talking about how much better the moment would be if Party in the USA were playing (well, one of us was…).
I can’t remember exactly how he launched into the convo, but a 5’10”ish-grey-v-neck-t'd guy came right up to us, grabbed me around the neck, and yelled, “SO LEMME ASK YOU A QUESTION!,” in my ear.
In his defense, it was very loud, but as a general note to the male masses – if you’re going to grab a part of a woman’s body to get her attention, don’t make it the neck.
“Sure,” I said because I’m back on the benefit-of-the-doubt-train.
“So say my friend here wants to talk to a girl he sees at a bar,” he said gesturing to the white-button-downed wingman that appeared beside Katie. “What’s the first thing he should say to her?”
My gut instinct: “That but skip the part where you squeeze-burned my neck”- but it was too loud for complicated sarcasm, and the guy seemed fairly earnest.
I turned to Kate. “What’s the first thing you should say to a girl in a bar to pick her up?”
We both though for a second - then a second longer… Then I said, “Wow, I should really know the answer to this,” and Katie agreed.
“Hi, are you having fun?” I offered – but that presents an awkward set up for follow-up. She says, “yes” and then you’re left with “what’s the second thing a guy should say to a girl he’s looking to pick up…” It needed to be a conversation starter – something that could prompt a conversation if she was interested but offer an out if she was not.
“Maybe, ‘Isn’t this a fun bar?’”
“Really?” neck-grabber said, “that just sounds so dumb.”
Yeah, it did.
"Well, I'm not sure it really matters," I admitted. Any conversation starter could work if there was some instant attraction – have you been here before? What brings you here? Do you know who sings this song? Where’s the bathroom?
I tend to be of the opinion that once you break the introduction seal it’s more about skillfully keeping the conversation going versus launching with the perfect liner. In fact, anything forced or pat will end up inferior to a natural question. Your goal is to let the girl know you’re making a definite point to talk to her without dealing her a line that makes it clear she’s #183 of the month.
Something specific would be good, I offered. Like, "looks like you're here with a big group. What are you celebrating?" or, "I see you bopping to that LED Sound system song. Are you into them?"
I told him that, his buddy took it in, and somehow the conversation turned to the fact that were from BC, they were from Georgetown, and one of Katie’s best friends from business school was the assaulter's high school prom date.
Fifteen minutes later we were inviting them to join us at the next stop on our bachelorette party bar crawl (Congrats Jeff and Vee!!). They had a second stop of their own and didn’t go through with the digits request, but it was a better conversation that either of us have had at a Soho bar in a long time.
I knew we’d be conned, but I had to commend the effort. Simple set-up. Two-man approach. Off-kilter question that we couldn’t help but stop the think about, and then a quick transition into the more traditional, “why did you guys pick this bar?”
Then again, it ended up a blog post for me and a not-first-date for Katie, so I can't call it a success. I think in the end the question is, have you ever been dealt that line? Have you ever dealt it yourself? What's your take on the faux-approach? And if not the sneak-pick-up, then what?