Bars! They're always maligned as terrible places to meet people. Which I find weird because, while bars might be a terrible place to go if you're looking for goats or end tables, they're pretty reliably full of "people." We go there to drink with our friends, obviously, but a lot of us go for a little more than happy hour specials and Erotic Photo Hunt.
I know better than anybody that, for the most part, looking for true love in a bar is like looking for legal advice at Arby's. Yet I continue trying to make genuine connections in bars. Perhaps it's because online dating is as romantic as setting up a Turbo Tax account. Perhaps it's because bars are fun.
Take a recent, classic example. I was at a bar holding two Tom Collinses. (One had belonged to my friend, but he'd gotten a phone call from his wife and disappeared). I drifted into a bar fugue state and floated to my buddy's vacant stool and looked at myself. I will say that it's one thing to be drunk and lonely, but it's quite another to actually look drunk and lonely. If it's possible to feel lost and found simultaneously, that's what bars do to me.
And that's when I fell in love.I Have a Crush on Every Girl
She was sitting in a booth in the back. I took one look at her insanely lustrous hair and became very nervous. It was curly and full and flying around her face -- this alone is enough to send me into the death sweats. Is she sitting near an air conditioner, I wondered? Although she sat in perfect repose, her hair was dancing.
Here's the thing with me: once I see a pretty woman, I immediately begin mentally directing Hallmark and Bartles & Jaymes commercials starring the two of us. There we are on the couch, playing footsie, watching a reality show she loves and I pretend to hate but secretly love, goofily swilling wine. Where in the hell did the two of us find that forest lake with the sun-dappled pier and cooler of apple flavored spirit?
By the time I finish my friend's Tom Collins, I've decided I will approach Pretty Hair. (I also name them.)
I'm at a bar and I'm pretty sure I'm in love. This is how it always goes. Pretty Hair laughs loudly. It's the laugh of a Haunted House audition, signaling confidence or psychosis. I walk over to her on quaking stilts. The rush is a narcotic.
Cue the 'Jaws' Theme
Time's properties redefine themselves. It takes a year or a second. My senses are Spiderman-esque, I can feel the current of the air and the surface tension of the floor vibrating beneath my feet. Somewhere behind me, at another booth, a woman pounds the table and says, "Hold on. Hold on. It was the pork ball appetizers that made the meal!"
And then I'm at Pretty Hair's booth. I say things, but I can't really hear my own voice. Words choose themselves. P. Hair and her friends atomize me with eight unblinking eyes. Instantaneously my arms become superfluous and I have no idea where to put them.
An iPhone on the table alights. Each woman eyes her phone with relish typically reserved for a conjugal visit sex. I'm just standing there. An overjoyed blonde with a tan in winter scoops up her phone.
"Mind if I sit down?" my mouth says. My eyes tell me there's nowhere for me to sit, it's a four person booth and there's four of them. I still don't know what to do with my arms.
"There's no room," the one next to Pretty Hair says.
"Yes," I say, pointlessly confirming the accuracy of her statement. "Wait," I say, "look." They do wait. They do look. I stand there with my hands balled up in idiot fists, my entire body motionless, frozen in an amber bubble of fear.
Finally, one of them says, "Look we're kind of in the middle of something here," and it all feels natural, the rejection. I am a sentient mug of gin, with giant anime eyes and perplexed eyebrows.
Unbelievably, my mouth is still doing things, and I say, "I just wanted to tell you that you have very pretty hair." They all sort of just breathe for a second. Then, with the grandeur of a grand canyon sunset, P. Hair smiles.
Everything feels possible. Everything.
Then she garrotes me with a look of finality.
Why Am I Still Doing This?
This is not the first time something like this has happened, and it won't be the last. I approach women all the time -- sometimes dead sober, sometimes not -- with varying degrees of success. Sometimes, I'll get a phone number, and sometimes, yes, a girl will go home with me.
But since I find myself without the minivan, or even the girlfriend with whom to watch reality shows, I'm wondering whether I just haven't met the right girl in the right bar yet, or whether I'm going about this all wrong. I'm not sure if it's in the nature of my approach (which is always polite to the point of embarrassment -- I've actually thanked girls for their time before heading back to my stool at the bar) or the fact that all those creepy dating ads are right and you can't actually meet the love of your life while ankle-deep in peanut shells.
Yet, despite my misgivings, rejections and all the years of such accumulated evidence, I am not cowed from approaching women this way. Perhaps I'm poisoned by literature and film in which guys like me end up with girls like Pretty Hair, but I still believe it, even if my hope is mostly fueled by gin. And until they let you drink it in Whole Foods or spin class, I have to keep looking in bars.
[Redacted] is the resident Single Guy writer for Lemondrop. He has blue eyes and loves pizza, ice cream and movies where old people rap. If you have a pulse and live in the greater New York City area, you may have been hit on by him and not even known it. You should probably get yourself checked for deer ticks.
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