I watch the guy at the bar and try not to let disgust slip into my body language. After all, it’s part of a wager and I want to win. If we hadn’t downed an extra bottle of merlot at the workshop, I probably wouldn’t have let my mouth run so rampant. Damn Carolyn for being such a shitty writer. She has no sense about life, culture or the gestures our characters must exhibit in order for readers to suspend disbelief. So, she reads tonight, this lame piece about a woman trying to catch a man’s eye in a club.
I am like, “Are you kidding me? That approach wouldn’t have worked in grandma’s day. Your heroine (and I stretch that definition) would be confined to a rubber room. Carolyn,” I add, “Have you ever picked a guy up in a bar?”
Now, I knew I was getting in over my head here. I typically do not let people glimpse my seedier side, my compulsions, so to speak. But she pissed me off and I had to prove a point. I do know how to pick up a man. Any man. Every time I experience writer’s block or entertain the thought I can no longer write, I turn my life upside down. I ram as much trouble and pain into it as I can, throwing common sense aside to run with the demons.
So I invite Carolyn to a bar after the meeting. “I bet I can pick up a guy in less than fifteen minutes," I say. "Your job is to observe. And if I win, don’t ever try to write another romance.”
“Watch this,” I whisper as we settle ourselves at a small, high table. The guy I choose is a natural. Creepy. Too easy. He has a shirt with three buttons open and a gold chain. Dude, I think, care to join us in the new millennium? I catch his eye and then begin to stare at his crotch. Intently. Without blinking. I lick my lips. I can see he is shifting, feeling challenged and a bit uncomfortable. I take a deep breath and focus.
Carolyn is clutching at my hand. “Stop,” she hisses.
But, of course, I can’t. Whether he is an errant husband, a psycho killer, or just mine for the night, the game is on. He stands, brings me a beer and sits down facing me, the back of his chair between us.
“Like what you see?” he says. He’s leering, foolishly believing everything his eyes have shown him.
I nod, reeling him on in. “And that,” I whisper to Carolyn, “is how you write it.”