Sometimes I find it comforting that nothing really changes as we get older.
A thousand years ago, when Bridie and I were still known by our first names at every bar we stepped into, we stepped into a neighborhood place with a u-shaped bar. We got our usual spot by the taps (funny how it was always available for us) so we had a good view of the whole bar.
At the far end of the u we saw a guy standing behind two girls who were seated at the bar. Body language told me he was hitting on the two women, and the two women would rather he wasn't.
Bridie and I got to talking and a beer or two later, I noticed the same dude talking to a woman who was seated almost directly across from us. This time the woman looked slightly more enthused by the attention.
We finished that beer when I noticed the woman was talking to a different man and our wanderer was now talking to a different set of girls at the top of the u. They just looked drunk.
As we attempted to get yet another round of beers, I noticed the drunk girls were gone. I didn't have time to see where our Lothario was when I heard him ask, “How are you ladies?”
I looked at Bridie, fake smiled and said, “Oh, look, Bridie. It’s our turn.” Lothario was less than impressed with our observation skills and he quickly moved on – though because we were the last girls on the u, I don’t know where he moved on to. Maybe the restaurant portion of the bar.
More recently, I was at an art event with Marie and her boyfriend. It felt nice to be out, drinking wine and appreciating art – very grown up; very far away from the days of bartenders knowing my drink order before I said a word.
As we listened to a Jazz ensemble play 20s swing music, I saw a man talking to a small table of women. This probably would've gone unnoticed if the man wasn't older and so sloppily dressed, and the women weren't so much younger and dressed liked chic art students.
Later, while discussing architecture with Marie’s boyfriend, I noticed the same gentleman at another table of women. This time the women were closer in age to him (though, my guess, still younger), however the difference in their appearance was still remarkable. The women looked like they came from the office; the man looked like he hadn't showered that week.
Much later, after Marie and I both had our tarot cards read (more on that later) we were sitting at a table discussing what the cards had revealed when the man in the dirty jeans (or were they overalls? Or does my memory want them to be overalls because that makes the story that much better) sat down next to me.
The first question out of his mouth was if I was an art student. (Adorable. He thinks I’m young enough to be a student.) I said no and then he explained he is self-taught artist’s consultant. Mis-hearing him, I asked, “Oh, so if I had a lot of money, I could hire you and you could tell me what to buy.”
“No. I work with artists.”
“Oh. How does that work?”
“I tell them what they should paint. What it should look like. And how much to charge.”
I bet that goes over really well (is what I didn't say).
At this point I didn't know what to think of this guy, but I didn't believe for a second he was any kind of artist’s consultant. He went on to talk about how many times he visited the art museum and how many times he's been kicked out. He also discussed his lucrative real estate business and what it was like to still live with his mother — I actually stopped listening when he made a comment about my thighs — Marie, who loves engaging weirdos, filled me in on the details later.
Eventually, Art Lover grew boring, even to Marie, and so we over exaggerated a couple of fake yawns, and talked about needing to get up early the next day for important meetings. Art Lover scribbled down his phone number (for both me and Marie) and moved on. The evening was wrapping up anyway, so we took off as well.
On the subway ride home that night I wondered how many other women Art Lover talked to that night before approaching me. I wondered how many women fell for the line about being an art consultant. But more than anything I wondered if I would ever raise about the rank of circle-back-girl to be the girl these wanderers talk to first.