After the news report, Lenny and I decided to head downtown since we were already on the phone. Four numbers is enough to keep me busy, so I wasn’t planning on picking anyone up tonight. Because of this, we went to my favorite spot, The Flying Saucer.
The Saucer is a bar designed for men. They have a billion different beers on tap, and all of the waitresses dress in these little Catholic schoolgirl uniforms. Don’t ask me why we like that. I can only say that we do like it, and to think about it at any great length would probably lead to some very disturbing revelations that would ruin my favorite bar. Despite targeting men, the Saucer attracts a decent number of female patrons as well. This is the bar where Lenny and I developed our theory on determining a girl’s personality based on the beer she was drinking.
We grabbed a table at the far end of the seating area and sat with our backs to the wall. Lenny and I click when it comes to picking out where to sit because we both enjoy watching people. Some of our other friends noticed this behavior and insist that we’re actually in the Mafia and we sit in the most defensible spot. We had agreed not to talk about the four numbers while we were on the phone, but Lenny must’ve forgotten.
“She might just wear the ring to scare off creepy guys. You ever think of that?”
“No, I didn’t think of that. But a creepy guy couldn’t care less about her being married, right?”
“There are tons of ways she could be single, man. She could be wearing it just so men don’t approach her. She might be in the middle of a divorce. She might be wearing it because it was her mother’s and it’s all she has left of her after a tragic house fire.”
Despite his macabre image, I had actually thought about some of these same reasons after I’d seen the ring. It’s not unheard of for a single woman to wear a ring that could give the impression of being taken, but it’s usually just an engagement ring without the accompanying wedding band. Diane was wearing both. I supposed I could research it further.
“You think she’s in the book?” I asked.
“What?” Lenny gave an incredulous look.
“The phone book. You think a woman like that has a listed number?”
“Who the hell lists their number these days? That’s just begging for telemarketers.” Lenny and I are friends because we think alike on far too many things. This is one point where I couldn’t agree with him more.
“I’ll be right back.” I stood up and walked over to the bar. It was pretty slow for a Saturday night, so I had no trouble flagging down the bartender, Rachel. “Hey, sexy. You got a phonebook back there?”
“Five dollars.” Rachel winked when she said it. The biggest thing I love about bartenders and waitresses is that they are the best people to practice confidence and flirting with.
“How about I take you to Greece for a week and we call it even?”
“Two weeks.” She was already getting the phonebook for me.
“Two weeks, but I can’t promise that I’ll put out.”
“Well then why bother going with you at all?” She handed me the phone book. “Let’s just say you owe me five bucks.”
“When it gets to fifty, let me know. Then we’ll talk about whether or not I’ll put out.” I gave her a wink and headed back to the table with the phone book.
“How do you do that?” Lenny had watched the entire exchange.
“Do what? Borrow a phone book? I just say, ‘Hey, can I borrow your phone book?’” We’d had this conversation a thousand times. Without humor, it might get annoying.
“That’s part of the formula, but you already know that. Besides, it’s way easier with Rachel because I know there’s nothing that’s going to come from it. I have nothing to gain and nothing to lose, so it’s all for fun.” I opened the phone book and started flipping through the names.
“Maybe she views it as more than that. When does playful flirting become serious flirting, and how do you know the difference?” This was a new question for the conversation, so I had to think about it for a minute instead of spouting off an answer I’d given countless times before.
“I think it becomes serious flirting after you kiss.” I nodded to myself as I answered. It sounded reasonable.
“So you can kiss after playful flirting?”
“Of course not,” I grinned. “You kiss after serious flirting. You just didn’t know it was serious flirting until you got the kiss. And here we are: McLeod.”
Looking through the names, there was no Diane McLeod, but several D McLeods. I pulled out my phone so I could compare numbers. None of them matched.
“Either she isn’t listed, or she’s listed under her husband’s name.” I shrugged and nudged the phonebook away from me. “At this point, it’d just be easier to ask her.”
“A ha! So you haven’t written her off yet.” Lenny wore a smug grin as he looked through the phonebook entries.
“Oh, she is definitely written off. Married or not, that girl is not Stuckey material.”
“I thought every girl was Stuckey material,” said a woman’s voice. Casey, our waitress, had snuck up on us. “What are you drinking?”
“Give me a Jaegerbomb and a Killian’s, dear. And I’ll have you know that I’m a very picky man. After all, when the one girl you really want snubs you, how could you settle for a girl you don’t?”
“I’m not going to fall for it, Casanova. What do you want, Lenny?”
“You notice how she asks you ‘What do you want?’ but will always ask me ‘What are you drinking?’” I winked at Casey as I talked to Lenny.
“That’s because he won’t answer with something like ‘You, a hot tub, and six hours.’” Casey smirked.
“You insult me. Do you honestly think I would say that?”
“Yes.” Both Lenny and Casey answered at once.
“Well you’re both wrong. I would’ve said twelve hours.”
“I’ll have a Killian’s.” Lenny gave an apologetic look to Casey, as if he were embarrassed to be seen with me. Casey and I had dated many years ago. It lasted for several months before we realized that we were more like brother and sister than boyfriend and girlfriend.
“A bomb and two Reds. I’ll be right back.” Casey stopped before walking off to offer a parting comment. “Stay away from them married girls, Benjamin.”
“See? She agrees.” I nodded at Lenny for emphasis. “The veep is off the list.”
“So you’re not even going to call her and give her a chance to explain?”
“Nope,” I answered.
“Well then let’s go toilet paper her house for trying to make you the other man.” Lenny turned the phonebook towards me, pointing at a McLeod entry matching her phone number. The listing was ‘McLeod, James and Diane.’
“A good idea, but I think I’ll pass on the adolescent response.”
“First time for everything.” Casey had snuck back up without me noticing. “So what’s this business about you dating a married woman?”
“I’m not dating her, Miss Nosey. Where are our drinks?”
“Waiting on Rachel to pour them. Don’t change the subject.” Casey pulled up a chair and plopped down beside me. “Spill it.”
Lenny and I gave her the entire story, leaving no details out. She listened with rapt attention, and waited until we were finished before she commented.
“So you’re actively trying to pick girls up by being an asshole?”
“Yes,” I answered, then corrected myself. “No. Not really. It’s difficult to explain to a girl because a girl will deny that it works, even though I’ve repeatedly proven that it does. But no, I’m not being a dick.”
“Really? That’s too bad. I like dicks.” Rachel had walked up with our drinks and set them on the table. “No, don’t get up, Casey, I like doing your job.”
“Leave it to you to take a normal conversation and make it sexual,” Casey grinned.
“I wouldn’t call it a ‘normal’ conversation,” Lenny responded. “Hey Rachel, do you think Stuckey acts like an asshole?”
“Sort of, but that’s all it is. It’s acting.” Rachel headed back for the bar, and winked over her shoulder. “I figure he’s doing it to build up the courage to ask me out.”
“See? She totally wants you, dude.” Lenny had the decency to wait until Rachel was out of earshot.
“Rachel?” Casey laughed. “Stay away from that one. She’d eat you alive. So back to the original conversation.”
“About me being an asshole?”
“About this married chick. I think you should call her and give her a chance to explain, at least. She may have already explained it to you, but you were too drunk to remember.” Casey stood up and pushed her chair back under the table. “Back to work for me. My other tables are getting jealous.”
“She’s right,” I grumbled. “I should call her and give her the chance to explain. And if she’s a cheating bitch, then I should give her the chance to confess to her husband before I call him myself.”
“Yeah, you’re morally obligated to police her marriage at this point,” Lenny nodded.
“And if she’s getting divorced, you’re obligated to scoop her up before she gets back on the market and realizes what she’s worth. So when are you calling her?”
“I’m not.” I grinned at Lenny and picked up my shot of Jeagermeister and Red Bull. “I’m going to bump into her at the job fair on Monday.”