I have a little game I like to play by myself on lazy afternoons.
The object of the game is to spontaneously kiss a handsome stranger in an elevator without exchanging a word.
To date, I have never won this game. It is incredibly hard to kiss someone you don’t know, without any questions asked, and hop off on the next floor without being tailed.
But even with repetitive losses, the game itself is still quite a rush, and I perpetually end up in a state of giddy hysteria.
Normally, I will calm myself down by accidentally stepping in front of a swiftly-moving vehicle. But seeing as my last defeat was in a hotel, I instead ducked into the second-floor bar.
What I got instead was a happy hour scene in full swing, and my nerves were already frail. Which is why I quickly bee-lined it to the fatherly-looking gentlemen at a table by himself in a dark corner. That, and because I could see that the waitress was already taking his order.
I hopped into the empty chair next to him and grabbed the waitress by the hair just as she was turning away.
“Sorry. Hey. A red wine. Thanks. And separate checks, please.”
The waitress glared at me, and I was afraid she would not understand that I needed my wine before anyone else in the entire bar got served, so I also said, “You must be Russian. It’s rare to see your combination of light eyes and dark hair. It’s beautiful.”
(It really is.)
“Thank you,” she said, slightly suspicious, perhaps, but definitely warming to me.
And I smiled and nodded and looked at the man whose table I had recently taken over and said, “I’m only going to be here a minute…”
And the waitress then wanted to know what type of red wine I wanted, and really, at that point, I would have downed a glass of cooking sherry. But I patiently said, “Hmm….what would you recommend?”
“I love Malbec!” I almost screamed.
And at this the waitress did a very cute dip and bounce and then I winked at her, as though we had some covert sisterly thing happening and she finally, FINALLY, went to get my wine.
Now that I knew my drink was on its way I relaxed a tiny bit and surveyed the scene. Took some deep breaths.
“How’s the evening?” asked the fatherly man at the table, which startled me, because I had forgotten he was there.
And now my wine showed up, so I took a large swallow, said, “Do you mind if I sit here?” and pointed to the stool beneath me.
“I’m John,” said John, and reached a paunchy hand across the table.
And I wanted to say, “I give a shit.” But instead I shook his hand and said, “What’s your deal, John?”
John looked confused and asked for clarification. “Are you asking what I do?”
“Sure. What do you do?”
“You know? Honestly? I feel that we as a society put far too much emphasis on what a person does. I mean, sure, I could tell you in one word what I do, and you’d be impressed, but I’d much prefer to tell you what I like to do .”
At this I really looked at John for the first time. Because if he were doing an impromptu act and kind of satirizing a contrived man in a bar, I was going to consider appreciating him. But what I saw when I looked carefully were these phony-sincere eyes perched beneath some over-coiffed hair, and a man who was really trying to get laid.
“Give it to me, John,” I said, anyway. “What do you like to do?”
“The great outdoors are my niche,” John said, and I already had a problem, right there, because it was such a fucking stupid thing to say. But I really didn’t have the energy, and it was easier just to let it go. To simply pretend I was listening from then on.
But then I heard, “I love long strolls through the woods…”
And, you know, I didn’t have my heart set on talking. I would have been fine drinking in silence and pretending to listen. But as soon as a man tells you that he loves long strolls you pretty much have to stop him right then and there, however you can, before you find yourself being asked out on some douche-y picnic.
“Do you know what just happened to me, John?” I interrupted.
John paused a minute to consider my question.
“I’d like to know more about you, if you’d like to share.”
“Oh my god. Okay. Whatever. You ready for this?”
John nodded. Good boy.
I then proceeded to tell John the details of my game, and the particulars regarding my most recent loss.
It was a great pleasure watching John as I told him this, because his eyes inadvertently got all bulgy, but then you could tell that he wanted to act all laissez-faire and like this talk was right up his alley. So he quickly swallowed the bulgy eyes back into his skull. But trying to look cool is not easy, and he accidentally went too far and got all slitty-eyed. Which was actually funny, so I laughed in his face, and said, “You’re funny, John.”
And now it was time for me to go, so I slammed the rest of my wine and called for the check.
“Are you speaking hypothetically?” John asked.
“I’m sorry. What? I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”
“Kissing a stranger in an elevator. Is that a hypothetical proposition?”
I laughed. “It’s not a proposition at all, John. It’s just some shit I say to pass the time.”
Then I signed my receipt and left.
The next day I had a friend request on Facebook from a name I didn’t recognize, and when I looked at the picture what I saw was John, donning a pair of spandex shorts in The Great Outdoors (his niche). Yes, John, from the bar. How totally creepy, not to mention perplexing, because at no point had I given him my first name, much less my last.
Lucky for me I didn’t have to solve this mystery on my own, because John had also sent a message, in which he pretty much said, “I’m stalker-y. Be my friend.” by confessing to “sneaking a peak” at my credit card receipt after I left.
This story has a moral. I hope if you are a single woman reading it that you know what that moral is. In case you don’t, I will tell you:
If you are going to kiss a complete stranger in an elevator, go right home afterwards.