It was sometime after I had sat down at the table that I noticed Alcohol-Girl's facial expression had become rather intense and her eye's were flicking to one side of her head. It's a signal, I thought. But it could also be a seizure. You can't be too careful with these kinds of things.
"Are you okay?" I smiled, bringing the night's first bottle of lager to my mouth.
"That girl," she flicked her eyes over my shoulder once more, "is checking you out."
Her whispered voice was excited and scandalous. My response was not.
"Great. Does that mean I have to do something?"
It was not normal for me to get this kind of advance knowledge. Rarely will valuable recon information come to me from King, by virtue of the fact that we're both guys and therefore its pretty much every man for himself. Girls roll differently, forming tight-formation defense circles and whispering special strategic information to one another from the safety of the restroom. Of course, I have no real proof of this, but I think I can fairly say that girls play a more analytical game than a guy's grab-your-guns-and-run approach to the bar scene.
And maybe it was because of an invisible, unconscious understanding of this that I could sense something unsettling in the works.
"You should go talk to her." Alcohol-Girl says earnestly. Whenever guys use an expression like this, it's because they sadistically enjoy watching their friends go down in flames, or attempt to hook up with a monstrously ugly troll-woman. But as I glance over my shoulder I see a hot looking girl, staring in my direction and then turning sharply away.
"She's checkin you out!"
I must have squirmed in my seat at this point. Huddling close to my beer, I looked down into the blackness of the bottle neck and, as I stared, an old projection screen faded in, with flickering numbers counting down to the feature. I was then transported back to grade school, a place where I was once sadistically subjected to miles of film reel concerning the dangers of peer pressure. I don't specifically remember any of this, but every once in a while the crippling symptoms of massive unconscious conditioning rear their ugly head and ruin my night, and that's evidence enough for me.
It's hard to pin point where exactly my anti peer pressure upbringing has its ultimate roots, but for right now I'm going to blame DARE. DARE was a part of the "survival of the scared-shitless" branch of education. The division with the single goal of compelling children to live long healthy lives by encouraging them to cower in dry, well ventilated corners with a modest supply of anti-bacterial handsoap. Actually, their stated purpose was, "to keep kids off drugs." but what they didn't realize, what they couldn't possibly understand is that once "just say no" successfully entered the mind of a child, it would be implemented into other aspects of life. Soon this relatively innocuous anti-drug message would be transformed into a fear reaction upon exposure to "peer-pressure" in the context of any remotely risky situation.
"You should go talk to her." I pulled myself out of the depths of my now half-empty bottle of beer to refocus on the situation at hand.
I started to conspire, "maybe I should spin around in my chair and start talking to her, but I'm at table with some friends, and she's at a table with some friends, and that would be awkward, probably wouldn't work out well, and... oh shit I'm self conscious"
Planning is disaster. Planning is the devil.
Have you ever tried to plot out an entire conversation in your head? Try it sometime, when you start talking, you'll stutter the "hello" and things will go down from there.
So at this point I was pretty much screwed. I spent more time thinking about strategy than the girl, and she had already become a sidenote to the story. This was no longer about her. This was about all women. And me. And my fantasy of being with all women. Yeah, so I was pretty much screwed right here.
"Alright fine, she's checkin me out, what do you think I should I do?"
"You should pick up one of these," Alcohol-Girl grabbed up a sugar packet lying on the table, "throw it at her feet, and then say, 'You dropped your name tag.'"
Alcohol-Girl is full of useful advice. For a second I considered a variation on this device. Something to do with substituting the sugar packet with a condom wrapper, but nothing above the realm of "dangerously offensive" came to mind, so I turned to King for advice.
"Slide around the table, so at least you can see her."
"Yeah, then you two can make eye contact."
With the agreement of both King and Alcohol-Girl, I decided I had nothing to lose. I could practically feel my anti-peer-pressure chemical makeup overwhelming my brain, shutting down critical social and motivational functioning.
I am not a good actor, and that lack of ability did not assist me here. If I'm trying to make eye contact, I can't pretend not to be trying to make eye contact. It's one or the other, so after a brief glance, met with her glossy eyes, I turned back to my beer, feeling a bright spotlight on me.
Fucking DARE. Fucking brain.
My internalized peer-pressure phobia and inability to shut up my left hemisphere had left me empty and useless. Even if these awkward, manufactured tactics had worked, it wouldn't have mattered. I didn't even like this girl any more. My night was over.
I left the bar somewhat less than gracefully, knocking over my empty beer bottle, some salt shakers, and nearly stepping on a girl. I'm actually rather proud of the scene I made. A bouncer was apparently alerted by all the ensuing noise and ran up the stairs to see if there was anyone he could help exit the bar in a speedy and possibly airborne manner.
He didn't see me. I'm not "that guy."
But apparently, I'm the guy who can't take advice and is somehow subtly influenced by children's "educational" programs from the 80's, so make what you want of that.
I'm still going to blame DARE for this one.