Monday, July 25, 2005

the first paragraph is not for the squeamish

The date is not going well when the first serious discussion you have is about whether he should get off the freeway, backtrack, and get back on so he can run over the half-dead cat you just saw squirming pitifully across the slow lane and put it out of its misery.

Greetings from the trenches! On Saturday's episode of "Indri Needs a Date", practical girl that I am, I decided to combine two social adventures: yet another first date culled from the Internet dating herd, and a visit to the Barn for the last-ever Hunter's Point presentation of the Lifesize Mousetrap, as part of the "County Unfair". Bicycle-powered carnival rides, deep-fried food, more dogs than you can throw a stick for, and Earring dressed up as a burlesque mouse shaking her stuffed tail to the strains of the aptly named Esmerelda Strange (hint: there really aren't three people in the band). How could we go wrong? Because know this: I will chew off my own foot before I go on another coffeeshop first date. I'm completely serious about this. Let me direct your attention to the fine 1994 Doris Dorrie film Keiner Liebt Mich (Nobody Loves Me); the banality of first dates in coffeeshops is a running theme.

About the rest of the date, after the cat-squishing discussion, there is not much to report. Let me just note that as we were leaving, I gave Earring a hug (a careful one, to avoid smearing her whiskers) and whispered "I'll be back later after I've shed this guy". He was nice enough, intelligent and strange-in-the-good-way and not emblematic of any of the classic Internet dating horror stories (ie, the old bait-and-switch, the gross misrepresentation, etc), but I wasn't feeling like the mouse for his trap, and it seemed mutual. So I went home and put on makeup and a different shirt so I could go dancing later, and then headed back out to the Barn.

I've mentioned the Barn before. It's where we built the set for the Undulation show, back in March; if you've ever driven past the giant headless horse on Hunter's Point Boulevard, you've been past the entrance. It's a great space: artists live and work there, the Mousetrap sits on the land in all its Rube Goldbergesque glory, there's plenty of open space for the usual chaos of dogs to run around finding dead things to play with. If you climb the hill behind the buildings you get a great view of the power station, the city, and what I believe is an EPA Superfund cleanup site, from an unusual vantage.

But I wasn't heading back for any of that. I was heading back because I'd noticed, as I tried to keep wind-blown tanbark out of my eyes and pitifully hold up my end of the conversation with Bachelor Number Three, that there were more cute men showing up as the day progressed. The families with kids were heading out, to be replaced by handsome hipsters. So... call me mercenary... but I go out socially so infrequently that I feel like I have to maximize my exposure time. Most of the time I spend outside of the house, I'm either surrounded by straight women, gay men, rich guests, or drooling, gibbering, street people, all of whom are of course off limits.

Which is how I got an education in wingman-fu.

Now, I can't tell which of these two fellas was supposed to be the wingman. I've run this past my mother already, and she's probably right, but you tell me.

There was the cute brunette at the bar who I was talking to about whether he should try the deep-fried Snicker's bar or not, and then there was his fast-talking friend, who explained that only a couple of his science grad school classmates were women, and he wasn't sure they were really women. I believe the phrase was, "geeks with tits". Charming. At one point, talking about his job, he also said that for what he was getting paid, he would be happy to "fist rats".


That is exactly what he said. If anyone has a suggestion for how I can cross my legs any more tightly than I am just remembering the conversation, I am all ears.

Meanwhile, the brunette is casually referencing Vonnegut and European travel with his professor father while putting mustard on a deep-fried pickle spear for me. And I'm trying to figure out something that men have probably been trying to figure out for centuries. Millenia, even. How do I get this one away from the friend long enough to get the digits? Because I hadn't thought to bring a wingman (or wingwoman) of my own to distract the friend, or to casually ask for a card, or to make me look like less of a psycho; essentially, all the things you engage a wing for. And RatFister keeps looking like he's going to walk away for a minute, and I keep fingering the snap of my purse and thinking about sacrificing an index card from my hipster PDA (and by the way, I was doing this thing with the cards years ago, before the book told us to) to the cause here, but then he won't go away. Both men have mentioned that they're tired and need to go home; time is running out! And I'm not good at this! Eeeek!

Eventually, RatFister resolves the problem. He asks me if I'm carrying a card. I explain that no, I'm not. So he asks the brunette for one of his cards; I'll write my phone number on it, he says, and then you'll have all the information. As I'm silently exulting at this happy turn, one of my troupemates slides up behind and gooses me, making me squeak.

Do you want my number? RatFister pauses to ask, my pen in his hand.

Well, I really want his, I respond with a tilt of my head. But I'll take 'em both, why not? And now if you gentlemen will excuse me, I'm going to let you go so I can go find my friend and grab her ass back.

I don't know who I was channeling there. Really, I don't. That really is not characteristic.

So here's my question, men. Which was the wing? The cute one introducing me to his friend and making sure that the conversation included him, or the fearless foulmouthed one who tried (and failed) to get them my number, instead acquiescing to my having theirs?