I didn’t see his approach; my friend did. My friend, an established writer, and I had gone to a local restaurant to talk shop and put the happy hour menu to good use (the pomegranate margarita was quite marvelous). I am pre-published and had lured her into answering a bucket full of technical questions with the promise of food and a children-free discussion. The restaurant was quiet with a relaxed atmosphere, good food, and a small bar in the corner; and we had been chatting and laughing away for nearly two hours, talking shop and oblivious to everyone around us. Well, I was oblivious. My friend was facing the bar.
“How would you two lovely ladies like some free drinks?” he said with no introduction whatsoever. The table my friend and I were sitting at was tiny, one of the two-seaters that look like the restaurant manager had sawed a kids’ table in half and shoved it against the wall to save space. This guy from the bar was now standing as close as possible, maybe six inches away from me, and I hadn’t even seen him arrive. “You two are both really cute. See my buddies over there at the bar?” he pointed over my shoulder. “We’ll buy you drinks if you go be cute over there and flirt with us.”
My friend and I stared at him and then at each other. I’m married; she’s married. Being cute in an effort to schmooze free drinks out of the schmucks at the bar was not one of the evening’s goals.
“Thank you, but no,” I said.
“Nothing has to happen; we could just have some fun,” he continued.
“Yeah, sorry. I don’t think so,” said my friend.
“Alright, that’s okay. I’m not going to get mad or anything. I’m used to rejection.” He seemed to think we should now feel very grateful that he wasn’t going to freak out while also simultaneously feeling sympathetic towards him for his lack of skill in the picking-up-random-women department.
“Good. You handled rejection well,” I said to him as he walked away.
“I’ve been married twenty years,” he replied over his shoulder while pointing to his wedding ring, “I get rejected all the time.”
My friend and I rolled our eyes and returned to our conversation. His attempt had been brief, fairly low pressure, and he had left graciously. If he had had one tiny smidgen of sense, he would have stopped there. Ten minutes later he was back.
Guy: “Are you sure you don’t want to come have a couple drinks with us? You’re both really cute. You don’t have to be here alone.”
Me (a little more abrupt than last time): “We’re fine. Thanks.”
Guy: “You know, you guys should be really flattered that I’m over here. I’m pretty cute. Don’t you think I’m cute?” He tilted his head to the left and the right and up and down so we could see all of his delightful features. “Come on, just tell me I’m cute.”
Me: “Fine, you’re cute. Now beat it!”
My friend was amused. The guy was not. Instead of leaving, he squatted down by the end of the table. Did I mention that my friend and I and the table were all very small? The guy towered over us.
Guy (pointing to my finger): “I see you have a ring on. Does your husband know what you’re doing?”
What I’m doing? Discussing work with a female friend in a public restaurant? This question was so absurd that I don’t think I even answered it, which naturally he took as an invitation to continue.
Guy: “Is he at home waiting for you?”
Me (turning to my friend): “Do you think I should tell him what else is waiting for me at home?”
Friend: “Yes, I think so.”
Me (to Guy): “I have six kids at home.”
The guy stared at me for a minute, which is the usual reaction I receive upon disclosing this information.
Guy: “No you don’t.”
Me: “Yeah, I do.”
Friend: “Yes, she does.”
Guy: “How old are you?”
Note to men: this is a dumb question to ask, particularly to a woman you haven’t actually met yet are still trying to hit on. I had assumed that all humans possessing the XY combination of chromosomes had received this message ages ago, but at least one XY human seems to have misplaced his memo, so I am just repeating this as a public service announcement.
Guy: “Wow! You’re just popping kids out like cordwood!”
Me (turning to my friend): “Well, that’s just what every woman wants to hear.”
Another note to men: if your friend leaves you at the bar to go hit on girls that have already told him once to buzz off, you might want to check on him once in awhile. He may be busy making himself look so bad that the only way to keep yourself from looking like a jerk too is for you to retrieve him and make him step away from the women. I’d hate for you to be mistaken for a jerk due to your friend’s bad behavior.
Guy (to my friend): “How about you? She has to go home to her husband, but you’re not wearing a ring.”
Friend: “I don’t have mine on.”
Guy: “Well, do you want come over to the bar?”
Friend: “No. I’m married and have kids at home too. I have a ring; I just don’t have my ring on tonight.”
Then he tries to tell us that we really needed to go over to the bar with him so he would look good in front of his friends (since this clearly should be our main concern at this point).
Me: “NO! I have six kids. I have no problem saying ‘no.’”
Guy: “With six kids, apparently you do.”
Me (getting pretty fried now): “I only say ‘yes’ to things I REALLY like.”
Guy (dejected): “I’ve been married twenty years. I get rejected all the time.”
Me: “Well, you’re losing points every time you open your mouth.”
Guy: “I’m not very good at this.”
Me: “Pointing out your ring and talking about how you’ve been married for twenty years doesn’t help.”
Guy: “Should I take the ring off?”
SHOULD I TAKE THE RING OFF????
Me: “No! You’re MARRIED. You shouldn’t be over here trying to hit on other women!”
Finally, the waitress returned with our check. She then told him that his was waiting for him at the bar and he needed to go take care of it now. After swearing at both me and the waitress, he returned to the bar, and my friend and I left. Happily, he didn’t try to follow us, so I didn’t have to stab him with the keys I was gripping in my right hand as a makeshift weapon.