I Am Jack's Pathetic Attempt to Flirt
A. C. Peterson

"Let me be your Tyler Durden," he responds. "Yes, that's my best pickup line."

He is kidding, of course. It may be his best, but if only by default. He, with his don't-try-to-talk-to-me slouch, is the kind of guy that doesn't dispense pickup lines, or find himself anywhere horny cliches are splashed around like watered well vodka. The same, however, cannot be said for the rest of the crowd.

Helen the menopausal marketing drone rolls her eyes as if she got his reference but couldn't care less, much like she does with nearly every conversation starter you've tried when stuck in the elevator choking on her cheap perfume.

She adds something creepy you can't completely hear about pants on the floor of a bedroom in her scratched throat cackle. The over-tanned waitress with the grooved cleavage wrinkle writes down the first thing you think to order and promises you'll like the Double Chip Mocha Mudslide Float Please Hold the Whipped Cream.

See how his fingers twiddle and twitch ever so slightly? That's his tell. He has no idea what to order. The plastic popinjays spit out beer brands and Scotch labels like stock trades - quickly, confidently and without a thought in the world. He, he's not about to thumb through the menu or even stare up at the on-tap board. "Miller High Life" he says as if in a foreign language, drawing a snicker from the zitty filipino power broker in the twice-ironed polo shirt.

He, he is the kind of man that makes you wish you were the kind of woman that would draw jealous attention if you slinked onto his lap seductively, rather than the kind that has never sexily slunk into anything more than worn PJ pants. The more he hates the people you despise, the more you wonder if he could possibly be as good in bed as that strange dream you had last week.

Instead, you put Wall of Voodoo on the jukebox. Yes, your quarter will serenade him with your Mexican Radio snarkiness, hoping he knows that the Def Leppard tune that tragically comes on as you sit back down belongs to anyone but you.

Stacy from accounting giggles loudly, apparently out of nowhere. Playing footsie with the guy from AP? Esophagus tickled by an unexpected cherry in her Midori sour? The one thought in her head finally came to? His look of scorn tells you that it's not even worth trying to fathom what stirs behind her big and sparkly cornflower blue cow eyes.

Billy from IT adds his own sample cruising banter about capricorns and handkerchiefs. "But it won't work for y'all. Unless you're gay," he adds in a wicked lisp, making it the 47 time he's tried to take ownership of the stereotype in the most despicable way tonight. Perhaps William thinks the rarity of homosexuality at the table is enough to make him interesting. When it comes to surprises, it's a race to the bottom tonight.

You take off your glasses as if rubbing your eyes. But really, you're hoping he'll notice the eye makeup you saw on a website that just might make you look a little hot. Instead he fiddles with the basket of peanuts. Or he's somehow magically building a ship in a bottle or kneading bread dough unexpectedly. You can't tell at this distance when you're totally, legally, but still metaphorically blind.

James takes his suit coat off, as if imparting his words of wooing wisdom are going to take something more casual than his usual all-business, no-pleasure demeanor. The faked familiarity, "haven't I seen you" line is apparently as much tact as Jim manages to muster, but you'll begrudgingly admit it's pathetically smooth. In a sad old man way, you can see why sad old Doris, the sad old secretary, fell for him so many eons ago, long before she got replaced at the phones by Jim's smiley-toothed mistress Denise last year.

There's way too much silence. "Pour Some Sugar on Me" wraps up and the table stares at you. No matter what you think, no matter what you tell yourself, no matter what you should say, your mind goes blank of bullshit.

You slip on your glasses and try the one and only pickup line that's ever entered your consciousness as you stare straight at the contractor you've got the killer crush on and say with every ounce of the dead sexy calm you can manage to call forth, "Do you ever get sick of being surrounded by complete assholes?"

Jane from PR spits beer out the nose in laughter. Billy gives you a prissy and dramatic silent clap. Northern Territory Rep Joe pats your back, claiming it's the most you've ever uttered. But as Stan Ridgway wishes he were in Tijuana and the small talk drifts to the Big 10 Plus One, the smirk in the corner of his red sexy mouth makes you believe it's the only pickup line you'll need.

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