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A few of my recent failures to socially engage women

May 13, 2012

I stopped in at Leon on the Old Spitalfields pavilion, as I often do when I stroll through the area.  The coffee is a pound and the staff have been consistently pretty girls except for once at the Old Compton Street location.  There was no crowd at the glass bar, so I went straight to the middle of its stacks of bagged dried fruits and chocolate bars.  A few employees were engaged in little tasks, one took a rag to a tabletop in the corner.  Another in an official-looking collared top passed in front of me twice, first approaching a colleague at the edge of the kitchen, asking her a quick question, and then back again.  I waited for some eye-contact.  She moved off in a preoccupied way which somehow seemed to justify itself out of mind.  I actually thought to be impatient, but I found that I was too far under the influence of marijuana for my comportment to become impudent.  Eventually an attractive young blonde came from somewhere off at the left to wait on me.  Watch how I flounder.

‘What can I get for you,’ she asked perfunctorily.  She had an accent.  Student, or here on working holiday.

‘Yeah!’ I was ecstatic that I had gotten some attention before my decision to be pleasant had been worn down by idleness.  ‘May I have a filter coffee, please!’

She looked past her chin at the register where she was tapping in the order.  ‘Will that be for here, or to take away?’

‘Ah, yes, to take away, please,’ in a knowing tone of voice.  Thinking this a good chance to flirt, I turned on what I think is charm.   ‘And, thanks for asking by the way, the last time it ended up coming in a mug.’  Huzzah!

‘Ah, I see,’ she said, the joke demonstrably falling flat.  I offered up a more meaty punchline to try and dredge up a laugh.

‘Which, to be honest I had thought about stealing.’  I caught a minute smile hidden in an even more minute glance.  I shut up in order to avoid looking like a forthright, desperate buffoon too early in the conversation.

‘It’s supposed to be compulsory to ask,’ she put in suddenly with a slight dismissive shake of her head – although this defense of the rules came out in a tone hardly sounding seasoned or principled.  She handed me my change and receipt.

‘Oh, fuck all that corporate stuff, you know?… sorry for my coarse language!’  I smiled as broadly as I could put a casual turn on the outburst.  I was starting to regret it, but then she gave back a little, ‘that’s alright, mine’s probably just as bad…’  She gathered to the steam machine.  I milled about, forcing my eyes away from her figure while she assembled the cup and its cardboard sleeve.

‘Would you like milk?’ – I tried not to be uneasy with the transaction coming to an end…

‘I’m just going to use some of this,’ I replied nonchalantly pointing to the cold milk decanter, and I took the paper cup from her.  Everything slowed down for a moment.  I could sense her refusing to sign off just yet, no ‘have a nice day,’ only a brief pause.  I took two sugar packets and carefully began tearing the top edges open.  The only thing that I could think of to say:

‘You sound like you have an accent, is it Oz, or …’

‘No,New Zealand!’ she pronounced in the genial tones of someone perpetually revealing the same surprise.

‘… oh, a Kiwi! – North or South?’ I parried at the ready.

‘North,’ she stared fixedly at me.  I gave a quick scan of the glass bar in order to dispel any customer-like interruptions and went again.

‘North,’ I repeated her answer, ‘did you guys get hit as badly as the South?’ referring to some earthquake or other I half remembered from some conversation or another I had been having with a stranger about Christchurch.  She responded they luckily had been spared the worst.  Why am I talking about natural disasters?

‘Have you ever been?’ she inquired quite genuinely as I finished pouring the sugar in and went for a wooden stirrer.  I summoned my bestNew Zealandjoke.

‘Not unless you count watching the extended editions of all three Lord of the Rings in a row, that’s like twelve hours there!’  Still no laugh, just a rebuking smile as she pivoted slightly, I could tell through my pot haze that I had done all I would be able to at this juncture.  Then I was out in the foyer of the market, supping at my coffee.  Forget asking for a number – even a name – if you can’t even get a laugh.  Oh, well.

But I watched a mate of mine yesterday, he’s a master.  I learned a lot.  He took me to an Italian joint on the other end of Old Compton; made me share a starter and a dessert, I laughed and told him it was like being out with an Irish fucking drill instructor.  Anyway, the waitress was fromSardiniaand had a very thick, regional accent.  I loved it – and this guy just opens up his eyes and acts as a child with her, and she starts gushing back to reciprocate.

‘… and for the main I’ll have the Arrabiata – did I pronounce that okay?’

‘That time was perfect!’ she told him encouragingly, laughing the whole time.  It was really quite remarkable to observe in the brevity of time in which he had completely won her undivided attention.  ‘The penne is my favourite, my FAVOURITE!’  A lot to learn here.

In fact, I narrowly avoided cocking up the whole goddamned lunch right at that moment.  She turned to me and I couldn’t stop laughing.  I tried to order in a northern accent and it came out at an incredible volume.  I think some spittle may have made contact with the poor girl.  She had really kind brown eyes.  My mate saved the situation with one dismissive comment and my behaviour was forgotten.  I resolved to keep my mouth shut and take in the example.  The next round of girls didn’t stand a chance –Warrenlevelled them in about half the time of the islander.  Ah, the Irish and their world famous patter.  As for myself, I barely held on.  I left a tenner for the tip to cover my own insecurity during these exchanges.

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From → Diary ah?

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