Silverware clinked on dishes from somewhere in the kitchen and competed for attention against the shouting staff and the growing clatter of thirsty bar patrons. Happy hour was in full swing now and stressed workers poured into the popular pub as swiftly as the liquor that would soon be poured in front of them.
In the corner of the room, lit only by flickering candlelight, stood a man and woman, inching ever closer with each passing word. He’d stand up straight and do a mock imitation of his boss, she’d rest one hand on his shoulder while bending over laughing, her martini sloshing in her other hand as she begged playfully for him to stop.
A few hours later the drink specials had ended but the flirting had not. The man knew he had to leave soon but couldn’t bring himself to go. The woman knew he had to leave soon but couldn’t bring herself to let him.
Finally, after exchanging promises to “do dinner soon,” the man gave her a lingering hug, smelling her hair and wishing he could bottle the scent. Then he moved briskly through the crowd, out the door and onto the street, leaving behind a half empty beer and a newly full heart.
Once outside and in a cab, the man pulled out his cell phone and punched in the number that he had crudely sketched on a napkin a few minutes earlier. This was one number he didn’t want to lose. This was one girl he didn’t want to forget. This was one time that things were going to work out. This was…fuck, what was her name?
Cindy? Mindy? Are people named Mindy? Oh, Jessica maybe? No, that was the waitress’ name. She was cute too. Focus. Ughh. She was from Connecticut, right? What do they name people in Connecticut? Wait, was it Jessica? Why does Jessica seem right? Maybe it just sounds like Jessica. Go through the alphabet. Bessica, Dessica, Lessica…Lessica? Screw it. Stick with what you know. Red shirt, blonde hair, nice legs, kind of dumb.
And so, as the city lights whipped by him and the cab hustled uptown, he wrote her name.
“Hot red shirt bar girl.”
We’ve all been there fellas. And for the ladies reading right now, don’t act like that woman wasn’t you at some point. And don’t act like you weren’t sitting there finishing off your martini and thinking that the guy’s name was, “Bad tie medium cute bar guy.”
These are just the normal rituals of meeting people at a bar. If it weren’t for calling someone’s voicemail in the middle of the night from a friend’s phone hoping to hear their actual name (not that I’ve done that), we’d all be walking around like some sort of weird urban Indians.
“Hi there, ‘Upper West Side Doctor Has A Dog’”
“Oh, hello, ‘Crooked Teeth Mommy Issues Do Not Call’”
The horrible reality is that most women, for some insane reason, get very annoyed when you forget their name. And as men, we try valiantly to remember the specifics through pneumonic devices and other tricks that we’ve picked up over time.
One trick is to pretend you’re a mobster. This is something my friends did in high school to distinguish between different neighborhood girls. So if you’d be walking into a party and asked who was in there it wasn’t Jen, it was ‘Lazy Eyed Jen’. Because Lazy Eyed Jen was cool and Bucktooth Jen had issues. (…and yeah, we hung out with some hot girls.)
Other girls had nicknames without their actual name but we all knew who they were. ‘Ride Home’ was a girl who, let’s say, was very attentive to her passengers. ‘#1 and #2’ were girls who sat in particular seats in class every day and were assigned a ranking as to their attractiveness. And so forth. So on any given day of high school we could have a conversation that went something like this,
“Bumped into Jen last night after Ride Home dropped me off.”
“Lazy Eyed Jen or Bucktooth Jen?”
“Nah, Hot Jen.”
“Ohhh shit, Hot Jen. Nice. Becky Brown Hair said she was into you.”
If we were wire tapped, the feds would have nothing on us.
Now ladies, if you’re somehow offended by this system then there is something you can do to change it. Get more original names! I don’t know what it is, but you all seem to have the same name and this gets very confusing when dealing with a cell phone. Case in point. I’m opening my phone right now and will read off some of the duplicates of names that I have.
Allison – 3
Amanda – 4
Danielle – 5
Kristin – 3
Meg – 4
And don’t even get me STARTED on you Kates out there. Seriously, Kates? What the fuck is up with your name? Kate, Katie, Kat, Katelyn, Katherine, Kathy, Kathleen…sweet baby Jesus how many names do you need?! I have eight varieties of the name Kate in my phone. EIGHT! You give me a few beers and I have absolutely no idea which Kate I’m calling. It’s a dangerous game, especially when drinking is involved.
And you’re all soooo particular about the names that if called the wrong variation, you won’t even respond to it. Guys are much less particular. If you’re good looking enough you can literally call us anything you want. If a good looking girl were to call out, “Hey shithead!” in a crowded bar she’d have ten guys staring back at her ready to buy her a drink or fight the guy next to him for the right to be her shithead.
We just don’t care about our names. It isn’t important to us. In school guys equated names with how difficult they were to fill in on standardized tests or if the last name would fit on the back of a jersey. That’s really the extent of it.
But for girls, names were everything. Boys became known by their full names. Joe suddenly became Joseph, which then became Joseph Michael, as if the middle name made them more distinguished. They’d doodle names over and over in notebooks, write them on bathroom stalls and eventually simply take the boys name to see how a Mrs. would look in front of it.
So I guess the real issue is why don’t we delete the names from our phone that we don’t remember or that we know to be the most dangerous? Because you always want to know what numbers to avoid answering.
As a rule, I never answer my phone unless I know who is calling, and even then, I usually let it go to voicemail. Why run the risk of not knowing the reason for the call? I might change my voicemail to say, “Hi, you’ve reached Sean. I’m probably available right now and just staring at my phone to wait for the voicemail alert. Please state why you called and I will return your call with a text. Thanks.”
Looking at my phone now, I really should begin deleting SOME of the names. Some of them I haven’t spoken to in years and some are people I’m pretty confident I’ll never talk to again. But I know as soon as I delete them that my phone will ring with an odd area code and the voicemail will say, “Hey, this is Katie. We met at that bar that one time. Call me.”
And I’ll think, “Shit, what color shirt was she wearing?”