Monday, January 22, 2007

we'll get to that

"Did you get my message?" Barman Ben asked.

"I did."

I won't go into how Willow and I ended up at Cozy Bar Saturday night, but we did. We were in high spirits, pleasantly buzzed, and feeling especially charismatic and confident. It was the perfect time to stop by and pay Barman Ben a visit. Especially since I was no longer interested in him.

Ben reiterated what he said in the voicemail, but was even more complimentary in his praise. He enthused what a "terrific story" it was and what a special gift I had given him. He went on to say it reminded him of a short piece by Murakami, that both works had an undercurrent of eroticism and were rich in detail.

"Well, I figured you probably don't get a lot of people giving you things like stories... or maybe you do."

He paused, smirked a bit, and looked at me. "Nothing that's actually any good. Once I started reading your story, I couldn't put it down until I finished it."

"That's really nice to hear. I wrote it pretty quickly, in about a week."

He would interrupt his cocktail-making to lean in and say more.

"I could tell that. Not from the quality of piece itself, of course, but when you were in here before and I saw you writing, I knew you... had it."

"Actually, I hadn't written anything for over a year before that story." (Probably shouldn't have said that, but there had been lots of drinking and it took all of my effort just to stay outwardly composed and serene.)

"Well... you're not rusty. You're very talented. Is that number I called your home number?"

"It is." I wonder...

I thought that would be it, but he kept talking to me. We touched on the play he's in, various art house movie theaters, and I don't know what else. It was the most natural I have ever been with Ben, and the longest we've ever spoken. It definitely felt like we had some kind of rapport (though exactly what kind has yet to be determined).

Ben waved away my money when I tried to pay for my drink. Willow asked for a soda, and when she tried to pay, he gestured to me and asked,

"Are you with her?"

A nod.

"Then you don't pay, either."

I turned back to Willow and I realized that while I was able to be easygoing and witty with Ben, once I was in the company of my friend, my sentences kept trailing off and my mind wandered. Having him so close by was utterly distracting (in the most wonderful way). While I managed to be calm and collected on the surface, inside me was a chaotic mess of pounding heart and fluttery stomach.

Damn it.

Here's the thing about Cozy Bar. It attracts some pretty decent, friendly, grown-up people. Real prospects. But I can't look at anyone as long as Ben is behind that bar.

Ben would come by for snippets of talk from time to time.

"How long have you been in New York?" I asked.

"We'll get to that."

"What?" I gave him a puzzled look.

"We'll get to that. This is my time right now," he gave me a pointed look, "And I have questions for you, too. I'm going to get my chance to interview you."

"Well, you have my number," I said lightly, feeling like I was on a roller coaster that just took a major dip.

When he walked to the other end of the bar, I turned to Willow.

"Did you hear that?"

"I did," she nodded, eyebrows raised.

"That was a thing, right? That was some kind of moment just now, right?"

"I think so."

After a while, this British guy and I started chatting (we'll call him Magazine Mitch). He was cute and engaging, fun as hell to talk to, but I wasn't attracted. Turns out he has known Barman Ben for years, since he first started working at Cozy Bar. Not only that, he told me Ben's last name and a few other inside bits of info, like what kind of music he likes. Then Mitch would move on to flirting with me.

"You and I should hook up." (I didn't say he was subtle.)

"I'm actually not dating in 2007."

"I never said anything about dating."

I shook my head and laughed.


"You are pretty damn sexy. Do you know how sexy you are?"

"I have my good and bad days," I shrugged and launched into the evening's worst segue:

"What about Ben? He knows he's attractive, doesn't he." It wasn't a question.

Mitch nodded and we looked at Ben on the other side of the bar. "He does know... but he doesn't get carried away with it."

Willow went home at around 3:00. I stayed. Asked more questions.

Mitch told me that Ben has done a number of movies.

"Which ones?" I got my pen and paper handy.

He named one, and told me not to tell Ben, who overheard.

"Oh, don't tell her to see that movie, it's terrible." He turned to me, "Don't listen to him. I'll tell you a couple of better ones to see."

"Go ahead, you can write them down." I showed him the pen and paper.

"I'll tell you later."

Magazine Mitch wanted to smoke a cigarette and asked me to get him another pint while he was gone. He gave me a twenty and told me to get something for myself, too, if I wanted.

I ordered the drinks and held out the twenty.

"Who's money is that?"

"Mitch's. He asked me to get another round while he went outside."

"Okay," he took the bill from me, "his money I'll take."

Magazine Mitch ended up introducing me to a couple of the other regulars, who were a bit older and very sweet to me. At one point, I had all these men around me like a modern-day Scarlett O'Hara (it was awesome).

"She's a keeper," Ben said to them. This left me simultaneously elated and confused. I mean, great, now I know he holds me in high regard, but that kind of statement might be treading on I-love-her-like-a-sister territory (If I'm such a keeper, he should be doing the keeping).

Barman Ben announced last call and played the Rolling Stones. He was mostly his usual subdued self, but more upbeat than I've seen him. It was great to talk to him so easily and joke around a bit (at one point, I called him "The King of Dramatic Pauses" and he froze in place for fifteen seconds before replying, which cracked me up). I feel like I got to see more of Ben the person, and it only made me like him more.

Meanwhile, Magazine Mitch was tried to get me to come over and smoke weed with him and his friends.

"Are you drunk enough to make out yet?" he asked.

"No. Sorry."

"Well, I am."

"So tell me, is Barman Ben a player?"

He thought about it. "No. No, I wouldn't say he is," then the penny dropped and he gave a sly smile, "Oh... are you interested in Ben?" He looked from Ben to me. "Yeah, you could probably get with him."

"I didn't say I was interested, I was just asking." Thank goodness Ben was out of earshot.

While Mitch was busy talking to his friends, I leaned in and asked Ben,

"What's a nice way I can tell him that I'm not going to hook up with him?"

"Mitch is a good guy, don't worry about him. He won't give you any trouble."

"I mean, I did already tell him I'm taking 2007 off from dating, so I'm hoping that got the message across."

I think that might have made him smile (he doesn't do that much).

I know I'm recapping every little interaction and should just give the highlights, but I want to remember every detail, so please bear with me. This next part is important.

In my short story, when my main female character goes to the bar, the bartender always changes the music to Nina Simone for her, because she once told him how much she loves Simone's voice. It's one of the subtle ways he shows he cares about her before he's even fully aware of it himself.

Well, Barman Ben knows I love Favorite Singer. We talked about him before and his name came up again Saturday night, though I don't think I've ever heard a Favorite Singer song played at Cozy Bar.

For the last song, Ben specifically searched for and queued his iPod to a Favorite Singer song. It might have been a coincidence, but I think it was for me. Could have been a gesture, could have been a crumb. I'll take it.

There were a handful of people who lingered when the lights came on. Ben stood by the back tables and didn't seem to be in a hurry, so I went over and offered him the pen and paper. It was nice not to have the bar between us (Man alive, he is so tall! And so just-the-right-amount-of-good-looking).

"So are you going to give me that list of movies?"

"I'll call you and give you the list."

"Sure you will."

"I'm serious. I will call you."

I said good-night and he brought me in for a hug. Brief, but two-armed, full-bodied. Heaven.

I dreamed of him all night. Nothing racy, just of him and me in a bar. In one of the dreams, he called me "honey".

I looked him up on IMDB. Turns out he's been in several movies I have in my collection, including a couple of indies where he has played the male lead. I saw one of the films on the Sundance Channel, about a month before I met him (and watched it again today). No wonder there was something vaguely familiar about him. Happens to be a pretty good actor, too (let's not even get into all that).

I can't begin to guess what might come next. I dare not hope that he is interested in me romantically, though I could die a happy woman if I only got to kiss him, even once.

I know I should switch off my phone and stay away from Cozy Bar for a while, but that's not going to happen. I already have standing plans to go back with friends at the end of the week.

Try to resist it (I did), but you can't help who you are drawn to. It's a strange, helpless feeling, but also oddly euphoric. Dangerous, but that's life. I could avoid it, but I don't want to, because I love how alive I feel right now. All I can do is enjoy the high as long as it lasts.


Anonymous said...


smoothlatinkid said...

You can't help who you are drawn to, but you can help what you tell yourself.

Dolly, since you occassionally hang with PUAs, I will give you the benefit of being frank.

Ben is a what we call a hired gun. And what you are going through is what many men and women go through when they deal with an attractive person serving them drinks.

A fantasy.

You were done.

Then you weren't.

Here's what's going right here. You're not paying for your drinks. He probably genuinely digs your company.

But men--unlike women---go after what they truly want, especially when they know they can have it.

And he knows he can have you.

Read that again: HE KNOWS HE CAN HAVE YOU.

(telling his friend as much was making the obvious even more clear.)

If a man had written a short story for a hot female bartender, given it to her, told her she inspired it, then decided to hang there with her while his friends left, said "you have my number", then settled for a hug on the way home, and was as giddy as you...I'd have to slap him on the back of the neck.

If I cared about him, that is.

It's what we call AFC.

Crushes are nice. I'm sure he likes a person.

If he likes you more than that, he's playing it VERY cool. And very well, I might add.

As a former bartender (and presently, a writer), I felt the need to be the guy in your ear.

Drop the goofy "I'm not dating in 2007" thing--it smacks of weariness (which we all feel but is nontheless distinctly unattractive when worn on the sleeve, not to mention it comes off a little schmucky. And you're no schmuck.)

As Mystery says, let yourself be TRULY open to ten other options.

If this flower is still as special...

Rosie said...

I'm afraid I agree with smoothlatinkid, and this is from a totally non-PUA point of view... even though I'm a girl, I can see how valid the points he is making are. Play it cool with Ben, really really cool... and STOP. ASKING. MITCH. QUESTIONS. You've made yourself way too accessible...

But Dolly, Good Luck, because I know how hard it is to listen to common sense when you're smitten...

Anonymous said...


I think she knows that. The fact that she's "re-interested" shows she just doesn't care. She's not a guy, and nothing she does can be "schmucky" if she's getting exactly what she wants.

And your right. Everything she did would be a turn off if Dolly were a man. Consider a female bartender, with the same story in hand. She might not even allow "Male Dolly" to enter the bar again. She may even consider it "stalkerish". Police could even be called. But if a woman wrote it, it's all good.

Dolly (now equipped with a database of film roles) seems intent on Barman Ben. And I'm sure this forty something actor would love to be with an aggressive woman in her mid twenties. Isn't that why men become actors in the first place? To oneday sleep with women decades younger than themselves? I say "game on", Dolly.

smoothlatinkid said...

We want that which runs away from us.

As a former bartender, I had women who would hang at the bar that I KNEW wanted me, and said nearly nothing (Bartenders and writers tend to become experts at body language.)

And those women didn't write me a short story.

And Halstead, of course she cares. She might be dependant on the outcome...but she cares.

Hate to be the rain, Dolly. I actually dig your blog, and having dating many a hired gun, you can see the puppet show a mile away---and the strings are still visible. (My apologies to Cameron Crowe. :) )

That said, the bartender likes the attention---and knowing she's a writer...

Most men, with the things they want, only let it simmer for so long.

Good luck, D.

ps. it's clear I'm writer. I'm wasting time posting on this damn blog when I have a script to finish. Damn you Dolly!

V said...

Don't deny yourself human emotion. You know what you want, when you want it.

Dolly said...

Guys, I'm not so naive as to think anything is going to happen here. I just love being around the guy. And it doesn't matter how cool I play it, the short story conveyed my affection, so that's that.

I do think I've sparked some curiosity, though, which is nice. I've already done something to make myself stand out from the other patrons, and that's as far as I'm going to go with respect to being "aggressive" (which I really am not; at the bar, I'm actually pretty laid back).

I will keep myself open to other options, though. Truly.

Anonymous said...

I think Barman Ben is gonna call. He's already called once. I think he's pretty interested and impressed. He might be thinking he has found a woman that he can respect and who would fit into his life. You just have to decide if you are on board with the artistic projects that are important to him or if you are just interested in him as a crush.

Have any of you seen/read this ebook? It's about using NLP on men. I kind of like it so far.


Calla Lily said...

It sounds to me like all the things you're doing (the story, saying you're not dating in 2007, etc) are just from you being herself, that you could care less about whatever "game" you might have, and that you know what the possible risks/potentials are. AND it sounds like you're having a great time because of it. I say, right on! These folks on here who are supposedly trying to help you are missing the point, I think...

Spirit Fingers said...

I've blogged about your Barman Ben posts...let me know what you think. It's the top post on my blog now.

I think your blog,and these posts in particular, give guys great insight into how a girl's mind works. Props -- your stories are very educational as well as interesting.


Anonymous said...

Your life is interesting. I stalk your blog. the end.

coasta said...

I say enjoy yourself. You can't go wrong with that.

Dolly said...

I haven't done much reading on NLP, that stuff kind of worries me. It's fascinating, but I wouldn't want to feel like I was hypnotizing people into liking me. However, if you'd like to share any insights you've gleaned, I'd be curious to hear them.

Calla Lilly,
Thank you. I was starting to get a bit weary of the criticism for being myself. I am perfectly happy with the way I handled myself with Barman Ben and wouldn't have done anything differently. And yes, I had a wonderful time. If I feel like seeing him is becoming too much for me, I'll stop going to the bar.

Wow. Not only am I deeply flattered, but thrilled that you think there's real interest on his part. Deep down, I think so, too, though I'm scared to admit it.

Anonymous 4:13,
It's all in the editing. Everybody's life is interesting. But thank you for cyber-stalking (just as long as there will be no need for cyber-restraining orders).

Indeed. Much enjoyment being had. And it's much more enjoyable when there's little-to-no strategizing.

Anonymous said...

Dolly, hi, love your blog. NLP is fascinating stuff, as far as I can tell, its grounded on the work of Milton Erickson (a goodhearted and extremely talented shrink from the postwar era) and Bandler & Grinder, a couple of devilishly smart hippie types who extended his work in the 60's. NLP *is* a little scarey: Richard Bandler himself was a cokehead who pulled an O.J. Simpson and got away with murder.
If you're interested, start with B&G's "Frogs Into Princes".

In any case, it appears Barman Ben has some substantial game, whether he knows it or not. :)

realtor rick said...


As someone who shares your qualifiactions, I'm not sure I agree with your read on the situation.

I don't think Dolly's situation is nearly as hopeless as you think. My read on the situation is that Ben is interested but indecisive.

The only way this guy is going to make up his mind is if he feel a sense of loss...

...jealously plotline anyone?


P.S. I can get into this at length right now, but if folks are interested I'll do a longer post later about why I think this situation still has PLENTY of potential.

Anonymous said...

didn't dolly work a jealousy plotline by talking to that mitch guy all night? i don't know, sounds like ben may be about to ljbf her. think she could turn it around?

Dolly said...

Okay, you've got my curiosity flag raised.

realtor rick said... time.

I'm also about halfway through a longer e-mail regarding some of my thoughts of late.

I'll try to address both at once.


Anonymous said...

you're a serious weirdo if you don't ask him out. hes plenty into you.

Anonymous said...

well, if he's an actor, he'd probably be most responsive to a jealousy plotline involving someone else wanting the rights to Dolly's short story.

Voila, instant boyfriend. :-)

Matt said...

Just stumbled across your blog. I like it. I like the name Barman Ben, too. It makes me laugh.

I agree with the PUAs in this thread. Once Barman Ben senses a shift in your vibe; a shift that conveys your smitten level has dropped, he may feel a spike in his own smitten level. But by that time you may not even care...

HughRistik (aka secondarysight) said...

I agree with spirit fingers.

We want that which runs away from us.

In my experience, this statement is a lot more true of what women want than of what men want.

Dolly said...

Anonymous 5:20,
I should get me a "serious weirdo" t-shirt, then, because with someone like Ben, I think he needs to do the asking out. I've made my interest pretty clear.

Anonymous 9:55,
A friend and I were talking a while back how nice it would be if you could go to the grocery store and get yourself an instant boyfriend, which would be somewhere near the ramen or instant oatmeal.

I actually have had a problem in the past with men realizing they care about me after it's too late and I've given up on them, or started caring much less. Let's not even go into the levels of suckage that would occur if this happened with Ben.

I think it's human nature to desire what eludes us, regardless of our sex. The problem is, I am no good at playing hard to get, and hate the idea of pretending to be disinterested in someone to get their attention. I try to minimize the amount of trickery in my romantic interactions.

realtor rick said...

Fearless Prediction:

You're both too chickenshit to make a move. One of you meets someone else and moves on.

Once that Person Moves on, the other gets obsessed and depressed.

I've seen this happen a million times before.

These patterns are so predictable once you know what to look for.


CoatMan said...

"Once Barman Ben senses a shift in your vibe; a shift that conveys your smitten level has dropped, he may feel a spike in his own smitten level. But by that time you may not even care..."

Matt: Barman Ben might think like that - but on the other hand, he might not. I always find that knowing that the other person is interested makes me more interested in the other person, not less, and scientific research shows that a person expressing interest is perceived as more attractive than a person not expressing interest (and the interesting thing is that the person in whom interest is expressed often does not consciously realise that the other person is interested, but merely regards her or him as more attractive).

Perhaps the key is subtlety - being over-keen can scare a person off, not because it's scary to have somebody else interested in one, but because (1) a person who appears too interested too early appears to be a person who makes rash judgments on insufficient information; and (2) it makes one wonder whether the person is really balanced to express such a great deal of interest in somebody so soon (in proportion to what one would expect to be going on in the person's life at the time).

A person who believes an object of desire is less interested than he or she once thought that he or she was might lead to the other person acting more obviously interested, but perhaps only because the person believes that he or she would have to do more to maintain the level of interest that he or she believed prevailed previously.

In short, it's flattering for a person to express a reasonably high degree of interest in proportion to what the person knows about one; it's creepy for a person to express a disproportionately high level of interest in one for the amount of information that the other person has about one.

Dolly: You should definitely get a "serious weirdo" t-shirt, if only because it would start some interesting conversations; that, perhaps, along with a "mostly harmless" t-shirt ;-)

"I try to minimize the amount of trickery in my romantic interactions."

It's this sort of attitude that wins long-term partners :-)

matt said...

Coatman to Matt: "Barman Ben might think like that - but on the other hand, he might not..."

Well said, Coatman. I agree with you, too. I like a balance. The phrase by the PUA smoothlatinkid: "We want that which runs away from us." is something I only resonate with up to a point. If someone is completely unattainable/unavailable, I'll let them run. smoothlatinkid brings up a good point that I may not be able to control the split second feeling of initial attraction to that. That's not a choice, he's right. But I have a choice in choosing to strike up a conversation with another hottie who is more available. Walla, no more attraction to the unavailable one.

One of my standards: "Anyone I date must be into me as much as I into them."

Dolly said...

I think the balance is off in a way, because I can see him any time I want to (provided I go to the bar where he works), but not vice versa. It's tough to go from customer to something more, though I think I'm getting there. And if he is the type of man who will only like me if I play hard to get, I'm sure he's not worth it, anyway. I agree that a balance of expressing interest (but not too much) needs to be attained, and reciprocity plays a huge role in that, but sincerity is ultimately so much more satisfying than any plotting/strategizing.

That's a good standard, and one I share. I also think a person is more evolved if they want what they can have (and what they do have) than what they cannot easily (if ever) obtain. If Ben ever showed keen interest in me and acted on it, I wouldn't be disappointed because he was ruining some kind of fantasy, I'd be thrilled at having things evolve on a more realistic plane, regardless of the decrease in the fantasy aspect.

CoatMan said...

Dolly, if only everyone were as sincere as you...

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