CoatCheck is a crap-shoot under the influence of the full moon.
I usually stand separated from the rabble by a flimsy swinging door/counter, but the same device which affords me that separation also makes me a captive audience, and one directly in the path of every drunk guy who has to urinate.
I always hope the scantily clad girls on the stage and platforms will draw attention away from me but, alas, I was not so lucky. No amount of hiding behind a book or the glow of a laptop could save me.
"Gimme your number."
Just like that.
No "hi", "hello", "hey, how's it going?".
I was equally blunt.
"C'mon! Gimme your number!"
His tune didn't change. Neither did mine, until I finally said "Ok, move along".
And no sooner had he gone, than another popped into place.
"Hey. I'm just trying to make conversation."
I blinked at him expectantly.
"Uhm...ok." I prompted. *blink, blink*
During the long pause that followed, I swear I heard the faint sound of crickets despite the loud, pounding beats.
"That's all. Just trying to make conversation..." he muttered, as he ducked his head and slunk away to rejoin his friends.
I took a breath and steeled myself for the next onslaught. But I had a reprieve. My friend and respected colleague Mister Graves wandered by, and provided me a much needed drink and some amiable, intelligent conversation. He proved to be a poor deterrent however, to a determined young man.
I had seen this guy at the club for the past four nights, trolling. The first night, he had sidled up to me outside at closing time and asked me if this was "a good place to hook up." Then he'd unleashed his tale of woe..."in a band, from L.A., here mastering the new record, some Australian bitch dumped me, so alone...blah, blah...your waitress is a bitch, she wouldn't talk to me..."
I had suggested that the trouble might be in his approach before ducking back inside.
But he was back, and making the rounds and apparently it was my turn, sentry or no. Mister Graves looked on in amusement as the young rake mentioned I'd caught his eye a few times.
"So I noticed. You've been here the last four nights."
I recited his whole litany back to him from memory.
"How do you know an Australian girl dumped me?" he asked warily.
It could have been so easy to mess with his sense of reality and spin his head even more, but I mustered some restraint.
"You told me the other night."
He still looked a little suspicious.
Mister Graves snickered, already sensing the poor boy's fate. "I'm gonna leave so you can have your fun with this one."
My young admirer turned his focus back to me.
"You probably get hit on by guys all the time, huh?"
"All the time," I echoed. No amount of sarcasm could penetrate his drunken haze, so he boldly forged ahead.
"So, what's up with girls in Portland? I mean, I don't think I'm unattractive. And I'm in a band..."
"Maybe that's your problem" I pointed out. "You're in Portland now. Every guy here is in a band. You gotta have more than that..."
We chatted for a while, during which he tried to convince me to give him my number because "we'd look good together".
"How old are you, dear--- 23?" I asked him.
He puffed up his chest and said defensively "No! I'm 28." He withered under my arched-brow gaze. "Ok, yeah. 23"
And how very 23, with all its concomitant confusion, misplaced confidence and desperate desire to seem wise and jaded.
For about 5 minutes.
I bored of the game and sent him on his way.
I saw him outside at the end of the night--- his confidence was gone. He'd been reduced to a crying little ball of self-loathing. I even started to feel a little sympathy for him, as I watched tears and snot running down his face.
"I'm such a piece of shit." he moaned "I know you get hit on all the time. You're such a cool girl and I'm such a piece of shit, I'm just another piece of shit trying to hit on you."
I handed him my bottle of water and tried a there-there pat on his shoulder.
"I'm so lonely in this town, I'm just gonna go home and kill myself."
I rolled my eyes. My patience was wearing thin.
"You should come home with me," he continued. "Not for sex, but just to talk, you know? I'm so depressed. You'd be doing something good, talking to me..."
I firmly declined and offered to call a cab for him, which he refused.
I darted back into the club and shut the door behind me. I almost had to admire such temerity.
A few nights later I was again sitting at the bar, and looked up to see him walk in.
"Hey look, you're still alive!" I teased.
He turned a deep crimson and lowered his head. He'd actually come in to apologize. And give me a copy of his band's cd, of course.
There's always an angle...