Awkward Club Occurrences, the entertaining tales brought to Press Play by Mike Palumbo, are must-reads. From attempting to order a homemade alcoholic concoction for some girls at a bar to falling up stairs at a club, this guy seems no stranger to awkwardness. Though awkward club occurrences are kind of Mike’s thing, I’m here to assure him and every guy that’s ever fallen in his footsteps that we ladies certainly have our moments too. This is the awkward story of how I went from unexpectedly sought-after by the barback of my dreams to apparently invisible.
I’d say I’m not one to kiss and tell, but have you read the Guys & Dating section of my blog? Guys I date don’t know about The Happiness Experiment for a reason. Not that there’s any kissing to tell of with regard to this guy. If there were, perhaps I’d be telling the story of how I’m now engaged to a god instead of regretfully relaying how I ruined my chance of a date with the most stunning guy that has ever asked for my number. It took less than 30 seconds and only one stupid move to bid dinner goodbye. Whatevs, awkward stories are more fun to tell than happily ever after, right? (Speaking of happily ever after, dear Prince Charming, hide and seek is getting old, bud.)
He was famously known as Hot Bartender. He was hot and, nearly six years ago (a.k.a. one-quarter of my lifetime ago – holy crap), could often be found working the bar at Hotel, hence his nickname. Guys, FYI, girls nickname you. It’s how we’re able to discuss you without anyone around us guessing at your identity. Consider it a compliment, even if the nickname isn’t flattering. (I’m sorry to say that most often they are not, because they’re typically assigned by friends of the girl who’s interested in you, rather than the interested girl herself.) Any nickname is better than none. If a guy isn’t christened with one, he probably has little to no significance.
Hot Bartender was breathtaking. I remember the first time I saw him. It was June 2008, my first time at Hotel. He was that calibre of hot that you don’t think you have a shot in hell of getting, but you’re going to goddamn try anyway, because you’d be stupid not to. I debated about approaching him the entire night. I would repeatedly make momentum in his direction before stopping myself again. This continued until just about closing time. Oh, last call: the cue that it’s now or never, and not just for alcohol. I walked toward him one more time. This time, I kept going. I reminded myself that if I got rejected, I was never going to see him again. (I’d be a regular at Hotel by July.)
After working up the nerve all night, I tapped his shoulder as he was cleaning a booth. When he looked up, I confidently leaned forward, placed my hand on his upper arm, looked right back at him, and said, “I just have to tell you that you’re gorgeous.”
He blushed and thanked me with a smile that still makes me smitten at the memory. That smile alone was worth the anxiety leading up to my approach.
I went back over to my friends, thinking that was that.
I would catch sight of him again one month later and almost every Friday night thereafter that summer. I was sure that he didn’t remember me, and grateful at that. I could freely gaze at him with my friends from afar without worry. He was beautiful – universally beautiful. There was not one girl that came with me to Hotel who was not taken aback by him, including one of my bi roommates, who was less than a year away from coming out as a lesbian. That’s how good looking he was. My girlfriends and I were in absolute awe of him, and we were shamelessly obvious about it. We’d unconsciously stop dancing to look at him whenever he walked through the crowd. We’d actually try to get close enough to brush his shoulder as he passed. We’d push past two bars to get to the third in hope that he’d be the one to take our drink orders. I, always DD, consumed unnecessary amounts of water just to have reason to be at the bar. He was the holy grail of the guys of 2008. Scoring him would have been to womankind what winning the World Cup is to Italians. I was unknowingly headed for the finals.
One Friday night at Hotel that August, two friends and I were exiting the bathroom when one spotted Hot Bartender on the dance floor. Dressed in white shorts and a baby doll (they were in at the time) because I was running out of clubbing outfits, my attire was more appropriate for the beach than a club. On top of that, my hair was a fucking disaster. Of course, my haggard appearance had to coincide with the one time that we had ever caught Hot Bartender not bartending. When my girlfriends noticed him dancing, they wanted to get closer. I wanted to disappear from view, so I gladly opted to be the one of the three of us with my back to him.
While dancing, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned to face Hot Bartender – or who I thought was Hot Bartender. He looked exactly like him, but I was too shocked to be sure.
“Do I know you?” maybe-Hot-Bartender asked. I was in a haze; his hand was on my arm!
“I don’t think so,” I attempted to conceal the fact that I had spent the entire summer staring at him. “Do you work here?” I asked, unconvinced that he was real.
“Yes,” he said.
It was him.
I nearly died. It took everything in me to stay upright. Even in my memory, the club is spinning. That moment has yet to stand still in my mind.
“You come here a lot, don’t you?” he asked.
I was spazzing inside. Had Hot Bartender just admitted that he had noticed me throughout the summer too? – Hold up. Was Hot Bartender speaking to me? I was still lost. He was just a fun fantasy that my friends and I knew we could never have. It was inconceivable to me that the most attractive guy I had ever seen in real life, who I thought was completely unattainable, was telling me that I’m cute, introducing himself to my obviously-jealous-but-excited-for-me friends (guys, if you want to impress a girl, talking to her friends demonstrates charm), and asking for my number.
It was at this point that my magical bubble burst. Some chick positioned herself between Hot Bartender and I, and aggressively placed both of her hands on his chest to push him away from me. She waved her finger back and forth at him, clearly indicating that she did not approve. She turned to me to deliver the same gesture. I instantly recognized her. She worked at Hotel with him. She had served me before at the bar. To my disappointment, in his struggle to get rid of her, Hot Bartender disappeared. Obviously, I had to appear cool. I kept dancing, as if nothing had happened.
In actuality, I was furious. I leaned in close to my friends. While maintaining a facade of nonchalance to the people around me, I loudly whispered in irritation, “Who the fuck is that bitch?”
They were as outraged as I was. Like me, they too had been dazed by Hot Bartender. After all, they had gotten to shake his hand and hear his voice. (One of them, to her utter embarrassment, somehow managed to bump heads with him. Poor girl. That’s an awkward story in itself.)
Thankfully, he returned. I felt him touch my lower back to get my attention. He was somewhat panicked. “I’m so sorry about her! She’s not my girlfriend! I swear she’s not my girlfriend!” he repeated.
“That’s okay! I believe you,” I laughed, finding it incredibly cute that he was so intent on convincing me that he was single. (She definitely wasn’t his girlfriend. Later, I realized that she was not trying to get me away from Hot Bartender; she was trying to get Hot Bartender away from me. She asked for my number after he left that night, making her the first chick to ever hit on me. Com–pli–ment! She was to guys what Hot Bartender was to girls. I was flattered to know that, had I been into girls, I could do that well. Hot Bartender was more my type, i.e. male.)
He seemed a little nervous, which blew my mind. How could I be making this guy nervous? He was a fucking god. Never had it occurred to me that the guy I spent months looking at through the crowd had been looking at me too.
He recorded my number in his phone, whispered “thank you” in my ear, and kissed my cheek.
I was melting. I turned to my friends for confirmation that this had really just happened. They were melting with me.
It had really just happened.
That week, I waited by my phone for a guy’s call for the first time. It never came.
Boys, can we have a heart to heart, cool chick to awesome bros? (The fact that you’re reading this automatically makes you awesome.) If you don’t plan on calling a girl, please don’t ask for her number. There’s no need to unnecessarily get her hopes up. She may be looking forward to your call or – let’s be real – text. I’m notorious for not paying attention to my phone, but everyone has their exceptions. Hot Bartender was one of mine. It is because I remember how much it sucked to wait and not hear from him that I give my guy friends shit if I catch them doing this to a girl. Think about one of your cool, platonic female friends. How much do you want to kill the guys that disappoint her? Don’t do to some other guy’s cool, platonic female friend what you wouldn’t want some douche doing to yours.
The following Friday, I was back at Hotel. When Hot Bartender’s cousin baited him out for wanting my number all summer (was my life fucking real?) and scolded him for not using it once he had it, Hot Bartender leaned over the bar, pulling my hands toward him. He apologized, and promised to call me that week to go out for dinner. (I’m not a fan of dinner first dates, but I was all for dinner with him. He could have taken me for coffee, the worst and most unoriginal of all first date ideas, and I’m sure I would have been on cloud nine.)
So, where did it all go awkward?
The moment he asked my age.
When I told him I was 18, his expression turned immediately cold and his face lost colour. He was clearly expecting me to be older, and rightfully so, given that I was in a 19+ club.
“How old are you?” I asked.
“Twenty-two,” he said.
“Oh! That’s fine!” I waved off the four-year age gap that I didn’t think was a big deal.
I’ve since learned that a girl being underage is a very big deal to most guys. Even in their early twenties, nineteen is typically as low as they’ll go. That was the last time Hot Bartender ever spoke to me. He wouldn’t even serve me anymore. Of course, I stopped seeking out his bar, but we’d occasionally end up across the counter from each other (#sofuckingawkward!). When we did, he’d have one of the girls take his place. How mature. Who was older than whom, again?
Lucky for you, friends, I’ve saved the most awkward part for last. You may be wondering what prompted him to inquire about my age in the first place. I had somehow passed the looks-older-than-18 test; and, because I’ve always been mature for my age, the converses-older-than-18 test was a breeze. Therefore, your guess is as good as mine. I don’t know what brought about the question. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the email address I felt the need to give him for Facebook friending purposes. (I was young, okay? I didn’t know then how foolish it is to give a guy you’re interested in your Facebook details. Facebook provides way too much information too soon. I’d rather ditch my clothes for a guy before dishing my Facebook status, especially now that I use Facebook to share my blog posts, which are far from conservative.) Why would firstname.lastname@example.org (yes, that’s baby spelt b – a – b – i – e) turn a 22-year-old off? (Note to fucking everyone: Never distribute your high school email address post-high-school. If it is still the primary email address associated with your Facebook account – and I know culprits – take this time to change it. Seriously, stop reading, and go edit your Facebook profile.) I immediately discontinued use after that night, but the damage was done. I had already unintentionally scared off a guy who had asked me for my number before jamming his tongue down my throat and suggested dinner before even trying to undress me. #husbandmaterial (Wow, millennial dating is pathetic.)
Friends, my telling of such awkwardness is not meant to discourage you from being forward. Guys, I trust that you have some experience with this. Traditional gender roles haven’t given you much choice. Ladies, some of you need encouragement: If you want someone, go for him. If it works out, you’ll be grateful. If not, you will laugh. I promise you will laugh. Eventually, they all become funny stories. Smiling in a guy’s general vicinity in hope that he’ll pick up on your supposedly obvious hint is a hit or miss sitch. You need to act. You don’t have to straight-up tell someone you’re attracted to him, like I did in the case of Hot Bartender. (He was too exceptionally impressive for me to not risk all pride for. He blew me the hell away, and my friends would confirm that I am not easily blown anywhere by anyone.) All you’ve got to do is start a conversation. Ask him what he’s drinking.
This story is, however, meant to help you identify where to draw the line. To avoid premature awkwardness, ladies and gentlemen, I will give you the same advice that I’ve given my 16-year-old sister: give/get the number and go. You can pick up conversation on the first date. Your only goal at this stage should be to ensure hope of future contact. Once numbers have been exchanged, hope has been established. Walk away. Keep the hope alive. Do not give someone opportunity to X you before getting to know you. And for the love of God, keep your Facebook account to yourself. By the way, on the topic of Facebook, I have one more tip: get a last name. How the ef are you going to accidently-on-purpose come across someone on Facebook years later without it? (Not that neither I nor my friends on my behalf have ever attempted to find Hot Bartender. People, please, give us some credit. That would just be crazy. #thestupidthingsgirlsdo)