Dave fancies himself a pool hustler. To his credit, he is a pretty good one. I rarely see anyone beat him. And if someone does, usually it’s because he let the person win for some reason.
Let me tell you a story about Dave the Pool Hustler.
The setting is a dimly-lit, smoky pool hall in New York in the mid 1990′s. I’m playing pool with him and two other high school buddies. We’re all drinking beers and watching Dave kick our collective asses.
A few tables over, two girls rack up and begin a game. One of them, a hot blonde, catches Dave’s eye. He watches her in his peripheral as he sinks four balls into the pockets.
The girls are tipsy and giggly. They seem new to the game and hit the balls around randomly. Judging from their martinis, they appear more eager to drink than to play pool.
The hot blonde is wearing a black halter top that hands perilously low every time she shoots. Her skin-tight, low-rise jeans also provide a tantalizing glimpse of her black thong (which, as we all can see, matches her black bra).
The hot blonde notices Dave. She pauses and smiles at him. Dave grins and finishes our game without breaking a sweat. I groan, grab my beer, and take a big gulp as Dave wanders over to the girls.
“Can I interest you ladies in some pool lessons?” Dave asks.
“What? You think we can’t play pool?” giggles the hot blonde. She flicks her hair back. “We can play fine!”
“Oh yea? How about a game then?”
The hot blonde looks at her friend, who nods at her. “Okay, sure.” She licks her lips and racks up the balls.
All of us guys eagerly shuffle over to watch. Dave eyes her coyly and explains the basic rules of eight-ball. As he finishes, he asks her if she wants to break.
“No way. I’m horrible at breaking the balls.” Another hair flick. “They never go anywhere. You break them.”
Dave leans down and breaks, sending two balls into pockets.
“Ohmigosh, are you some kind of pool hustler?” she asks.
“What, me? Nah, that was just luck.” Dave feigns a poor shot. “See? Your turn.”
The hot blonde leans over the table. All the guys shuffle to the opposite side to watch her intently. If she knows that about every guy in the pool hall is staring down her shirt, then she hides it well. She takes her shot and misses completely.
“Ohmigosh, this game is so hard!” She turns to him. Dave glides next to her.
“It’s not so hard. Here, watch me.” He explains his finger positions and how he lines up his shot. She watches him with a grin. Dave knocks one more ball in before missing intently. “Okay, now you try it.”
The hot blonde bends over the table. Dave, being the gentleman that he is, comes up behind her and puts his hands on hers. “Here, like this.”
She peers up at him and he smiles. “You trying to cop a feel so soon? We’ve just met each other.” Dave’s face flares in red and he backs away apologetically. She giggles and hits the ball. It goes in.
“Wooo! That was fun!” she shouts and touches Dave’s chest. Her next shot bounces no where near a pocket. She looks up from the table and gives Dave a coy smile. “No advice this time? You too busy looking down my shirt to watch my balls, huh?”
Dave blinks, not quite ready for such a line. “Uh, no, I think you’re handling those balls just fine.” He pauses. “In fact, I think you got quite a way with balls.” She giggles again and brushes by his shoulder while the rest of us groan.
As the game continues, Dave makes his best attempts at touching her or watching her bend down, while she flirts back and eats up the attention. The last few shots of the game drag on. Dave keeps one of his balls on the table and lets her win.
“I won! I won!” she cheers with her friend. They jump up and down. The guys watch eagerly. “So what do I win?” she asks with a smile. Dave looks at her drink and orders her another martini.
“How about another game?” he asks.
“Sure! But you’d better not lose again, ‘cuz you’re going to get me drunk!”
“Make you drunk?” Dave winks at us. “Me? Never! Here, have another drink!”
The rest of us return to our table while Dave continues to play with the hot blonde. Her friend walks off to join some friends at another table. We occasionally steal glances at the hot blonde and her matching black undies.
After a few games, I stumble over to Dave’s game. I see a pile of twenties on the table. “Playing for money now?” I ask.
Dave grins. “Yea, she asked for it.”
“I’m going to beat you!” she shouts, nearly knocking over her martini. She gasps, grabs her martini, and pulls it away the table.
Dave winks at me. “I’ll take it easy on her. It’s her number I’m after, not her money.”
I laugh. “Good luck man. I don’t mean on the game, I mean on getting her number.” He smirks and returns to the table. Since I lost the last game and have some time to kill, I decide to watch Dave (well, really the hot blonde) play for a while.
At the first game I witness, Dave beats her by one ball. “No way! That was a close game! Let’s play again!” she sputters. She puts down a twenty. Dave orders her another martini as she racks up the balls.
After the next game, the hot blonde wins by one ball. Dave shakes his head. “Gee, I guess I’m losing it now.” She sticks her tongue at him and chalks up her stick. We both stare intently at the way she rubs the stick. He puts down a twenty.
After the next game, the hot blonde wins by two balls. Dave turns down an offer for another beer. “Done drinking for the night?” I ask. He nods silently, puts down another twenty, and racks up the balls.
After the next game, the hot blonde wins by three balls. “Woo hoo! I can’t believe I won again!” She jumps up and down. Dave wipes some sweat off his brow and is noticeably quieter now. I ask him if he’s okay and he just nods. He puts down another twenty.
The next game starts off real close. I see the competitive side of Dave coming out. He’s playing for real now. The veins in his neck are throbbing. And what’s worse, she’s still flirting with him and giggling and bending down generously over the table. The hot blonde wins by four balls. He puts down another twenty.
By this time, all of our friends and her friends have gathered around to watch. The hot blonde and Dave are both quiet now. A tall stack of twenties are perched precariously on the table. She seems a lot less inebriated now and the stress in Dave’s veins must have pushed the alcohol out of his system too.
While the rest of us stare at the hot blonde, Dave’s eyes are focused only on the pool table. She breaks the balls wonderfully and keeps a commanding presence on the table. Our mouths drop when we watch her pull off an amazing display of English: the cue ball strikes her remaining solid into a pocket, then rolls backwards and knocks the eight ball into a pocket.
“Hey Dave, I think that’s enough for tonight,” one of our friends tells him. He shakes his head and continues racks up the balls again after throwing down another twenty.
By the end of the night, the hot blonde is $320 richer. She waves the money around and giggles. Dave silently congratulates her.
We slowly walk our defeated friend out of the pool hall, too stunned to offer any condolences. As we get to our cars, the hot blonde and her friends drive by.
“Hey, thanks for those pool lessons! They really helped!” she shouts out the car window. Then they drive away.
. . .
Have you ever been hustled?
Mr. Tan didn’t believe in wallpaper. Nope. It was as if his motto was: “Wallpaper is for wussies.” For Mr. Tan, he decorated his wall in DVDs.
Literally, his entire wall was lined with DVDs of all kinds. Every action-packed, tear-jerking, side-splitting blockbuster was there, including a handful (and by handful, I mean thirty or forty) of sentimental personal favorites.
To say that Mr. Tan was a Movie Buff is to say Simon Cowell is a guy with an occasional opinion. Even the British and their understated humor wouldn’t call him that as a joke.
His passion went beyond DVDs though. It extended far into the realm of the Home Entertainment System. This is a universe unto itself. Entire colonies of cultures and customs exist in this world. And Mr. Tan could have very well been their king.
You should have seen his sound system. Towering over his DVDs, these monoliths stood sentry over everything. They were the thugs, the henchmen of this Fortress of Entertainment. If you didn’t laugh at an obviously funny joke on the screen, they would roar in fury until your ears went POP!
Cars from the next town over would vibrate when he had his sound system on full blast. Anyone caught within a fifty-mile radius could kiss their hearing goodbye. (What? I can’t hear you.) But that wouldn’t stop them from enjoying the movie. No sir. They could still feel the sounds deep in the marrow of their bones.
The screen held the true glory though. It was the centerpiece, the masterpiece, the Crown Jewel. It adorned your entire vision—including peripheral. Even if you turned your head backwards, you’d still see the movie. If Mr. Tan wanted to show you Nicole Kidman’s pores, he could.
Thought Star Wars II looked good on an IMAX? Well, it looks horrible on Mr. Tan’s system. Not because his screen was small, but because his screen was so damn big you’d see each individual byte from the computer-generated scenes. It’s like watching The Matrix; all you’d see are 1′s and 0′s.
Fanatical was Mr. Tan’s zeal for Hollywood. Which was understandable because he lived so close to Los Angeles. Or at least, that’s how a New Yorker like me rationalized it.
What I find difficult to rationalize is why God had to take him so soon. But I’m only human; I’ll never understand things like that.
Mr. Tan passed away a few days ago. He was surrounded by loved ones and slept peacefully. What impressed me was how many loved ones came to his aid during his struggle with cancer. They flew in from overseas, traveled across the country, and took turns sitting by his side. These were close family, distant relatives, good friends, old colleagues, and even friendly neighbors.
The lives of people as varied and numerous as his DVDs were all touched by him. He used to invite anyone who wanted to experience the might of his Home Entertainment System into his house. Once invited, he would sit you down on his plush couch, turn down the lights, turn on his system, and stand behind you with a satisfied grin, knowing full well that you were about to be blown out of your socks.
I was one of those lucky people. I think it was Independence Day that he had in the DVD player at the time. When the White House exploded, bits and pieces of it actually hurtled by my face. That nick in my ear? Made by a piece of White House marble.
All the while, Mr. Tan stood behind me, smiling like a proud father. His daughters would roll their eyes and laugh, knowing that they had another sibling to compete for their father’s attention. But not really.
The attention he paid to his Home Entertainment System was miniscule compared to the attention he paid to those he loved. It wasn’t always evident during the process, but if you sat someone down to watch the love he gave, you’d be blown out of your socks as well.
Farewell, Mr. Tan. You were loved by many; you are loved by many. I’m sure you know this already; they were all around you during your last days. I’m sorry I couldn’t have been there too, but please know that I was there in spirit. At the very least, that nick from my ear was there.
Farewell, Mr. Tan. Thank you for touching my life.
They say that your friends can tell you a lot about you. Your friends reflect your personality because we all tend to make friends with similar tastes or attitudes. While not as sharp as a mirror, they’re enough to see our dimples and pimples.
Friends are made by part circumstance and part choice. Some will cross your path and some you’ll walk towards. On that path, there occasionally will be flocks. When you trot through them, a few will fly away. A few will stay. A few you’ll chase away. And a few will poop on you (hey!).
The ones that poop on you, you just have to wipe them off and continue walking. The ones you keep, the ones that keep you, make up your reflecting pool.
To look through this reflection is to look through frosted glass; don’t expect to see a clear image. What you’ll get is a good impression that is subject to interpretation. And sometimes, that’s enough.
- Interpreting similar traits is fairly straightforward:
- What our friends enjoy is what we enjoy. What they want is what we want. What they dislike is what we dislike. No rocket science here.
- Interpreting opposite traits is more involved and potentially more informative:
- We don’t always make friends that are clones; sometimes it’s the differences we enjoy. Those opposites can reveal areas in which we want growth, tolerance, or even conflict.
Knowing which are similarities and differences, however, is the tricky part. You may not want to admit that you’re just like your scumbag friends, but maybe you are, you scumbag.
Doing this analysis on yourself requires an objective mind. I’ve never done this before, to be honest. I’m not sure how useful this exercise would be either. But if you’re feeling introspective, here’s a suggestion:
- List your closest friends on a piece of paper
- List their foremost traits
- Look for similarities among them
- Circle those similarities and list them on the side
Those circled similarities represent personality patterns. What do you think these personality patterns say about you?
Look at your list of friends again. Are most of them similar to you? Different than you? What do you think this says about you?
Are you someone who tends to keep many similar friends? Different friends? Are most of your friends compatible with each other? If you put them all in a room together, would they fight like praying mantises or pucker up like kissing fish?
Are most of your friends from work? Or from school? Have the same hobbies? Have the same tastes in the opposite sex? Have the same religion? Do you like it that many have similar or different tastes than you?
Your conclusions will probably point out traits that are already obvious to you. But perhaps there will be a few surprises in there. You may also find patterns in why you’ve made particular friendships, such as:
- They reaffirm your beliefs
- These friends are generally similar to you, with the same tastes, attitudes, and beliefs.
- They compliment you
- These friends are generally different, yet compatible with you. If you’re a messy person, these friends are perhaps clean and orderly.
- They make you stronger
- These friends can be similar or different, and their traits are at a level for which you aspire; they are your role models.
- They keep you in line
- These friends can be similar or different, and they’re not afraid to tell you when you’re doing something wrong.
- They comfort you
- These friends are sometimes similar and they provide you a shoulder to lean on.
- They make you laugh
- These friends can be similar or different, and they can usually help you look at the humor in situations and make you laugh.
- They need your help
- These friends can be similar or different, and they haven’t found the strength to deal with issues that you’ve dealt (or are dealing) with. You provide them a shoulder to lean on.
- They’re part of your past
- These friends can be similar or different, and you know them from your younger days and used to spend a lot of time with them. They wouldn’t necessarily be your friends now if you didn’t have that shared past.
Many friends will have overlapping reasons. These reasons can hint at your state of mind. If you have a lot of friends that are for comfort and laughs, then perhaps you’re suffering from a stressful situation. If you have a lot of friends that need your help and are part of your past, then perhaps you’re becoming more successful than your childhood friends.
Is this an accurate reflection of you, even through this frosted glass? Maybe. Maybe not.
We all make friends for many reasons and there are patterns to the friendships we create. There are many reasons to why we keep some and why we drop others. It’s both by chance and by conscious effort, though some allow it to be more circumstantial and others more deliberate.
The next time you have a drink with your friends, look around at them. You’ll be looking at a partial reflection of yourself.
. . .
What do you think your friends reflect about you?
“The tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whiskey.”
- W. Faulkner
Look! That guy is staring at that interracial couple with a grimace. That kid keeps getting up from his seat and bringing back random books to his Mom. That girl who looks like she’s barely out of college just smiled at me.
There’s a wealth of stories in this cafe. Good people-watching places offer a plethora of opportunities like this.
My idea writing space would be here. Surrounded by interesting people with interesting lives. All of whom are strangers to me in reality, but cohorts and co-writers in my mind. I need only close my eyes to experience their fictional lives and wacky adventures.
There’s soft music in the background. Sometimes its Norah Jones, other times its Nickelback. Either way, it provides a great soundtrack to my writing. Everything needs a soundtrack.
A silky mist is rising from the hot tea. I’d sip it but I don’t want to burn my lip raw. On a dark chilly day like this, hot tea is the ideal remedy. Its counterpart, iced tea, is ideal for hot sunny days.
There’s one thing missing though: a Writing Buddy. I’ve had a few over the years, friends who’ve also had a penchant for writing and craving for company. For some, writing is a solitary exercise. For me, it’s a social event to share with good friends.
Perhaps it’s the dynamic exchange of ideas or the stimulating oddball conversations that can only be had with caffeine. Or perhaps it’s just the company, the friendly face across the table. A great substitute is a Reading Buddy, a friend who enjoys a good book and coffee. Both, for me, are as helpful as hot or iced tea.
A bookstore cafe is especially nice. If the idea juices aren’t gushing, then there are a plethora of books to get the tide back up. Over in the Writing section are tomes on style, direction, tips, quotations, and even ideas. It’s a virtual writing workshop, a writing coach without the smelly tobacco and mood swings.
In fact, my Virtual Writing Coach, in the form of Jack Heffron’s “The Writer’s Idea Book,” gave me the jumpstart for this ramble.
Prompt: Fantasy time. Describe your ideal writing space. Fill it in to the last detail. Perch yourself on a balcony overlooking the Pacific. Snuggle yourself next to a fire in a richly paneled study. When you finish the description, read it with an eye towards patterns and details. Do you prefer an open place? Light or dark colors? A sense of freedom or safety? Again, no right answers here.
I didn’t follow his prompt to the letter, but it was enough to inspire this ramble. My preferences are apparent: a busy, social place for people-watching and conversation with friends. It’s the interaction with people that I crave, direct or indirect, visual or verbal, real or imaginary. Everyone has a different ideal writing space; this is mine.
. . .
Where is your ideal writing space?
Having trouble in the dating world? Not meeting enough people? Not meeting the right people?
The same can be said about business contacts. So here’s a thought. Why not take a business networking approach to dating?
Here’s the idea:
Every new friend you make is connected to many potential new friends. Many could be single. Even if they aren’t, the friends of that friend are connected to many more potential new friends.
By expanding your social network of friends, you’ll meet a lot more people. The probability of meeting someone special from a larger selection is statistically better than from a smaller selection. By statistics alone, you’ll improve your chances.
It’s been said that most jobs are found through business connections than through headhunters, job sites, classifieds, etc. The same can be said about dating. Online dating, personals ads, clubs, and bars are all viable ways to get a date. Using your social network is an even better one.
Just making new friends isn’t enough, however. As with business networking, your contact isn’t going to help you if he/she doesn’t know you well. You need to establish some kind of trust and relationship with this contact first.
In date networking, you also have to establish this. People aren’t going to match you up with their single friends if they think you’re a shady person. They have to know that you’re a genuinely good person that perhaps could fit their single friends.
Unlike business networking, it can be tough to determine good contacts. When you are looking for a job or to make future corporate deals, you gain more value by targeting those with influence. When you’re looking for a date, you could also gain more value if there was a simple way to assess who could make a good source.
One method is to use sheer brute force: the more good friends you can make, the greater your chances will be. It can be tough to become close friends with a lot of people however; the more friends you have, the less heart-to-heart time you can devote to each one. Your good-friend-factor will be diluted as you spread yourself thin.
So how do you determine who’s a good date networking contact? Someone who knows a lot of single people? Someone who’s very popular?
Nope. You make date networking contacts the same way you make new genuine friends. More important than the quantity of friends is the quality of friends. The dilution factor outweighs the benefits of the statistical benefits of a large selection.
The more genuine your friendship with someone, the better they’ll be able to find a good match for you.
At the same time, if you make friends with only people who are within your own social circle, they’ll only be able to introduce you to the same single people you already know.
The key, then, is to find and make good friends outside your social circle. Finding even one good friend outside your social circle can greatly expand your social network. This will ensure both a wider range than you had previously, plus they’ll hopefully be quality people.
So if you’re down on your luck and aren’t meeting enough of the right people, the situation is not hopeless. A lot of people feel the same way. Fortunately for all of you, there are possible solutions.
Consider taking a business networking approach to dating. Make new friends, and not just a lot of new friends, but a few really good friends. It could open a whole new world of possibilities to you, not just for dating, but as potentially long-lasting and meaningful friendships.
. . .
What do you think about networking to date?
You can’t escape it. It’s all around you. Everyday, you face it and have to deal with it. It is politics.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Politics as: “The art or science concerned with guiding or influencing government policy; competition between groups or individuals for power and leadership.”
The more common street definition is that politics is Power. And power, in this context, is the ability to influence others. The more persuasive and influential you are, the more powerful you are.
To the average person, politics is a sleazy act that requires a fake smile with a fake handshake. Shoveling heaps of bullshit and turning off your conscience are its accomplices. It’s a difficult behavior that requires a very particular mind; either you have it or you don’t.
I, however, disagree. I believe that anyone can engage in politics easily and honorably.
First, remove the negative connotations of the word Politics. See it only as: “The ability to influence.” The ability to influence is not inherently a dishonorable trait. It is simply a trait.
With this generic definition, let’s apply it to a set of friends as an example.
You and your friends want to see a movie. There are two movies out: a horror and a drama. You know that one of your shy friends, Sandy, abhors horror movies. Another more outspoken friend, Johnny, heard a favorable recommendation for the horror movie and asks the group to see it. Most of the others don’t have an opinion either way.
Sandy makes a tiny comment against it, but Johnny is loud and boisterous. He regales the group of fun it would be to get scared together, of the wonderful reviews it’s gotten, and of what a great time they’ll have watching this movie. The majority of the group is convinced and decides to see the horror movie.
Johnny was able to do this because he was able to persuade everyone that the horror movie was worth it. This doesn’t mean he’s a bad person or meant to disregard Sandy’s opinion. He probably did this unconsciously or didn’t realize the extent of her fear with horror movies.
In other words, he was able to influence the group.
You, upon knowing that Sandy abhors horror movies, could decide to increase your influence on the group and speak up for those less outspoken. This doesn’t mean you need to fight Johnny on the school ground or challenge him to a car race; that stuff’s for the movies. It means you need to understand the Art of Politics.
The Art of Politics is comprised of two basic principles:
- Understand the Other Person’s Point of View
All of us view life differently. We all have a filter, a point of view, which interprets what we see and hear. This point of view is a complex combination of societal, familial, cultural, religious, economical, geographical, and genetic factors that have shaped our behaviors and opinions.It’s important to have a basic understanding of how the other person views life. You don’t have to know every intricate detail; a general awareness is enough. This awareness can be used to understand why the person acts the way he/she does.
- Understand the Other Person’s Motivations
All of us have factors that push us along in life. Some are goal-driven and aim for a concrete list of goals. Others passionately seek to better themselves intellectually, spiritually, and physically. Yet others are forced onto paths because of their fears or insecurities. There are those that run towards something and those that run away from something.It’s important to have a basic understanding of what motivates the other person. Again, you don’t need to know every last motivation, but this awareness can be used to help convince the person that your argument is aligned with his/her passions. In the world of sales, this is what helps you to achieve a win/win solution.
With these principles, let’s apply them to the same set of friends.
As you strive to understand Johnny’s point of view, you discover that he’s been raised to believe that a decisive man is a good thing, even if others don’t agree with that decision. He struggles with this trait, but his parents have instilled it into him pretty well.
Along the way, you discover that he has a crush on Sandy; one of his unconscious motivations is to ask Sandy out on a date one day. Ironically, he believes that being decisive will make him look more attractive to Sandy, even if she disagrees with his decision.
You also discover that he’s choosing the horror movie based on another friend’s opinion. This opinion isn’t reliable, but since he hasn’t heard anything good about the drama, he’s pushing himself to be decisive despite the lack of information.
Armed with this simple understanding, you can now influence Johnny’s decision towards one that will be aligned with his own motivations while residing within his view of life.
You look up some reviews of both movies and give the group this information. It turns out that both movies have good reviews. Then you make a light joke about how Sandy is afraid of horror movies. The joke is tasteful enough not to embarrass Sandy, yet enough to make Johnny realize her feelings about horror movies.
With this new information, Johnny turns on his decisive switch again and chooses the drama. Sandy breathes a sigh of relief and Johnny doesn’t have to lose any face. You were able to exert a subtle influence on the group that was beneficial to everyone and didn’t require any lying or fighting.
Politics doesn’t have to involve any fake smiles or handshakes. It need not be about lying or cheating. You can keep a clear conscience and still be able to influence others. And anyone can do this, even you.
To be influential, you have to understand people. You have to understand where they’re coming from, their point of view on life. Then you have to understand why they’re on this path, their motivations in life.
That, simply, is the Art of Politics.
. . .
How do you deal with politics?
“So I reached in my pocket and I grabbed some change,
I said it’s nice to meet you, what’s your name?
You look like you could use a friend.”
- E. Durrance
You know what amazes me? How there can be so many great single people on an island together with Circumstance being the only thing separating them?
With so many great single people on this island, the chances of many of them being right for each other are good. So why are they still single? They haven’t had the right Circumstances to meet each other yet.
The chemistry could be there. They just need the right place and time. I’m talking about my friends and acquaintances in Manhattan.
So if Circumstance is the only thing separating them, why not provide that Circumstance? I did this last year as the Autumn Party. This year, I decided to do it again, as the Summer Party.
And this time, my co-hosts and I decided to make it smaller and more casual. And less about meeting that special and more about meeting new friends.
Here’s the evite:
Let’s celebrate Summer in NYC at Flatiron Lounge!
Flatiron Lounge is on West 19th St., between 5th and 6th Ave. For photos and more info, check out: http://newyork.citysearch.com/profile/37045068
Don’t you wish it was easier to meet new people in Manhattan? This is such a huge city, yet we sometimes fall into a clique and get stuck there. Don’t you wish there were more nice & casual ways to make new friends outside your social circle?
Us too. That’s why we’re having this Summer Party. We’re inviting all of our friends – people that we know are good people – together for one night of fun!
Since it’s on a Thursday night, think of it as an extended happy hour – a low-key & casual way to chill with old friends and make new ones after a long day of work. And you’ll still have your entire weekend free!
We’ll be in the downstairs lounge, which fits about 75 people. This isn’t going to be some huge, crowded party. We’re just aiming for a chill environment with good friends & good conversation.
P.S. Us hosts have a job for this party. It will be our job to walk around, try and meet every one of you, and introduce you to someone you don’t already know. So if you see one of us walking around, come and say, “Hi!”
Did it work? I don’t know yet, though I know of at least one person who got a few phone numbers. So if at least one person made a new friend, than I’d say yes, it worked.
I hope this provided the right Circumstance to some of these great single people. If not, perhaps I’ll try and provide another next season.
. . .
Have you been to a single’s party lately?
I am a great wingman. A truly magnificent beast of a wingman.
I am always ready to take one for the team, especially if it means the squadron leader can take home the prize.
I have it all down to a science. With a repertoire of conversation topics on hand, I can keep her friend occupied for hours. These are topics that have been gathered and carefully honed after years and years of being a traveling consultant.
I have a watchful eye to monitor the leader’s progress. Those subtle cues for when he suddenly needs backup are instantly relayed to my alert centers. In a moment’s notice, I can jump in there with a stupid joke to take the heat off of him.
I admit; it’s a tough job being a good wingman. You can’t outshine the leader. You can’t take his glory. Your ultimate purpose is to make him the best, the sharpest, the strongest member of your team. It’s no place for an ego.
I am a great wingman though; I know all of this. I know when to walk away and when to spill my drink. I know how to look like a complete dork (some would say I know how to do that pretty darn well) and I know how to focus her friend’s attention completely on me.
I even know when to take on this role without an openly expressed request. There will be times when, in the midst of a battle, I can see my friend’s target. He’s got her in his sights and is moving in for the kill. There’s no time for him to relay a message to me. But those subtle cues are all I need to draw fire from her friend and cause the necessary diversions.
I do this because I know my friend will do the same for me. The wingman and the leader are interchangeable roles. We’ve all taken round-robin training and can execute each role expertly. We count on each other for this flexibility.
I know just as well as my friend does that if I ever come upon a target, he’ll gladly take one for the team as well.
I’m a great wingman, but I can only be a great wingman with great friends.
. . .
Are you a good wingman/woman?
Lots of food, lots of alcohol, and lots of loud laughter. That’s how I would describe my Filipino Thanksgiving.
I was greeted with lots of warm smiles and handshakes. They welcomed me immediately. “Hi Michael! Welcome to our house!”, “Michael! So good to meet you!”, “Here Mike, have a beer!”
As I walked in, G slipped an arm around his grandmother. “Hey beautiful, how you doin’?”
“Oh stop it, I’m not beautiful,” she shrugged.
“What? Are you kidding me? You’ll always be beautiful!”
She beamed and walked off, head slightly higher than before.
G led me to the back patio, where the uncles huddled around a boiling pot of soup and several six-packs. A Corona was quickly attached to my hand.
“This is goat-head soup,” one of them told me with a smirk. “Here, try some.”
I stared down at the broth. They watched as I dipped my spoon in and sucked down the soup. “Mmmmm! Good!”
“They’re fuckin’ with you, that ain’t goat-head soup,” G assured me.
“Whatever it is, it’s damn good,” I replied. I sucked down another spoonful. The uncles smiled and collectively nodded.
I wandered back inside, in time for the big gathering and saying of Thanks before the meal. Once everyone gathered, G’s father delivered a heartfelt speech of gratitude and remembrance.
Much more eloquent than Homer Simpson’s version: “Good drink, good meat, good God, let’s eat!”
G’s grandfather was brought out in his wheelchair. He was presented a birthday cake the shape of a turkey. A big 95 was on it. 95 years old, damn!
He blew all but one candle out. One of his grandchildren brought out her son, his great-grandson, to help with the remaining candle. A quick wisp of baby spittle and the candle was out.
The feast was glorious. Overwhelmingly glorious, as a Thanksgiving feast should be. There was turkey, yam, potatoes, stuffing, cranberry salad, and lots of wine. Which meant that as soon as I got myself a plate of food, a glass of wine was quickly attached to my hand.
G’s father sat next to me. “You know, he was in the war.” He motioned towards G’s grandfather. “World War II. Since they didn’t allow minorities to be soldiers, he was a cook.”
I marveled at the story. A World War II veteran. Celebrating his 95th birthday with his entire family, including a great-grandson. What a legacy.
The food was washed down with another table full of dessert. And oh, another glass of wine was quickly attached to my hand.
In the living room, several cousins brought out their guitars. Several aunts slumped on the comfy couches as their children played and sang to them.
Outside, the uncles returned to their goat-head soup vigil.
Around the television, the kids finished up Finding Nemo and turned on the karaoke machine. They latched onto the mike and belted out Ghostbusters.
“Who you gonna call?” shouted a little squeaky voice, “Ghostbusters!”
A fourth group huddled around a kitchen table. “Who wants to play poker?” G asked. Several cousins jumped in. I watched on, trying to get a feel for the psychology of the game. G won.
The night continued this way for hours. There were still lots of food, lots of alcohol, and lots of loud laughter from every nook and cranny of the house. I watched all of this while another Corona was quickly attached to my hand.
Thanksgiving ended with a full belly and thankful thoughts. And an extra helping of dessert.
Thankful thoughts: I’m thankful for friends like G who invited me to his family’s house because I couldn’t go to NY or LA to see family. And thank you to my other two friends who also extended offers to this Thanksgiving orphan.
. . .
Have you ever experienced a Filipino Thanksgiving?
Here’s how it started. I was at Veniero’s with some female friends. We were bemoaning the difficulty of finding good single people in Manhattan.
“Why is it so hard?” they asked. “Where are they?”
“I don’t know, but I know they’re out there.”
We all shook our heads and dug into our desserts. Then, with a mouthful of chocolate and cream, I continued.
“Hey, how many single friends do you have?”
“Me? I don’t know. A whole bunch.”
“How about you?”
“A lot too.”
“A lot of single friends. Why are you asking, Mike?”
I gulped down the dessert and cleared my throat. “What if we were to get all of our single friends together? Put them all in a room together, and let the magic happen?”
Their smiles were radiant. We quickly hashed out a plan. About ten friends each, all single. Maybe some of them would want to bring their friends along too. We might get forty to fifty people. Since we’d know them all, we’d know they were quality people. It would be like Friendster in action.
Various ideas were thrown around. A cruise. A restaurant. A picnic at a park. There would be games. Ice-breakers. Non-singles would have to wear something indicating they weren’t single.
But there was a problem. We came up with a ratio of 5:1 girls to guys. 5:1 girls to guys! What a problem to have! So we expanded the list and opened it up to other people. Our friends’ friends have to know some good single people too.
And so it grew. And grew. And grew.
We quickly outgrew our original location, the posh and upscale Ava Lounge. So we chose Zanzibar Lounge. They were much more friendly and accommodating.
The list continued to grow. It passed 100 people. Then 150. Then 200.
We set a cap at 210. Zanzibar can’t fit many more people, so it wouldn’t be physically possible to invite any more. 210 people. And that’s just the people who said “Yes” on the Evite. There were about 200 more that had not yet replied.
We don’t know how it grew so quickly, but many of the participants later told me that it was the wording of the Evite that enticed them. It didn’t sound like a typical meat market and seemed sincere. So they came. And they invited all of their friends to come. And their friends invited all of their friends to come. And so on.
Here’s what the Evite said:
Let’s celebrate Autumn in NYC at Zanzibar Lounge!
Zanzibar Lounge is at the corner of 9th Ave and 45th Street. For photos and more info, check out: http://www.zanzibarnyc.com/
Did you ever wonder why it seems so hard to find a good single guy or girl in Manhattan? Did you ever wish there was a way to meet some good people without having to go bar- or club-hopping?
Or did you ever wish you could just meet some new people outside your social circle?
Or maybe you’re already in a great relationship. Did you ever try to set up that one great single friend, only to discover that you don’t have any other single friends?
Us too. That’s why we’re having this Autumn Party. We’re inviting all of our friends – people that we know are good people – together for one night of fun!
If you’re not single and want to come, please do. All we ask is you bring some of your single friends along too. That way, you can watch the magic blossom right before your eyes!
So come on, help us celebrate Autumn in NYC at Zanzibar Lounge! And meet some cool new people!
By the time the party came around, the list held 261 Yes’, 26 Undecided’s, 39 No’s, and 328 Not Yet Replied’s.
Crazy huh? From forty to fifty people to over five hundred. And none of us are professional party promoters. This was just a casual event for our friends.
It just goes to show that there are a lot of single people in Manhattan who are tired of the usual dating scenes.
We grew afraid that this changed the original intent of the party. And it did. Nearly three hundred strangers is drastically different than forty to fifty strangers. But we went on with the party anyways.
I believe the party was a huge success. We packed Zanzibar and a lot of people made new friends. We lost the intimacy that we originally desired, but if just one couple comes out of this event, then it was all worth it.
. . .
Have you ever set up a single’s party?