February 28th, 2010

Pam love

I Struggle for the Words and Then Give Up

I discovered Karmacoda from Pandora last year and fell deeply in love with "Skylines," so when I hear that they're playing a free show at Harlot in San Francisco, I'm excited. It's on Friday, so I don't have rehearsal. I'm going alone, so I intend to use the evening to try to meet new people in an unfamiliar environment. Perhaps even ladies. That is what one does at bars, right?

Of course, the minute I walk in, I remember why I don't go to bars. There are dozens of people drinking and talking, all to each other. This is a happy hour. It is where you come with your pre-existing acquaintances. They were all enjoying themselves before I arrived, and I don't see what I could add to the proceedings. This is not my scene, nor is it my arms race.

It is all well and fine to intend to be confident and talkative. But if intentions were interventions, we'd all be eating steak. All I can do is stand around people, be in their vicinity in hopes that they will either provide me an opportunity to jump in or notice me and ask me to join the conversation. After half an hour of being alone in a sea of conversation, I would talk to anyone—even, yes, a man—just to prove I still have the ability to speak. But I can't bring myself to bother anyone with my voice.

I spot an attractive redhead at the bar. She seems to be alone, but she also seems to be very interested in her phone, so I don't approach her. But fifteen minutes later, while the Lovespirals' new CD is being previewed, I see her in the back taking pictures of things with her phone. She is standing by herself. She must not have come with anyone.

"Are you alone too?" I do not say.

"Yes," she does not say.

"Would you like to be alone together?" I do not say. It was a line I had prepared for just such a situation, but it seems too silly to use.

When she was at the bar, she may or may not have met my eyes when I looked at her, and she may or may not be at the very least acknowledging my presence now, so when she goes to pull a sort of periodical from a stack at the back, I take the opportunity to ask her, "What is it?"

"It's a magazine," she says. Her voice is not sexy or sultry or soothing, but you can't have everything. She hands me a copy, and we silently look through the magazine, 994. It's a fashion mag of some sort, but this is the Vanguard Edition. I flip through the ads until I catch a fairly amusing, tongue-in-cheek guide to becoming part of the vanguard. The first tip is to get a publicist.

"Did you find anything interesting?" the woman asks. I search through the magazine, looking for the guide again. I find it and show it to her, telling her it's pretty funny. She begins reading and comments, "Oh, I need a publicist!"

"Yeah, they really help get your name out," I say. We are inches apart, looking at the same magazine.

"What are you trying to do?" she asks. Oh no. She's on to me. I hear in her voice the possible answers being A) strike up a conversation, B) buy me a drink, C) get in my pants, D) stitch a skin suit out of my dead corpse after you stab me and steal my organs.

"What do you mean?" I ask cautiously.

"What are you trying that you need a publicist?" Oh. Whew.

"Oh, I don't really need a publicist."

"Then how do you get your name out?"

"Talking to strangers at bars," I say. She smiles at the realization that she set me up for that. It just may be the smoothest thing I have ever said in my entire life. I offer her my hand: "I'm Sunil."

"Caitlin," she says, shaking. Her hand is soft.

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