In Honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d start a series of posts called “Pickup Lines.” These are kind of true, kind of made up.
I wore a tomato red dress. Curled my hair so that the waves cascaded down my shoulders. Wore makeup. Red lipstick. Glittery platform pumps. My friend and I spotted an empty seat at the bar. “Is this seat taken?” we asked of the adjacent chair topped with a jacket.
“That’s my twin brother’s seat, but you can have it.”
We thought he was joking. And took our seats. Put our drink orders in. Made a playful vow that that would be the last drink we’d pay for–we’d see how many drinks men would buy us! Little did we know.
A few minutes later, a man resembling the one adjacent to us walked up. He was tall, broad, and of South Asian descent.
“Oh my G*d, you weren’t kidding!”
Later, the man I’ll call Allen, a friend of the twins, said he was struck and amused by my surprise. Later, I’ll tell Allen, “Of course I was!” Later, Allen will tell me that look of surprise was what charmed him, when he really noticed me. That moment where I was off balance and true.
“This,” said the man sitting to our left, “is my twin brother Yatish. And my name is Ashish.”
Ashish blurted he and his brother were married. Yatish looked annoyed. None of the men wore wedding rings. “Where are they?” I shrieked. Ashish said he was an invasive cardiologist–too much scrubbing in, so he doesn’t wear one. Yatish said his was on his wife’s nightstand. Allen stepped towards us, from the far end of their small group.
“And you?” I asked.
“I have a girlfriend.”
Ah, I said.
We continued talking. Made plans to go downstairs to the club.
Allen said he went to Princeton. All of them had attended Princeton. He was a lawyer. An assistant district attorney. He was wearing a wrinkled plaid shirt and a cardigan, and we made fun of his outfit–he looked like a dad on Saturday morning, I said. He winced.
It turned out he really was a dad, but I’ll get into that, later.
I had an alias, but when he asked my name I told him my true name. I added, “I must really like you, because I had no plans to give anyone my real name.”
We had all had a few drinks. So we began to skip the small talk.
“I don’t think there’s just one soulmate for each person,” he said, when I shared what was going on in my life. The true reason I was at the bar.
“Each person has at least one hundred soul mates. It’s about timing.” He went quiet. “Like you.”
I had uptil this moment, thought there was only one match. And at this moment, possibilities opened up–it was what I needed to believe and feel. In that dark booth, touching knees with a stranger who at the same time did not feel like a stranger, I began to imagine a new life.
The lines cascaded out of his mouth. Lines I still remember. Some of the lines I’ve heard again from other men. Some of the lines still make me smile. “You’re the most intelligent and beautiful person I’ve met in a bar. What is someone like you doing in a bar? Why couldn’t we have met at work? So we could have a real relationship? If I had met you ten years ago, I’d never let you go.”
“You’re just saying that.”
“No, I mean it. Why did I have to meet you here? Now? I can’t believe I feel this way about someone I met just four hours ago.”
“Why does that matter?”
It did matter. He was married. He had a kid. He said he hoped to see my book in a bookstore one day, and he would smile and buy it. I said thank you for giving me renewed hope in romance. I said thank you for giving me context to my life. Thank you for helping me understand what is going on.
“This is more of a bookend than you know,” I told him.
We parted ways, each of us catching a cab heading in different directions.