How I Became a Guided Flirt-Missile ...

Tuesday night. Party. Objective: To flirt. So I approach a smiling face in the crowd ... 


So: The other night, a party was on. My buddy Paul, who helps run the groovy literary magazine BOMB, had organized a summer-issue fiesta over at Galapagos, a bar-cum-performance space, in DUMBO. I decided to pop over.

As I left the house, I was feeling awwwwwwright. In only two weeks on Wellbutrin, I've already lost all the weight I'd put on because of the SSRI's. (Yes!) Plus, I was wearing my favorite green headband, which is enough to put anyone in a good mood. During my bike ride to DUMBO, a male cyclist pulled up alongside of me and gave me a big grin before continuing towards Manhattan ...

Confirmation that I was looking as sexy as I felt?

Things seemed auspicious upon my arrival, too. DUMBO, with its narrow cobblestone streets, resembles a tiny European village (that just happens to be stuck at the tip of Brooklyn), and as I parked my ride, I looked up and was awe-struck by the view of the Manhattan Bridge, rising behind me, glittering with white lights, a stone's throw away.

I walked in the door to Galapagos and was impressed by the lay-out. In the center of the room, a few banquettes are situated on an elevated landing; and to get to the tables, you have to sashay across either of two criss-crossing cat walks. (Well, you don't have to sashay. You can shimmy, if you prefer. Or strut.) Beyond that, a few more steps up, there's a dance floor. Off in the corner, there's a bar. The main space is also by a wrap-around balcony, lined with tables, for those who prefer a bird's-eye view. The music had an infectious beat, and there was a disco ball twinkling alluringly. I hugged Paul, and congratulated him on the swank venue, before leaving him to his host-with-the-most duties.

Right inside the door, a happy surprise: I spied a couple of dear friends, two guys who both happen to be from Texas, and are just as chivalrous and lovely as you might expect--while also managing to be quite hip and liberal. When the guys went off to set up HQ at a center-stage table, I strolled over to chat with Duval and Daisy Milliner, whom I was meeting up with.

By the time I'd finished catching up with them, a terrible realization had come upon me: The room was filled with the same people I run into at just about every literary party! (There is a circuit.) There were no new faces, as Joan Didion might say. New York can be an unbelievably small town. I wanted fresh blood--and there was none to be found!

I felt kind of trapped. Boxed in. Claustrophobic. I'd been ready to get my flirt on--and there was no I could flirt with! Sheeeet.

I decided I was wasting my time--I see my friends plenty, and parties like that are not exactly the best opportunity for QT--so I got ready to go.

But just as I was about to walk out the door, I spotted ... him.

He was standing at a circular cocktail table with a woman on his left and a man across from him. But I got the feeling he was single from the hopeful, friendly way he was looking out into the room. He looked rather like someone I used to know. He was smiling. His face was illuminated by the silver-gray light he happened to be standing under. He seemed so ... approachable.

Before I could over-think it, I kept right on walking ... over to him.

I stuck my hand out, and as he was shaking it, I said: "I thought I'd come over and introduce myself because ... well, just because I wanted to say hello."

That's a decent, if somewhat tautological reason, isn't it?

I quickly found out that he was a writer of fiction, with a day-job at an architecture firm. Cool enough. I mentioned I'd just finished a novel, and was nervous about selling it, given the terrible state of the economy and the rapidly deteriorating publishing industry. "But I guess I should be more optimistic, huh? Exude more positive energy, or something like that?"

"You're exuding plenty of positive energy already," he said.

Oh, really? How about that?

It seemed like time to seal the deal. So I said, "I was just on my way out, but would you like to get coffee some time?"

"Uh, sure. But maybe all three of us could hang out? Like, you and me and my fiancee, Juliet?" He touched the shoulder of the woman next to him.

I was mortified. I muttered my email address and skated out.

For Monday: The lesson I learned from this flirt-scapade.