A cold breeze tickles my freshly shaven scalp. In the distance, headlights flicker into nothingness as the iron horses they belong to traverse the darkened Coronado Bay Bridge. I pause from my appreciation the city I dreamed about from a world away and take a long swig of beer. Hoppy and strong with the aftertaste of wheat. Perfect. That’s when I notice you. Our eyes lock for a fraction of a second that drags on like dripping oil, and all that’s unsaid between us is said. You’re really quite attractive. Blonde hair pulled back lightly in a relaxed manner, pale skin stealing the goldenrod yellow flickering off of the fire, bold framed glasses framing a soft, feminine face with classic features. Beautiful. I steal a glance at your date. Older, Id say mid-30s, in an ill-fitting polo. Hands gesticulating wildly as he performs the tale he’s no doubt rehearsed tirelessly in preparation for tonight. His eyes dart from side to side and roll like rims in their sockets, looking at everything but the perfection in front of him. Why are you here anyway? You're obviously not interested. Do you need a sugar daddy? I've had the misfortune of meeting a few girls since November that bragged about the material gains they’ve “earned” from unsuspecting marks. No, you look too fresh, too innocent for that harsh brand of reality. Did he lie to you? In this age of deteriorating social skills and somnambulant texters, men and women readily lie on their profiles. Ive been catfished a few times, but at least one of those hideous land whales introduced me to my favorite bar. But again, it doesn’t add up. You look too perceptive and intelligent, if not jaded and wordly. Maybe you just like older men. But then, why are you capturing surreptitious glances at me and not the befuddled idiot courting you? I don’t know the answers to these questions, and I don't give a damn about them either way. You and I are locked in a dance now baby, an engagement as old as time. You’ve made your interest apparent and preternaturally accepted my invitation. Now I must step out onto the floor. Shall I take you from him? It’ll be easy. Engage you both in conversation with an open ended question, tease you, befriend you both, gradually shift my focus towards you, collect both numbers, and go from there. Ive done it before to great effect, but I’m tired and not feeling particularly social. I can choose to continue our little seductive staredown, grinning slightly as the tension builds, daring you to look away. If you look down smiling subtly, which you will, Ill have all but no choice to go over. Building attraction only to not follow through is a rookie move, an insult to both the woman and the game. Or, I can choose to recede and retract, bowing out graciously. Maybe if it was Saturday night and not Sunday evening. Maybe if we both had something stronger flowing through us. Perhaps if the atmosphere was more conducive to illicit encounters. Seduction is always more enjoyable at the expense of the uninitiated. Not nice, but nothing true ever is. Tonight, I choose to make a drawn out exit. I sit for about 20 more minutes, catching and parrying glances, deflecting invitations. Finally, I rise and pay my tab, strolling by you and your knight in ruffled polo with practiced, deliberate non chalance. Your eyes drill holes into me all the while, and I look. So does your date, and I stifle a snicker as he squares his narrow shoulders. Contrary to popular belief, Im not arrogant in the slightest, but I take a sadistic, personal pride in embarrassing hipsters who forget themselves. As our eyes meet one more time baby, I wonder who you'd want me to be. Ive worn many masks for many women. Ive been the sensitive poet and the tortured fighter, Noah Calhoun and Christian Grey. But tonight, I can be nobody else but me. Smiling, I walk to my car as its silver paint glistens in silver moonlight, a cold breeze tickling my freshly shaven scalp. Good thing my face is never shaven on the weekend. I may freeze.
I often feel apart from the world. I enjoy it, partake in it, and have connections within its borders, but I am not of it. Truth is that I can't relate to the vast majority of people. Like seeing a flop at a poker table, Ive just become intimately attuned with a variety of social situations and the nuances they require. Admittedly, and indeed surprisingly to some to whom I never waste my breath, I tend to be very commanding and articulate in conversation. I can converse on a variety of topics with nimble comfort, and set the focus of my attention at ease rather quickly. Im particularly adept at engaging strangers in conversation, breaking them from their reveries, then gleaning what I need from them. On a whole Im very Machiavellian, and I harbor no shame about this side of my nature. The world turned its back on me years ago, so I have no qualms about using its denizens for my own gain when they've proven themselves sufficiently immoral and ill-mannered. From the perspective