April 11th, 2007

Bratwurst, Rose

Overheard While Not Eavesdropping

The line was long at the post office this evening. The man was directly in front of me and the woman in front of him, though for most of our time there, they were next to one another, so I had no choice but to hear their conversation.

The first thing I was aware of hearing was the man giving a detailed description of the “Bartman” incident that took place at Wrigley Field several years ago during the baseball playoffs. As you may recall, Mr. Bartman was the fan who caught a foul ball rather than letting the Cub catch it, which may have contributed to the Cubs losing both that game and ultimately, the pennant. But the man went far beyond merely harping on Bartman or the Cubs. No, he went batter-by-batter through the entire inning and offered his deeply held opinions on the matter.

I found myself hoping that the woman was a big baseball fan if this was her guy. “Wow, you’re quite a fan,” she said, and I could hear in her voice that she was no fan at all. The man did not seem to pick up on that subtext, however, and it quickly became apparent that these two were not together at all; they just happened to be standing in line together and did not know one another. I don’t know whether it would be accurate to say that the man was trying to pick her up, but he was certainly chatting her up, and doing so with a dismaying lack of grace or sensitivity. If he asked her a question, it was mostly done to set up his own commentary on himself or his opinions. Oh, and in very short order, he shoe-horned into the conversation the fact that he was a lawyer. Oh yes, he was very proud of that fact, you may be sure!

The capper came when he came right out and asked her how old she was. Just like that. Even he must have heard how awkward such a question sounded, because he quickly followed it up with, “Well, I’m sure you’re a lot younger than me.” That made me curious enough to finally glance up and take a good look at them. She looked to be unambiguously in her mid-30s, clean and neat but definitely dressed down for the occasion, medium brown hair, average height and build, pleasant looking but not strikingly so. He looked to be in his late 30s, taller than I am (and I’m 6’2”), somewhere north of 300 lbs., crew cut hair and Cubs jacket. He then looked at her and said, “I’m guessing you’re about, what, 22?”

She informed him that she was in fact 34. This was, to me, the most ridiculous moment of the entire exchange. OK, I can understand shaving a few years off the age estimate just to hedge one’s bets, but there is No Way you could have looked at her and guessed 22. If anything, I could see how she could have turned out to be a youthful-looking 40, but the guess he came up with was simply not credible. I’m not really sure how the woman took it, but I almost felt embarrassed for the guy that he would try something so utterly absurd. I realized at that moment that I was involuntarily rolling my eyes and shaking my head, unseen by the two of them, I'm happy to report!

If he was trying to warm her up for getting a phone number, Fate had other plans. The line had been moving very slowly, but when there were 3 people ahead of the woman in the line, 4 windows suddenly opened up. I briefly mused that perhaps they had seen what was happening and had conspired to rescue the woman. In any case, she quickly smiled, said goodbye, and made a beeline for the postal clerk.

You know, I’ve never been much of a pick-up artist; I’ve never had the smoothest moves in that department (nor, for that matter, have I tried to be that kind of guy). But a fellow like Post Office Dude makes me feel like a freakin’ Casanova! It’s one thing to hear my female friends talk about such encounters, but seeing one from the front row makes for a sorry spectacle indeed!
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