By Jack Elliot
You know the story. A girl walks into a bar. A guy walks in after her. Guy sits next to girl. Guy says to girl…(insert clever punch line here).
As a bartender, I have had countless chances to watch this classic and age old scenario play out a number of times with all sorts of results. And, with the things I’ve heard come out of guys mouths (who are in all honesty and sincerity trying to strike up conversation), you would think they were trying to take the comedic route and use clever punch lines.
Unfortunately, they are not- the words coming out of their mouths are not jokes. Maybe I’m wrong, but I myself have always been a believer in the tried and true “hey how’s it going, my name is _______,” routine.
Anyways, here are some of the things I’ve overheard being said over the last couple of weeks, so see for yourself.
Exhibit A. Says guy to girl: “I hear there’s this new art exhibit in town. I mean, I’m not into art, but it sounds cool.” I mean, Wow. That is just brilliant. You sound fascinating. I’ll be yours forever if you promise to woo me with such eloquence every morning. You had me at hello. Oh wait… you never said hello.
Exhibit B. Says overeager guy (with a friend) to girl: “My friend and I are having a debate… So you know how Gandhi walked around without shoes on all the time, and you know he was very religious, and since he was so otherworldly, he probably didn’t care about his dental hygiene… so wouldn’t that make him a super-calloused-fragile mystic-hexed-by-halitosis?” Funny? Perhaps. Avenue to open up a great, engaging conversation? Well, we’ll let Mary Poppins be the judge of that.
Exhibit C. Says guy to girl: “So what’s your favorite Star Wars movie?” I wish I was kidding with this one. Granted, Star Wars does have its place in cinematographic history and I like Han Solo just as much as the next guy. But it does not belong at a bar. Ever.
But then again, who knows? It’s a tricky business. Perhaps girl in exhibit A isn’t into art either, and girl B loves corny jokes, and girl C purposefully did her hair like Princess Leah. After my observations, what I would recommend is just candid and casual conversation. Really try to get to know the other person. Speak for yourself and let your own words do the talking. Let your natural humor come out. But remember that it takes two to hold a conversation, so don’t get carried away on preaching about yourself.
Some good starter topics could be: taste in music, recent travels, hobbies, favorite movies (if they like Star Wars, then you should ask them their favorite), and things like that. The key is to keep the conversation engaging and flowing, so try to focus on topics that won’t bottom out after a minute or two.
Oh and bartender- I’ll take one spoonful of medicine, hold the sugar.