I sit down on a stool next to a real pretty ginger and ask the bartender for a gin & ginger. The redhead, she turns around and feigns offense.
“Are you trying to be clever?” She smiles at me, a thieving smile, the smile of a con man, a clip artist, a hustler. Six words and she’s completely stolen my attention, I almost forget to grab my change from the bartender.
“Me? Clever? I think you’re giving me a bit too much credit there.” I flash my best pirate smile right back at her, an attempt to steal her attention away from the bartender, the beer lights, and the bad cover band currently barreling their way through “Bad Company.” I think it works because she gives me this coy little laugh and extends her hand. But she doesn’t go for my hand, that slender grasp of hers takes a hold of my drink instead, and she takes the first sip.
“Not bad,” she tells me, “but it’s no whiskey sour.” Great. She drinks whiskey sours. She had to go and fuck everything up. Here I was, minding my own business, going about my life working long hours and drinking too much. Now that’s all ruined. I’m gonna have to clean up my act so I can keep this one around.
“You know, you can’t just sip off a man’s drink. You’ve got to pay for that. At least tell me something interesting.”
“Something interesting? Anything in particular? I’m not exactly a walking encyclopedia of trivia knowledge? How about giving a girl a break and maybe you can go first?”
“Polar bears.” Her hand is still wrapped around my gin & ginger.
“What about them?” Her eyes widen, I can see just how big and beautiful and green they are. As far as I’m concerned, every other girl in the goddamn world can stop trying, I’ll never see a pair of eyes that can top hers.
“How do you feel about them?” She lets out a tiny giggle at my question.
“I suppose I’m generally in favor of them? They’re pretty cute.”
I go stone-faced on her, take a long gulp of my drink and pull up my left sleeve. I watch her eyes dart to the long scar on my forearm.
“I’m about to ruin that for you,” I take another drink, “because Polar bears are real bastards.” She softly works the glass out of my hand and back into hers, taking a sip as she nods for me to continue.
“Alright so, let’s pretend I’m a male polar bear and you’re a female polar bear. Now, I’m just fresh out of the water, doing whatever it is that polar bears do to kill time. And then I decide to saunter up to the prettiest polar bear in the pack, that’d be you of course, and then I just cut to the chase. You’re real good looking, let’s fuck. Now, your immediate reaction would be…?”
“Something to the effect of ‘go fuck yourself,’” she laughs.
“Naturally! And if I were a human that’s what I’d do, get to kickin’ rocks and find a new girl to hit on. But I’m a polar bear, so I’m not gonna do that.”
“No,” she sips on the gin again.
“No ma’am. I find your little baby polar bear, right? And then I eat him.”
“Yep. That’s gonna cause your genetic instinct to procreate to kick in. As awful as it is, it works.” I signal to the bartender that I’d like another.
“Wow. That is… that’s absolutely awful! And that works?” She’s smiling though, this one seems a bit more genuine than that flimflamming kind-of smile she flashed earlier. The first smile stole my attention, this one took my heart. She did it effortlessly. Christ, I’m easy.
“In my experience, it works every time,” I smile back. I know my smile isn’t quite as strong as hers but I hope that I’ve got enough charm to have the same effect on her.
“In your experience?” She’s already sipping on my new drink, she paid the bartender this time.
“Well, I told you I wasn’t that clever. I adopted that polar bear move for myself, it’s kind of all I’ve got.” I try to say this as serious as I can, but I start laughing. I would’ve made a terrible actor.
“So, you’re telling me right now that if I don’t sleep with you tonight, you’re going to eat a baby?”
“Well, I don’t want to…”
“I’ll one-up you, guy. You eat a baby, I’ll propose to you. That’s right, I’ll husband you right now.”
“Alright. You’re on.”
I never once in my life ate a baby, but a year later I was carrying her over the threshold.