By Wayne EliseBob and I step out the door, carrying our coffee - in as sexy way as we can manage, which is probably not very sexy.
The sun hits our faces. We pause to reconnoitre.
Two girls are sitting, leaning in toward each other, at a sidewalk table, talking. Their foreheads nearly touch. They fit my target demographic: young, trim, smart looking, likes to drink coffee.
I wink at Bob. "Watch and learn." I strut like a cat toward the girls. You can imagine the music playing in the background: suave, bumpy, possibly by Elle Varner.
Strut, strut, strut, adjust the brim of my fedora, strut, strut, strut. Okay, I wasn't really wearing a fedora, but I think it helps the picture here.
I'm anticipating popping their perimeter bubble: As I walk towards them, they'll look up to make a sort of friend-or-foe visual check. This is a reflex we can anticipate in a number of social situations.
When they look up, I'll seize the moment by reacting to their eye contact and then rapidly build the interaction from there. File this one under Mind Trick. Hit the timing right and the effect feels seamless. After five minutes of conversation I'll often ask a person how the conversation began. They can't trace it back to its origins. "Well, we were… No. I asked you… That's not right. I'm not sure. Feels as if we've been talking always."
I walk towards them, anticipating my moment. They can't miss me. I'm a tall guy dressed in primary colors and pretending he's a cat. But as I get in range, nothing happens. No look up. No eye contact. No perceptible acknowledgment of my existence. They're locked in conversation - and The Universe, rotating around them, can get fucked.
I stop and pretend to throw a pretend ball to the German Shepard mix lying at their feet. But he ignores me too. He'd rather watch the line of ants stream past his nose carrying the disassembled remnants of a black hawk down.
This is so embarrassing. But these things happen.
Go to Plan C.
We divert to the next table trying to make it seem as if that was our intention all along. "Yes, this place looks like where we want to be my friend. We shall sit at this table here."
Two dudes out at the cafe staring at each other quietly. Real normal. Not suspicious at all.
But the girls don't seem to notice our awkwardness. Their talk continues unabated.
Bob raises his eyebrows at me. I shrug.
I like to have a rep of social calibration. I've learned to trust my instincts. We could interrupt verbally but that doesn't feel right here. Besides, the nonverbal approach openers are how granddad did it, that's how I do it, and it's worked out pretty well so far.
We will wait, be patient and something will come up.
But nothing does.
The girls talk. And talk. And talk. Actually, it feels as if they're in an episode of The Girls. They're talking about hipster Brooklyn stuff that I'm sure they got off Lena Dunham's Twitter feed. I know, because that's where I get my hipster Brooklyn stuff.
Plan D. Heck, I didn't even know there was a Plan D.
I spot a couple of old swingers sitting nearby who have a beagle lying their feet which is the most friendly breed in the world. No beagle has ever mauled anybody. That's why they make lousy guard dogs. They'll be more than happy to lick a burglar's face and point out where you stash your valuables.
Bob and I abandon the girls and walk over to the people with the beagle. The beagle people smile and nod.
I throw down some dog mime. "I like your dog. He's just sitting there acting cool. But I bet he's planning a caper."
The man laughed. "Maybe. His name's Duke. He loves two things in this world - people and fried chicken."
Duke nuzzled my hand.
"That's a tough sounding name for such a friendly dog."
"He strives to live up to it, but fails miserably."
"Is it okay to pet him?"
"It sure is."
"Ow wow. He feels soft."
I look over and one of the girls is watching us. I react to this by smiling, waving and calling over to her. "I hope your dog isn't jealous."
"She might be," says the girl. "She gets jealous easy."
"Wait a second. Your dog's a girl dog? Duke here's a boy dog. Perhaps they should have a doggy date." I look up to the man. "Mind if I take Duke over to socialize."
He laughed. "Okay by me if its okay by him."
I pick up the leash and lead Duke over to the girls. The dogs lick each others' faces. The people smile sheepishly at each other but slowly open up.
The girl with the dog looks at me as if she knew what I was up to all along. But then she smiles and says, "It's wonderful meeting you. I couldn't help noticing the way you were carrying your coffee earlier."