As the handsome Englishman made his way towards my barstool, I had only a few moments to contemplate if I truly did want to go back to my old ways of man-picking from this orchard of bars on the Upper East Side. But where else would I man-pick if it weren’t for bars? Perhaps bars weren’t the most appropriate or desirable places for man-picking, but in a city of eight million people, what was?
I didn’t exactly hangout in libraries, bookstores, or museums, so the quintessential scene of meeting Mr. Right while staring at the same Edgar Degas painting or reaching for the last copy of The Alchemist on opposite sides of a bookshelf were out. The subway was out too, as I only took it ten times per week, to and from work, in which every minute of my time spent commuting those few short stops to Midtown was consumed by playing Gem XXL on my BlackBerry—no time for prospecting when I’m trying to beat level thirteen and haven’t even had my morning coffee.
Sidewalks were a no-go—I was a fast walker with a sick dodge-and-weave, so the likelihood of me accidentally running into anyone, let alone a good-looking, single man with a job and a sense of humor, was virtually unfeasible. My time spent in Carl Schurz Park was dedicated to sunning and reading. I’ve seen many a girl try the old “Can I pet your dog?” trick in this setting, which I find both creepy and desperate, so parks weren’t going to get me far either. If I ever ask to pet anybody's dog, it better be under the covers, in the dark, with some role-playing involved, rather than a public setting in broad daylight.
At least in bars you know that you share one common interest—drinking. And in my personal opinion, after my brief “orchard” assessment of places to man-pick, a bar was the most viable option for this Big Apple girl to start (or should I say, revert to).
As he sauntered up to me, casually and relaxed with drink in hand, I turned to face him. He was wearing a well-tailored navy pinstripe suit with a light blue shirt, no tie, and proper footwear—lace-up, pointed-toe oxfords, appropriately shined—just as I would expect from a European. Test number one passed.
“And how is your…rum and coke this evening?” I inquired, knowing I couldn’t be as far off on calling his drink as he was on calling my apparent martini a margarita.
“Ahhh, vodka and coke, but close enough,” he smiled as I looked inquisitively at his glass. Rum and coke, fine. Whiskey and coke, yes. Vodka and coke? Not something I served (or sipped) often. He must have sensed my skepticism about his drink choice because he immediately pointed to his friend and said, “I’m with a Russian. You drink what they tell you to.”
I politely laughed and followed his gaze to the man whom he had been previously standing next to. Buzz cut light hair with steel blue eyes, a black turtleneck, a black leather jacket and a look of grim death—he was definitely Russian. He studied me with his eyes of ice as he silently sipped his vodka and coke, closely watching my interaction with his friend, the Brit. I smiled nervously, all the while wondering if he was hiding an AK-47 under that leather jacket of his—why else would anybody be wearing a leather jacket in the dead eighty-nine degree heat of July?
"I'm Alejandro," he introduced himself and stuck out his hand. I took it and hastily returned the introduction, confused as to why an Englishman bore the name of a Lady Gaga song. I had deemed him for an Oliver, maybe a Simon, possibly even a Jack, but Alejandro? What kind of tea was his mother sipping with her crumpets?
"And that's Vladimir. He's just storing some enriched uranium at my apartment until he heads home next week," Alejandro jokingly chided. Vladimir narrowed his eyes and nodded once, to acknowledge the introduction.
Note to self: do not go home with this man. Ever.
"Oh, well enriched uranium does nothing for me. I'm far more interested in nuclear warfare these days, anyways," I joked in return with uncertainty, hoping the Russian wouldn't come over and Taser the vodka right out of me for mentioning nuclear.
I wasn't sure how dangerous enriched uranium was these days, but a few drinks later, Alejandro had practically charmed the pants right off me with his damn accent and indisputable magnetism and the Russian had finally warmed up to me (or at least I interpreted it as that when he finally removed his leather jacket).
I was highly uncertain as to who or what I had just plucked from the Big Apple's "orchard" but I was for certain that he was no Yankee Jim, Billy Blue, Benjamin, or any other man I had met in New York City to date, so I said to myself, why not a second date?