I titled this post “how to pick up a man” but it could easily have been “when a date bails, bring a wing-woman and unexpectedly meet a new guy.”
Todd was supposed to be my date for a holiday party. The hosts were parents at Liam’s school, and I disliked the thought of going alone. I wasn’t sure how many people I would know from the school. All of Liam’s friend’s parents are couples. The winter holidays are one of the few times I quite viscerally dislike being single. Or better said, that I viscerally feel my singleness.
Todd was in town and I knew he’d be a great date. Not primarily because he’s stunningly handsome and attentive… but because he is a gregarious people person and I knew he could navigate a party with ease.
But he’s only a great date when he shows up.
Just hours before the party, I reached out to confirm the time and we established he’d gotten the dates mixed up. He thought it was the next night. He had plans with a parent so he couldn’t exactly reschedule.
I was dateless. I was going to go no matter what, but asked my girlfriend Maria if she wanted to come. She did.
It was an interesting mix of parents from the school and very wealthy clients of the Dad. There was a band, magician, catered food, and too-bright lights. We laughed about the latter; seemed the party room at the hosts’ condominium didn’t have a dimmer switch.
My friend and I got drinks and mingled. Some of Liam’s friend’s parents were there so we chatted with them. Maria made connections in her industry. We were having a great time.
Then she pointed him out – the tall, handsome, dark-skinned man who appeared to arrive alone. “Hey Ann,” she said, “he looks like just your type.”
At over six feet tall in heels, I can easily scan a crowd for tall men. In combination with light blonde big hair, it also means I’m easy to spot. Our eyes locked from across the room. He looked at me the same way I looked at him – a bold stare that lingers long enough to mean something. A slight upturn of the mouth, enough of a smile to signal I’m no ice queen.
I broke off our visual connection to focus on my current conversation. But I was aware of where he was in the room for most of the night. Maria, the ultimate wing woman, noticed the body language of a group photo he was in and told me conspiratorially “I think he’s here alone. You should talk to him.”
Meanwhile, she was eyeing the drummer in the band who was making eyes at her as well. But she’s a far more evolved creature than I and is taking time to “date herself.” We also thought the drummer may be too young. But the flirtation was fun.
He and I locked eyes again a few times as the evening progressed. The third time he acknowledged me with a nod, a subtle alternative to a full-blown hello. While he was clearly alone, I was standing with a male friend from the school and I was aware it wasn’t obvious if I was alone, too.
As the evening started to wound to a close, I decided to go for it. Maria and I plotted – “just go get some food,” she said, “and say hello.” Easy. I left her talking to another partygoer and wandered to one of the food tables, ostensibly eyeing the sushi. He was standing alone at the end of the table.
I said hello, and made a comment about not being able to decide between dessert and sushi. That was all he needed. We introduced ourselves and quickly established we worked at the same company. In completely different areas; one I would have very little reason to work with, thank goodness.
I found myself wondering how old he was. He didn’t look older than me. He was dressed rather jauntily, but it was a holiday party after all. Red pants, a festive cardigan, and dress shirt underneath. At one point, he mentioned he was in his mid-30s but felt like an old man inside. I retorted it was obvious he was an old man given he wore a cardigan to the party.
We had some good banter. He was articulate and funny. He was complimentary – he said he recognized me from an event we’d been to a year prior because it was hard to forget someone as beautiful as I was. The dude was very smooth, but didn’t give off a pickup-artist vibe.
We spoke for about thirty minutes, one-to-one. I learned he was well-schooled and well-traveled. We flirted, ever go gently. At some point, I called Maria over, and the three of us chatted for a while. He mentioned he had to leave and she made herself temporarily scarce. He asked if I had a business card. It was one of the rare occasions when I had the foresight to bring them.
“Does it have your mobile?” he asked. “Yes, and you’re welcome to text me,” I said as I handed him my card.
He looked at the card, and I could read the surprise on his face. “You’re an executive?”
“I’m talking to a senior executive right now?”
“Well, you seem so real,” he said. “So many of the people I come across who are at your level are arrogant. I have to say, that’s amazing.”
“Why thank you.”
He told me he had a nice time talking to me, said goodbye to Maria and me, and left the party.
And that’s how I met Zane.