Gathering the Troops

This week has been fun trying to invite people to my Superbowl party. The first and only rule is: no emails as it kind of defeats the whole purpose.

I don’t have a Rolodex of everyone I’ve met in the last 18 months but that’s okay. It’s an excuse to track people down and talk to them.

So first, I called the people I know well enough to have phone numbers for. Gunther obviously. And his stupid friend Gordo. I also called Monica but she wasn’t home and I left a message. I called Scott and we caught up for a bit. He’s been auditioning a lot and has a new girlfriend. I invited people from work like Janet, but not Neil and Kyle because they’re just co-workers not strangers I talk to.

I ran into Polly and she’s coming. And my new friend Luke from the pet store.

Tracking down the rest has been a challenge. I left a note for Maria the cleaning lady but I’d be surprised if she showed up. I also left a note for letter carrier Hung and Pedro the newspaper guy.

But I visited Ramon the dry cleaner in person. He was actually very helpful in explaining who was playing and the backstory for the game. I also invited the Cheese Guy and Check-out Girl in person because I was Whole Foods anyway and it was easy. The check-out girl (with the nose ring) is named Astrid and I made sure to invite her in front of Michelle so she didn’t think I was asking her out. She asked if she could bring a friend and I said the more the merrier.

All in all, I invited a couple dozen people and I have no idea how many will actually show up. But I’m buying a lot of beer and a couple party subs from Bay Cities so hopefully it will be a decent turnout.

Janet in Reception No More

Janet was promoted. She is now an analyst.

This is baffling for several reasons. First, I had no idea Janet knew anything about banking or was even interested in financial markets. Being an analyst is no picnic. Sure it pays a hell of a lot more than a receptionist, but you have to really like math and spreadsheets. I never in a million years thought Janet with her numerous tattoos was looking to get into investment banking.

Also–and I’m not sure how to say this without sounding like an elitist dick–but Janet is kind of dumb. I mean she’s nice and she gives good advice about relationships but she doesn’t seem to be able to read a financial statement. She routinely says, “It’s six of one, a baker’s dozen of the other.” Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe she’s hiding her brains as some sort of sociological experiment, but Janet does not exude “finance.”

And lastly, and this is where I actually talked to Janet about this, why would Janet want to go from 40 hours a week to 80-100? Analysts work long hours. When I was an analyst, 3/4 of my “class” washed out and went to law school because they thought those hours would be better.

So after I congratulated her, I asked her if she knew what she was getting into.

She said, “It’s an opportunity to start a new career. How can I say no to that?”

I said, “What about social work? I thought you wanted to go get your MSW.”

She laughed and said, “Yeah, and social workers make less than garbage men.”

I totally agree, I just didn’t realize she saw it that way.

Then she placed her hand on my forearm like she always does to people, smiled, and said, “So I guess you’re my boss now.”

I said, “So go get me a pizza then!”

She laughed. But the funny thing is that investment banking is such a boys’ network that when I first started I actually did get pizzas for the associates and VP’s. And when I got promoted, the first thing I did was order two analysts to drive to Santa Monica to get me a Godmother at Bay Cities.

Meet Our Panel of Experts

Here’s what our panel of experts had to say, weighing in on the situation with Elevator Girl:

1. Janet in Reception: “Don’t make a big deal out of it. Don’t email her. Just wait until you see her, shrug it off as an embarrassing mistake and move on.”

2. Neil at work: “Marny is much hotter than Michelle. After you break up, do you think she’ll go out with me?”

3. Gunther: “Whatever is meant to happen will happen.” [Thanks, that’s real helpful.]

4. Scott: “You made your move, it didn’t work out, why are you still thinking about this? You should dump Marny and start dating Marny 2, 3, and 4.”

5. Monica: “Just be honest with her. Apologize, but don’t downplay how you feel.”

I have a feeling that I’m going to go with the girls’ advice on this one.

Part-A

We are having a party this Saturday night. Officially, it’s to welcome Scott to the neighborhood but unofficially it’s to invite Michelle.

Plus, I have met a lot of people in the past few months and I thought it would be fun to invite every stranger I’ve met. Well, the ones where I got their name and contact info.

Gunther is a given. I’m going to invite Monica as well because I think she’s cool and I don’t care if Gunther gets pissed off. Who knows, maybe the party will make them realize they should get back together.

I’m going to track down Polly, the girl with the three-legged dog. Plus Mario, I’ll text him. I will leave a note today for Hung (wonder what he looks like).

At work, I need to invite Kyle even though he’s a dick. If I don’t invite him and he finds out about it I’ll get a lot of shit. Neil obviously. Also have to remember to invite Janet, the receptionist. And Daphne. And Maria, the cleaning lady? She’s a bit out of the age range for this party, but it’d be nice to drop an invite anyway.

There’s a few others that might be weird to invite like Hector the newspaper guy and Ramon the dry cleaner but if I see them I’ll mention it.

Of course, Scott is inviting people, too, otherwise this party might be pretty pathetic. Maybe his director friend will bring a new girl for me to date after I break up with Marny and before I marry Michelle.

Speaking of Marny and Michelle, assuming Michelle comes, I wonder if Marny will sense that something is up. On the other hand, Michelle will probably bring her boyfriend Kal-El, so maybe I won’t even have a chance to talk to her.

Anyone else out there in L.A. who feels like dropping by a little shindig in Brentwood, drop me an email.

Janet in Reception

I guess technically it doesn’t count as talking to strangers since I already know Janet, our receptionist on 19. But I don’t really know her, I just know her name. I’ve never actually spoken to her. Until today.

I had a team meeting in the main conference room and after it broke up I cut through reception to get back to my desk. Janet was just sitting there. She doesn’t get many calls. If someone needs to call one of the associates, they dial direct. And who calls the main number anyway? It’s not like a company cold-calls i-banks and asks if they have any debt restructuring specialists.

Anyway, Janet is just sitting there, probably reading a magazine, but I can’t see for sure because the facade is too high. I stopped and said, “Working hard, I see.” I know, real original. Like the stereo guy in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”

She looked up and said, “Oh, yeah. It’s a thrill a minute here.”

And that would have been that on any other day. But today I was working really hard on using my powers of observation. I actually looked at her. And lo and behold I noticed something.

“New tattoo?”

She looked at her shoulder self-consciously. “No, well, sort of. I got this last month.” It was a butterfly.

I was about to launch into my usual tirade about tattoos–how it’s impossible to put something truly cool on your body, how lame girls get sayings in languages they don’t speak, how people make frivolous decisions that last forever–but I stopped myself. I think I’m funny. But the conversation isn’t just about me. Instead, I listened. Paid attention. And this is what I said:

“How many tattoos do you have?”

Not totally fascinating or surprising, but effective. I was being interested in her.

We talked for probably ten minutes. She has a boyfriend. She lives in West Hollywood. She went to Cal. State Fullerton. She’s thinking about going back to school for social work.

To be honest, I was a little bored. But it was weird, I felt like I was auditioning her, not the other way around. She was doing most of the talking and so I didn’t have to perform. I wasn’t trying to be funny or charming or interesting. I was just listening to her. And that made it so I could gather information, find out if I liked her, as a person. And she was basically fine. We are infinitely closer now than before. It wasn’t some magical connection but the point is I felt like I was doing the deciding about the future of our relationship.

Maybe that’s key to talking to women. Don’t talk, just listen. Don’t audition, make them audition. Then, if I really like the person, I’d be armed with a million facts about her to segue the conversation into something more.

Back at my desk, about twenty minutes later, something occurred to me. Was I flirting?