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.

Translating Teenager

I had to meet with a client yesterday to discuss their debt restructuring.

This was a big clothing manufacturer and the meeting was in their offices downtown. Me and Kyle and our boss Bruce met them in their conference room and went over all the usual boring shit that I do all day long. But then during a break a cute high school chick came into the conference room. Turns out it was the owner’s daughter and she was interning after school.

He introduced her to everyone and I asked her where she went to school. She rolled her eyes and said, “Beverly.” (That’s Beverly Hills High School to those of you not in L.A.) I loved the eye roll because it said so much, like “Yeah, my Dad’s rich and I go to Beverly, what a cliché, but I’m not like that, it’s not like on the TV show, I’m real.”

I asked her where she wants to go to college and she said, “Dunno. I’m like a sophomore.” I love language and usage and I just loved that she added “like” before “sophomore.” Clearly it wasn’t meant to indicate imprecision. It said so much more. She was saying, “I’m only fifteen, dumb ass.” I smiled but quickly covered.

“Well, it’s never too early to start thinking about colleges. You want to work in the garment business one day?”

She said, “I don’t know. I mean, maybe like fashion merchandising or something but not retail and not lame old people’s clothes.” She had a point that this client did make mostly golf shirts and menswear. I thought I’d bond with her and said, “Yeah, your Dad’s stuff isn’t really the coolest stuff.”

She looked at me, confused. She said, “Uh, yeah.” But what she meant was, “You and my Dad are the same age in my eyes. You are wearing a suit. You are not cool. You are not connecting with me.”

I suddenly felt very self-conscious when it occurred to me that I was closer to her Dad’s age than hers. She could have been my daughter if a girl would have had sex with me in high school and I knocked her up (well almost). I realized that I was not part of her generation in any way and it was kind of sad.

I said to her, “Well, I’d better get back to work.” But what I meant was, “I don’t want your Dad to think I’m a pedophile.”

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.

The Olden Days

People often romanticize the “good old days” when there was no indoor plumbing and you could get your head cut off if you didn’t bow to a samurai.

But there is one thing about the days before TV and the internet that I do think was kind of cool. People talked.

A hundred years ago, on a Saturday night, sure, maybe you might go to the theater or something if you were rich, but really what people did was sit around talking to each other. You’d pay a visit to your friend and discuss the events of the day, politics, literature, philosophy… Okay, maybe it wasn’t this intellectual all the time, but people did talk to each other.

Now we live in such an isolated society. Fractured and disconnected. I’ll give you an example. Kyle at work told me to call Samuelson about a discrepancy in some income statement. But instead of calling him, I sent an email. I mean, going over to his office, that would have been insane. It’s practically twenty yards away. But even calling him was too personal. Too much human interaction. Even that level of contact was shunned in favor of something more impersonal, an email. How messed up is that?

Back to Work and Elevator Girl

It’s Monday and I’m back at work. I’m a little gun-shy after Miss Blue Eyes made me feel like a pervert. But I’m still committed to this.

I’m not going to describe my actual work because it’ll probably sound boring and then you’ll think I’m a hypocrite when I said everyone else is boring.

The key difference here is that I know my job sounds boring to most people (even though I actually enjoy it sometimes) so I don’t go around talking about it all day long. This is a skill that is highly underappreciated in our society called “gauging your audience’s interest.” If more people stopped talking for a second (or Tweeting, etc.) and looked up to gauge their audience’s interest, they’d notice that nobody cares about their big plans to watch the World Cup match or whether their friend Susan is really fake. In fact, if people were five percent better at responding to a lack of interest in what they’re saying, productivity in the office place would increase by eighty-three percent. I made up those numbers but you get the point: NOBODY CARES ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE SAYING!

So, a new rule for the Project: no blogging about other trivial shit like my views on “So You Think You Can Dance.” Just gonna write about my experiences talking to strangers.

But I do need to give you a little info on where I work. It’s a high rise on Constellation in Century City. Every day I take an escalator from the garage to the lobby level then an elevator to the nineteenth floor. I probably go up the elevator with many of the same people every day but I never knew it because frankly I never really paid attention to who’s standing next to me in the elevator. Except this one really beautiful girl who gets off at some floor above mine.

The old me liked elevators because most people obey a certain protocol of willful ignoring. No one says anything because no one wants to talk to people in an elevator. It’s peaceful. I wish someone would change the protocol that says when you pass a co-worker walking the opposite direction in the hallway you have to say “hi.” It’s a stupid custom. It’s just a waste of time and doesn’t accomplish anything. Do you think Vulcans say hi to each other when they walk past each other on their space ships? It’s not logical. For some reason, elevators went the other way from hallways and people know to keep their mouths shut in elevators. Sometimes you get a chatty UPS guy or Water Delivery Man who addresses the whole elevator with a “How’s everyone doing today?” like he’s going to pass around a hat like a homeless guy on a New York subway, but nine times out of ten it’s quiet.

At least, that’s how I felt last week. Now that I’m a people person, I look for any and all opportunities to talk to strangers and this morning was looking like my lucky day. Hot elevator girl was in the same car as me. Now all I had to do was say something.

But I still haven’t figured out how to talk to pretty girls without being creepy. I waited for the three other people to get off and I couldn’t believe how lucky things worked out that it was just me and her for the next few seconds.

I had to say something quickly. By the way, as an aside, isn’t it weird how people in elevators automatically move to even out the empty space when someone gets off? Totally reflexive behavior but it always happens.

Anyway, so I’ve got about nine second before it goes to my floor and I’m scrambling for something to say. Don’t compliment her eyes. I know that for sure. Hair? Outfit? Shoes? Starting to sound like I’m gay.

Be more observant! When is she doing that I can notice and compliment?! Nothing! She’s just standing there.

Fifteen… sixteen… seventeen…

Backup plan! Small talk! The weather? It’s been kind of cool for July…

Ding.

The door opened and I got out.

Fuck!

Totally chickened out. Didn’t say anything.

I think I was thrown by the whole trying-to-pick-her-up assumption. If I could get past that and just treat her as a person, not a hot girl, I could probably come up with something to say.

I don’t know. Maybe I should start off more slowly. Like not hot girls. I need to get some successes under my belt or I know I’m going to get disillusioned and give up.

Gotta go back to work. My project manager Kyle is hovering.