Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Close Encounters, Part I

Hawkeye’s was a bar on Austin's Sixth Street in the early days of that avenue's transformation into the city's premiere entertainment location. Typical for Sixth Street at that time, it had the laid-back, friendly atmosphere as opposed to today's loud and obnoxious. 

Not really that much different than the other bars downtown, but my friends and I liked it best because of the beer specials and, most importantly, its free happy hour snacks. Typically, this consisted of finger sandwiches, chicken nuggets, etc. Nothing fancy, but for us poor college students a life saver as we could go in and order one beer, then stuff ourselves for the next hour.

It was often my only real food for the week (I was a really poor college student).

However, the main reason I always wanted to go there was because of the wait staff.  I was particularly taken with Susan. A thin brunet who always reminded me of the girl in the Semisonic music video "Closing Time." Her eyes were mesmerizing, her smile tantalizing. I was smitten.

 So I would drag my roommates down to Hawkeyes whenever I had a few dollars and they were desperate for food.

In those days, I was pretty good at picking up females. It probably was my sky blue eyes and sandy blond locks (which I really miss).
(miss that hair)
 However, for some reason I could never get up much nerve to talk to Susan in anything more than brief comments. My friends Ace and Lance thought it was funny, but at least they always tried to help me. Often deflecting conversation with Susan my way. But I never got much more than little tidbits about her life.

Finally I got the nerve up to ask for her phone number. I think she had been particularly nice to me that night, so it probably got my courage up to take a chance. With a cute smile, she wrote it out on one of the bar's napkins (this was before cell phones). After finishing my beer, I told her I'd call her the next day and with my prize in hand my friends and I headed home.

Unfortunately, when we got home my brother was there, having made an unannounced visit from Houston. He wanted to go out and since he had money, how could I resist? So out we went again (not to Hawkeye's) and promptly got blitzed.  When we got back to the apartment much later that night, I did the polite thing and let him sleep in my bed. He did after all pay for the beer. I slept on the floor. In my clothes. I have a feeling it was not the plan, as much as it was just the easiest thing to do.

So when I woke up the next morning, a little taken aback that I was on the floor and in my clothes (it was a lot of beer), as soon as I had recovered enough senses, I checked my back pocket for the napkin.

It was gone!

I panicked. I checked again, then checked all my pockets. I crawled around the floor looking under everything. I scoured the entire apartment, even all the wastebaskets. Completely gone.

I wanted to head down to Hawkeyes immediately, but my friends convinced me that it would be better to wait two days (still don't know how they came up with the time) otherwise I'd be seen as desperate. Which I was of course, but I sure didn't want to appear that way. I admit, it's a macho thing.

So two days later we headed to Hawkeyes. Susan was gone. I knew it was her night to work (one of the few things I learned from her) so I was a little taken aback. I asked our new waitress if she knew what happened to Susan, and was shocked to learn she quit. Luckily, this waitress was a friend of hers and so let us know where she was now working.

I won't go into the bloody details, but rest assured I tracked her down at the new place, could tell she was more than a little pissed I hadn't called as promised, but the big point was that I didn't have the nerve to ask for her number again.

To this day I still think back to this incident. As a writer with a fervent imagination I dream out all sorts of scenarios, usually with us heading off into the sunset, her laughing off my little escapade and making plans for our future family. In some ways,  I'm a little glad that didn't happen, but the thoughts are still there.

So there are two main conclusions to this tale: one is to always write down important numbers in two places at least (or right away enter it in your fancy cell phone) and two, for females to not be afraid to make first contact. If you like a guy, and he hasn't called—call him!

 Of course, I know the latter will never happen, so we'll discuss it in the future in another communique from the ThurberBrigade here at the front in the ongoing War Between Men and Women

Why men go to bars