In my defense, I was desperate. If my mother would have been there she would have pointed out that my desperation was directly related to my lack of patience, but I tend to ignore my mom when she brings up my flaws anyway.
It all started with a craving for a taco. This was no ordinary taco craving though. It was a Seventh Street and Bell, outside the Hard Eight Billiard Club, taco stand taco craving. No one can make a street taco like Jose. (To be honest, I’m not actually sure that Jose is his name. He doesn’t speak English and it’s just easy for me to remember.)
My body has a love/hate relationship with Jose’s tacos. My mouth began doing a happy jig the moment I saw his food truck as my lower intestine began cowering in the corner. I like to think of it as food that’s so good you have to pay for it twice.
Jose greeted me with his customary nod as he wiped his hands across his greasy apron. I am not sure which of the two was getting cleaner. After devouring my prize I turned to leave. That’s when I saw her. Imagine Disney’s Pocahontas, but Hispanic and in dark wash jeans and a light blue tank top.
When it comes to girls I am as smooth as they come, or at least I assume I would be if I ever got up the courage to talk to one. So I did what any guy would do if he saw the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. I pulled out my cell phone and called my best friend to find out what I should do. No answer. So I called my not-quite-best-but-still-very-good-friend to ask him what I should do. No answer.
This went on for a few minutes as I worked my way through the list of people I knew would call me a pansy for the rest of my life if I did not go and talk to this girl, but apparently the whole world was busy. Or I missed the rapture. (I pondered this for a moment and decided it would not be so bad because the girl was still here and now her options were much more limited.)
At this point I decided to call the one person I know would answer. He also happened to be a man I had no doubt would still be around post-rapture.
“What up playaaaaaaaaaaaaa!”
(Yes that is how Bert answers my calls. And yes, he is white.)
“Hey man. I need some advice.”
“Fo sho! What’s good?”
I paused for a moment. The alarms in my head were going off so loud that I could not think of what to say.
“C’mon homey. You can trust me.”
Two years, sixty-seven days, and about twenty-three hours earlier, I had made a promise to myself that if I ever heard Bert use that phrase again I would run as far and as fast away from him as I possible could. I should never have broken that promise.
“I’m at the taco truck and I…”
“Dude! Without me!? Harsh.”
“Uh… It was a spur of the moment thing. Anyway, I’m here and there is this girl…”
“I need details bro!”
“Not a chance.”
The last girl that I told Bert about had red hair and looked like she stepped out of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. To this day he still calls her Jessica I’d-like-to-make-that-a-habit. The girl before that he had named Shareeses Pieces. I still don’t get that one, but I assume it is not a reference to her incredible intellect.
“Take a picture on your phone and send it to me!”
“There is no chance of you ever knowing what this girl looks like.”
“That’s cold. Anyway, let me guess. You think she’s hot and you don’t have the balls to go talk to her?”
It sucks that guys like Bert have no problem talking to girls and that guys like me are complete cowards.
“I just don’t know what to say. ‘Hey, you are more beautiful than I ever imagined a girl could be’ seems a bit much for the first time you talk to someone.”
“No, no, no, no… Amateur hour. You have to play it cool. There is a system.”
“Oh. What’s the system?”
“There are three phases. The first phase is ‘The Lure’. You have to show them something that they like. A nice car, a hot body, a sexy accent, a great sense of humor… Man, you don’t have any of that.”
I wanted to hang up on him, but he was right.
“So what do I do?”
“Pray that somehow you can get past phase one. You’ll probably have to lie. Tell her you are a prince from some tiny country in Europe and hope beyond reason that you get a real phone number and not the digits to sexual addicts anonymous.”
He said this from experience. I told him it was fate.
“And if I do get her number?”
“Phase two. ‘The Reel.’ This is where you draw her close. You have to do romantic things to show her that you can connect with her on an ‘emotional level.’ And you have to change little things about yourself that she doesn’t like. Girls all think that they can change us, so when you start taking more showers and cleaning up after yourself more they start to believe that they are actually doing it.”
My stomach actually began to cringe as he was telling me this. It was the worst advice I had ever heard. But that’s what hooked me. My morbid curiosity had to see what depraved plan he could possible have contrived that would be worse than phases one and two.
“Ok. Then what’s phase three?”
“Phase three is ‘The Hook.’ You only use this phase when you know that the girl is special enough to be a future ex-wife. Of all the phases, phase three is actually the easiest. You systematically tear down their self-esteem until they believe that no one else would have them but you. And then they are yours for as long as you can stand them.”
“Bert. You need help.”
“Don’t knock it ‘till you try it. Now grow a pair and go talk to this girl that I am now picturing in my head to look like Megan Fox.”
“Seriously man. Get some help.”
“Phase one homey. Just…”
I hung up. In a funny way, talking to Bert actually helped me. I realized that guys like me need to be brave and talk to girls, if only to save them from guys like Bert.
I slipped my phone back into my pocket, took a deep breath, and forced my legs to take me over to where the girl was standing with her friend. As I drew closer I thought about what I would say.
The first thing that came to mind was to ask her if she spoke English. I quickly abandoned that idea. If she didn’t, she would not understand the question. And if she did, she would probably be offended.
That’s as far as I got before I was standing right next to them. They looked over and waited for me say something.
That was my big opening. Pocahontas said, “Hi” back. I’m not sure if she is the one who replied because she was the more beautiful girl and was accustomed to being the one guys spoke to or if it was because I was staring at her shoes out of sheer terror.
I would be lying if I said I was not tempted to try phase one at this point and tell her I was a prince, but I knew no prince would stare at the ground, creating an awkward silence as he thought about what to say. I took another deep breath and looked up into her beautiful brown eyes.
“I, uh… You are very beautiful and um… I just wanted to know if maybe sometime you would like to, ya know, hang out or something.”
I don’t blame them for laughing. I would have too. In their defense, they tried to hide it as best they could, but no one can be expected to keep a straight face in that situation.
Deep down I really feel like she was about to say yes. Maybe it was something I saw in her eyes or the way she was smiling when I spoke, but I made one huge mistake. I had avoided following Bert’s advice as well as asking a potentially racist question, but I forgot one very simple, never to be broken, rule. Never eat Jose’s tacos if you are not willing to pay the price, twice.
Copyright © 2012 Adam Drake