Tuesday, September 2, 2008

When First Lines Become Your Last

In the dating game minefield, few tasks can be as odor-inducing as the opening line. Imagine yourself as a stand-up comedian. Looking out over a sea of stone-cold sober tourists, you know there's an excellent chance a deafening silence may follow your first joke, echoing like a lonely pebble tumbling down a deep chasm. You're in public, and your proverbial pants may at any moment drop to the floor. It's make or break time and we all know it.

How you handle the rocky bumps this moment holds may determine whether your family line lives on or you're doomed to channel-surfing cable re-runs every Saturday night. And while you may think the key is in the delivery, the real deal-breaker is in your response.

The following are actual lines I've witnessed my actual self in the first person. Surprisingly, many of the men actually survived their encounters:

Him(nervous): So.....what are you doing Friday night?

Me: Nothing. Why?
Him: Would you like to go to the prom with me?
Me: Ok. But why don't we go Saturday night like everyone else?

Him(in a club): Pardon me, do you have any contact lens solution?
Me: That is the stupidest opening line I've ever heard.
Him: Thanks! Come here often?

Him (tipsy):Wanna dance?
Me: Sorry, I can't dance. I have two left feet.
Him: I don't know about yer feet but yer legs look darn good.

Me:(at a bar, on a bet, in a sultry voice to a guy standing in a narrow hallway): You know, standing there like that, you're quite the fire hazard.
Him: Hu-uhhh....heh, heh....wh-what?

Him: (upon seeing a rather sparse wall): Wow, I could totally fill up these walls!
Me: With what?
Him: Dead animals.

Him: (to my friend wearing duct tape on her bottom because her jeans tore):What's that on yer butt?
Her: Duct tape.
Him: ....wanna dance?

Because of the terror involving opening lines, men especially feel compelled to bolster their bile with alcohol. As a result, many of their opening lines fail-

Him: Wouagasagboooooty?
Her: What?

Some guys realize that alcohol is not enough. They need something stronger, something to make them absolutely, irrefutably irresistable. So they reach for....lies. Big, fat lies:

Him: I own forty acres of prime Texas land.
Her: Really?
Him: Yes, ma'am. I raise prime Texas Longhorn Angus dairy cows.

In an effort to understand what the guy is saying, women feel compelled to reach for a translating device, often referred to as a margarita -

Him: Wouagasagboooooty?
Her: Whaaaaaat?

For the safety of innocent people and in an attempt to limit such behavior to a controlled environment (as well as make ungodly piles of money), bars were invented. Age limits were established to prevent children from seeing such embarrassing behavior. Lights are dimmed to keep from frightening the patrons. Patrons are dimmed by alcohol.

Fortunately alcohol prevents both parties from remembering anything, so they have no issues attempting the same approach the next weekend, or as soon as they sober up, whichever comes first.

For comedy's sake, let's suppose you've gotten past the opening night jitters and have a date set up, or even gotten past that and have three kids and a joint checking account. This is probably a good time to inform you that there is more than one form of opening line. There are many, many, many first lines. In fact, there are tons of levels of them, more than Warcraft has gnomes, and you will probably not survive all of them. Don't worry, though, it's a merciful killing. Let's look at a few examples. Notice that the male's response, or second attempt at survival, is usually the fatal blow:

Her: Honey, what do you think of my new dress?
Him: You went shopping again?
Her: What?!
Her (slap!)

Her: Honey, did you mow the lawn?
Him: What?
Her: Did you mow the lawn?!

Her (slap!)

Yes, guys learn to buy time by saying 'what?' or swigging a drink. But think about - is that quality time they're buying?

After a while they realize that life is just a series of potential verbal pitfalls, and they devolve into communicating in vocal and intestinal grunts. Women are free to translate as they wish, using the aforementioned margarita-based translation device and an air freshener for survival.

As the stakes rise, quite often women resort to a high-octane squeal known as nagging. While nagging is powerful enough to make neighborhood dogs keel over in their tracks, men eventually build up a resistance to it using a device known as football season.

And so it goes, until the men are deaf and drunk, the women are shopped-out, and we all end up on the couch together, channel-surfing cable re-runs every Saturday night.


martini said...

Real line, delivered by a real loser, to a friend of mine: (The guy had been looking her way at a bar for a couple of hours when he finally approached.)

LOTHARIO: "You have crescent-wrench eyes."
HER (after numerous clarifications that she had heard him correctly) What the hell does that even mean?!"
LOTHARIO: "Every time you look at me my nuts tighten."

I can only surmise this was a line cooked up with a group of "guys", after spilling some beer while high-five-ing each other. They must have collectively decided this was the most brilliant come-on, which any woman would find irresistable -- provided said woman was a co-dependant introvert working in the "fasteners" aisle at Home Depot.

ScottMGS said...

Hi, Annie.

That's my best opening line, Annie. It's usually as far as I can get before my throat locks up. And hopefully my smile doesn't look *too* much like rictus.

Martini, I'm thinking one of the more common responses to that line is a crescent wrench to the crotch so it's probably both self-realizing and self-defeating at the same time.

insomniac said...

the filling up the wall with dead animals line reminds me of the janitor from 'scrubs'...

Annie said...

insom - he looked a bit like that guy, too. After that outburst I made sure I had my tetanus shot.

There's a 'green' line going around - "How much does a polar bear weigh?" She says "I don't know or whatever," and you reply "enough to break the ice. Hi, I'm yournamehere."

And of course there's the pick-up line generator at Gizmodo. (eyeroll)

Regardless, hopefully we each end up on the couch with somebody who tolerates our shortcomings.