Four

Reading time ~2 minutes

This wasn’t working. He decided to try a different approach.

Everyone was staring and it made him extremely uncomfortable. Not because he cared what they thought about him. No, that was only for self-absorbed people. He was used to people finding his behaviors strange, or confusing, or “get the fuck out before I call the cops.” No, he was uncomfortable because he knew their stares meant he was doing something out of the ordinary and worth staring at. It meant that he was going about this all wrong.

The bartender asked him to leave. Politely, at least, so he hadn’t done anything too bad just yet. People had their phones out now. He was going on Snapchat and Twitter. He’d have to remember to search for this later to see what the comments were. Constructive criticisms from people who already knew the rules.

That was the problem. Most people know the rules, but they aren’t interested in sharing what they are and how they work. They just get mad at you for breaking them, or they stare at you and take videos of you so they can talk about how badly you’re breaking them with other friends who know what they are. No one ever replies to a tweet about someone doing something outside the realm of “normal” with a detailed list of which social norms and possible state or federal laws being violated. That would be helpful. Instead they just post crying/laughing emojis and explain their varying levels of shock at the situation. Any specific criticisms had to be inferred.

Hopefully he’d be able to find only a short video segment from tonight’s attempt. People usually only post the parts they find really interesting, which is helpful. It’s easier to focus on a few specific actions than his entire thirty minutes spent at the bar. Sort of a highlight reel of his mistakes.

For example, if people had begun immediately filming him as he walked in and took his jacket off, he could make a few important inferences, one or more of which must be true:

  • His appearance was outside the expectation
  • His method of removing his jacket was sufficiently unknown to them as to be considered “strange”
  • The typical patronage of this bar did not include people of one or more of his most obvious characteristics

On the other hand, if that portion of his evening went relatively unnoticed, but the stares and recordings began around the time that he placed six drinks in front of the woman sitting at the bar that were identical to the one she already had, then he could make an entirely different set of inferred possibilities:

  • This was too many drinks
  • The other people at the bar knew the woman and knew that she does not welcome attention from strangers
  • He should have chosen a variety of drinks instead of the same one, as she already had one of those
  • The way in which he told the woman of his plan and requested her participation in it was not clear enough
  • He had missed something obvious in his close study of the woman’s facial expressions after bringing her the drinks

The bartender insisted a bit less politely. “Will you quit tryin’ to fuck that statue and get out of my goddamn bar, you creep?”

The woman continued to stare directly at him, having yet to blink. He wondered whether the bartender meant “statue” literally or figuratively.

This wasn’t working. He decided to try a different approach.

Thirty-Five

A man tries to earn his final payday.
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Thirty-Four

A change can be hard to detect sometimes.

Thirty-Three

A failure can be an opportunity in a way.