If there was one thing that Matt did not lack for it was an abundance of confidence. The alcohol helped, but he had been having conversations long into the night for long enough that beginning a new one wasn't a challenge if the opposite party was even remotely interested. Matt followed three rules when conversing with strangers regardless of his intentions. They were imprinted on his mind now from years of faithful service.
1. FORD - Family, Occupation, Recreation, Dreams. You don't have to pick in order, but ask open ended questions of people on those topics, and let them tell you.
2. Don't talk about yourself. You already know yourself. Take advantage when someone else is willing to share a part of themselves with you.
3. Know a little bit about everything. Knowing a few token things on any topic will be easy to learn, but cover most conversations about it and make you look worldly. Really, you will be worldly for the knowledge.
That last one had amazed so many with his knowledge about dance because he had been able to make witty jokes about how contemporary dance is just lazy ballet. He knew it wasn't true, they knew it wasn't true, but it was a joke and he could always fall back on simply explaining his lack of knowledge as a part of tactical conversation. He had more success by endearing himself to people who saw his dedication to conversation as respectful effort than anything subversive, but the sincerity of how he listened had as much to do with that success as anything else.
With these three simple rules he had been offered shared beds and backdoor romances throughout his marriage, but he was always loyal to the promise he made to his, now, ex-wife. It wasn't a challenge for him, just simply a non-existent choice. But the choice was now valid and tonight would be different. Tonight he had a wind named Lauren at his back and he was on going to sink his teeth into something tasty.
As he moved around the bar one woman caught his eye as she waited for the bartender to see her so that she could order a drink. He quickly set his beer down on the table next to him, still two-thirds full, and walked up beside her.
"Hey! Do an experiment with me! Everyone knows that a pretty girl gets the drinks first at a bar, right? That's why you're here instead of your boyfriend getting the beers. I'll bet you that I can get drinks faster than you and if so, we have to flip the other bar rule and you buy me a drink to get to know me."
"First, that was a smooth way to find out that I'm not here with my boyfriend. Second, you're lucky that I've had enough to fall for that. Third, BARTENDER!" The last part she yelled down to the other end of the bar and though the bartender looked up, he didn't make a sudden move to her.
"Rookie move there! Bartenders are easily spooked in the wild and hate sudden noises. You have to know the call of the bartender. It goes something like this." Matt looked down the bar and cupped his hand around his mouth to get over the background din of the Friday bar crowd and without yelling loudly voiced, "Tom! I'm trying to meet a girl who is way out of my league and I need your help. Remember all those times that I over-tipped you? I'm calling that in right now and I need two Kamikazes on this girls' tab."
Tom nodded, and said "Got it, Matt. Order less stupid shots next time. Ones that have one ingredient are nice. She is way out of your league by the way."
Matt looked toward the tall slender girl and couldn't even try not to notice her black leggings coming up to her tight body. She had on a mid-length cotton jacket which hid her read end from him, but judging by the way the shirt jealously clung tightly to her body she was either a genetically gifted angel or a fan of the gym. In the fraction of a second that it had taken to turn back victoriously smiling to her, he had the distinct feeling of anxious nerves as he looked her in the eyes again.
Tom sat the shots down on the bar and walked away.
"Well you know my name is Matt, but I never drink with strangers."
"Heather. And that was cheating," she laughed.
"Cheating in a game where you make up the rules is just called winning." He lifted his glass. "I always toast to Jesus."
Her smile faded for a split-second as she worried that she may have found someone who drank so immaturely as to consider rituals around it important to observe, or that he was a religious nut who also drank a lot.
He clinked her glass with his, and recited his favorite toast, "To our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. May he never come back and bother us again." He put the shot glass down gently on the bar and she stacked hers inside of his holding onto the rim of the glasses just a little too long to be accidental. Never one to pass up a good offer Matt asked, "Will your friends be mad if you leave with me?"
"You're very forward!" she protested. But when she looked at him and their eyes locked he felt something catch on fire within her.
He pressed, "If you want, we can sit here and drink. I'm old enough to know what we'll end up doing because you're old enough to know we both want to do it. You can feign modesty and play hard to get as much as you need to so that you can feel respectable in the morning, but I respect you right now and don't plan on changing that with physical actions." He leaned in closer and whispered into her ear. "But at the end of the night, I'll have had more drinks, and I want the full use of my mind to take you all in. Come back with me."
She paid her tab and walked outside with him. Her friends did wonder where their drinks were when she didn't come back, but smiled when she replied to their texts with, "Met someone. See you later. ;)"