Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Rob the Gambler
If you're going to strike out with women, then you might as well do it at a nice location.
I learned this the other night when I went to an event at Lincoln Center and proceeded to get nowhere with three women in a row. Yes, I bit the dust, but I did it such nice surroundings. I wish I had rented a tuxedo.
The event was part of Lincoln Center's "Young Friends of Film" series, where this group shows a movie and then everyone goes out to a room by the lobby to eat, drink and schmooze.
At 48 I hardly qualify as young, but I do love movies and a shaved head is better than Grecian Formula for hiding those pesky gray hairs. With the proper lighting--like, say, total darkness--I don't look a day over 46. And nobody looks bad in Lincoln Center.
Which Way to the Eats?
This being a Friday night, I didn't have to worry about getting home early, so I figured I'd sneak in, check out the movie, and swipe some stuffed mushrooms before hitting the bricks.
I wasn't feeling well, I was plain tired of trying to meet people and sick of the 20 questions routine: what do you do? where do you live? what are your feelings about bestiality? Enough already. I just wanted to pretend I was socializing to satisfy my Jiminy Cricket of a conscience and then go home to watch Letterman.
The movie was "Bob le Flambeur" or "Bob the Gambler," a 1955 French crime thriller directed by Jean-Pierre Melville. I've seen it before and I've enjoyed it, though I'm not as quick as others to declare it a classic.
But there are nifty location shots of Paris and the film takes place largely in this pre-dawn nether world of pimps, gamblers, whores, and cops. I give it a thumbs up for the atmosphere alone.
The leading man,Roger Duchesne, is so cool and suave it can make you wince. He lives on the edge of this twilight world, constantly losing at every game he plays, but never losing his cool. Jesus, I freak if I get the wrong change at the drug store. Maybe it's the French accent.
Anyway, this is a caper flick, and Bob gets the inside story on a big casino haul and decides to take the place down. He rounds up a crew and comes up with a plan to rip the place off.
Bob's role in the scheme is to go into the place as a customer, which he does, but in this fabulous ironic twist, he starts winning, I mean winning like an animal. His lucky streak is so powerful he forgets about the robbery and zones in on the game.
He was winning so much he really didn't need a gun to clean the place out.
A Turn of the Wheel
So the movie ends, the lights come on and I hang around for a few seconds to try and talk with some women sitting next to me. They were clustering, though, so fine, I go out and start mingling.
My concerns about being too old for this event quickly vanished. I saw people with canes, one guy in a wheelchair and people with all sorts of wrinkles, gray hairs, and pot bellies. Hell, I looked like an Adonis by default.
The first woman I met was standing by herself so I just started chatting with her. She seemed nice, though the conversation was not particularly illuminating. I followed her to the bar to get a drink and when I turned around she was talking to another guy.
Ouch. It bugged me for a second then I figured I was free to go look for someone else. So I see one of the women who was sitting next to me during the movie and I step up and start chatting with her.
We get about two words into what I think is going to be a fine conversation when one of her friend barges in and says she wants her buddy to meet someone. The friend looked at me and apologized, so I don't think this was a rescue mission. (As in, let me save my friend from this bald-headed Euro-trash wannabe.)
No, I think she did want her friend to meet someone--who turned out to be another guy.
Thud. All right, I figure, let's nail some more food and find someone else. And then I see a very nice young woman, who turned out to be French, so I wormed a few questions out of that little tidbit and I learned the she, like I, was in the news business.
She was a travel nut and expressed a desire to go Tajikistan or some other such fun place. I explained to her that I tend to avoid places that end in "-stan" as they can be a little rough on the tourists. But I admire her sense of adventure and I know I could use a little bit more myself.
The talk was fading and she excused herself to get a drink. I didn't bother following her because while I may not know what good chemistry is, after all this time and all of these events, I surely do know what it ain't.
Bon Soir, Mon Ami
I hung around for a few more minutes, but I was feeling desperate and needy. The fun had gone out of the evening so I decided to head home. I hadn't met anyone, but I did make a good faith effort, I enjoyed myself, and I got to hang in Lincoln Center.
It pains me to admit this, but not very long ago I would have had a lot of trouble just approaching a woman at one of these get togethers. So I guess I was a bit of a gambler that night myself, taking a chance, putting myself out there. My luck wasn't good that night, but gamblers know this is bound to change.
I learned a lot of relationships when I was throwing out our Christmas tree earlier this month. I had gotten all the decorations off and I was dragging the tree by the bottom to the front door so the sanitation men could take it.
I get halfway through the door when a branch got hooked up on a table in the porch. Frustrated, I started tugging and cursing until it dawned on me that nothing was happening. So I went back into the house, gently untangled the offending branch and slid the tree out the door like a greased pig on water slide.
So when people wonder about all the mysteries of love and relationships, I just tell them to forget everything they've ever heard and remember that finding the one you love is a lot like throwing out a Christmas tree.
Now, I think I'll slip on my tux and take a walk around Carnegie Hall.