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It’s a Pretty Good Crowd For a Saturday

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I met  with a bunch of writers this weekend at a memoir writing conference. I usually feel quasi-suicidal after these conferences, but I was truly inspired by some of the people I met. Each one looking for a way to tell their story. Some already quite sophisticated about the challenges. Others fantastically naive. One man, an admitted beginner, had one question on his mind: how long will it take from the day he starts writing to when a publisher will accept it. The more I tried to hedge, the more he pressed. Finally, I gave him an answer: five years minimum. On the way home, I got lost and went inside a bar to ask directions. It was a smokey dive. All the men wore caps and smoked Marlboros. I felt as if I had walked inside a Richard Russo novel. I thought of pulling up a stool and staying there for the rest of my life.

What’s the best pick-up line you ever heard or used?

34 Responses

  1. Wow, you were nice to him! “When.” Ah, the bright hopes and delirious dreams.

  2. Pick up line? My girlfriends and I decided unanimously not long ago that the best line to use is “Can I buy you a drink?”. Not very imaginative, I know, but it expressive two critical things: 1. I’m interested in you. 2. I have money. Everything else can come along after the lubrication.

    Memoir? I hope I never live the kind of life that warrants one.

  3. The truth. Did you? It sounds like you did.

  4. “Don’t you mean ‘if’? Let’s go have an MGD and a Marlboro.”

  5. When! hahahahaha. People crack me up. I’m self-pubbing my memoir this . . . week, I think. Publishers? Hah! I don’t need no steenkin’ publisher!

  6. Sounds like one of those situations. You’re the guru. He’s the seeker. And you’re forced to be polite and accommodating. It’s my impression that in general, conferences are a waste of time and money. If you’re inspired and motivated, stay home and write. But this guy sounds as pushy as he is clueless, and desperate for encouragement. He may lack confidence in his ability to create a publishable book; if so, maybe he should rethink his plans. Or maybe he just needs therapy. But is it your job to tell him all this? Depends on your mood and your role at the conference.

  7. Gosh – if I ever write the memoir of my dating experiences, I’ll have to admit to never having anyone so interested in me. One guy did inquire, though, “what are YOU doing here?” and it was not meant kindly. From the right POV, I think that memoir would make a good comedy.

  8. Asking a smartly dressed Italian guy if he spoke Italian. I was cluelessly Australian in Paris. I married him.

  9. The truth

  10. Smiling the smile, she said “Hey, sailor.”, and I was overboard. Lola and I have smiled much since then, and laughed and cried some. But we are full and by, and I am a very lucky man.

    About the beginner: all I can think of is Ionesco’s “It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.” His questions may need some work. I know mine do.

  11. The best pick up line I ever used snagged me a husband which, at the time, was the last thing I was hunting. We were coworkers and having drinks at Googie’s, about the time NYU was starting to take over The Village. Always the rational one, he said, “We should probably not get involved” to which I replied, “You’re probably right but I haven’t kissed you yet.”

  12. “I’ve been dating the juggler on and off for a while, but when the acrobat gave me your number, I had to see if you’d like to get together sometime.”

    True story. Married 17 years this Friday. Juggler gave a toast at our wedding and acrobat wrote us a poem and performed this insane push-up handstand thing for the guests at the reception.

  13. If he needs an answer to that question, he is in the wrong business.

  14. I took a memoir class last year, had to sell gold to pay for it. Everyone seemed more interesting than me and their stories more saleable than mine. So, what did I learn, not sure yet, but I wish I had my jewelry back.

    My pick-up line to a guy I watched arrive at the bar on a Harley.
    “Nice ‘hog’,” I said.
    He smiled. “Do I have bugs in my teeth?”
    He did not need to floss but his face was pockmarked; shouldn’t drive a motorcycle on a gravel road I guess.

    • Good advice about the gravel road–too easy to flop it on a turn also.
      As far as the interesting memoirs go, a person can have an amazing story to tell, but if they don’t write it well and come across as interesting, I’ll leave that book on the shelf (just read an excerpt in Rolling Stone — bought it for the piece on Levon Helm — of Gregg Allman’s new memoir and I have no desire to read any more pages about his cross to bear). From what you’ve written here, I think you have some good tales to tell. Sorry to hear about the gold; buy yourself an emerald necklace when you get published.

  15. Sometimes I wonder what it would feel like to let the writing go, the whole rat race, and pull up a stool in that Russo bar.

    Best line: You two are hot. You, her, me, my wife. Yes?

    At some point he had to be escorted out without me, her or his wife. I bought his wife a drink, poor gal.

  16. “I just made a pie. Would you like to come over and have a piece?”

  17. Of course, if he is a wri say: May I buy you a drink. Nah . . . too nerdy.

    • This is a hiccup. I pushed the cancel button, but, like my pickup-up lines when I was single, it was ignored

  18. I’m writing a book . . .and I think you’re in it.

  19. “What’s the best pick-up line you ever heard or used?”

    One of my best was, “Could I buy you a drink?” Now, that may sound rather pedestrian on the surface, so let’s have some context. I was a bartender. This put me in a position of authority and control, and also implied a certain disinterestedness on my part. The bartender was the one who could protect the woman who was alone in the bar from the lushes on the floor. He was going to be sober, or more sober, or at least sober enough to do his job (I usually was). He could dispense the gift of a drink from his throne, as it were, and the woman could feel safe. He was on the other side of the bar, so he wasn’t going to sidle up and get all grabby. He had other matters to attend to, so he wasn’t going to get all suffocating in his attentions. And as noted, if she needed protection, he could provide that, too.

    It was a line in its context that worked well enough to land me several long-term relationships (long-term in those days being two years or so), including one that turned into a common-law marriage.

  20. I remember once reading that the most effective pick-up line a woman could use, was “Hi.” It’s a low bar.

  21. I would have told him to shut the f**k up. I would’ve told him that’s not even a question. I would’ve told him to first go and dredge up all the crap memories he’s writing about from his stupid frontal lobe and then the ones stuck in his dumb little amygdala and figure out how to put them in a linear structure, whilst also trying to overcome your natural inclination to hide. Hide! Then do the interviews he needs to do to get the other people’s stories straight and correct and true within this memoir and keep the audio recordings for eventual fact checking in this post-Jame Frey world. I would’ve told him to not accept the pressure from that one group interview you did where every single person, including that darling 12-year old girl opened their hearts and knowledge to you then said, “You have to get the word out! You have to tell people what’s going on. We’re counting on you. You’re our only hope.” F**K!I Never, ever nobly say “I promise,” to that entreaty. That’s just stupid.The weight of that kills even while it propels. And it never goes away. I would’ve told him to keep going even when the writing makes you shake and puke and hate the world. Or, better yet, I would’ve told him to quit while you’re ahead and save yourself. Go start a garden or roller skate or go to some park on those pretty days instead of looking at life through the window while writing. Then, if he still stupidly chooses to go ahead then he can come back in five years and ask that stupid question again. He won’t.

    That’s what I would’ve told him right after I bitch-slapped him for being stupid.

  22. “Do you always follow the curriculum guide?”

  23. I don’t know about pickup lines, but a line too many of my boyfriends (met in smoky dives) used was, “Everything come out okay?” after I went to the ladies room. The men who said this not only said it every single time I went, but claimed I had no sense of humor when I stopped laughing politely. These days I only pick up Ben & Jerry.

    • Sometimes, being a man is just pretty damned embarrassing.

    • Bonnie, didn’t you just once want to say “no- you’re still here”? Yikes. In that same vein, this past Saturday, I volunteered at an event where our organization sold beer and soft drinks as a fund raiser. One harried woman was attempting to pay for her and her date’s beer as he was doing his best impersonation as an ass. At one point, I softly asked “do you want me to shake up his beer can before I hand it to him?” The happy expression on her face was priceless. I hope she dumped him before she left the festival.

  24. “i think elvis costello is overrated.”

  25. “i don’t want to fuck you, i just want to dance.”

  26. You will know when you are done.

    I did.

    Help (if you can or want)

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