I am the lamest. Every time I even begin to think a thought like, “Actually, I’m pretty cool guy. I mean, David Hasselhoff follows me on Twitter,” events come along that completely disabuse me of these notions.
Case in point, RedEye’s iBall party, which took place on Tuesday at a hipper-than-thou joint in the West Loop called Venue One. After carefully considering the events of that party, I have come up with a reasonable list of why I’m just the worst.
1) I showed up on time at 8:30 with my married friend Graham. I had tried to recruit, you know, one of my many single guy friends to attend, as I knew there would be free food, alcohol, and cute girls, and such events are ostensibly the point of not being married when you’re in your twenties, but having not heard back, and after exhausting my contact list on my cell phone, including but not limited to my Great Uncle Charlie, the plumber who fixes our finicky toilet semi-regularly, and my mom, I finally invited Graham (hey, buddy!).
2) I didn’t eat dinner with the sole intent of stuffing myself on free bite-size appetizers. After Graham and I made our way into Venue One via half a milk-crate dolly and a funhouse slide (for real), walking through a red-lit, fog-machined 7th grade haunted-house parking garage, taking some kind of Bat Cave-elevator, and arriving in the most bizarrely decorated club scene I’ve encountered in the greater Chicago area (hat’s off, though, Will’s Northwood), I perched at a table and feasted on mini-cheeseburgers, artichoke spread, meatballs, and just the mozzerella from mozzerall-and-tomato skewers (I hate tomatoes) for the entirety of the 3.5 hours we were there.
3) After chatting up my RedEye BFFs including ed-in-chief Tran Ha, Tracy Schmidt, and Ernest “Future Mayor of Chicago” Wilkins (shout out, guys!), Graham and I found ourselves invested and involved in a heavy conversation about The Future of Journalism with easily the drunkest guy at the party.
Guy: Buhh wha do you think ’bout in-vest-i-gat-ive journalism? Who pays for tha?
Me: Well, that’s the question, right? Because pretty soon everyone will expect all content–books, music, film included–for free, and no one’s come up with a sustainable business model to accommodate that. You just can’t get enough value out of advertising.
Graham: Yeah, I mean we’re the worst of the bunch because I haven’t read a physical newspaper in years, and once the New York Times put up a pay wall, I stopped reading it. Yet Steve and I went to school to be writers and journalists, so we’re only hurting ourselves, really, with this attitude.
Me: Exactly. You figure out a way around this problem, a way to get past the digital pivot, so to speak, and you’ll be a billionaire.
Guy: Ass the question, isnnn’t it? Hey, do you guyses know a guy s’named Witt? Looks like a chipmunk a little?
4) After not figuring out The Future of Journalism, I promptly stumbled into two very pretty girls, and thought it would be a great idea to talk to them, and this turned into–very clearly–the worst fail in the history of time. Like Julius Caeser trusting his pal, Brutus, couldn’t have been worse than this. The guy on the Titanic who thought that iceberg looked like a bitch iceberg, he did better at life than this:
These girls, who were very lovely and worked for a cancer research foundation, were saying to us that they didn’t get to see each other as much anymore now that they worked in different locations, at which point I made the f***ing ultra-lame joke, “Oh, we’ll we can leave you alone then.” The best part was that they didn’t hear me due to a Venue One techno mix that would be at home on a 13 year-old girl’s iPod, but they all looked at me and said, “Huh?” So I repeated myself. And they still didn’t hear me, and this point the part of your brain that regulates f***ing ultra-lame things you say to pretty women had caught up and said, “Dude, do not repeat that a third time. It was awful the first time.” So I repeated it a third time, but at half-breath, so they still didn’t hear me, and Graham was looking at me like it would be best if I leapt out a window, and we all kind of moved on in that really awkward way where no one says anything for 3.4 seconds and then Graham said, “So is your job mostly PR?” and I excused myself to eat a meatball.
5) After Graham extracted us from that conversation and excoriated me by saying something like, “That was the worst thing I’ve ever seen. I’m embarrassed for you. I was like the married wingman doing all the lamest talking about our jobs, and you just stood there being the worst guy talking to women ever” we ran into fellow RedEye freelancer Ryan Smith, who is not a pretty girl, but who at least I could talk to while eating as many mini-cheeseburgers and boneless chicken wings as I could fit in my mouth while at the same time, discussing how the couch affixed to the ceiling made this place like an SNL parody of a cool, hip club.
6) My married friend Graham went home to his wife (hey, Katie!), but by then it was time to hop on a party bus–yes, a party bus–where Ernest “I’ll Be Your Emcee for the Night” Wilkins danced in the aisle while we made our way to the after party at a club that was so cool and hip a) I had never heard of it b) didn’t know where we were even though I could see every recognizable building in Chicago c) had big, muscley guys in suits letting us through the door only if we had wrist bands d) had more undanceable techno music, lasers hitting the retina, $6 beers and e) had girls dancing in glass boxes.
7) Have you ever been to one of these clubs that has these go-go dancing girls with unrealistic bodies? I do not do well at them. Not only are they extremely great to look at from an aesthetic point of view in their frilly bikini tops and fishnet stockings and lacey underwear, but they dance so hypnotically I have to spend my entire time not looking at them. My friend Bojo and I went to one of these places once and said two words to each other the entire time.
8 ) Instead of striking up any kind of conversation with pretty girls, friends, or Trib employees who could help advance my career (it’s called “networking,” people; I learned about it on TV), I became involved in a conversation with a guy I thought was Ernest “Be Cool” Wilkins’s Australian friend. I was like 20 minutes into this discussion with this “mate” before I understood that he did not know Ernest at all, and that Ernest had just come up to me and said, “Hey, meet this guy.” Ernest, if you don’t know him, is just really good at doing this. He walks up to complete strangers, starts talking to them, and then introduces them to others as if they’re his best friends. So now I’m like, why am I talking to this goddamn Australian guy? But this dude is just so overjoyed to be on his first trip to America, and he’s only in town, according to him, for 14 hours, and he is having a great time “talking to a real Chicagoan” (and it was bizarrely difficult to explain to him that I am 1) not actually a “real” Chicagoan and 2) the concept of “Ohio”) that I feel bad not continuing the conversation. Plus he offers to buy me a beer.
9) Australian guy then became convinced that I am a guy who goes to bars where big muscley guys in suits charge you a $20 cover and not the type more comfortable with the bro in the backwards hat barely looking at your ID at Kirkwoods. This then trips off synapses in his head convincing him that I am somehow a guy who can get him laid in his 14 hours in Chicago, which–if this guy had seen me doing the conversational equivalent of barfing on my shoes just three hours earlier–was pretty much too hilarious to dissuade.
10) He asked me if my twice-a-year-whenever-we-see-each-other-at-RedEye-functions friend Alexis had a boyfriend, and I tell him yes even though I don’t know because you don’t ever want to set even your most casual friends up with some Australian guy just because he bought you a beer (that should be some kind of code).
“I don’t know, mate,” he said. “I’m just not great at talking to girls.”
“Hell,” I said, suddenly getting into my role as Hip Chicago Party Guy Who Knows This Scene Like the F***ing Alphabet, “It’s easy. You just ask ‘em stuff, and say stuff back. Here, I’ll be your wingman.”
“What’s a wingman?”
So I have Australia guy point out some girls he’d like to talk to, and because it’s now 2 a.m. and I drank enough of a fortune at Venue One to end any talk about The Future of Journalism once and for all, I’m blithely unconcerned with how this works out. As we arrive at the two young women in question–he chose to approach a blonde and her dark-complected friend–the young lady that Australia guy has chosen looks at him–like, looks him up and down–and before he can even get a word out, just turns and walks away. I mean without even a word! She looked at him like he was cervical cancer and just turned heel. And as I said, at this point, I could care less, but for some weird reason blonde girl’s dark-complected friend has stayed and is totally willing to hear me out. Once you take on the responsibility of wingman, you can’t just back out, so I tell her over the thud of the music, “This is my Australian friend!”
To which she replies, “Yeah right.”
To which I, quizzically, say back, “What? No. Really, he’s from Australia. He’s visiting. Here, dude, say something.”
So Australia guy introduces himself and explains he’s from Sydney.
To which the girl says, real skeptical and cool, “Yeah. Sure. I’ve heard that one before.”
And I’m thinking to myself: Wait, so you’ve been tricked somehow by a guy utilizing a fake Australian accent? This is an event that occurred in your life and now you’re wary of men who claim Australian residency?
11) I said goodbye to Australia guy, telling him that, if he was ever back in Chicago, he could look me up on Facebook and I would continue to not be able to help him at all with women.
“Oh I’m not on Facebook,” he said.
Tired, wanting to go home, I wasn’t really interested in this, but I feel at this point in civilization, it’s only polite to inquire why someone is not on Facebook.
“So my ex-wife can’t find me,” he said.
12) I then went home with a petite go-go dancing girl and had wall-slamming sex all over her penthouse apartment.
13) Ha! Yeah right. Just wanted to see if you’d stuck with this epic blog post this long. What actually happened was I got in a cab, told the guy to take me home, then, as we were passing a 24-hour Subway, shouted “Stop!” the same way you might shout “Stop!” if you were about to run over a baby left cooing and gurgling in the road and you happened to have foreknowledge that this infant would grow up to cure Alhzeimers, then got the most meat-intense sub on the menu, told the nice South Asian man working–for some inexplicable reason–with a Bluetooth in each ear to not be stingy with the cheese, oil, mayo and other artery-clogging toppings, and proceeded to devour this sub down to a nub of bread before I could even manage to walk home even though the 37 mini-cheeseburgers I’d eaten at iBall were not happy about having all the company at such a late hour.
There you go, world. Please pass this along to potential people who might date me, employ me or ever want to hang out just so I don’t have to explain it later.