There’s a bar in my neighborhood called Mo’s. In fact, it’s the only bar in my hood.
It’s a cute bar, circular in shape, conducive for conversations with strangers. I’m hooked on their taco salads (sauce on the side), consistent with my vodka sodas (Tito’s with three orange slices, please) and crushing on the hot bartender with the bad boy vibe. If you’ve read my blog for a hot second, you’re like, “Duh.” You know bad boys are my kryptonite. My affinity for them often gets me . . . well, here. Writing about them. Crying over them. Shaking my head that, yet again, I fell for one and now have to unravel the bullshit lines and mind-fuckery that make up the tangled webs they weave.
But this isn’t about the hot bartender at Mo’s or his bad boy vibe . . . or his hella sexy smile (damn it, I can’t help myself).
This is about five nights at Mo’s. Five nights of a social experiment where I set out to prove one hypothesis: Dating is as much of a bitch offline as it is online.
Why? Because I get tired of people saying, “Get off Match (or OKC or Bumble or e-Harmony or Tinder or Coffee Meets Bagel) and meet someone ‘naturally.’ That will help.”
These days, meeting someone online is natural. But it doesn’t matter, because the truth is, whether you’re trying to meet someone digitally or in person, finding a great connection, compatibility and chemistry is a challenge. I mean, it happens. But certainly not every night. Not even one in five.
Night One at Mo’s: My girlfriend, Brit, and I dropped by on a Saturday after shopping and pedis. So did a couple of hotties who sat across the bar from us with beers and appetizers and these sexy accents we couldn’t quite discern but decided were Australian–mostly because a hot Australian accent is a bonafide panty-dropper. Not that we were looking to have our panties dropped. Much. But every once in a while it’s nice to have them slide down a wee bit thanks to an arousing, “G-day, mate.” The problem was, there were about 5,492,301 people between us and them. Or maybe just 7. It didn’t matter–the chasm was deep and wide. We made eye contact several times, but it was going to take some balls for either of us to make a move. Mo’s isn’t a loud meat-market type of bar–it’s set in a somewhat subdued restaurant, and any hint of flirtation is on display for the rated-PG patronage to see. “We should have ordered them drinks,” we told the hot bad boy bartender after the probably-Aussies left. “No, they should have ordered you drinks,” he said.
Right you are, matey. They should have ordered us our fucking drinks. Instead, we ended up hanging out with two other single women at the bar who bitched about how hard it is to meet men. Of course.
Night Two at Mo’s: Sunday night–not exactly the evening for a hotbed of bar activity. But my girlfriend, Marjan, and I set out anyway to see what kind of male attention we could attract. Kind of like going fishing in a lake that hasn’t been stocked: You’re not feeling good about your chances, but the effort is there, and that’s half the battle.
I wore a strappy royal blue shirt with the top button undone and my royal blue bra peeking out. Yes, I shamelessly pimped out the girls to try to pique some interest. Don’t be judgy; it’s my experiment so I get to set the rules. I wanted to see if “sexy” (bordering on slutty) made a difference. Besides, it was a Sunday, remember? I was gonna need all the fire power I could muster.
Turns out, the girls didn’t have to work too hard–not one man sauntered in. The only person who talked to us was my other girlfriend, Amy, who joined us an hour before the bar closed. She was in a serious funk because it was her 50th birthday, she had zero plans, and her ex-bf had just left a birthday message on her Facebook that made her weepy. Here’s where online dating has an advantage over offline: Men always show up, no matter what day it is. You can open your Tinder, Match, OKC or Bumble app 24/7, and there are dudes to swipe, chat and charm. In real life? You can pump up the cleavage, and still, crickets. On this night, the crickets were playing their sad, sorry little violins; not one gentleman walked in. All that mascara for nothing.
Night Three at Mo’s: It was just a night. No cleavage. No hot Australians. Just an evening like any other. I went to Mo’s in my typical work clothes, had a vodka soda with oranges, plus a Diet Coke, mixed things up with a turkey burger instead of taco salad, and checked emails on my phone over dinner. I chatted with the bartender. Met a new employee. Talked to a few couples at the bar about neighborhood gossip.
Are you bored yet? I was. This was the equivalent of getting on Match.com, perusing the options, looking for an interesting prospect, then closing your computer with a yawn and opting instead for a good glass of Pinot.
Sometimes you’re just not in the mood. Sometimes dating is a bore. Sometimes you’d rather have wine than a man. Sometimes life is just fine the way it is and why try to change it. Sometimes these times are my favorites.
Night Four at Mo’s: Do you know what’s not sexy? A cold. A stuffy-nose-itchy-throat-junk-in-the-back-of-your-throat cold. That’s what I walked into Mo’s with on this particular evening.
Well, hello there, sexy . . . let me just clear my throat to loosen this phlegm and blow the snot out of my nose. Then we can chat a bit, how ’bout that?
What man would say no?
I didn’t feel like going home and I had some work to do, so setting up an office at the bar with my MacBook, a vodka soda and an attractive gentlemen to admire from afar sounded like the perfect plan.
Three men sat down at my right and I smiled politely, but knew in a New York minute I was not attracted, so I went back to my laptop. Over the top of my MacBook, however, I peeped a hot gentleman eating spaghetti and drinking a beer on the other side of the bar. I didn’t have time to admire from afar, however, because the three men to my right had other plans for me.
Do you like sports? Do you live near here? Where are you from? Are you a Warriors fan? What are you working on? Where do you work? What’s your job? Do you like the food here? What do you recommend? Do you like football? Who’s your team?
While I battled the mucus running through my sinuses (sexy as hell, I told you), these three men bombarded me with a thousand questions. I fought my cold. I fielded their interrogation. And the attractive man with spaghetti and beer watched it all unfold, snickering and eye-rolling like it was a bad comedy, but he was too lazy to get up and grab the remote.
“You’re cute,” one of the men told me.
“My name’s Paul,” another one said and reached out to shake my hand. I had a used Kleenex in it, though, so opted to decline.
And Spaghetti Man kept watching. And laughing. And slurping his noodles.
It was like swiping a nice looking man right on Tinder, then having him go, “Hey, great, thanks for the match. I have a girlfriend, but Larry, Mo and Curly are single. Would you go out with them so my lady and I can sit and watch the train wreck? We’re looking for cheap entertainment.”
I folded up my laptop, grabbed my tissues and went home early that night. The only thing I took to bed was my cold. For all I know, the three men to my right may have taken it to bed, too. Really wish I could have shared my germs with the meatball man, though.
Night Five at Mo’s: Sporty Spice time! I put on my Golden State Warriors tank top and cap, black workout leggings, and went out to watch the NBA playoffs. I’m a huge fan, and it’s natural for me to go to a bar to watch a game, even alone. And bonus: It’s a guaranteed night for meeting dudes. I settled in with my vodka soda and taco salad, and sure enough, by the time the game had started, plenty of fans had gathered ’round, including one very hot gentleman and his buddy, just four bar stools to my right. No rings; check. Sexy smile; check. Gorgeous salt-and-pepper hair; check.
And I caught his eye. Check.
Game plan: The next ridiculous 3-point shot that Steph Curry makes, I’m gonna turn to Hottie McHotterson with a fist bump and a “hell, yeah, that guy is insane.” Curry was on fire, so it wouldn’t take long before our knuckles would be bumping. Hard.
Time out: I should mention one thing. I live in the heart of Silicon Valley, where there are plenty of men, yes, but also plenty of men lacking in social skills. Many very intelligent, book-smart, successful men who aren’t always so smart when it comes to women. Let’s continue.
The next sequence of events happened in slow motion. Curry hit a ridiculous three . . . I yelled, “Yes!” with my hand in the air . . . curled my right hand into a fist in order to reach out to McHotterson just a few seats away . . . turned toward him with my arm about to extend . . . and BAM. My game plan was interrupted by Nerdy McNerdison who plopped himself down on the stool right next to me and said, “Man, Curry is having some game tonight!” He looked at me with a cheesy, crooked smile, I smiled faintly back, slowly released my fist bump and put my arm back down to my side.
Yes. Yes, he is. But now I’m not because you just interrupted my plan. See that man with the gorgeous smile to your right? I was going to flirt with him. Unabashedly and unashamedly. And now you’re here and in my way. I’m going to be kind and sit here and talk with you because I’m usually bad at being a bitch, but damn it all to hell. You’re in my way.
I watched the rest of the game with the dude with no game while the salt-and-pepper hottie watched it with his buddy–just four bar stools away. He peeped me a few times, but ended up leaving without a word. The man next to me talked incessantly.
Maybe I’m the one with no game? This seemed like a slam-dunk opportunity for a potential connection, but I fouled out in the first quarter. The Warriors won, and I went home. And Sporty Spice went to bed. Game over.
So, there you have it, my friends: Five nights at Mo’s.
I met nice people. Had fun with my girlfriends. Watched the Warriors win. Did a little work. And caught a few glimpses of the hot bartender’s cute ass.
But a love connection? Well, that remains elusive and I remain convinced that dating is a challenge wherever you’re looking for a connection, whether it’s on your phone screen or on the bar stool to your right.
And that’s okay . . . because life is so much bigger than what’s happening on my phone or on the bar stool to my right. One thing I have learned in the past three years of being single: This time without a partner in my life is more than just a hyphen. It’s not just a holding pattern between my last relationship and the next. It’s an opportunity to live my life on my terms, according to my schedule, and to invest in a relationship I’ve often neglected in the past–the one with myself. And if someone can eventually fall in love with the me I’m investing in, well, that will be a bonus.
Oh! Plus, I get to check out hot bartenders. Unabashedly and unashamedly.