Also, it doesn’t hurt if the guy’s a bartender—but perhaps (and I hate to generalize, here, because I know some clever people who work on the opposite side of a sprawling bar) bartending is one of the last refuges of hope for the pretty and stupid. But after the last couple of years, and after the last couple of serious schoolgirl crushes I’ve endured, I’ve come to realize this about myself: take some pretty guy with dark, floppy hair and big brown eyes who’s never finished high school, put him in a tank top, and stick him behind a counter and ask him to make drinks for me, and boom, every night the guy is slinging liquor, you’re sure to find me there gazing at him mutely, with my chin in my hands and little pulsating heart-shapes where my dilated pupils used to be.
I wrote about my last bartender crush while I was still living in Michigan—pretty Lenny, he of the the long brown hair and the big brown eyes and the lanky body. Lenny, king of the vacant expression. Lenny, whom I watched with longing from across the bar on so many nights, and who I was so certain harbored some vibrant inner light that kept his soul nourished—a yen to become a serious artist, or a journalistic photographer. Lenny, who, when I finally sat at the bar and attempted to strike up conversations, stood there clutching a giant Tupperware container of liquid to his chest and spooned it into his mouth. Then who, in the same dopey tone as the abominable snowman in the Bugs Bunny cartoon when he squeezed Bugs hard and said I will name him George and I will hug him and pet him and squeeze him!, said through a mouthful of the stuff, “I like soup! Soup is good!”, forever ruining my vision of his secret artistic and sensitive nature. Because the only thing nourishing that boy was Campbell’s Chicken Noodle.
And now I have a crush on another bartender. Tommy, his name is. Tommy used to be an underwear model. He used to appear on the pages of Men’s Fitness. He’s got that classic combination of enormous brown eyes, sloppy longish hair, and muscles that makes my chest tighten and my heart go pitty-pat; when he slouches around the bar in his ratty jeans and a T-shirt, I stare at his biceps and long for the day when I find them holding me tight around my chest while he whispers the sexier sonnets of Shakespeare into my ears. When he wears a tight tank top and lifts it up to wipe his face and reveal his tanned abs, I’m reduced to a gibbering idiot who can only drool and say ‘Whuh?’ in response to any conversation directed my way.
But Tommy has, I’m not that surprised to have to relate, about the same mental acuity as a soggy baked potato. I kind of became aware of it the first time I asked him to make me one of the speciality drinks listed on the bar’s menu, and I watched him scrunch up his eyebrows and furrow his forehead as he peered at the ingredients and worked his lips as he silently sounded out the words. I haven’t had him tell me in a caveman manner that he likes soup, yet, but our conversations usually run a little something like:
HIM: So I got an audition in the city tomorrow!It’s a good thing he’s so pretty.
ME: That’s fantastic. What’s it for?
HIM: It’s for a movie film.
ME: A movie . . . film?
HIM: Yeah! Like you know, in the movie film theaters. It’s for a Road Warrior movie film. I guess it's supposed to be like Mad Max?
ME: The Road Warrior was a Mad Max movie fil—I mean, movie..
HIM (confused): Nuh-uh?
ME: I’m pretty sure.
HIM: So they like that I got this longish hair so should I like, grease it down or leave it the way it is?
ME: Which is going to look more post-apocalyptic?
HIM (confused again): Apo—?
ME: Apoca. . .
HIM: Apoca. . .
ME: Apoppapipp—which is going to look better for the movie film?!
This week I sat down at the bar and Tommy immediately asked how my week was going and what I’d done that day. I made some small talk. “Ask me how my day is going,” he said.
“How’s your day going?” I replied obediently.
“Fantastic,” he told me. “You know why? Because I’m an ideas man. I got all kinds of ideas just like, coming out of my brain! Because you know what the brain is, right? It’s spirits! And once you got those spirits in you, it’s like a genie in a bottle! You rub it, and rub it, and rub it—“ And here, to demonstrate what the word rub meant in case I wasn’t clear, he started moving his palms all over his chest, so that his tank top revealed his nipples and navel. I’d been carrying a copy of Next Magazine in my hands, but at the sight of what typically one has to pay a monthly subscription to see streamed live from LiveJockFratDorm.com, it slipped out of my hands and onto the floor, along with my jaw and my dignity. “Then you rub it right and make your wish and boom! It might not come right away but it comes on its own time and when it does it rushes all through you and outside of you and it feels like a goddamn orgasm, that’s what it feels like.”
Well. I basically stood there slack-jawed, having heard only one word of that entire speech (I’ll let you guess which one). He went to take someone's drink order; I stared and stammered until someone jostled me into a seat. Tommy came back over after a moment. “It’s like when I was a dancer,” he said earnestly to me. “There were dancers, and then there was me. I’d give ‘em a little of this—“ Here he held his hands on his abs and bit his lower lip and did some sexy little thrusting motions with his hips. “And a little of this—“ He put his hands behind his head, sneered, and ground his package at the freezer. “And I’d be thinkin’ outside the box with each and every client because I’m an ideas man, and that’s why they kept comin’ back to me instead of to those other dancers. Because I think outside the box!”
My throat was dry. I couldn’t speak. Somehow I got the impression that his dancing career had not been in the New York City Ballet. I was having ideas. Most of them were dirty. I noticed he was looking at me expectantly for some kind of reply. I tried to work my lips, but all I could do was look in those big brown eyes and at those bulging biceps and stutter out, “Um . . . huuuh . . . whuh?”
Which frankly makes I like soup! seem like a quip worthy of the Algonquin Round Table, in comparison.
So you know the kind of guy that makes me go moony, speechless, and head over heels. This is a Friday open forum, though. What about yours? Do you have a type for which you have a perpetual weakness—not so much as an object of sexual desire, but more for an unrequited schoolkid crush or a serious case of puppy love? Or have you had a thing for a dumb but pretty bartender, too? Let’s hear about it in the comments!