September 10, 2006

My friend Liza has a crush on a bartender called Jack, who works at Ruby Foo's, a restaurant in her neighbourhood. "Watching him open a beer was a turn-on," she said. I didn't see the appeal. So she put it in terms I could relate to: "Imagine watching someone sew up a wound." I got it. When I asked what was the exact moment she fell for him, she said it was when he bought her a drink. "Here," he said, refilling her glass, "the next one's on me." Liza is easy to please.

It's sexy to watch someone work when they're good at what they do. She found out the nights when he's bartending, and now she's there all the time. That's fine, because it's a bar. But if it were me, it would be a little more challenging. My options are limited. I don't drink, so a bar is out. I don't go to clubs or work in an office. Where would I go? A&E? It's a lot easier to hang out in a bar.

The place I'm most likely to meet someone is a doctor's waiting room. But it's hard to develop a crush on someone when I'm preoccupied with the disease I'm about to be diagnosed with. The one time I struck up a conversation with an attractive man sitting next to me, it didn't go well.

I pointed to my arm and my opening line was: "Do you think this rash is contagious?" He switched seats.

The best thing about Liza's relationship is, she's in complete control. She only goes into the bar when she thinks she looks pretty, and never has to worry about making a plan. There's no pressure or hassle of having to cancel, because he doesn't know when she's coming. The downside is there's a TV above the bar that is constantly tuned to a cable sports station. Now she has to feign interest in the baseball game. Whenever her (new) team loses, she has to remember to look concerned. It's hard work. She also has to remember the team she's rooting for.

The other thing is, because he's a bartender, he keeps filling her glass. It gets to the point where, after the fourth refill, when he's not looking she'll pour some of the wine out into the water glass. Plus, she could retire early on the tips she's leaving. But she's having fun. So who am I to point out that she's about to become a broke alcoholic?

Of course, the best thing about a crush is the possibility of something happening. Having it become a reality could be a disaster. If Liza asked him out, two things could transpire. He could actually say yes, and she would lose her control over the situation. He might say no, then she'd have nowhere to go when her hair looks good. Either way, it wouldn't be a crush any more.

She wanted me to meet him. I thought, why not? It would be fun, just like the old days. Except we're old. When we got there I told him I didn't drink, so I'd have water, and that I'd be eating but I was off wheat. And before I could explain, he said: "You're off wheat? We have a gluten-free menu!"

I thought he was great. But Liza was upset. "He knows more about you in two minutes than he knows about me, and I've been coming here for three weeks, drinking myself into a stupor."

I told her she needs to get some issues. She's not neurotic enough. The good news is, finally, there's something that I can help her with.