the daily column

How to Grease a Palm

Brilliant article on “The $20 Theory of the Universe” (alternatively, The Power of a 20):

One afternoon, Bobby the bellman alerted me to a corporate meeting at the dinner club next door. “It’s all day,” he said. “They have very nice buffets.”

I decided to scam a lunch. I walked boldly to the door, leaned toward the door-man — you come face-to-face with a lot of young, large black men when you are passing twenties in New York City — and said, “Is this the lunch?” He raised his eyebrows. “I forgot my letter,” I said, holding the twenty pressed flat against the palm of my hand and reaching for the shake. He looked confused; I tried to look equally puzzled and said, “Just give me five minutes.” He took my hand and nodded me in. I went to the buffet, fixed myself a large plate of tiger prawns. I got a beer out of a bucket of ice and sat, balancing it all in my lap. Good shrimp.

It took me fifteen minutes to realize I was listening to a symposium on corporate ethics.

the daily column

To My Coder Girl

For all them coder girls:


Flying Low

The witching hour had been and gone. It was now entering that part of the night where the pretenders had gone safely to their beds, but the hedonists had not totally taken over the club, their drug-addled eyes moving fitfully as their passions empowered them. Or as my mate Dave would have it, late enough that you weren’t a pussy but not so late that you’d be walking home, not a taxi in sight. Or, as Steve put it, Pick-Up Hour. The flirting had to end one way or another.

My mind had been on that particular idea for the last few minutes, actually. You see, there was this girl I’d been eyeing off for quite some part of the night, and sure enough, I’d seen her eyeing me too. The occasional glimpse had our eyes locking, before her eyes would dip demurely as she smiled and returned to her own conversations. We’d eyed each other on the fringes of the dance floor, passing on our way through the masses of late night humanity, eyeing up and down at the bar – all over the place.

In short, it’d been a night where little was said, but plenty was understood.

Now that the crowd had thinned somewhat, I got a decent look at her. She was tall, closer to six foot than five, though ably assisted by a killer pair of heels. Her legs entirely did justice to the heels, and those in turn were shown off to a greater extent by the is-it-a-shirt-is-it-a-dress number she had on, which I swore and hoped would ride too high at any moment. Deep brown hair framed her tanned face perfectly, and a seemingly too-serious mouth broke into an easy grin at the slightest word from one of her friends.

This time, she leaned forward on the bar, patiently awaiting the swamped bartender. Her gaze slowly wandered the club until our eyes locked, and this time she held it. She smiled again, nodded and mouthed something. My guess was “I’ll be over in a minute.”

Hello. The night was just about to pay off.

It’s at this point, as a guy being approached by a girl, you get two conflicting feelings. The first, primary one is simple: fuck yes, I am the shit tonight. King Dingaling, got ’em coming right over. Doesn’t matter if she’s not perfect, it’s her coming to you, not the other way around. This is the way these things should happen, you think.

And that’s rapidly followed by the second thought. Fuck, shit, what am I going to say? You’re used to approaching and seeing your lines get shot down, brave soldiers in the conversation war go to a thousand needless deaths. Now that she is coming to you, you’ve only got one job: don’t cock it up. If you can get away with it, don’t say anything: your body’s obviously done the job already, why mess with the formula? But, shit, what if she gets closer and then changes her mind?

Do women go through this every time? It must be excruciating!