Sunday, 8 February 2009

Jigsaw Falling into Place

So I was planning on meeting up with an old friend and going to a gig by a friend of his, but that fell through when we found out that it was actually in Birmingham. I don’t like to venture out to the provinces, it’s another world out there… *shudders*. So instead I meet Pete, John and Liam at Porterhouse. I decide to tube it as the night bus services are pretty good from the centre of town. Probably a mistake as delays on the tube meant I was half an hour late!

I’ve been rocking the shirt while I’ve been out recently and it seems to be working, but I felt like a change so I wore a nice bright t-shirt that I hadn’t worn since before I went travelling. There was a bit of a risk that it might look a bit camp as the workouts I’ve been doing have made me a bit bigger, but I thought fuck it, I’ll do it anyway.

We go straight to Jewel for one as it’s on the way to Zebranos. We’re standing around chatting when Liam challenges me to open. I use the Detroit opener (which is actually the bar opener: “Do you know where Detroit bar is? Apparently it’s near here,”) as we’d just been talking about it. I start talking to a couple of girls, one not hot at all, and another kinda nice looking – not hot-hot but not unpleasant either. Definitely gets a tick.

Turns out the not-hot one actually knows the (fictional) place, and proceeds to tell me that it’s actually somewhere within the bar we’re actually in. Now this is an usual response. I think she may have misheard me. I make a joke about there being a portal in time and space and then transition to something random. We continue to talk.

A few minutes in and I suddenly realise to myself, hmm, by now I would have normally ejected, but I’m still talking to them. It feels good. It feels like I thought it would feel: normal – the kind of thing that I was talking about at the end of the last post. So I keep talking. The not-hot one wanders off and I talk to the other one some more. I move her around a bit as the people in the room shift around us (leading…). We talk about her job – a teacher – and what kids are like when they’re five, which is some quality comfort talk.

At just the right time Pete taps me on the shoulder and tells me that we’re moving on – I ask him to give me a couple of minutes. I basically wrap up the conversation and finish my beer, and then ask for her phone number. She complies. A number close! Huzzah! It feels good, and at the same time it feels like it was always going to happen.

OK pause. I want to talk about faith. Faith isn’t something that we talk about much in today’s society, from my perspective that’s probably because it’s tied up in religion, but maybe also because it sounds like something wishy-washy and indistinct. But faith has always served me well. As Idlewild said, Hope (which is faith in the future) is important. If you want to do anything that you can’t do now you need to have faith.

You need to have faith that you have the physical capacities to do it. And short of flying or becoming a world champion in a sport that you’ve never competed in all your life, the chances are that you can.

There have been a few times in my life that stand out as times when I’ve used faith in myself to encourage myself to attain certain skills or achieve certain things that I’ve wanted to do, but haven’t ever done before. I learned to play guitar when I had no natural ability for it. It was extremely frustrating, but I got there.

Even more faith-related was when I was first in a band and writing songs (which I also had to learn) and then teaching the songs to the band so they could play it the way that I wanted them to. Of course, you heard something fantastic in your head, and then the bassist comes out with a completely different bass line, and the drum pattern isn’t how you want it to be, and it all sounds completely different. It’s frustrating as now you need to tell you friends what you want them to do, and they may not want to.

Well I had to have faith. Faith in more than one thing. I had to have faith that the other band members could do the song justice. They had to have faith that my vision would work (it might not after all). But above all I had to have faith in the process – that is, I had to know that over time as we practiced playing and arranging the song, that it would become something good. And it usually did.

As a side note we soon discovered as a band something called “second practice syndrome”. This refers to songwriting, where as a band we’d either just written through jamming, or had been taught a song. At the end of the first practice we’d all be playing it and thinking, fucking hell this sounds great! We’re totally awesome.

And then you’d come back to the next practice a week later, and you’d all be eager to play the song. And you’d play it, and it would sound shit. Like a piece of crud. And you’d think, “I thought this song was good, but now it’s shit. Maybe we were wrong. Let’s ditch this and write another.” But they were, all of them, deceived.

Because we’d lost the tightness, lost the subtleties of phrasing, lost the energy or whatever from the last practice. We had to have faith that we could make the song sound as good as it did the first time. And, of course, eventually we would get there.

So, then, faith. I’ve spent some frustrating nights out in the field. In fact, most of last year was shit when it came to sarging. What I now know, is that I had to make some quite simple lifestyle changes to make sure that my mind and body were in an acceptable condition to go out sarging. I was inadvertently fucking myself up in various ways. But thankfully travelling solved that, almost without trying.

Another thing I realised is that I had success, but it was inconsistent. I knew I could get lays and kisses and phone numbers, but it wasn’t something I could turn on at will. I had to go back to basics. I was using my random successes to protect me from my fear of failure and therefore not trying. I realised I wasn’t opening enough – I was allowing others to open for me, then I would join in the set.

So the start of this year was focussed on that. I got that handled. Then I always knew I ejected too early. That was and probably still is my main sticking point. I also knew that I was having boring conversations, so I needed to tease and joke around more, which I’ve always wanted to do anyway. So I did that. Touching (kino) is something that I sometimes still forget to do, which was the case here – when I said goodbye I should have kissed her on the cheek, but as I hadn’t been touching her it didn’t feel right. So I still need to do that more.

But I stuck in, I talked, we had fun and I took her phone number. All the pieces fell into place. And it didn’t feel like a big surprise. It felt normal. And I was happy.

And this is kind of where the night turned, and I know why. I rested on my laurels. I knew I had a phone number, so my work was sort of done, so my motivation dropped. What I now realise is the old part of me that didn’t like to open and was low energy and feared failure was allowed free reign once more as I’d given myself slack. I need to keep thinking about the next set if that happens again.

That’s not to say I didn’t open. I was hanging out with Jake (who had joined us) and he went to the bar to get a drink. I was standing there like a lemon in the middle of the room with no one to talk to. I turned round a there were a couple of girls right behind me. Proximity alert perhaps? Maybe. One was hot, the other wasn’t but a really nice person. “Hello,” I said. “You’re drinking rosé wine,” I astutely observed. And then we started talking about random shit as ever.

Shortly after Jake joined in and we all introduced ourselves. We kind of talked for a long while which was great as it meant that I wasn’t ejecting again. But then I kinda got bored and eventually after a good time, the girls left to go to another bar. Looking back now what I know we did wrong is that neither Jake nor I took the lead. I wasn’t really thinking about closing or escalating as I’d already got my number (I know, why wasn’t I getting more?) As Jake said afterwards, it was my set as I’d opened it, so I should have number closed the hot one – he didn’t as he believed (correctly) that it was my set. But I didn’t care. A missed opportunity as there was no reason not to get her number – I just wasn’t paying attention. Plus we need to improve our winging skills.

I don’t think I had any memorable interactions after that, and just before midnight I decided to take the tube home as I was feeling tired. Plus after my dry January whenever I drink beer I notice my clarity of thought diminishing. I prefer to sarge without alcohol.


Well this is the night that it all came together. I know one telephone number isn’t all that, and this all seems like a lot of hyperbole in that respect. And I always find it funny when people say “that was a SOLID NUMBER CLOSE!!!” when the only definition of a solid number close is if the girl responds to your text after the event – you can never tell at the time. But at least I took the number, and that’s a step forward. And it happened so easily, in a way. It was a learnt or a structured close, not a random, lucky one. I was reaping what I had sown. I had faith in the process.

First number close since New Year’s. Back of the net.

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