A girl walks into the wireless café that I frequent. She’s very pretty. I’ve seen her before, but never spoken to her. Today, the café’s pretty packed. The girl orders her drink. She looks around. Here is the big moment: Where will she sit? But what she’s clearly not factoring in to her decision, what I don’t think this girl realizes, is the fact she’s being monitored like a Russian agent walking through the Pentagon. Man, I think, this is so unfair. If she only knew …
If she only knew, there is a spy network of guys, regulars at this café, that have formed an unlikely bond based upon – what else? – the pretty girls that come into the café. I am, admittedly, part of this network. We are an organized and immature bunch. We watch the girls walk in. We discreetly glance at each other to make sure the others see, too. We wait for them to sit next to us. We talk to them. And when they leave, we talk about them. Not like a bunch of gossip girls, but like suspicious agents: We’ve got information to share and we are willing to share it, but only if you have some information to share, too, pal.
This information can be passed in any number of ways. Just the other day, one of my fellow spies found himself sitting across from a very sexy girl that he knew I had information on. While talking to her, he sought real-time advice through email.
“What is your take on _________?” he wrote.
I immediately wrote back: “I have flirted with her a lot, and at one time made it very clear I wouldn’t mind dating her. She gave me the casual brush-off. But every time I see her, she puts her hands all over me. I think she likes flirting but doesn’t want to settle.”
The poor girl! Branded a careless flirt! Without knowing it! My café friend suddenly found this girl’s previously charming coquetry less evocative. He soon proclaimed her “flaky” – to me, through email – and backed off.
So, why did I give him this information, you might ask? Because I’m loyal to the spy network:
The previous week, this same guy had called me outside the café to tell me about a girl inside that I had somehow failed to notice.
“Watch out for her,” he said. He told me he had taken the girl on a couple of dinner dates. She had a horrible habit of deconstructing her food until it was no longer fun to eat, he said. And she had told him a story about how her ex- had given her a $100 bouquet of flowers, and she had informed him that for just $50 more he could have gotten twice the arrangement.
“Yeah,” my fellow café spy said, “you might want to stay away from that one. Unless you want to hear a girl complain after receiving $100 in flowers.” I crossed her off my list, and she had never even looked at me.
Girls, fair warning: Look around the café when you enter. That guy in the corner? And that guy by the window? And that guy by the couches? They might be sitting far apart, but they know each other. They talk to each other. Chances are, they have talked to each other about you. There’s nothing you can do about this, ultimately; but in the world of spy games, information is power.
Back to the girl that walked into the café at the beginning of this cautionary note: She walked over and plopped down near me. We exchanged polite smiles. As if on cue, an email arrived from a spy network member sitting three tables away: “Dude,” it said, “say something to her!”
Man, I thought. This is so unfair!