Monday, June 26, 2006

This Guy

I have a problem with another guy at work. If you know me, this should come as no surprise because I have problems with lots of people. Problems galore. Every new relationship is nothing more than a problem-in-development. Every existing relationship is either a problem-in-progress, or maybe a problem-we've-gotten-past. But this guy? This guy, I've really got a problem with.

He's not a bad guy, this guy. We're always friendly at work. We've occasionally been friendly outside of work. One morning, after a particularly rough night of off-duty drinking, I called him and we talked on the phone for over a half-hour. The conversation was very pleasant, and after I hung up the phone I sat and thought, "You know, this really isn't that bad of a guy." I called him because he'd called me the night before, looking to see what I was doing. What I was doing at the time was drinking and fighting and making a nuisance of myself at somebody's special event, and what I called him for the next day was to recount the events of the previous night. I called him because he tends to think of me as a comical figure, as do many of the bouncers with whom I work, and I knew he'd appreciate an account of the mess I had made.

So I like this guy. One might even say, in a moment of weakness, that we're friends.

When you're in the nightclub business, you work alongside attractive women. Lots and lots of very attractive women. Hostesses, coat check girls, guestlist girls, waitresses, bartenders, shot girls, rose girls, camera girls and the like. They're everywhere. Many of these very attractive women are also quite personable, and if you're like me -- a bouncer who doesn't come off like a mutant -- you'll eventually befriend a slew of them. They'll stop by throughout the night, and you'll talk. Exchange pleasantries, maybe. Shit like that.

I wouldn't so much call it a "fanclub," but I have my little team of fairer-sex coworkers that comes around to see me from time to time. I enjoy this. So would you. I enjoy this because I seem to attract the ones who see the club for what it is, and know they're only stuck there temporarily. They come up to the door to see me and we pool our negativity. I dispense advice and pretend I've never fucked anything up, and they listen to me and tell me they "love" me, in the way that nightclub employees say they "love" each other, which isn't really love at all but some other thing that's probably closer to "sort of like."

Sometimes I kiss them hello. They come to see me, in their club outfits and all, and I give them a hug and a kiss hello and then we talk about things like how badly "this place sucks." After the initial hug and kiss hello, we move apart in order to proceed with this discussion. Generally, we'll stand a few feet apart and we'll talk about that sort of thing. I like talking about how badly "this place sucks" because it's usually what's on my mind while I'm working. There are sometimes other things on my mind, and sometimes I express those other things, but at 2:30 AM on a Friday night the first thing that usually comes up is how badly "this place sucks." Most times, this can't be helped.

But back to this guy.

This guy is a guy who doesn't offer that separation. He doesn't grant people those few feet. If a female coworker comes to talk to him, he'll give them the same hug and kiss hello, but he won't let go. If you're a girl, and you want to have a conversation with this guy about how badly "this place sucks," you'll need to have this conversation while you're sitting on his lap because that's where he's going to steer you. This is the way he seems to need his interactions with women to go. And if you're a girl, and you're nice enough to ask us if we want some water, and we say yes, you're going to have to go through the whole hug and kiss hello process with him again when you come back. Even if you come back three minutes later. When you come back with our water, he'll pull you in and you'll end up on his lap.

This guy is a guy who can't carry on a conversation if women are walking past because he has to touch them. He touches them because he's hitting on them. He hits on every woman that walks by, even if he's in the middle of an important conversation with you. Even if you're in the middle of a story you're telling at his behest. If you're planning on talking to this guy, you have to be prepared to be interrupted every third sentence because he's going to turn and walk away from you and put his arm around every girl he sees.

This gets irritating. So irritating, in fact, that I've often told him how irritating it is. He finds it odd that I would get irritated, and asks me why it irritates me that he hits on women. He wonders if I'm gay or something. I tell him I don't find it irritating that he hits on women. I find it irritating that he hits on every woman. I find it irritating that I can't get three sentences into a conversation without having to stop what I'm doing while he turns around and hugs some random girl. I find it irritating when someone calls him on his radio, and I have to interrupt his conversation with said random girl to tap him on the shoulder and tell him someone is calling because he's pulled out his earpiece in order to more comfortably fondle said random girl.

This guy gets laid a lot. He pulls tons of "ass." This is a fantastic thing, and I often congratulate him for it. I think every guy should pull as much "ass" as this guy pulls. I think, however, that sometimes you have to do your job instead of trying to pull so much "ass" all the time. I think sometimes it's advisable to concentrate on what you're doing. I think it's best not to be known amongst the female staff as "handsy." I think that's a bad designation to have when you're being called that by people you're working alongside, even if you don't care about them because they're just club people and they don't count. I wouldn't want to be thought of as "handsy." I wouldn't want people to roll their eyes when I approach, and I'd feel bad if they thought they needed to stay away because they didn't feel like sitting in my lap every night. And I really like it when women sit in my lap in various states of unadornment.

When I think about this guy, I'm reminded of the Law of Diminishing Returns. The way I remember it, the Law of Diminishing Returns is about production. You keep putting crap into a machine, and it produces something. Eventually, you reach an ideal amount of the crap you throw in -- the number of inputs required to generate the maximum output of whatever it is you're producing. Add anything more past this ideal amount and you'll actually decrease your production.

This was explained perfectly to me by a college professor once. He taught the concept in terms of drinking beer. You go into a bar, and you have one beer. Two beers. Three beers. Four beers. After four, you're flying. Feeling great. You're the life of the party. Then you have a fifth, and you've never had a better buzz in your entire life. The world is yours. You then drink numbers six, seven, eight and nine, and now you're not feeling so great. You're bloated. The room starts to spin. You toss back number ten, and you find yourself bent over the bowl wishing you'd never even had the first one. You should have stopped at five.

Now, this professor was Chinese and didn't have much of a tolerance, but I skewed the numbers a bit in my mind and eventually realized this was the perfect way to explain the Law of Diminishing Returns to an Irishman.

This guy gives me a new way of explaining it.

The Law of Diminishing Returns says "Enough is enough." It says it's okay to hit on women, but not at the expense of your job and your coworkers' collective tolerance for your refusal to pay attention. It says groping one girl is okay because we all need someone to grope. That fondling two or three or four girls is okay because we should all be so lucky. But fifty? A hundred? To turn your back on every conversation and run away simply because you have to touch someone? Fifty times a night? Three and four times during the span of a single conversation? That borders on the pathological, no?

So what the fuck am I doing wrong?