More recently I accidentally found myself in a Latin bar where a 5′ 2″, snake-hipped man called Carlos took it upon himself, completely unprompted, to try to teach me the seduction of the Samba. Unfortunately, anyone who knows me is fully aware that trying to teach me anything that requires co-ordination of any kind is a fool’s errand.
The latest and most bizarre of this string of lunatics is the Duck Man.
One hot afternoon in July, Louise, Sam and I just polished off all we could get our hands on in Prezzo and were set to continue the gluttony down the pub. Once we’d sat down with our beverages, Louise started telling us a story, which apparently required the subtle visual aid of ‘pretending’ to bury her head in my boobs. Admittedly, this was asking for trouble. The barman, who was polishing some glasses about two metres away, was looking at us with a bemused expression. Sam delivered the mandatory ‘girls, eh! Can’t take ’em anywhere!’ line but the barman continued to look our way for the best part of half an hour.
Eventually Louise and Sam went out for a cigarette and I was left alone to pretend to text, as you do when you’re sitting alone in public. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the barman disappear. I looked around and saw him emerging, straight-faced and holding an enormous yellow rubber duck. He looked me dead in the eye as he casually put the duck on the bar and, inexplicably, started to stroke it.
Now, call me silly, but I am socially completely ill-equipped to handle this kind of situation. The random rubber duck stroking, the staring, the placid smiling – what on earth was the protocol for something like this?! He was too far away for me to speak to without raising my voice, but too close for me to just ignore. People standing at the bar were looking from him to me, presumably to see if I knew him, but he was completely unabashed. In the end, after an unacceptable amount of time where I’d said and done nothing, I raised my hands as though to catch the duck if he threw it to me. He picked the rubber duck up, held it close to his chest and stroked it a bit more whilst shaking his head.
Well, that was it, that was the only move I had. If he wouldn’t actually speak to me or let me interact with his prop, then there’s nothing more I can do but watch, which was way too intense. I text Louise telling her to GET THE FUCK BACK IN HERE, which she did, but not before I’d had to sit through two more minutes of weird duck stroking.
Drinks were downed and we set to leave. I had to pass Duck Man to exit and as I did, he plonked the duck down on a piece of paper with numbers written on it in green highlighter, said ‘text me’ and walked off. Easily, the strangest chat up I’ve ever had. I have to admit I admired the sheer bollocks of it all, but that alone wasn’t enough to tempt me to take him up on his offer.
Two days later whilst regaling this story to my chums over a bottle of wine, we decide to text him as a social experiment. The ‘conversation’ went something like this:
“Hello Duck Man, remember me?”
“Yes, hello! I thought you’d never text! How’re you enjoying the weather? What’re you up to tomorrow? Fancy going to Brighton!? I wish I wasn’t at work, it’s boiling isn’t it!!?! Going swimming tomorrow though, woop woop! Are you single!?”
And that was the end of our correspondence.