PREVIOUSLY: PART TWO
There weren’t many clubs in Botafogo, the neighborhood where we lived, but there was Casa do Matriz. The first time I went there was years ago when I met Mariana, and since then I hadn’t been able to find a place in Rio where I could pull so consistently. Of course I didn’t get laid every time I went, but smooching was common and I once had a seven or eight night streak where I got at least that much. I hadn’t been able to accomplish that type of run anywhere else.
Everything about Casa was perfect for my purposes. It had a main bar room that wasn’t too loud for talking, two dance floors for touching, a lounge room for kissing, and little nooks and crannies for picking off girls as they walked by. The cover charge wasn’t much (about $5 if you got there before midnight), the drinks were reasonably priced, and the music wasn’t bad either. But there was one problem: the quality of girls was low.
Casa attracted lazy Brazilian girls who wore dirty Converse shoes and old t-shirts, so finding a diamond in the rough takes time. Lucky for me, I had plenty of it and lived only three blocks away, so in a dozen or two visits I was able to land a handful of decent girls. At worst I kissed an average girl, but even that got the pipes going well enough that I could satisfy myself with a solid jerk at home.
Now I’ll be the first to admit that it was a little cheesy to go back to the same place, spitting the same exact lines, and getting the same results—I was like a stand-up comedian who hadn’t changed his monologue in years. It was pure laziness, but can you blame me? I’ve always had to work to get laid, so why shouldn’t I enjoy a spot where I barely have to? While I got sick of the place toward the end of my time in Rio, every now and then I get all nostalgic and blubbery about it in retrospect.
For our first night out, Henrik asked how he should dress and I told him that Casa was casual. I wore my regular blue jeans and a red plaid collared shirt that had a skull and bones patch. Henrik slicked back his long blonde hair and wore black skinny jeans, a bit faded from too many machine washings, a grey collared shirt with some type of repetitive flower design, and a black vest. He looked like an obvious foreigner while I looked like a Brazilian hipster whose clothing could have been better fitted. It was a good contrast and ensured that no girl would like us both simultaneously.
We walked to Casa and found it was dead. Halfway into our first drink, it was obvious the place wasn’t going to pop.
“Sorry it sucks tonight,” I said. “It’s usually a lot better than this. Maybe it’s a holiday or something.” I noticed a huge line at another bar nearby, Pista 3, and wondered if that party had drawn the Casa crowd. “How about I buy you another round and then we go somewhere else since it’s still kind of early.
We finished the round and then he said, “How about we go to Emporio?”
I paused a couple seconds, trying to remember the two times I had gone there during my last trip. “Doesn’t it have a ton of gringos?”
“Sure it’s a gringo bar, but the girls who go there like gringos.”
“Yeah,” I thought to myself, “but they’re even lower quality than Casa. Prostitutes go there, for fuck’s sake!” I then said, “Hold on, let me think if I know of a better place.”
I knew of a club in Lapa, but it was too late for that. There were other clubs scattered around, but they had high covers and we were sure to encounter a line. Most had awful logistics for meeting a girl. For being such a huge city, Rio sure did have shitty nightlife options.
Finally, I said, “Alright, let’s go to Emporio. It can’t be worse than this.”
When we got to Emporio, Henrik bought a round of beers from the back of a van parked half a block away. The bar itself was more a gathering point than a bar because most people just hung out in front, buying cheap beer and soft drinks from the van, which probably made as much money each night as the bar itself. We picked a strategic spot by the main entrance and sipped our beers. Henrik pulled out a cigarette and held it in a peculiar way, with all his fingers curled into a half-fist and his thumb pointing straight up to the sky. The butt of the cigarette was close to touching his palm, and when he took a drag it looked like was covering his entire mouth.
“Do you approach women?” I asked.
“What do you mean by approach?”
“Like when you see a girl you like, do you go up to her and start a conversation?”
“Sometimes. I like to wait for a sign first. If she looks at me a couple times, then I go in.”
“What’s your line?”
“Something about borrowing a cigarette or a light,” he said.
“What do you do if you’re in a bar that doesn’t allow smoking?”
“I can still ask her if she has a light as I’m on my way out for a smoke.”
“That’s probably the most natural line in a bar.”
“What do you use?”
“Usually something situational, but lately I’ve been opening by asking if the bar plays a certain type of Brazilian music called tecnobrega. Or I ask for clarification on what a word means somewhere on the wall or menu. I like to get conversations going about having her help me in some way because it lowers her guard. It’s also kind of a test—if a girl can’t even assist you on a basic human level, she probably isn’t interested in meeting someone. Your line does the same thing.”
“I never analyzed it like it.”
“It’s my job,” I said, matter-of-factly.
“What do you do?”
When I told him what I write about, he was intrigued but skeptical at the same time, a common response I get from guys who aren’t into the game. I made sure not to insinuate that my approach or methods were better than his. I never criticize the game of other guys unless they explicitly ask for advice, because I can only imagine how annoying it would be if someone I just met started shoving their dogma down my throat.
“Have you been to America?” I asked.
“Yes, about five years ago,” Henrik replied. “I did a backpacking trip with my friend and visited something like twenty states.”
“Shit, you’ve seen more of my country than I have. What do you think of the girls?”
“Dude, I’m not a patriotic American, don’t worry.”
“The girls weren’t very pretty. Your country has some beautiful parks and natural things like that, but I didn’t like the girls. They were all fat.”
“The sad part is that things have gotten worse in only the five years since you’ve been there. It gets worse every year.” I shook my head and looked down at the ground.
“Why is it like that?”
“There’s probably a hundred reasons why, but I like to think it’s what happens when you intersect feminism, capitalism, suburban living, and a lack of tradition that guides people to live balanced lives. Keep in mind that America is barely 200 years old. We have no customs, nothing that’s passed on from generation to generation like say, Denmark. Instead, we just do what the corporations tell us to, and they want us to buy more, eat more, and be more shallow and brain-dead.”
Henrik was interested in hearing about America’s problems and we’d have many more enlightening discussions in the kitchen over the next couple months. The last one had me saying things along the lines of, “Fuck America… it’s not worth saving… it will eventually happen everywhere… have you been to Eastern Europe?”
A lot of people were starting to come to Emporio. Henrik told me that people go to their main destination first and then bounce to Emporio afterwards, which serves as the after-hours spot and your last chance to hook up on a weekend night in Rio. Even though there is rarely more than two cute girls at any time (usually surrounded by dudes), the turnover is rapid. If you stay a while you can squeeze in quite a few approaches on decent girls who are guaranteed to speak English.
I began to understand why he liked Emporio so much: it was perfect for his cigarette line and poor Portuguese. The irony was that I never fucked a girl I met at Emporio and he never fucked one that he met at Casa, so the great compromise for the remaining months, which I’m sure cost me a couple notches, was for us to go to Casa first so I could run my game, then go to Emporio so he could run his.
He was glancing at a girl twenty feet away from us. It wasn’t the casual kind of glance that I would do, just to see what the situation was, but a blatant, penetrating stare.
“What’s going on there?” I asked.
“That girl is beautiful.”
“She’s not bad.”
“Not bad? Look at her body, her face, her hair.”
“No, she’s good,” I said. “I just like them really petite. Small girls make my dick seem huge, like a horse’s dick, and I like that.”
“Horse’s dick. You know, a baby’s arm. Funny story… this one girl I fucked was so petite that my dick was just as wide as her wrist. We measured them side by side. It was like she was getting fucked by her own arm! We had a good laugh about that—well, at least I did. It turned me on immensely.”
“You’re sick. You’re probably going to be a pedophile when you get older.”
“Yeah, maybe.” I’d considered that prospect myself. “But, hey, that girl is cute and rather voluptuous. Too bad she’s surrounded by three gringos.” One of the guys actually looked like a Henrik clone, tall and fair-skinned, but his shorter hair gave him more of a jock feel than Henrik’s European romancer vibe.
“I just need a look,” he said. “Once I get that look, I can go in, but I can’t without it.”
It was comical how hard he was staring at her. While she did glance over for a couple milliseconds, he needed something more sustained. Finally, fifteen minutes later, it came.
“There it is!” he said. “Did you see it?”
“I must’ve missed it.”
“I think she smiled. I could be seeing things, but her lips raised a little.”
“But how about the three guys? You think they’re going to let you talk to her?”
“I guess we’ll find out.”
He slid a cigarette from his pack, placed it in his half-fist smoking position, then started walking. He passed not one, not two, but three groups that had an active smoker, before stopping at her group. I couldn’t hear anything, but I knew he was asking for a light. One of the gringos offered it.
Five minutes later he was having a one-on-one conversation with the girl while the three guys diddled their dicks off on the side, letting it all happen. I couldn’t believe it. After almost an hour, I got tired of waiting for him to come back, so I took a bus home.
“So?” I said.
“Tell me what happened with the girl!”
“Oh, yeah, the girl.” He paused, pretending like he hadn’t already thought about what he was going to tell me. “It was very nice, man. She’s dreamy. I think I’ve met my dream girl.”
“Yeah, we just talked and talked all night and I got her number. I feel happy.”
“She speaks English and everything?”
“She has perfect English.”
“Who were those guys with her?”
“Did you kiss her?” I asked.
“No, she’s too good for that. I want to take it slow with her. She’s special.”
“Oh, no, he’s putting the pussy on a pedestal!” I thought. Then I said, “I see. Well, what’s the next step?”
“I’m going to call her in a day or so. What was that bar you were telling me about in Ipanema? They had a samba band or something.”
“It’s called Conversa Fiada. It’s kind of expensive though.” I gave him the disclaimer because I knew his funds were even more limited than mine. I was making American dollars selling books while he was making Brazilian reals teaching English to flakey clients.
A few days later, their first date went down at the bar I recommended. There was no kiss. For their second date, she came over for one of his homemade dinners, where I met her for the first time. When she left the shack, Henrik had a big smile on his face.
CONTINUED: PART FOUR