As a grizzled and exhausted veteran of the San Francisco dating scene, I’ve heard pretty much every routine, crazy, and random pickup line there is: Didn’t we go to college together? You have a beautiful smile. You need to smile more. I love your toenail polish. Your highlights remind me of autumn. You look like Gregory Peck. You remind me of my ex-wife. You remind me of my mom. I want to take you to Lobsterfest.
There’ve been so many bad ones over the years, it’s actually hard to remember the good ones. But perhaps that’s because there’s really only been one. No kidding; just one. (I am a straight woman living in the gayest city in the world, so maybe that explains it.)
I was waiting for the 6 Parnassus bus one morning on my way to work, when I noticed an attractive man on the opposite corner. I was in construction-worker mode, so I kept staring. Then I noticed that he was staring at me, too. He crossed the street to the other corner, now kitty-corner from where I was waiting, and continued to stare. And then he crossed to the corner that was straight across from me, all the while holding my gaze with a big, beautiful smile. I, on the other hand, was not smiling; I was both dumbfounded and confused by what was happening. A straight man? Smiling at me? In San Francisco? It was like a strange urban legend coming to life.
Suddenly he yelled across the street to me, “Hey, why don’t you have coffee with me so we can stop staring at each other?” Wait, was he talking to me? So of course I said, “It’s 8:30 in the morning! I’m on my way to work!” (Hard to believe I’m still single, isn’t it?) And he said, “It’s just coffee. And it’s Friday!” He had a point.
And so we walked down the street to Tully’s, where, as we sat talking over lattes, I discovered that he had the most beautiful blue eyes, maybe in the history of blue eyes. I also learned that he’d just completed a personal development seminar (read: Landmark), which no doubt contributed to his lofty questions like, “How do you achieve joy in your life?” and “What are you going to do to make today great?”
We went out a couple of times after that, but nothing really developed other than a casual friendship. But to this day, my San Francisco friends—male and female, straight and gay—every once in a while, over cocktails or brunch, ask me to retell the story of Bus Stop Guy. No one can quite believe that someone who didn’t have a girlfriend and didn’t turn out to be gay actually asked a woman out on the spot—in the morning, with no three- to four-day waiting period before calling, without the benefit of googling. When I’m done with the story, we all get silent and stare into the distance for a little while, no doubt wondering if such a man is like Halley’s Comet, and will only reappear after seventy-five years.
Read the next Memorable Come-ons story: No Thanks, Sugar Daddy
Three of the Most Scenic Bus Routes in the World
Pickup Lines: A Brief Narrative