Bright Lights, Big Deal

It's 2006. Do You Know Where You Are?

You're not the kind of guy to be in a place like this at this point in your career. Your reading at the summer writing program has just ended, and no one seems to be approaching to suggest drinks at the local tavern. They seem willing to let you fend for yourself, these chilly millenial writers with their sarcasm and cool distance, and you resent them for a while, as you shuffle papers together and try to effect a manner that might impel one of the younger, hotter women to invite you for a cocktail.

Of course, this is just a little bit of the old "social anxiety" creeping through, and if you can get to a bar or a bathroom -- or, preferably, both -- that solves itself easily enough.

A young man with an absurdly long pony tail approaches the lecture, which is a good sign but not good enough. He probably just wants to complement your awesome reading, but you'll have to be careful to steer him from any invitation. There's a stylish brunette in the back, a girl who clearly knows how to wear a skirt, and you want to go where she's going, not to the patchouli and Phish dive that this guy surely visits.

"Ummm..." says the guy with the pony tail, as you shufffle papers and make a point of not looking at him, "can you settle a bet for me?"

"I can try," you say. Surely this was going to be some trivial matter about characters or what all these writer's camp type kids so pretentiously call "craft."

"I have $5 that says you played the bad guy in Fletch."

You grit your teeth. "You're thinking of Tim Matheson. Animal House, 'West Wing,' so forth. "

The young man grumbles about having lost his five bucks. "You totally look alike, though," he says. "You must get that all the time."

You do. "Not really," you say.