The entries fell into four categories. There's the Standard Prosaic, a line so clichéd that its utterer must be mocked mercilessly for thinking such pap: (a) is cool to say unironically, and (b) actually works. Standard Prosaic lines include requests to borrow a quarter to make a phone call (hey, aren't public phones 50 cents now?), mentions of stars in inappropriate places (on pants, in eyes), and references to angels gone missing.
Then there's the Get Over Yourself line, in which the perp refers to his or her looks or net worth; the Plain Tacky line, which involves body-part comments or age/race/gender stereotypes; and the Truly Disturbing line, which just leaves everyone stunned.
So, a bit about our methodology: We gathered some Research Assistants on the patio at Harry's for a reading session/collective shudderfest/happy hour. God knows we needed alcohol to get us into judging mode. The criteria were merely humor and sordidness, and the RAs took it from there. Robert looked for "elements of crassness and sheer desperation." Casey wanted to imagine that the victim of the pickup line would be "really, actually disturbed" and unable to get the line out of his or her mind. Overall, Scott summed up the entries the best: "The funniest thing is that so many men felt compelled to write and say that women try to hit on them. It's all very Penthouse Forum."
Without further ado, here are the most entertaining entries.
From Tammy of Edwardsville: "How many languages do you speak? So I'll know how many ways to say 'I love you.'" This clearly falls under Standard Prosaic, but it got Scott's vote. "It isn't all that funny, but it's fantastically pathetic."
That pathos was nothing compared to this entry from Heather Scorcha Minga of Kansas City: "My friend was working at Davey's Uptown, and he was approached by a girl looking at him wistfully. She explained that he looked just like her dead fiancé. He didn't really know how to respond to this but felt bad for her. She gave him a Hawaiian lei and suggested they hang out sometime. He politely refused. Three weeks later, another friend of mine was drinking in the same bar and was approached by the same girl with the same line. My two friends look nothing alike."
If the dead fiancé tactic fails to elicit a pity fuck, then perhaps the old molestation bit will draw some sympathy.
"A few years ago my friends and I were at the Filling Station late one night after work," writes someone who wanted his name withheld. "A young lady stopped at our table and, in a totally inebriated state, asked me if I was any good. I said, 'Excuse me?' She said I reminded her of her father, the best lay she had ever had ... until her mother caught them and had him arrested and sent to jail (the Bitch!). 'And I want to know if you are as good as he was.' Before I could gather my thoughts, she crashed to the floor and had to be helped out."
Yipes. Well, while in jail, perhaps the father heard something like this: "I wanna stick my stink hammer up your stench trench and pump it full of baby gravy."
That won points because the phrase "stink hammer" was new to our judges. Plus, we liked the rhymes.
When we revealed that the recipient was a guy (David Wayne Reed of Kansas City), the judges were surprised.
"It works both ways, amazingly," said Casey.
A less equal-opportunity pickup strategy was posed by Richelle Cline of Kansas City. "When did it become OK to turn age into a pickup line? My friend and I have instigated a regular girls' night out for Fridays. This may seem like no big deal, until you realize we are thirtysomething Catholic-school moms who love a good martini or two. Yes, we do look great 'for our age,' but we are curious. At what age does a woman 'out on the town' become Mrs. Robinson? We get the whole 'Hey, my buddy and I have a bet ... ' ALL THE TIME. We did learn a new acronym last week: MILF. Moms I'd Love to F---. How charming." And just Plain Tacky.
Apparently, though, the MILF line resonates with some women. Consider this entry from Steven of Kansas City:
"I was at Have a Nice Day Café on a Saturday night around 10 p.m. Still dead for that place. I generally like to drink beer and watch for stupid human tricks.
"This woman comes up to me, blond, shorter than I am, and asks this question. 'Are you a serial killer?' I check my beer, still have it, haven't even gotten started on a buzz yet. 'No,' I respond, like I would jump up and down saying 'Yes!' if I were a serial killer. 'Are you a bouncer?' Check beer again, look at her, then compare my outfit to bouncer. 'Um, no.' 'Then why aren't you out there dancing?' 'Well, it's early. I have bad knees,' hinting that I need another couple of beers to knock out the pain. She did have a nice-looking brunette friend on the dance floor, though. 'That's no excuse. If you decide you want to dance, I'll be over here,' pointing to a nearby table. 'I'm the one who looks like your mother.' Jen, if I had wanted to dance with my mother, I'd have brought her. I certainly wasn't going to dance with a twit who asks me right off if I am a serial killer."
"I don't like how he assumes his mother wouldn't like going to Have a Nice Day," Robert observed.
After much deliberation, the judges declared the dead fiancé anecdote the winner. They deemed it "sad-disturbing," as opposed to the incest line, which was dubbed "disturbing-disturbing."
"It's shamelessly beautiful," said Robert.
"Pity is not her only strategy, but a Hawaiian lei is part of that strategy," said Casey. "'Look like my dead fiancé, welcome to my island.' There's just something so feeble about the lei, and the suggestion that they 'hang out' is so pathetic."
"It's a good combination of sick, sad and stupid," said RA Melissa.
So congratulations, Heather: You've won a $50 gift certificate to Birdies, the artsy fartsy underwear store. And thank you to everyone who entered and entertained us with those come-ons. Now the term "getting leied" will have a new, agonizing connotation for us.