"Ms. Frenkel was not on a date with Mr. Blumberg, in pursuit of a kinky threesome; she was on the clock. A 29-year-old graduate student, she is one of a dozen women who work for a New York-based Web site called Wingwomen.com, earning up to $30 an hour to accompany single men to bars and help them chat up other women."
You mean people are getting paid to do this? Hell, we'll do it for a Dewar's and water and publishing rights for column purposes. We decided to put this plan in action at the Dark Horse Tavern, the bar in Westport that's been open under new ownership since September. Its previous incarnations as Porter's and AC's Garage seemed to attract a mix of the amiable and the assholic, so it struck us as a prime place for such antics. So, after some predrinking with the boys -- Research Assistants Nick, John and Kevin -- we headed over after 11 on a Saturday night.
To our surprise, the atmosphere of the Dark Horse seemed to have changed since our previous visit, last winter; it was more laid-back and fairly cool. The place wasn't packed, and we didn't feel like we were going to get our asses kicked (like we almost did once when we were provoked into being mouthy, thus getting our friend Casey shoved). The crowd was primarily frattish, though a few scenesters ambled through. We made it to the bar with ease and ordered the $1 flu shot, an antifreeze-colored concoction.
"What's in it?" we asked one of the co-owners, Jaysen Van Sickle, who had served it up. He was coy about the ingredients, so we guessed blue curaçao (for the color and the orangey taste) plus vodka. Van Sickle also co-owns Propulsion Advertising + Design, which devised the beverages for Johnny Dare's and Red Vine (two innovative drink lists), so we were curious to see what cocktails he's come up with for his own place. Sadly, he didn't have any fancy-schmancy libations. ("We were thinking about that, but the Dark Horse isn't that kind of bar. It's a place you go and chill out," he later told us.) The only specials that were going on were (nearly) half-price drinks. We got 7 and 7s and congregated by the touch-screen jukebox.
Now, that kind of jukebox just rankles us in general. Although there's a lot on it, we dislike (a) that there are maybe two songs from each album listed and (b) that there is an annoying function that allows you to override whatever song is currently playing -- the musical version of the cock block. Plus, we never heard Weezer's "Island in the Sun" and whatever else we played. Then again, that could have been because we were drunkenly lurching around, offering our wingman services. ("Wingwoman" just had too many syllables to slur out.) Surprisingly, no one took us up on our offer. Especially Morton, 26, and his friend Greg, also 26.
"Hey!" Morton exclaimed, after we approached him. "You're Jen Chen! You kick the shit out of Jason Whitlock! He's a piece of shit; I e-mailed him, and he never e-mailed back! And, he also ... [insert diatribe about Whitlock's literary merits here]."
Thanks, Mort! Yeah, we've harbored a grudge against him ever since we tried to crash a party at his house and he (cough, cough) kicked us out.
Moving right along, Morton and Greg were there with a few chicks they'd met at the Dark Horse the previous week. "So this is a good place to pick up?" we asked Jenn, 25.
"Well, it's a 3-to-1 guy-girl ratio," she replied. We like those odds (though, to be fair, Van Sickle cited a 3-to-1 girl-guy ratio). "And there's no line to the ladies' room!" Even better. After more prodding, we determined that there was interest -- or perhaps even some ST (sexual tension) -- between Jenn and Morton. Sadly, they, too, remained coy on the subject. The quote "He's a big smoothie and looks like Ben Affleck" was scrawled in our notebook, but frankly, we're not too sure now in the sober light of day who said it. No matter; we turned our efforts to trying to hook Greg up.
"Hey, how about if we pretend we're a couple and say we're looking for a third?" he asked. As with many spontaneous ideas, that plan fizzled out immediately. Which was fine, because we spotted a couple we wanted to chat with, primarily because the woman was in a royal-blue strapless dress with sequins on it.
"Hey, were you in a wedding?" we asked. Turns out Sara, 21, and Matt, 22, had attended her sorority's winter formal at the Uptown earlier that night. These Rockhurst students, who were very sweet and chatty, have known each other about three years. "She dated a good friend of mine for about a year and a half," Matt said. She and the friend broke up, then she and Matt hooked up and have been together for about six months. (Hmm. Hooking up with friends of exes -- is that so wrong? Especially with one just three weeks after a breakup? Um, not that we're familiar with that particular situation or anything ... )
Anyway. By this time it was around 2, and everyone was drunkenly lurching around. We accosted Patrick, 23, and John, 22, the highly plastered scenesters.
"We come here for the drink specials," Patrick said. "This bar sucks!" (We were informed later that every Friday and Saturday from 8 to 10 p.m., $8 gets you unlimited wells and house beer. Awesome.)
"We come for the specials and stay for the frat boys," John added, facetiously.
"I did nine shots, and my bar tab was $15," Patrick said. They showed us how they wiled away their time in between drinks by drawing tattoos -- a barbed wire, a butterfly and a ladybug -- on John's arm with a marker.
"I love you," Patrick slurred. "I call you Dan Rather. You have bones. You have hair, too." Thanks, Patrick! This just in: We have no idea what he was talking about. But we do know that the Dark Horse will be hosting a "No Resolutions" New Year's Eve shindig, which might be worth checking out. No cover and, well, find your own damn wingman that night. We'll be off the clock and otherwise occupado on the lip-lock front.