Lately I’ve been amusing myself by playing dumb with strangers. It first occurred in the elevator in my apartment building. There was one man in alone in the elevator when I got in, and the air was thick with the distinct scent of marijuana.
I waited a few seconds before I spoke, then I looked at him and said, “Isn’t it weird how sometimes this elevator really smells like weed and sometimes it doesn’t?”
He looked at me, startled. Possibly he was debating if I was really that stupid, or possibly I sent him into a fit of paranoia. I smiled sweetly as we reached the first floor, and then I walked out.
The next time I wanted to play dumb I refrained.
I was guest bartending for a special event for a crotch rocket club. The previous events that I’d helped out with there had been slightly ghetto and I’d spent those nights speed pouring double shots of Ciroc, Hennessey, and Patron. This party was also slightly ghetto, but with more leather, the classic trademark of bikers.
They were fun-loving people, celebrating their annual party by downing Long Islands and dancing on the stripper poles.
Then a gang came in.
One of my coworkers said, “Holy shit, look by the front door.” When I did, I saw that everyone clustered in that corner of the bar was wearing royal blue. Their bright shirts and headbands stood out in the sea of black leather.
I walked in their direction, tempted to be as much of a white-girl airhead as I could be. “Are you guys in a band?” I’d say. Or, “Aw! You all match!” I figured as long as I said it sincerely they’d just shake their heads and judge me.
But instead, as I neared them, I chickened out. “Can I get you guys anything?” I asked. They ignored me. “A drink? Beer? Water?” I offered. One guy shook his head at me, dragged his tongue across his platinum teeth, and then aimed his gaze back to the stripper pole where the bikers’ girlfriends were dancing around.
I shrugged and walked away. My coworker had been watching me talk to them. I went back and said, “I told them I didn’t get the wear-blue memo but they didn’t think it was funny.”
His eyes widened. “You did WHAT! Anna, that’s a gang!”
I smiled. Playing dumb hadn’t lost its thrill. I just had to pick my targets wisely.