June 25, 2008
Hi Everyone -
Hope you’re all enjoying the summer so far!
Those of you who know me know that I’ve been spending each summer in Avalon, NJ, all my life. For those of you not familiar with Avalon, it’s a very small beach town in South Jersey, where people mainly in their 20s, 30s and 40s suffering from arrested development flock every weekend to hang out with their friends and enjoy copious amounts of cocktails. The real estate is very expensive and the people who congregate on the island every summer have an excess of disposable income and a general lack of discretion, composure and willpower (and believe me, I’m one of the worst offenders in that regard). It is the type of place that inspired famed writer Somerset Maugham’s descritpion of the South of France: “A sunny place for shady people.” It’s also the kind of beach town that thrives during bad weather, when the bars are even more crowded (the unofficial slogan of the bar owners: “When it rains, we pour”). Succinctly, it is a haven for heathens.
On a recent weekend, my girlfriends Patti, Amy and I (all in our 40s) were having cocktails at one of the local bars when a group of boys (and I do mean boys -- I don’t think one of them was over the age of 25) sidled up to us and proceeded to hit on us using lines that could only be described as “delusional.” (One, to me: “You know what I’d like from a woman like you?” My response: “Your diaper changed?”) Not that we would have taken them up on their offers… As I pointed out to Patti and Amy, I was terrified that Child Protective Services would throw the net over us just for talking to them.
I’m sure we’d be called “Cougars” (the less-than-delicate term for older women on the prowl for younger men) in some circles, though Patti and Amy have way too much decorum and class to behave in a predatory way, and I’m just too lazy… the yawning cougar in the pack, stretched out in the sun and fascinated by her own tail.
The experience with the Boy Toys reminded me, though, of some classic lines I’ve fielded at industry shows over the years, usually at a bar between the hours of midnight and 2:00 a.m. (All names changed to protect the lounge lizards):
* At the ASI Chicago Show three years ago, I was at the bar with my girls (Sharon Biernat from On Time Promotions and Jilly Albers from WorkFlowOne) when a supplier asked if we could exchange business cards. Sure, why not? The supplier, who was in his early 60s I’d say, made a point to show me the back of his card, on which he had written his room number. “I’m staying at the Hard Rock,” he told me as he leaned in. “And I will rock your world.” Seriously. I couldn’t make this stuff up.
* Another time, back in the day when the PPAI Show was in Dallas, I was standing at the bar in the Adam’s Mark with Joe Haley, my managing editor and star of “The Joe Show.” A distributor started talking to me and – without segue — reached behind my neck, pretended to look at the label of my shirt and said, “I knew it… Made in Heaven.” The only sound louder than my jaw hitting the ground was Joe Haley banging his head against the bar and trying not to gag.
* And my personal favorite… at the PPAI Vegas Show two years ago, a supplier I vaguely know greeted Sharon, Jilly and I at the Island Bar in Mandalay Bay and felt the need to tell me, as he was hugging me, that he was “aroused.” It is moments like this, my friends, when using a loofah to exfoliate the “ick” feeling just won’t cut it — you need the power shower, “Silkwood” style.
Now, lest you think I’m saying it’s only men who throw out the bad pick-up lines while trawling the bars, a few of my male supplier friends in the industry have told me tales of female clients who, while at shows, ask to come up to their rooms for some cocktails and a “personal viewing of the company’s new catalog.” Which, one can only assume, is a saucy euphemism for “I’m open for business.”
Incidentally, Joe Haley tells me that at my age (40), I should eagerly welcome any line thrown my way. “You’re no spring chicken anymore,” he says. Joe is my daily ray of sunshine.
However, it is my pal Ron Ball, ASI’s vice president of supplier sales, who was a legendary line-thrower in his heyday, before he married the lovely and ever-patient Leslie. [Insert Ron's nasally, whiny voice here]: “Honey,” he tells me, “I used lines ’cause they worked sometimes. Here’s my best one: ‘Are you free tonight… or how much will it cost me?’” Ah, Ron … you silver-tongued devil.
So please do send me some of the wackiest, weirdest and cheesiest lines you’ve ever heard in the industry. I’m praying to God that none of them came from me.