“I know what you need to invent. You need to come up with something to make yourself irresistible to beautiful women.”
Kyle sipped his beer. “If I sold something like that I’d get my spell banned by the Arch Mage’s council and myself barred from practicing magic pretty quickly.”
“You wouldn’t sell it, you’d just use it on yourself.”
“Well that wouldn’t make me rich.”
Ketan winked slowly, “But you wouldn’t care so much if you were irresistible to beautiful women. Like me. Those two over there are checking us out.” Kyle started to turn, “Don’t look!”
“How can I not look? You want me to just sit here and do nothing.”
“No, I want you to look. But I don’t want you to just dart shy stupid looks at them like you’re in high school and make both of us look like fools. I want you to turn around slow and cool, because you know they’re looking and you want to look back, and you want them to know you’re looking back.”
“So I should look?”
“Yes, now, just don’t be a tool about it. OK? I know you’re a geek. You know you’re a geek. I just don’t want you to get any on me, so we’re going to pretend you’re not for a moment.”
Kyle let out a long exaggerated sigh while butterflies danced in his stomach. Look, but don’t look shy while looking, and let them know he was looking and that he wanted them to know he was looking. Simple. Sure. What did that mean in terms of a physical motion? Move slowly, probably, meet the girl’s eyes. And smile! Gotta smile. I’m going to look like a serial killer if I don’t smile.
He turned, slowly, and tried to smile in a confident way. Forcing a smile is tricky. He bent the corners of his mouth up showing just a little tooth, then he realized that probably looked wrong since it only touched his mouth and crinkled his eyes a little. He definitely looked like an idiot. At least it’s dark in here, he thought.
There were two girls there. One of them was Indian and she was definitely shooting a flirty look their way. That was the odd thing about Ketan. To Kyle he looked kind of geeky, but to Indian women he was somehow irresistible. It was probably a style thing, something cultural Kyle didn’t get. Or maybe he had already come up with the spell. The woman who had originally caught Ketan’s eye was short, dark-skinned, curly-haired, and wore a red dot in the center of her forehead. Her companion was probably an American, a tall, thin, blond. She was attractive. Not stunningly so, but by Kyle’s rough math she was way out of his league. She was looking over at them, but she looked more tired than ‘flirty’.
Out of the corner of his eye Kyle saw Ketan raise his beer, take long swallow, and then give a little nod, as he set it back down. The Indian girl grinned at him, then shyly turned half away. “OK, now we’re going over there.”
“‘We’ are going? Why don’t you go. I’ve got to finish my beer.”
“Yes, we, she’s got a friend. You’re going to talk to the friend. That is how this works. Now, I’m going to lead the way. You get up just after I’ve passed you. It is not cool for us to bump into each other like some sort of slap stick comedy act. While we walk keep looking confident, or at the very least hide your goofy looking self behind me.”
“I hate you with the fiery passion of ten thousand suns.”
“Just so long as you don’t trip over your shoes on the way over there. Be lame on your own time. You’re working for me right now.”
They rose and walked according to Ketan’s script. Kyle felt like a fool. Suddenly every move, the very act of walking, was totally uncomfortable and completely unnatural. Even Ketan’s well-meaning goading hadn’t done anything to relieve the stress. In school mages spend all their time learning about the math, physics, and chemistry of the world they’re going to be bending. The pay is typically pretty good, even Kyle’s lousy job pulled in above average for a starting professional, but the hours were long and didn’t allow much time for socializing. Like a lot of other magic workers Kyle had never had time or inclination to learn how to be cool. When he made it to the women’s table he acutely felt the lack.
“Uh, hi,” Kyle ventured.