The Pickup Artist

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By Daniel Roberts

Photo courtesy of Matt Whitaker/Flickr Creative Commons
A pit bull. Photo courtesy of Matt Whitaker/Flickr Creative Commons

A man stands with his dog outside of Acqua Santa bar, at the corner of Driggs Avenue and North 7th Street, across the street from the Bedford Avenue subway stop in Williamsburg. He’s a young guy. His red hair splays out from under a blue winter beanie. On his hands are fingerless gray gloves. The dog is a chocolate brown pit bull, and a large one at that, masculine and postured.

A modest crowd of three people has gathered, including an old man and two women, one of them much younger than the other. All three are admiring the dog as the young man fields questions—how friendly this pit bull is, the reputation of pit bulls as aggressive and violent, the age of this one, its name. The owner, meanwhile, is trying to chat up the young woman, who is leaning down to pet the dog.

“And what do you do?” he asks her abruptly, as though she had just asked him the same. But she hadn’t.

“Oh, I’m an artist,” she says, reluctantly.

“Oh wow, so am I,” he says, though quickly tempering it a bit. “Well, sort of. I do graphic design, freelance. Web stuff.” She does not ask him to tell more.

The other man and woman both linger, petting and admiring the dog. “Nice day to walk the dog, huh?” says the older man.

“Yup, just a day out with the dog, that’s the afternoon activity when you’re unemployed,” the man answers with surprising cheerfulness. Again the older woman comments about how taken she is by the dog’s friendliness. She had been convinced that pit bulls are menacing. “No, no,” he insists. “People think that but it’s not true. They’re very sweet. Obviously.”

He turns back to the young woman. “So, do you live right around here?” he asks.

She looks down at her feet. “Yeah, nearby. I just moved here recently.” There is a long pause. The young man starts to take out his BlackBerry.

“Well, have a good day, have fun with him,” she says politely, and briskly hurries off. The young man is left with only the company of the older man.

He ties his dog’s leash around a pole and heads into the bar.

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