Much Ado About Dating…on Napkins

I am writing a ton of notes on napkins at bars. Because I am weird.

Those who know me, know that I am a hopeless romantic. This has led to so many amazing decisions. And a ton of poor ones!

But those who know me, also know I am brutally honest, and live a very, very full life. That I don’t lie. And that I try to observe — but am still learning how to listen.

To that end, I have been blessed and cursed with time off work – and as such, I wanted to focus on my strengths.

Writing is one of those. And sometimes, I like to think that I know how to date.

So two hypotheses:

  1. I am a good writer?
  2. I know how to date?

Well, let’s prove these hypotheses out together?

I took the past twenty-odd days, to go into my local neighborhood bar and write. My goal is to write, on napkins, every single night at three of my local bars, on napkins. Awkwardly. On purpose.

I write because I am a writer at heart – but also, to document a social chronology – of people, of dates…and of the life around me.

I sip my $3/can Olympia (here’s looking at you, Zeki’s Bar) and watch. I have a system for these notes…as documented below.

I make a note of:

  • the bar (upper right hand corner).
  • the date (lower right hand corner).
  • the page of notes (note most are actually two-sided).
  • the insights!
  • the chronology of events.
  • the time I get in the bar, and (if applicable) the time when someone comes up and actually talks to me. I sit in silence until then.

I have met some characters. I have dated some characters. And I clearly am a character…but that is life, right?

In any case, I hope to bring my insights out at the end of the month – and I hope you join me.

Contact me, at andrew.moudry@gmail.com and we can chat. Or, sign up below!

Note One: Most Guys Are Losers

I have collected nearly three months worth of notes at area bars in San Francisco’s Nob Hill, and as I predicted, I only have one very recent quote on my mind.

Most guys are losers. -Guy at Wreck Room

The context is that he was giving me advice on a real screwup I recently had with a woman who is kind of amazing. Guys are losers, and as I draft this post, I continue to think: what gives me the right to observe what I deem to be “dates” and take notes about them on napkins?

My (California and Polk Street) Cred:

I rely on my time at CoffeeMeetsBagel, where I helped the marketing team come up with click-bait worthy content that would engage and entice members to stay active on the app. Sure, it gives me a name to throw out upon meeting someone…but come on.

I pride myself on being thoughtful when it comes to dating, but even I have my moments where I go: “Andrew, seriously?”

When I bomb a date, I do so with gusto. And yeah, I am the kind of guy who wears a bowtie to a (free) photoshoot…for a blog that makes him $0. That has to be some circle of loser hell, right?


I am still single, live a very interesting life, but on the whole – I would consider myself a member of the loser-squad. And that is okay! Losers are people too…but at the end of the day, you have a hard time convincing me that a dude sitting at a bar taking notes on napkins doesn’t have a screw loose somewhere.

Credit: Hannah Lee Photography

Sprinkle in being a complete hopeless romantic, several very serious relationships, and a predisposition to online date — and you have a bonafide dunce. But I have finally learned to be comfortable with who I am.

The Popular, Fat Kid

I was the fat kid in high school — a yard – as in three feet – around, and tipping the scales well into “obese” BMI-territory. But I was the popular nerd: class president three out of four years, and an all-around achiever.

I lost the weight – in healthy and unhealthy ways – the summer before college (what up, Wharton Undergrad!), because I wanted to feel wanted. No girl or guy would ever be romantically interested in someone who didn’t like how they looked in the mirror — and my dislike wasn’t just “I hate my stomach.” I just didn’t like myself. I still struggle with that, on occasion.

Since then, I have had some serious ups and downs. No one will ever, ever accuse me of being boring. But I am older and wiser…and approaching that 3-0 number that looms over most singles’ heads. The impetus to procreate, or merely to cohabitate: relationships are very present for the thirty-something crowd. And I feel it acutely.

My priority is to remain confident, self-deprecating (in moderation), and non-judgmental throughout this “project.” And I use that word loosely: I have a ton of fun meeting people.

The Project:

For the past three months, I have gone nearly every night to my neighborhood bars (Zeki’s, Wreck Room, Harper and Rye. etc.) and scribbled notes on napkins. I get the question a lot, “What the hell are you writing?!” I even had one guy accuse me of having Aspergers and “being on the spectrum.” After getting to know me, he said I was the smartest idiot he had ever met.

Such a charmer.

The premise of the napkins is that icebreakers are dead, and no one really understands how to talk anymore. I have always been a bit of a goof – you see, my Dad is a case study in how to be outgoing. The difference between him and I, however, is that he knows when to stop trying to be someone’s friend. He also is clearly not a loser, and landed my Mom, who is probably the best catch a guy could hope for.

Not going Oedipal on you guys, just telling the truth…

San Francisco has become a city of introverts trying to feign extroversion through dating apps, social media and emoji. As a Bay Area native living hand to mouth, I find myself to be a walking oxymoron. The preppy dresser between jobs…and by extension, the awkward, cold guy at the bar writing notes on napkins when in fact, I am about as outgoing as it gets.

My Principles:

The first week I started taking notes on napkins, I was way more organized and thorough. Sitting at Zeki’s with a notebook between my legs, I would go the extra mile and actually summarize my notes for the evening by teasing out “principles” related to dating, or lessons learned.

Since then, my shorthand has served more as a living diary: I’ll jot down a name, descriptor or brief phrase so that it will jog my memory. Through these notes I’ve been introduced to some real characters.

They include:

  • Richard, the don of Zeki’s…he has come every night for 38 years like clockwork.
  • Alyce and Brittany, the bartenders at Zeki’s who are drop dead gorgeous (and know it) – with a fan club of boys to accompany them. I know at least three guys who only come to Zeki’s to see one of these two.
  • Harrison, Eddy and Katie: The bartender and regulars (respectively) who did not get off on the right foot with me. Over time, we mended our relationships…but still a story to be told.
  • Dan, the “Brawny Man” lumberjack of a tech-worker, who speaks with authority over his past missteps in relationships. He observes really, really well, and I owe him a lot of thanks.
  • Brian, the resident “nice guy” at the bar, along with one other regular who for now, I will leave out of the blog. These two guys are insanely sweet – always, like clockwork stopping by to grab a nightcap and if they order food, it is always for the bar (not themselves).
  • Andre, Eddy, Das and the rest of the crew (lookin’ at you, Paula boss-lady): you put up with me being weird, and I really appreciate the support.

The above rounds out team Zeki’s….

So, with that here’s an intro to the characters. For the next post, I’ll start weaving this “much ado about nothing”-esque narrative together as best I can. But to be honest, I’m at my word count…and I’ve got a woman on my mind, who I messed up with big time. She writes notes on napkins too…only doesn’t choose to publish them.

But stupid is as stupid does, and well…

suits me right. I’m kinda a loser. Most guys are.