September 14, 2014

Jan 20, 201209:44 PMSingles Scene

Michael Korb explores the flirty, funny and sometimes frightening world of dating in Southwest Florida

The unquestionable value of a good wingman


Anthony Edwards, king of the wingmen.

In its original use, the term “wingman” referred to a pilot whose plane was positioned behind and outside the leader in a formation of flying aircraft. Today, and for our purposes, it means saint: a friend who is willing to help you land someone for yourself, while leaving them at the mercy of the homely chick (and/or dude).

I have a friend, we’ll call him Wes (because that’s his name), who is truly the world’s greatest wingman. He is capable of spouting your praises in such a way that even you believe you are the coolest person in the room. Many a time, Wes has selflessly extolled my virtues (many of which I forgot that I had) to a lovely young woman who would then proceed to fall madly in love with me (well, that’s how I remember it). It’s like having your own PR department. He could buffer the target from her annoying friend AND imply I was an international spy. Sadly for Wes, I am completely unable to return the favor. I tend to be honest and say things like “He’s not as bald as he looks” or “He has the coolest tree frogs living in his den.” Hey, it’s a skill. You either have it or you don’t.

Of course, the history of wingmen goes way back. Once cavemen decided that clubbing potential mates was a social faux pas, women started traveling in packs (just in case the guys changed their minds). And now, no matter where you go, there’s always a sarcastic protector trying to save her cute friend from whatever you’re selling. And yes, there is a term for this person as well. But we can’t print it in a family publication.

Nevertheless, objective observers can witness the age-old battle between good and evil when these arch nemeses, the wingman and aforementioned female friend go mano a mano in every singles bar in America. Of course, just who is good and who is evil depends on which seat your sitting in, but for our purposes, good rests squarely on the shoulders of the wingman. Studies even back this up. According to a recent University of Alberta study, a good wingman will lie for you. Or, at the very least, embellish.

“How can you not?” says Vince (not his real name), a wingman we met at Blue Martini in Mercato. “This guy will never get (a woman’s lovin’) without my help.” His friend Thomas (perhaps his real name) concurred. “I need all the help I can get.” With Gloria Estefan’s “Conga” pounding from the live band behind the bar, the two men bookended one of the establishment’s weaker gazelles, and tried their best to make Thomas appear interesting. It took a while, but eventually their prey was spotted twirling her unfashionably frizzy blonde locks, which any social scientist will tell you means something positive. We would have stayed longer to see how it all played out, but we lost interest.

Seriously, “Conga?”