Pick Up and Go

Blue Martini is maybe a good place to meet a significant other. But first listen to the stories they tell.

I don't really like to date," says Javier, a short, dark, timeworn fellow in his thirties. "I basically come here looking for a sexy woman. You know, the kind who's confident and dresses in a way where you can see everything but her areolas."

Lucky for this shrimp, most women's chests meet his leering gaze at eye level.

"Would you consider a woman sexy if she weighed 300 pounds and was self-confident?" I ask.

"Well," he says, taking his eyes off of his vibrating BlackBerry long enough to look me up and down, "you're confident and overweight, but I'd still do you."

It's 11 p.m. Friday, and Javier and his striped, long-sleeve, button-down crew are standing on the jammed patio at Blue Martini (900 S. Miami Ave., Miami). Since the chain opened a fifth location in Mary Brickell Village — a swanky pocket just south of downtown — this past October, the place has earned a reputation for stilettos, suits, and the occasional balding head. Pickup is the name of the game here. And I'm not talking about a truck.

Not far from the spot where Javier and his demented buddies ogle a cocktail waitress in a teal bustier stands Vanessa, a 5-foot-nothin' 27-year-old with the kind of short, stylish bob that would make Victoria Beckham proud. "At the Beach, you're going to find the kind of guys who wear sunglasses at night," she says. "The kind of guys who don't have a degree and all they do is promote or DJ. Or they're models in 13th grade, working hard to get their business degree after eight years in college. Here you're going to find lawyers, doctors, architects ... people who have substance and interesting things to talk about."

Then George, a cigar-smoking orthodontist who's part of Javier's crew, approaches. "I think this necklace is interesting," he says, grabbing a sparkling blue strawberry charm Vanessa wears on a long chain. He brings it to his face, examines it, and then lets it back down, caressing her breast coyly with a ringed finger, "but it doesn't really match your outfit."

"Get out of here," she says. The boys turn around and head toward the dance floor to hunt up some fresh meat. Vanessa puts her hands on the hips of her skinny jeans. "Can you believe that guy? He asked for my number and I thought he was cute, so I gave it to him. Then I look down and notice he's got a wedding ring on! I'm not looking for that."

Vanessa, a Brickell resident, says she comes to Blue Martini to relax in a place close to her home. "I'd never date a guy I meet at a bar ever again," she asserts. "I once dated this guy I met at a bar. He was a doctor and seemed really nice. We hit it off on our date and ended up at his place. Mid-making out, he stops, looks passionately into my eyes, and asks if I could stick my finger up his ass."

Must have been a proctologist.

"I just think the best way to meet guys is through friends," she concludes.

"What?!" says her friend, 24-year-old Ingrid, decked out in a blue satin dress with a plunging neckline that reveals half of a rose tattoo on her shoulder blade. "You hooked me up with that gross guy that one time. Remember? He disappeared halfway through the night to go to a strip club.... The best way to get a date is by meeting a guy out on your own, but it's like having a second job. You got to put effort in."

"How about online dating?" I ask. Ingrid flips out.

"No, no, no. I was on Match.com for a week. Just seven friggin' days, and in that time, over 700 people looked at my profile. The Saturday of that week I came here, and I recognized all these people I had never met before. And they recognized me. Then I realized we had seen each other on Match. It freaked me out so much that I actually left the club to call my mother. And as soon as I got home, I canceled my account."

"I know a couple who met on eHarmony who are getting married this fall," says Vanessa.

"Well, good for them, but if you have to meet a guy online, what does that say about your social life?" asks Ingrid.

"I don't know," says Vanessa, tucking a long, blond strand behind her ear, "but online you can get to know someone's personality first before getting to know them physically."

It's around 1 a.m. and I've heard this conversation before, so I head for the ladies' room, where women spritz themselves with free perfume and blow-dry their hair. As I'm about to leave, I overhear Stephanie, a redhead with perfect makeup, talking to a friend on her phone. "Yeah, I've set my MySpace profile to private. No one can even e-mail me unless I make them a friend first."

When she ends the call, I ask why she's at this high-end pick-up joint. When she begins describing her Internet nightmare, I understand.

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