game

Three women in a trendy Los Angeles bar are playing a game. The point of the game is to make the other two women feel invisible. This can be achieved through any means necessary, and there is only one rule: never directly acknowledge the existence of the other women.

The players don't speak to one another. There is no explicit agreement to engage in the game, which begins spontaneously and will only be played in the company of men. Indeed, the secondary objective of the game is to gain the attention of those men. Scoring is subjective, but the women know when they've won points. They've been playing the game for years. They're very good at it.

Witness Round One:

Two of the women are seated with their dates across from one another at a U-shaped bar. The third has just walked in, and joins a small group that stands near the well.

Woman One sips her cocktail and, in between flirtatious exchanges with her date, surreptitiously assesses the other female patrons. She mentally dismisses nearly all of them as non-threatening. Two of the women, however, have registered on her radar, and she straightens in her bar stool. 

Woman Two is aware of Woman One and has been for several minutes. She's angled her body slightly sideways in her seat, forcing the man beside her to turn as well lest he appear uninterested. In doing so, Woman One slips completely from his view. Point, Woman Two. She dips her head, and her long, thick hair swings forward - a silky blond curtain to shut interlopers out. Point, Woman Two.

Woman One receives this message and accepts the challenge. Though the room is cold, she sheds her coat, slowly sliding out one bare shoulder at a time. Her provocative movements have caught the eye of the bartender and of her date, who feels a small surge of excitement laced with pride. Point, Woman One. Her coat hung, she casually reaches up to gather her hair, twisting it in her fingers before letting it fall. The action puts her beautifully toned arms on full display. Point, Woman One.

Woman Three is at a disadvantage. She's standing, not elevated in a bar seat like the others, so her body is mostly hidden from view. But she is exceedingly pretty and knows it. When one of her companions makes a joke, she laughs loudly enough to garner glances from several male strangers. Point, Woman Three. She leverages the attention, leaning unnecessarily low over the bar to order her martini. She giggles at something the bartender says before swinging upright again with calculated playfulness. Point, Woman Three.