A dedicated wingperson is like the guardian angel of getting some — she quietly but firmly steers friends away from unlikely prospects, comes equipped with approved bar conversation topics, and never hesitates to ring the alarm when her pal's fly is down.
It might seem like a trivial role to play, but the right wingperson can make all the difference between jumping back into the dating scene and spending a solid year weeping into that one pair of jeans your ex left behind. This is evidenced by the recently-dumped Tom (played by Blake Lee, who you may recognize as Derek of Parks and Recreation) and his wingmanning buddies Bruce (Andrew Santino) and Cal (Craig Frank) on ABC's new comedy, Mixology.
If you're in the position to usher a newly single friend through a night at the bar, here are some moves from Bruce and Cal's playbook that apply to sad, single men and women alike.
Do Shut Down Lame Excuses
One of the wingperson's most sacred duties is to take on the role of mama bird, nudging your friend out of the nest so that they can fly — even when said friend pleads that it's too soon, or that they've forgotten how to date, or that the last time they were single, most bar conversations revolved around Hoobastank and Borat. An experienced wingperson knows these are just excuses and will remind their friend that the only proven way to get over an ex is to get under someone else.
Don't Let Your Friend Waste Time
Let's say your friend has been off the market for a while. A long while. Like, an "engaged for eight years" long while. While you were out pounding the pavement (and, um, other stuff), your friend was nesting with their significant other, looking at paint swatches, and ordering Seamless while their dating skills atrophied. Like Tom, they're back on the scene and completely clueless about how to tell a potential future date from a hole in a wall. In fact, without a solid wingperson to guide them, their next date might literally be with a hole in a wall.
You need to pass on your own hard-earned wisdom about who's fair game, who's out of your friend's league, and who just wants to talk because it's "fun," not because they're looking for action. These types are often easily spotted by their perfectly pulled-together outfits, which have been picked out by their adoring girlfriends (who, by the way, you would totally get along with). Use your experience to steer your friend away from these time-wasters and into the arms of someone who might actually take them to Make Out City (rather than the cold but familiar Letsjustbefriendsylvania).
Don't Let Your Friend Talk About Off-Limits Conversation Topics
Reeling from a breakup or not, attractive people are difficult to talk to. Tom proves this when he tries to talk to Maya, a brutal and beautiful lawyer. How do you ensure that interesting stuff comes out of your friend's mouth when in reality, approaching a stranger makes her feel about as confused and vulnerable as a dog with one of those cone things around its neck?
As your friend's designated wingperson, your job is to remind her to avoid topics that will render her emotionally stunted in bar conversation (those topics include exes, dream weddings, juice cleanses, or that funny story that ends in a restraining order and a weekend in the drunk tank). Conversation should be breezy, casual, and free of nervous breakdowns.
Do Celebrate a Job Well Done
When your friend gets someone's number or gives out her own, celebrate with a round of drinks and perhaps a high five in the style of Bruce and Cal. It'll reinforce all the good habits she's practiced that night, making it easier for her to talk to new people next time when you're not there (because let's be honest, winging on a regular basis is sort of tragic).
And don't forget to give yourself a high five, too (it'll look kind of weird at first, but who cares? You're not the one trying to pick someone up at a bar). When your friend fails, she fails on her own — but when she succeeds, you all succeed together.
To watch these skills in action before using them on unsuspecting rebounders, tune in to ABC's Mixology on Wednesday, February 26 at 9:30 / 8:30c.
Gabrielle Moss has written mostly funny stuff (but also some serious stuff) for GQ.com, The Hairpin, Nerve, etc. You can follow her here.