Q: I have trouble speaking to women in bars. A simple “hello” always feels abrupt, and yet most “lines” are cheesy. Any advice for how to get things started?
A: Memorize Keats’s sonnet beginning with the line, “When I have fears that I may cease to be.” Practice reading it aloud until you can speak the lines naturally and have committed them to memory. Once you have successfully done this, move on to the same poet’s sonnet on first reading Chapman’s Homer, his odes on melancholy and on the Grecian urn, “La Belle Dame Sans Merci,” and “To Autumn,” and, for variety and contrast, Shelley’s “Ozymandias” and “Ode to the West Wind” and Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” and “Work Without Hope.” Once you have memorized these poems and can unfailingly produce them at a moment’s notice, you will be a better man, and questions about breaking the ice and avoiding cheesy lines will cease to bother your teeming brain.