From the theatrical tradition of commedia dell’arte to the entire Real Housewives franchise, ‘stock characters’ –outrageous yet didactic representations of various aspects of the human condition – are a staple of good storytelling. They advance plot, personify themes and engage in hijinks of the highest order (who could forget the New Jersey freak-out of ’09?), which makes them undeniably hilarious on television yet surprisingly helpful in real life. In this grand, theatrical tradition, the five women you meet in bars, or the five ‘stock characters’ of the pickup scene, can, amid watered-down cherry bombs and mildly witty banter, entertain, illuminate, and ultimately teach you almost everything you need to know about the fine art of male/female interaction. It’s a two-for-one offer, really; since you’re probably going to tap one (or more) of these characters at one point or another in your bar-hopping career, might as well tap into a previously undiscovered font of knowledge while you’re at it.

The Wallflower

‘They’ – the people who make blanket statements that are subsequently repeated by everyone, everywhere – say that it’s the quiet ones you have to worry about. Or, they say something along those lines, maybe just not in so many words. Either way, it seems like the point ‘they’re’ trying to make is that sometimes good (or really good) things come in quiet packages. When you walk into whatever bar you walk into, you’ll probably be drawn immediately to the Center of Attention (see below), putting you at risk for missing the quiet, pretty lady in the corner who might just be drinking a dirty martini and eyeing you for an unexpectedly wild night. Don’t mistake shy for uninteresting (especially if you’re looking for more than quickie in the bathroom).

The lesson: pay attention to who’s in your periphery as well as who’s all up in your business. Appearances are, as ‘they’ say, deceiving.

The Center of Attention

Often found in residence atop tables, bars and karaoke stages, CoA’s are easy to spot, but difficult to get a hold of. This girl could come off a little too strong (or a little too drunk), but the odds are good that she’s up for a great time any and all hours of the night. If you are, too, then get her attention by showing her that you can work the room just as well as she can. If she feels like she’s found an energetic equal, then she’ll reciprocate by focusing her wild attention on you.

The lesson: don’t worry if you aren’t normally the Center of Attention. Energetic women want someone who can match their enthusiasm for just about everything, so if you let loose even a little, you’ll set yourself up to share her passion in more ways than one.

The Power Broker

A Power Broker makes it clear within moments of meeting you that she’s a challenge, and you’d better bring your A-game, but if you can keep up with the witty repartee, then she’ll remain interesting long after your hangover wears off. (With a P.B., there’s a good chance that ‘instant’ won’t be the only brand of gratification you get.) There’s no chance this woman will ever rest on her laurels, though, so if you prefer a meeker personality, or if you just don’t have the energy to play the verbal Mike Tyson, then do yourself a favor and get while the getting’s good.

The lesson: smart, savvy women won’t usually hide their general mastery of life, so if you aren’t into it, don’t waste her time (or yours) by pretending you are. If you dig the quick and dirty back-and-forth, though, put your game face on and show her you have what it takes to rise to her level.

The Supermodel

There’s little chance you’ll miss this girl while scanning the room for potential pickups, because she’s likely to be the most gorgeous option available. You might think she’s too intimidating to talk to, but women generally regarded as “drop-dead gorgeous” aren’t usually the ones getting hit on, so fight the urge to give up before the game even begins. If other dudes are wimping out, then the Supermodel will be that much more eager for someone to show genuine interest. Make that someone you.

The lesson: don’t count yourself out just because you anticipate failing, especially where women are concerned. You can bet that the other losers in the room will do just that, which means that your ideal woman is open for the taking. Nobody gets anywhere by quitting, after all.

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The Best Friend

Whether she’s in a relationship or just isn’t into the bar scene, the best friend usually only flirts with you because she’s playing wing-woman for one or more of her friends. Her antics might seem erratic (showing interest one moment, acting aloof the next), but it’s only because her endgame is for you to end up with someone other than her. If she keeps pushing you towards someone else, then take the hint and move on; while she’ll flirt to get your attention, she’ll cut you off as soon as she feels she’s given her friend an adequate assist.

The lesson: cut your losses and move on as soon as a girl stops reciprocating your advances. Instead, shift your attention to her eager friend, dispense with the mystery and intrigue, and get down to the business of sealing the deal.