Mayer notices that Gerard Butler, Hollywood's latest British import, is also sitting at the table. The two men glance at each other in semi-recognition, and Mayer goes over to break the ice. For 20 minutes, the rest of the world disappears as the pair huddle together in what appears to be an intense discussion.

We are being afforded a rare and precious glimpse of what really occurs within the inner sanctums of the International Fraternity of Show Folk. An instant friendship between two celebrities who would appear to be connected only by the tax bracket they share.

"We talked about New York," Mayer explains when he returns. "We're in a bit of the same position of being branded womanizers." Appearing slightly flustered, the singer pulls out his iPhone for the first time in several hours and attends to some pressing business.

Since Gerard Butler has been "romantically linked" with Mayer's on-again, off-again paramour Jennifer Aniston (although both have denied these rumors), we must revisit the thorny topic of his relationships with famous women. There's a creeping suspicion in some quarters that Mayer dates celebrities in order to further his own career. Not surprisingly, he is quick to shoot down this notion.

"You just never know who's going to come into your life," he says. "To my mind, the only thing sicker than saying, 'Wow, you're a famous person and it would do a lot for my career to go out with you,' is to say, 'Wow, you're a famous person and I like you and all, but I can't do that to my career.' I don't think either of those is a good option."

Like any student of Krav Maga, having neutralized the attack, Mayer goes on the offensive, aiming a killer blow at those media persons who would cast him as Super Cad.

"What do you think is stronger: a dozen press articles that say I'm this guy, or a record with 10 songs on it that you enjoy? Which has greater staying power?" Mayer doesn't pause for an answer. "At the end of the day, all I owe the world in exchange for my dumb face being in their lives are the 10 songs every couple years that are hopefully of greater magnitude than somebody's press story about me."

You'll have to trust me here, but in person that was nowhere near as abrasive as it sounds. Still, to hedge against misinterpretation, Mayer adds: "Sometimes I feel like I do two things for a living. I make records and I talk to people. The record is much, much better than any interview I can give—you'll walk away from the record liking me a hell of a lot more than you would walking away from an interview."