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Flirting … For Beginners

by devnym

by Anon (who incidentally really is a liquid fuel propulsion expert –
rocket scientist – with an enormous amount of dosh)

You might expect a beginner’s guide to flirting to be compiled by a true proponent of the art; someone who knows what to look for. Well, this ‘expert’ look at the various stages of initial interaction and early detection of that all important sexual frisson between the protagonists is certainly written by a long exponent of the art, but with one serious handicap, viz: a zero success rate. 

Oh sure, it all sounds easy enough. After all, human beings have sent inviting looks, warm and gentle smiles and even conducted light and playful conversation with ones found desirable for a substantial chunk of our time here on the planet (as in “all of it”). This knowledge has been thoroughly ingrained into our collective DNA, informing words and gestures at that magical hour with hardly any conscious instruction required. It comes as little surprise, then, that something coming so naturally to the rest of the populace proves frighteningly difficult to me (I just gotta be sooo different…).

There is hope, though, as there are occasions throughout the year when very sage advice is freely offered to enable one to “flirt like a professional”. Summer is without doubt one of these occasions, and not focusing almost exclusively on the celebration of being part of a couple is a welcome change. These completely altruistic and suggestible slogans are cleverly hidden in the subliminal suggestion of advertisements for cards, flowers, chocolates, jewelry and even underwear (something I still don’t quite understand, which I suppose is very telling in its own right). In such an environment, it is comforting to know this haven is available to the perpetually single who have an unnerving tendency to misinterpret this marketing kindness as a relentless barrage of, “I don’t suppose you have to worry about this, do you?”

Of course, the inference of “professional” has little to do with any sort of viable career field, although that is more of a reminder to me as I have a feeling that isn’t really news to the rest of the class. In that same vein, I could also share that simply reading such a headline and figuring the contents boil down to multiple variations of “Hey, baby,looking for a good time?”, is not particularly wise either, especially if that impulse is followed by, “Oh, I suppose I could try that…” Not all that shocking, I guess, but I take comfort knowing that my trial and error can possibly serve the greater good. Or error and trial, as the case may be…

No, their version of “professional” is more about having the confidence to talk with any person at any time for any reason and be able to come across as charming and interesting, or at the very least to NOT come across as someone who desperately needs to be locked away from the rest of society. Now, there might be an interesting commentary about the connection between very practiced and accomplished flirting and the ability to maintain a long-term relationship from the more cynical-minded, but we won’t dwell on that part (and really, how many of those are around?). At the end of the day, if one can’t hook the fish to start with it is just a hypothetical exercise to discuss if their intentions lean more towards “catch-and-release” or for hunting that which would bring great pride, pleasure and even honor to mount on their living room wall (Hmm, that sounds kind of dirty…).

Sadly, these offerings have done little to help turn the tide in my battles against what I affectionately refer to as “grandiose social incompetence”, which incidentally is the same label I’ve received from every girl I have ever asked out. However, in fairness to these authors, they may be assuming some cursory level of social grace that may not apply all that well in my very specific instance. Indeed, while it is incredibly useful to know how to hit a major-league curveball, that information alone is not very likely to provide a smooth transition to those trying to make “The Show” straight from T-ball.

Along those same lines, then, there may be a market for coaching on intermediate levels to “flirt like a professional”, such as: “how to flirt like a devoted hobbyist who may one day pursue Olympic status”; “how to flirt like someone tired of being confused for a cave-dweller”; and of course “how to flirt like someone who just realized they finished going through puberty 20 years ago” (please, dear God, I can’t be the only one). And, in keeping with my earlier theme of providing warnings for things most people know inherently to avoid, I have plenty of demonstrated knowledge to share in how NOT to approach that last category. These would include the following examples:

You bet, pick-up lines are fun, but they really aren’t all that effective for starting conversations. Of course, maybe it did hurt when she fell from heaven and she was dangerously unaware of the defrosting-related repercussions associated with her shopping in the frozen food section, but you would be surprised how difficult it is finding that girl outside your DVD collection. The only pick-up line I know of with a better-than-average success rate involves a woman approaching a man with just, “So, I hear you want to see me naked…?” 

Everyone has a very interesting life story, filled with unusual adventures told from a very singular vantage point, and this should be enjoyed and celebrated. That being said, there is no prize awarded for successfully squeezing the sum total of your life story into a single sitting (something I have verified on numerous occasions with a great number of independent sources). One might think that espousing the completely opposite philosophy would then be the way to go, but it also seems that “syllable rationing” doesn’t go over all that well either.

When we are flirting with someone, we are trying to convey that there is a unique and Interesting individual inside us that we hope the other person gets an opportunity to discover. There is no way to convey such a thought without believing it ourselves. I continually strive to embrace this philosophy, thus suggesting I’m powerfully optimistic that “being myself” is not the reason I am here to begin with (and yet I don’t seem to be buying too many lottery tickets for some odd reason). So, before we can hope to move forward with someone else, we must first take ownership of and pride in all of the glorious imperfections God gave us that are all part and parcel of our identity… even if that identity is precluded from being a candidate for procreation…

Despite the fact that a sense of humor is very important when it comes to flirting, the part they don’t tell you is apparently only certain kinds of humor translate well for this arena. Honestly, who knew the only date one would get by imitating the Three Stooges in public is a court date?

So much is communicated in that initial eye contact between two people, so sometimes one must perform some gesture or action to catch the attention of the person in whom they are interested. However, while it is remarkably effective at raising awareness, pegging someone from across the room with an ice cube seems to be an equally poor way of getting a phone number (unless we’re counting the one for the local bail bondsman, and I’ll have you know the receptionist in that office is really, really cute).

As it turns out, it is entirely possible to take pride in and care of your physical appearance without being shallow or conceited (or trying to attract those easily drawn to shiny, pretty things). Given that we as people are strongly motivated by visual cues, a favorable first impression starts well before we actually make it outside the door. This, by the way, is something that my older brother has been telling me for years. To him, I say, “Okay, I get it now. You were totally right all along. You are so, so awesome. Now, will you shut the hell up???”

It has been repeatedly stressed that one of the worst ways to make a first impression is by tearing oneself down in front of another over perceived personal faults. Notarized personal faults are also lumped into this category, so apparently, there is no credit given for that level of self-awareness or advanced warning. This presents additional challenges for those whose sense of humor is firmly anchored around playful self-effacement… not that we know any of “those” people… or expect that they “deserve” any sort of human contact… or even think that they would “want” it anyway, those poor, ridiculous excuses for carbon-based life forms whose existence serves only as a persistent annoyance but is otherwise completely inconsequential to the remaining members of the populace… umm… heh heh. Soooo… what was I talking about again?

Let’s assume that the inordinate challenge of saying “Hi” to a perfect stranger has been overcome. (Yes, to me this is big deal… no, it doesn’t happen often… yes, I suppose it does explain a lot… HEY, may I continue please?!) I would like to say that I have at least heard of what passes for engaging and breezy conversation, but I have a sneaking suspicion that my “affirmative knowledge” credibility is extraordinarily low by now. At a minimum, I have been able to ascertain when my discussion partner is growing weary of a certain topic or theme. This usually falls right around the time they begin trying to drive their index finger through their forehead while uttering in complete monotone,”Wow, that is incredibly fascinating… no, really… I must insist… I do hope you continue…”

Still, some might make the argument that there is no difference between being a “professional” or “beginner” in this arena (although I expect these people are already having sex so I scarcely think their opinion counts). They may suggest the central tenet of flirting, or really any other sort of social interaction, is rooted quite simply in underlying respect for everyone, including ourselves, and a genuine curiosity about people without the presence of an agenda or motive. I’m not sure I fully grasp that principle just yet, which could be the surest possible evidence that there is some wisdom to it.

Perhaps I will get there someday, especially if making mistakes is a great accelerant to higher understanding, provided we are willing to learn from them (and since I have gathered an impressive amount of such source material, ‘twould be a shame to let it all go to waste). Naturally, not everyone’s mistakes will include a lifetime ban from certain establishments for “the solicitation of a female patron”, but then again we all have our learning curves to go through.

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