Actually, it’s more like why I can’t flirt.
I want to flirt, really I do.
Here’s what happens when one flirts (or so I assume): guys ask you out, which means you don’t have to drive to events alone, which means you don’t have to parallel park. Parallel parking is one of the greatest fears of my life. It was the one thing I flunked on my driver’s test, and every day of my life since. When driving with a friend, I will drop them off at the front door of our destination and then slink off alone to cavort with the curb in a slow and painful dance strewn with profuse cursing, scraped wheel rims and increasingly rising blood pressure.
Additionally, if you’re lucky and the fellow actually has a job, after driving you to the theater and parallel parking for you, he will shower you with free movie tickets and snacks.
I could go on and on.
But like I said, I can’t flirt (much to the dismay of my car).
Before you label me a wanna-be hussy, let’s clarify what I mean by flirting. It is not the fawning smile, the lingering gaze, the high-pitched giggle, the coy pat on the shoulder. Rather, it is simply … making eye contact. Smiling. Maybe even going up and talking to him (oh, the audacity). You know, being a nice human being.
When I am attracted to a fellow, I unfortunately do the exact opposite. Frantically, I direct my gaze anywhere he is not, talk to everyone but him, and do my best to give the impression that his very essence is repulsive to me. It’s as if I am allergic to attractive men. On the other hand, when I am not interested in someone, I am the friendliest girl they know. Is it any wonder there is a communication breakdown between the sexes?
The other day I determined this behavior was absurd and decided to unleash my charm in a safe test environment, a local Target store. Donning the luxurious new oven mitt I was purchasing (I calculated ‘flirting’ with an oven mitt on would reduce the risk of appearing slutty), I bravely made eye contact and smiled at the first guy I passed. It went splendidly! He smiled back, and I went on my merry way, smugly basking in my new-found courage.
About 10 minutes later, I was contentedly perusing the bedding section while playing puppet with my oven mitt and sending pictures of it to my friend (sad, but true), when I heard a masculine voice query, “What happened to your hand? Twirling around, I came face-to-face with the man I had just ‘flirted’ with, who apparently felt we established some special connection in our 2-second glance. Dang it! I knew this mitt was too sexy for my own good.
“Errrrr … I am wearing it in case I need to punch anyone,” I mumbled.
Not taking the hint, he inquired, “What are your plans for the summer?”
“Oh you know … just work,” was my response, even though my revised plan now revolves solely around avoiding him. I was getting a little nervous, as the bedding area was quite secluded, he was rather sketchy looking and this particular Target is not located in the most upscale area.
(Note to future flirting self: if there is a permanent parking spot reserved solely for the police that takes precedence even over handicap spots, find a different place to search for your soulmate.)
Persisting, he asked, “Wasn’t the weather today just wonderful?”
Well, today WAS wonderful, until you started talking to me.
“Oh, yes, it was just lovely, but I have to go now.”
As I started gliding off, he called out, “But when are we going to hang out??!”
Increasing my brisk pace, I yelled over my shoulder, “Oh, I don’t think we are going to hang out!” I would rather be doomed to socialize with just my oven mitt for the rest of eternity than ‘hang out’ with him.
Crestfallen, I paid for my mitt and trudged home. My grand experiment worked, but not how I intended, as my reticence to be friendly with men only increased. However, after some serious introspection, I deduced I avoid being friendly with men because 1) it doesn’t give them a chance to not reciprocate my attention 2) it is an easy way to avoid awkward situations (such as above) and 3) I am gravely afraid of coming across as too flirtatious. Based in fear and pride, it insulates me from potentially painful emotions, but who knows what wonderful friendships I could also be missing? Perhaps it is time to focus more on loving those around me, instead of coddling my pride.
Lesson learned: keep a heavily-padded mitt on hand (literally). It is a great conversation starter with desirable people of the opposite sex, and a handy (pun intended) weapon for the less enticing ones!