August 5, 2009

Contrast and Compare

Posted in *cringe*, Advice I have no business giving, The Why at 9:27 am by Dagny Taggart

Both approaches* happened while I was obviously busy.  Both were unsuccessful for a most excellent reason, but one of them was significantly better than the other.

Scene 1:  Grocery store, self-checkout lanes.  I’ve got just a few things, and am trying to scan them as quickly as possible despite the persnickety scanner.  I’ve got my keys and debit card ready to go.  I’m wearing jeans, this tshirt, and have my wet hair in a ponytail.  I am Ready To Go. 

As I’m finishing the payment process, I notice the fellow in the next lane over waving at me in an exaggerated manner.  When I look up, he says, “Mental Floss?”

I say, “Yes, that’s right!”

“How’d you find it?”

“How’d I… oh.  A friend got it for me, because I’m a Shakespeare nerd.”

Note that he now has more information, so he can continue the conversation.  Which he obviously wants to do, and yet…

…looking at me with bemused smile…

…still looking with bemused smile that’s starting to creep me out a bit…

and then, I say, “Have a great night!” and move to pack my bags and depart.  At which point, he says, “My name’s J___”.  And I say, “I’m Dagny, nice to meet you” as I pick up my bags and walk from the store.

On the other hand, I was exiting the train at Metro Center last night, headed towards my transfer train, and of COURSE every village idiot in the greater metropolitan area is crowding the door, making it impossible for us to exit without actually climbing over the rolly bags of those waiting to get on.  A gentleman gestures for me to go ahead of him, and then apologizes for accidentally bumping me.  We’re walking in the same direction, so I assure him it wasn’t his fault.  At which point, he motions towards my book.

“Great author – if you like him, you’ll probably like Steven Erikson.”

“Really?  Thanks!  I’m always looking for new authors to follow.”

“No problem – oh, you’re headed downstairs?  Shame.  Have a good night!”

So, you know.  Try not to stare for more than a second or so.  Seriously, even a banal meteorological observation is better than staring.  Starting with an observation about my personal taste is good, continuing that conversation intelligently – or at all, at the very least, is better.  Especially when compared to staring.

*I never figure out that I’m being flirted with until embarrassingly well after the fact.  This sort of thing has happened while I was ON A DATE.  Fortunately, my dates have generally been more amused at my cluelessness and the interloper’s eventual disappointment than annoyed at me, but still. 


  1. Lisa said,

    Definitely smoother. But you know, if I saw a random guy I thought was attractive, I wouldn’t be able to strike up conversation out of the blue. So I have to give kudos to both.

  2. miss. chief said,

    i get the random comment and the bemused creepy smile all the time, i pretend i don`t notice and get the hell out of there as fast as i can.

  3. vvk said,

    I’m with Lisa, striking up a conversation with a random woman I find atractive is something I’ve been able to do maybe two or three times in my life… and every time it’s been the “I just don’t give a fuck anymore” attitude I develop when I’m near, but not quite at my lowest points of depression that have helped make it happen. Which makes the whole exercise fairly self defeating.

    :-\ Blah.

  4. Lisa: That’s an excellent point, and I felt really bad for reacting the way I did in the supermarket. But staring… it’s a little discomfity-ing. :-/

    miss. chief: Pretending not to notice would probably have been the kinder way to go…

    vvk: Well, I certainly don’t mean to discourage anyone from approaching. I’ve had my share of crashing and burning during the approach, too. I think my point was that for me, the more effective approach, the one that made me want to reciprocate more, is the one that most closely resembled a normal conversation. That’s all.

  5. vvk said,

    Oh I do understand the creepiness of staring, etc… I am the wana-be-overprotective brother of two sisters after all. And intellectually I understand what sort of approach works. It’s just that I personally sympathize with the first guy. To avoid the creepiness, I tend to avoid the entire situation all together. Which is one way to avoid it, but…


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