Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Flirting Book: Chapter 2

Hey hey. This is part of an ongoing review. See the other installments here

"You said you'd be doing these every week! That was in November!" 

I knoooow I know. Sickness and accidents and and and the list goes on. Don't feel bad, I've neglected my other blog too. But hopefully those days are behind us. So let's talk about this book.

Chapter 2 is titled "Making Your Own Luck," so immediately, I hate it. Let me tell you something. I have horrible luck, despite being a semi-good, at least not very bad person. Within one week, my car got broken into and then hit.. TWICE. This year, I was out of the hospital for like two weeks, looking like my health problems were getting better and then.... car accident! Woo! My life, while I am grateful for it and for the friends who've become family, sometimes feels like a long string of bad luck. At this point I kind of find it hilarious (laugh instead of cry, holla) but this is all to say... I don't like conversations about luck. I don't like the argument that we get good luck by giving out good things to the world, because I know plenty of good people with bad luck. And I'm not wildly fond of the implication that if you have bad luck, you must be a bad person. And I try to do good things because it's what I should do, not because then maybe I'll get good luck in return.

Well this is turning into a regular novella. 

Point: I didn't like the sound of this chapter's title. Moving on! 

After reading the chapter's first few paragraphs, I got the feeling that what the author was talking about was actually opportunity, not luck. We create our opportunity. We don't create luck. (Which by the way, I'll agree that we can create some opportunities for ourselves when it comes to flirting and relationships but let me just also make it clear that I don't think we create our own opportunities in all facets of life - don't get me started on capitalism and the inequality of opportunity for poor people and people of color.) So yeah - we can create flirting opportunities. And in this chapter, we're given six "savvy guidelines" to help our flirting/relationship techniques. Excellent. 

The first bit of savvy advice? Get out of the house

Okay, I dig it. I feel that. Hell, I've lived that whole "wow I don't go out at all - no wonder I'm single af." So I'm counting that as good advice. So far, so good, chapter 2.

The second bit of advice is also good, but I'm noticing an irritating trend. Rabin uses a lot of hypotheticals, and sometimes it feels like we're just droning on. My eyes might start to glaze over, because every hypothetical situation is meant to make the same point. It's overdone.

But the advice. It's to go to interesting places to find interesting people. That sounds right. A lot of us say, "Yeah, I go to bars all the time, and still, I never meet anyone!" That might be true, but a bar isn't necessarily a specific place that hones in on a specific interest (unless the interest is music or beer, possibly). Rabin makes a case for taking it further. Don't just go to a densely populated place to find love, go somewhere that's guaranteed to have people with shared interest. Lectures, retreats, certain events - you get it. While I don't think a significant other needs to share the same micro interests, it can't hurt, I suppose. And Rabin makes another excellent point: even if you don't meet anyone at these places, you still get the added bonus of new friends and/or a feeling of excitement. It's refreshing, unlike going to a bar and dwelling on the fact that you can't find love. (That is, if that's why you go to the bar in the first place. I'm all for bars just for fun.)

For this reason, I joked with my friends recently that maybe I need to move to St. Louis, which has been called (by only a handful of people, but heey) America's "Top Catholic Hipster City."

Worry not; I will update you on how that goes (or doesn't go).

On to Rabin's next piece of advice: save time and energy.

Essentially, the advice is to fully be yourself, and to not pretend you're interested in things you aren't.

If I really love the idea of meeting a classy guy, I shouldn't pretend my interest in, I don't know, polo is greater than my interest in football (American football, for our international readers). It'll waste both my time and polo-man's time.

Is polo a classy sport? Was that an apt example?? I don't know which sports are the classy sports but I've seen pictures of Prince William playing polo, so...

But back to the book. Again, I think it's fine to have separate interests (good even - it's fun to show people the things that make you you), it's not fine to try and be someone you aren't.

I feel like we often do this without meaning to. I remember shopping at this grocery store with my friend. It was dimly lit and only sold organic stuff and I hated it. Loathed it. It always felt pretentious. And I remember wondering why? Is this because we wanted to seem like we're fancier than we were? Did we want to find some crazily healthy men? I don't know. But I think people tend to do this more often than we realize, and I don't think it's intentional or bad. It might boil down to insecurity, I don't know. It's like a lingering hint of when we were kids, and all we wanted was to fit in with the cool kids. Only at some point we need to realize that it's not a thing, and whatever you're into is cool. Unless you're into this shit.

Okay Susan Rabin, so far so good.

#4 is to make any place work for you.

Yeah, yeah, whether it's the grocery store or school or the post office or or or, you can flirt. The advice was pretty straightforward, but one of her examples was problematic. It involved a young man who was interested in a woman, but was too afraid to introduce himself. He was a photography student, and so he hid behind a pillar one day at the subway station they both use, and took a picture of her. After that he decided he had courage to talk to her, so he told her all about it, mentioning her beautiful smile, and said, "I think you should see the photo, maybe we can have coffee before going" or something like that. In the next paragraph, Rabin says, "You may call Marty's technique manipulation, but I call it smart."


She went on to say that studying an object (shudder) of your planned flirtation is fine, like researching a company before sending in a resume. I'd argue that taking a picture of someone and then using that to get a date is a bit different than, say, gauging what hobbies they're into for a flirting reference.

A few of her hypothetical scenarios and her real-world examples have kind of flirted with the line (see what I did there) between pursuing and irritating (or maybe even harassing?). But I turned a blind eye. This example really rubbed me the wrong way, though. So as I continued to read, it was with an attitude that was less than cheery.

Okay, our fifth fragment of flirting advice. We are to always have a flirting prop.

Sounds weird, but I actually liked this one! Sometimes an outfit, an accessory, a book - anything - makes conversation a little less intimidating. (Or, it makes starting a conversation a little less intimidating.) While reading it, I was reminded of this. I needed to go mail something, and when I handed the guy a Harry Potter postage stamp featuring Prof. McGonagall, he started a conversation. I was too slow to continue our exchange by talking about his Chewbacca shirt, but hey. That was pre-The Flirting Book.

This kind of thing happens a lot. People (including guys, so yes, this is still a blog post about the flirting book and not just Harry Potter) often initiate conversation with me if I'm wearing or holding anything related to HP or LOTR, probably because both are so beloved. When I'm holding a book I can usually count on someone starting a conversation about it. So yeah, I know what Rabin is talking about. Solid.

But some of her examples toe that line again - it's somewhere between being flirty and being weird. Carrying around a book or an object for the sole purpose of attracting the opposite sex seems odd to me (not to mention at odds with this chapter's third bit of advice about being yourself). But I let it pass and continue to read.

The last piece of advice is to be open to advances. Don't always stick in huddles and herds while out with your friends. Which, yeah fair enough. (Rabin acknowledges that it's then always possible to be cornered by a bad flirt or someone you're not interested in [hi creepy photo stalker], so she suggests developing a signal with your friends - something like tugging on your earlobe if you want them to come interrupt the flirting, or playing with your necklace if you want them to stay away for a bit and continue to let you flirt. I think this makes sense, and my friends and I have done similar, though it's often been, "In five minutes call me and tell me there's an emergency. I'll ignore you if I don't need to get out of here.")

The chapter concludes with a list of bullet points, which I honestly love. I kind of wish my copy of Pride and Prejudice came with bullet points at the end of every chapter.

So, what have I learned from this chapter? I've learned it's time I move to St. Louis (where I will walk everywhere), wear my Gryffindor jacket at all times, always carry a copy of The Hobbit and a baby name book just to show I am interested, always smile in case some rando is taking my picture, and always remember to play with my necklace (which will be a replica of Slytherin's locket).

No but in truth, I'm not hating this book. I feel like a lot of it is common sense - but forgotten common sense. I wouldn't call this book a life saver or a necessity, but it probably won't make you any worse at flirting than you were in the first place. Not that you were. I'm sure you're a terrific flirt, Dear Reader.     

See you next week for chapter 3.

No comments:

Post a Comment