SOCIAL STUDIES Observations in Awkward Flirtations Michelle Konstantinovsky

I’m not what you might call a “flirt” (insert uproarious laughter from those that know me and understand the profound truth of this statement). It’s not that I don’t know how (spending my formative years watching the half-smile/hair tuck combo of a Dawson’s Creek-era Katie Holmes taught me everything I needed to know), but my body seems to physically reject flirtatious behavior as if it were a threatening foreign intruder (which reminds me, my eyebrow is still scarred from the spring break piercing debacle of 2003).

I can handle banter and sarcasm, but when the conversation reaches the point at which flirty girls might giggle seductively or playfully punch their suitor’s arm, I invariably say something mildly insulting and decidedly un-coquettish. It’s just my way. But I’m confident there’s a John Krasinski doppelganger out there who will love me for it.

Trying in vain to lure my very own Jim Halpert, I sat in a Starbucks populated by singles on Wednesday evening, reading my new spiritual scripture—Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).

Lost in the wisdom of Kaling, I hardly noticed when a petite, gum-snapping twenty-something set her pink-cased laptop on the table next to me. Within a few minutes, the twenty-something dude on her left cleared his throat and looked her way (my peripheral vision is keen at all times, like a feral rabbit).

Irritated as I was to be distracted from my book, I couldn’t not tune into the conversation (journalism school has taught me to be an efficient, effective eavesdropper, though I’m pretty sure this was not the intention of my instructors).

“My mom has that same laptop case,” Awkward Guy said awkwardly.

“Oh really?” Gum Snapper giggled.

“Yeah. Hers has a Playboy bunny on it though.”

I was sure Gum Snapper would roll her eyes and go back to typing. As soon as her phone rang, I was certain she’d take it as a god-given excuse to check out of the conversation. But as soon as she ended the call, she picked right up where they’d left off!

Maybe it was because I had just finished studying a chapter in social psychology emphasizing the importance of ethnographic research, but I felt compelled to systematically study these coy creatures in their natural habitat. I thought I’d formulate a few tips from my observations here, if only for the sake of science.

1. If you say you’re a huge fan of something, actually be a huge fan of said thing. Your flirting partner will likely question you about your fanaticism and inadvertently embarrass you if you can’t back up your devotion.

A few minutes into their exchange, Awkward Guy declared himself a huge foodie and assured our heroine that he was a supreme pizza expert. When Gum Snapper asked what he thought of at least four different well-known pizza establishments in the city, he stumbled over his words and admitted he’d never been to any of them. He did, however, proclaim national chain, Extreme Pizza, to be the absolute tops. To which Gum Snapper replied, “That’s drunk food.” Awkward Guy’s retort? “Um. Yeah.”

2. Though it may be tempting, refrain from sizing up your flirting partner’s personality, preferences and general character two minutes into the conversation.

Gum Snapper informed her new friend that she was in the process of applying to several graduate schools and was worried she might have to skip out on New Year’s Eve festivities in order to complete her essays. “Oh please, as if you’re really gonna get any work done over the weekend—come on! You really think you will? Ha!” Awkward Guy snorted. “Everyone says that, but yes. Yes, I do,” Gum Snapper replied between snaps. Oh the humanity!

3. Laugh. At everything.

I generally make it a rule to laugh when things are funny. But humor is not a requirement for mirth in the flirting world, as Gum and Guy tittered happily throughout their conversation. If your companion is particularly drab, just imagine Kristen Wiig making pretty much any face ever. There you go.

Image via Jezebel

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