I love flirting. I do. I love the stolen glances, the “accidental” arm grazing, the slightly exaggerated laughter, the deliberate “casual” hand touching, the involuntary grinning — all of it. I love realizing, “Wait a second, this guy’s into me.” I love realizing, “This is my cue to laugh at his joke.” I love realizing, “That was bold of him. Now it’s my turn.”
Good flirting is like a game of catch. It’s like a dance. It’s like jazz. It’s give and take. It’s a free-flowing, yet calculated volley between, “Hey, look at me,” and, “Well well well, LOOK at YOU.”
Good flirting is never obnoxious. If things are going well, there’s no need for any, “I can bench 335” or, “I hate wearing panties.” Good flirting is all about subtlety. You can say mundane things like, “I still haven’t deleted my Myspace” or, “We need a new Joe Strummer album now more than ever,” because as long as you and the other person are on the same page, and the “accidental” arm grazing and deliberate “casual” hand touching remains constant, there’s no need to mention bench pressing and panties. It’s about wit and word play. Laughing and listening. No cheap stuff. No sex stuff. Just fun.
Good flirting. Yeah.
That being said, being flirted with can also really, really suck. In fact, in many situations, I HATE flirting. I hate being looked at, I hate being smiled at, and Dear Lord, I hate being touched. Ew ew ew ew EW. It’s all so gross.
Gross flirting is like a game of catch where one of the participants has no arms. It’s like a dance where one of the dancers is doing The Worm naked. It’s like Kenny G. There is no give and take. Instead, one person is doing all the talking while the other person is silently wishing she were dead.
I’m not talking about being flirted with by someone who is perfectly nice, yet unattractive (which is entirely subjective). I’m talking about being flirted with by someone who is so downright creepy, the very sight of him hurts your skin. You feel repulsed. You feel nervous. You curse yourself for putting on makeup that morning and for wearing a tank top that reveals the classiest amount of casual cleavage.
Yes, this happened to me today. I was flirted with. Hit on. Or, as the kids are saying, “creeped on.“
I met him today at a testing facility. We were there to participate in a soda taste test. I’m broke, and dammit, I needed the $25 that was being offered. Christmas is right around the corner, after all.
Testing facilities are fascinating. The people who show up to participate in taste tests are fascinating. They all look beat up and tired. They all have tattoos and funny hats. They get confused when they’re told to “Sign your name here, please,” and they seem to love blocking doorways with their awkward, spandex-clad bodies.
After I signed in at the front desk, I took my pre-taste-test questionnaire and stood against a wall. The door opened, and in walked two of the trashiest dudes I’ve ever seen in my life. They stunk up the lobby with an odor that can only be described as a mixture of pot and ass. One of them was portly with curly pink hair, wearing a faded black t-shirt and torn jeans. He looked like Guy Fieri if Guy Fieri were a burnout from the valley. The other looked like Matthew Lillard’s meth-addict brother. I didn’t really catch what he was wearing, because I made sure not to look in his direction. Why? As soon as he walked in the room, he looked right and me and said, rather loudly, “YOWZA.”
I pretended I hadn’t heard him. I looked at my questionnaire. I played with my clipboard. I studied my cheap ballpoint pen as if it were the most fascinating object I’d ever seen. The whole time, I could see from the corner of my eye that the YOWZA dude was staring at me. Rudely staring.
He walked up to me. My stomach turned.
“What do we do with this paperwork after we’re done?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” I said, in the most curt tone possible. I didn’t even look at him. I was still transfixed by my pen.
“Is this your first time doing one of these tests?” he asked.
“Oh, so you’re an expert?”
“I hope not.”
I looked at him. Oh GOD. Oh SHIT. YOWZA! That man was HORRIFYING. I couldn’t tell how old he was because his face was messed up from years of Lord Only Knows. He had short, curly hair that was frighteningly pube-like. His eyes were glazed over with a filmy funk. He had a smile like a rapist hamster.
He smiled some more and laughed. I looked away.
“I’m Michael,” he said, and he held out his hand.
“I’m Stephanie,” I said.
As soon as I shook his hand, I couldn’t wait to go home and wash it. Great flirting? I think not.
“It’s nice to meet you, Stephanie,” he said. “Do you live in this lovely town?”
“Yeah,” I said, still not looking at him.
“What do you do?” he asked.
In the split second it took me to answer, I considered telling him the truth. Then I figured it would be too painful to try to explain to him what kind of company I work for. Plus I didn’t want to engage him. I thought that maybe if I told him I was a lawyer he would back off, but then I realized that lawyers don’t have to participate in taste tests for $25 checks.
I took a breath.
“Not much, huh?”
I needed an excuse to walk away, so I decided that it looked perfectly natural for me to walk to the front desk to turn in my questionnaire.
“You filled this out in pen,” said the woman behind the desk.
“…Was that wrong?” I asked.
“Yes. It needs to be done in pencil.”
A voice behind me said, “Come on, Stephanie!”
Michael “Meth Head” Lillard was standing behind me. He had followed me.
I grabbed a new questionnaire and scurried back to my wall. No one followed me, thank Goodness.
I understand that I assumed a lot about Michael. I assumed that the lines in his face were the result of fast-living instead of age. I assumed he was a loser. I assumed he was a creep. Was that fair? After all, I was there for the $25, too. Does that mean I looked as weird to everyone as they all looked to me?
The fact is, if it hadn’t been for the “YOWZA” and the excessive staring, I would have found his overture annoying as opposed to vile.
I may be $25 richer, but I’m also a bit pissed off. Great flirting. Where the Hell is it? I know that it probably isn’t anywhere to be found at a testing center, but come on. Starbucks? Some bar? Some nightclub? Dear Lord, I’d rather encounter a creep at a testing center than a nightclub — dancing creepers are worst. I only like dancing if it’s, you know. Like jazz.