April 2009


Things I’m Bad At: Flirting

My ability to flirt has not improved since this photo was taken.

My ability to flirt has not improved since this photo was taken.

It comes as a constant surprise to people who know me well that when push comes to shove, I’m actually a huge introvert.

Unless I have some plausible reason to talk to a stranger, I don’t.

Even when I do have a plausible reason, I rarely do. I think the last time I talked to a stranger by choice without a formal introduction was when I met Cathy—and I talked to her because she was on the train reading a book labeled something like “How to teach English”—and when we discovered that we both liked The Amazing Race and David Sedaris and were both bloggers, it was a friendship cemented in common loves.

Mind you, I first met her well over two years ago, and since then I haven’t really acquired too many new friends—mostly people I’ve met through blogging like Snooker, Letters Home, and the Regensbloggers (to provide a sampling)—however I really don’t hang out with these people on a regular basis. The closest one is 3 hours away on the train.

Otherwise my phonebook is filled with people who I’ve either known for a long time or with whom I have a business relationship—there are no new local friends to speak of.

Generally speaking, this isn’t a problem for me—I actually like my introverted life style. I can go an entire day without leaving my apartment—an entire day without talking to anybody—and not feel sad at all. I read books, watch movies, and bake bread, and like it.

Now my friends refuse to believe me about the introverted part, probably because when I see them, I have all this pent-up babbling energy and I can sometimes be hard to shut up, but if they were to see me in a situation where I know nobody, I am quite content to not talk at all and even do my best to avoid interactions.

That said, I have a little confession about my life right now, but before I progress, I need to make an important comment for those of you who know me in real life.

I am about to discuss an employee of a shop that I visit once every other week or so. Those of you who have heard me talk about this know all the exacting details. That said, I do not want the specific identifying information posted on this blog—any comments that provide too many additional clues will be deleted or edited. Much of the time I let myself believe that because my blog is in English that few locals read my blog, but I do know that locals read my blog and that there are reactions to it locally—so in an effort to try and avoid causing an adverse reaction, I’m keeping this vague. And I acknowledge that I am misrepresenting some information. Don’t point out the lies.

So here’s the detail: Since I don’t have a car, I am compelled to go shopping on a regular basis, carrying home my supplies one or two shopping bags at a time since I can’t easily go out to one of the gigantic megastores to stock up on supplies all at one time (and, of course, I’m one person, so if I buy 10 bags of tortilla chips, the last bag is stale by the time I get to it).

Usually I go shopping in the afternoon, and in one of the stores that I visit on a pretty regular basis, that is at least once every other week, there’s an employee who I find incredibly attractive. I don’t want to describe him too completely, but suffice it to say he’s made quite the impression on me, and on the two friends (Cathy and PseudoWife) who’ve had the pleasure of seeing him.

There’s even a consensus that HotEmployee seems to be interested in me—at least there are indicators to that effect. Once when he saw me out and about town, far from his shop, he said hi to me, and then when PseudoWife and I were walking down the street and he was biking the other direction he smiled and waved at us—with PseudoWife saying that he was clearly responding to my presence. It’s even my casual impression that he smiles more at me than at other customers in the shop—although given that I think he’s cute, scientifically speaking my survey is highly biased and unreliable.

So here’s the thing, ultimately, PseudoWife even gave me an opening to talk to him—but I fumbled.

But had this been America, in an English language setting, I still would have fumbled.

I completely and totally lack the words for effective sincere flirting. (You should see me flirt with women!) If HotEmployee were working at Kroger and clearly showing signs of interest in me, I wouldn’t have a clue what to say back to him—and, seriously, I was once at a supermarket in Bloomington with a friend, and at the cash register he gave me an opening to talk to the obviously gay cashier, and I fumbled it. I missed the fact that he was giving me an opening and I was completely clueless on how to fill the gap.

So where does this leave me? Not only am I clueless at serious flirting in English, I’m even worse at it in German. My German excels at ordering coffee, but royally sucks at small talk. If I know the vocabulary for what I am talking about, I can probably talk for 15 minutes, but if it’s to talk about the weather, I’m totally lost.

HotEmployee smiled at me when I went round to his shop yesterday—it made me happy. But I don’t know what to do next.

Nearly 1,000 words on my shitty ability to make small talk—not so small on paper.

C’est la vie.

8 comments to Things I’m Bad At: Flirting

  • I can sympathize with you on this flirting thing. I’ve only ever once in my life picked up on the fact a guy was flirting with me. The only reason it was so obvious to me was the particular situation.

    The situation was this, my mother, myself, and a friend were dining out and the server who was flirting with me refilled my drink at a rate approximating about once a minute whilst leaving my dining companions so parched they were wondering if they had been abandoned in the desert.

    My friend B (whom you’ve met) picked up on it, and after the meal, and in front of my mother said, “I think that guy wanted to lay you right on the table…”

    After a suitable amount of blushing because he said this in front of my mother, she and I got in our car and drove me to the airport so I could make an escape to Conservative Hell – I think the only time I truly wanted to get back there so quickly.

  • i am shy with striking up totally random conversation. i once lusted after this guy that worked at starbucks- it was my morning coffee joint on my walk in to work. we would smile but that was all. one day i went in during an off hour and he was there alone and we just did the standard how are you, realised we lived near each other, and were very comfy on his couch within a week.

    go for it. his couch awaits.

  • Jul

    The answer is obvious – pass him a note. Something along the (translated) lines of “Do you like me? If so, check this box.”

  • disenchanted

    I love the picture. I’m almost inspired to dig out my old cheerleading photos for my blog. Err, maybe not.

  • Jul

    PS – so excited I get to meet you soon. I’ll expect lots of flirting.

  • @CQ: Being oblivious to others flirting with me is another headache…

    @dave.: There are some reasons why I will tread lightly with this guy. I”d love to have him on my couch!

    @disenchanted: Your photos are fucking awesome! But i can see not posting them

    @Jul: Let me count the days… so soon, too!

  • […] in my life, but I don’t and I don’t see any prospects for one in the near future (unless the store clerk walks into my life, but I think the odds of that are slim to […]

  • Jen

    Oh man can I ever relate to this post. I can be entirely happy, too, with being a perfect introvert with no interest at times in interacting with others. In some sick way, one thing I love about Germany is that I can just be private and reserved and anti-social and no one even seems to notice. And flirting…yeah…sigh.

    I wonder if part of it for you – at least here in Germany – is due to the fact that German men can be notoriously bad flirters themselves. I think their idea of flirting is just to stare intensely (if at all) and then look away, and to never make a move that would resemble anything like that dirty little word “risk.” Sometimes I still sit here in consternation that my German boyfriend and I even hooked up at all. I’m a bad flirter, he’s a bad flirter. The only reason we got together back in the states is because I did something unusual for myself – I was the one who took the risk and invited HIM. And then it was a shy, slow, awkward dance for awhile.