Birth of a Flirt

Disclaimer: The opinions, observations, musings and assertions in this blog post are mine and mine alone. I freely admit to the possible and likely errors of all of these and do not to pretend to really know if they are correct or not. It’s just what and how I think. Don’t judge.

I don’t know how to flirt. And I’ve tried for most of my adult life to come up with reasons not to have to flirt. Some of them are valid. Some are not. For instance, I won’t try and flirt with married or otherwise taken women. I tell myself it would be disrespectful to them and to their husbands or boyfriends. And, because I have been and can be good at flirting when I try to be, I worry that one thing will lead to another and … and I most definitely won’t be the guy a taken women cheats on said husband or boyfriend with. Like I said, pretty damn good justifications for not cultivating my flirting skills. But it doesn’t get to the root of my issues.

I try to convince myself (Oh who am I kidding? I do a damn good job of convincing myself of this stuff) of their validity in precluding myself of perfecting my inner Mac Daddy. And regardless of my status of taken or dating or involved, I most assuredly should not be not honing these skills because regardless of how I feel about my skills, if I do it and do it well, I can make even women who are in relationships feel good about themselves. Flattery is not only a great way to make the woman in question enjoy the pleasure, but I would also garner the good favor of others in many ways. Nobody ever says “Oh yeah, Tom was gonna come out with us tonight, but that chick magnet stayed home and played Call of Duty.”

This is not to say that I would be an opportunist by telling a woman she has pretty eyes or a beautiful smile or anything of that nature. Because I don’t say things I don’t mean. And if one of the welcome results of doing so is the woman in question treats me with a friendlier attitude than she would, say, somebody who is more interested in discussing Call of Duty, then so be it. It’s that feeling that I would possibly be doing a thing that could be construed as opportunist by others that makes me hesitate to do it at all.

Which makes total sense, right? Jesus Christ. You see the madness that goes on between my ears? I’m debating whether or not to compliment a woman because she might think I have alterior motives, and thus I don’t do it. So, I’m more comfortable, apparently, being a cold asshole because it’s somehow more pure than being kind to others by being nice to them. Man, stinkin’ thinkin’ right there.

But back to being a flirt. I can be good at it. I mean, I’ve never really developed any skills at trying to be smooth, but I can do it. And I think it’s because I don’t really try. Which is work. Y’know that scene in the movie Juno where she tells Bleaker that he is so cool and he doesn’t even try and he says “Actually, I try really hard”? That’s what I’m talking about. I simply try to do be the best Andy I can be and sometimes, it works. It works well enough that I magically become an extrovert and people kind of want to be around me because I say nice things to them and am genuinely friendly. But then something happens.

My biggest problem is separating the Dark Side of the Force from being Yoda. If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that I can be a very dark person with huge, nebulous clouds of negativity circling around my body, mind and spirit. Sometimes its good having them around. I mean, they are the reason I go to the gym 3-5 times per week. Nothing drives you on the Stairmaster or swimming or lifting far more weight than you should like thinking of yourself as the mopey fat kid all the time. Hey, don’t knock it. It’s been my motivation at the gym off and on for 20 years. And now that I have quit drinking and regulating my diet more than I ever have before, I have very brief moments, when I catch myself in the mirror and think “Y’know, I don’t look half bad these days.” But then, as always and evermore, the guy in the mirror morphs into the fat kid I was for so long and he’s hanging his head and gobbling E.L. Fudges by the truckload (Which I used to do. Seriously, I would bitch slap that Little Debbie if she didn’t have enough Swiss Cake Rolls for me at the end of the night). And you’d think I would take some sort of solace in the fact that a great many men my age have twice the gut I’m so desperately trying to get rid of that I would just get all Zen about it and accept that this is how I look here and now and be okay with. Have you ever seen a painting or a statue of the Buddha? Talk about a spare tire. But no, I don’t. I guess this is an obsession that is keeping me fit. So it’s kind of a good thing. Sometimes, I flatter myself that Mike at work calls me The Hulk because I’m a big fella that looks ultra-pimpin’ in my silly-ass work uniform. But I think it’s mostly because the people I work with somehow interpret my stoicism and calm gaze as building anger and, potentially, blind fury.

Unfortunately, sometimes, that’s spot-on. Hence the daily meditation. But most of the time, it’s just because I don’t know how to keep a calm smile on my face and not look like Jack Nicholson. Like looking like Jack would be a bad thing, right? Who wants to look similar to the arguably wealthiest, most successful actor in the world? Y’know, the guy who kissed Helen Hunt in As Good as It Gets? Because I would never want to do the exact same thing. Be walking outside the bakery at 4 AM and kissing her on the boardwalk. As if. Plus, since I’ve lost a bunch of weight and have built quite a bit of muscle, I am, dare I say it, kind of good-looking. People have been telling that to me for a long time but until I got sober, lost weight, and generally started feeling like I’m not a fat, drunk pile of shit only worthy of the dregs of womankind (unless, I was drunk adorable Andy who somehow managed to hook-up with a girl who, the morning after, would think that maybe she needed to go to a meeting), did I finally start to believe it, if rarely. But now that I do think this way occassionaly, I really want to go up to some of the pretty people, pull them aside and say, “He he he, ahh … listen, I’m new to this whole being desirable thing. Do I need a membership card or is there a secret handshake I need to learn or- wait- No! Don’t leave! I need to talk to you dude!” And if it’s not that, then it is completely inverted and I begin to see the pretty people as my adversary, to be reckoned with like any worthy opponent. Because, you see, if I engage the prey in conflict, by nature of that fact do I deserve to be in the conflict and am thus not just faking it.

You see what I mean? I’m 38 and I’m either staggeringly intimidated by women or I view it like a freakin’ Navy Seal hunting down Bin Laden.

The solution, I think, is to work really hard on trying to make engaging with the enemy – sorry, I mean talking to women, a more instinctual thing. To somehow make it second nature to convert from being the brooding, Timothy McVeigh character in the black leather jacket into being the quiet writer sporting a slight grin and a mischievous look that really does have a heart of gold, loves his mother and sort of plays the piano. Also in the black leather jacket.

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