Flirting with Girls

A stranger stops and glances around as I’m making my way across campus. It’s the weekend. The place is dead. We’re the only two people in sight. He looks lost, and since I’m a professor it’s kind of my job to be helpful. So I slow down and greet him. Instead of asking me directions to the library, he says, “I’m an artist who’s looking for some models. You’ve got a great figure. Would you like to pose for me sometime?”

Many readers will appreciate the chill that ran through me as I stepped back and started putting distance between us. If you don’t, let me explain. Asking a complete stranger to pose for art, possibly nude, before even learning my name, is such a red flag that it makes my skin tingle. This person clearly doesn’t understand basic human interaction, so what else might he fail to grasp? And if he’s honestly just an artist, his recruitment strategy needs some serious work.

Thankfully, this guy at least understands the word no and walks about his business.

Dan Bacon is the talk of Twitterville this week for his essay, “How to Talk to a Woman Who is Wearing Headphones.” Plenty of people have disagreed with Bacon, who has clarified on BBC radio recently. I have no problem with Bacon’s stance, and I also understand the critics who say that, actually, you should probably leave people alone if they’re wearing headphones and look busy. I’ve met lots of guys in coffee shops. I’ve also met a lot of strange people whom I wish hadn’t bothered me.

The frenzy has made me think about my own dating life. And I think it’s important to talk about pick up artist fails. Men can learn confidence, but they should also know when to stop.


I’m reading a book at a coffee shop. A cute guy, on his way out, catches my eye and we stare at each other for several seconds. His smile makes me smile (and I hate smiling.) He asks if he can sit down. We talk. He offers me tickets to see a play. A week later, we’re in bed together.At another coffee shop, a guy walks by and hands me a business card with his cell written on the back. I check him out and decide to call him. We chat, and go for a pre-date. Variations of this happened throughout my 20s.

Other good ways to meet women: Go to parties. Throw your own. Have friends set you up on dates. Join a book club (or any kind of club). Go to graduate school. That one’s almost a sure shot

You see, if you actually have an interesting life, you’ll meet women and become their friends. Then you can try to date them. Picking up girls you don’t know is hard for a reason. Besides, the people I met randomly didn’t last long. The best and longest relationships I had happened through my existing social network. The bigger your network, the better your options.

And for the love of god, learn to dance. Becoming a good dancer, or even a passable one, will get you lots of fun-time with girls.There’s nothing wrong per se with Bacon’s advice. If you see your heart’s companion at Starbucks, but she’s got earbuds in, try to get her attention. Also be prepared for her to ignore you. Trust me, if it looks like a girl is ignoring you, then she’s definitely ignoring you. Go away.

Other signs:She doesn’t make eye contact. She doesn’t answer your questions.She just nods and smiles weakly at you.She speaks in monosyllabic words.She keeps glancing back down to her book every time you pause.She starts tapping her foot.She excuses herself to the bathroom.She keeps referencing all the work she has to do.If you haven’t made any headway in 2-3 minutes, please do everyone a favor and just say goodbye. If you really want to, give her your phone number. Don’t put her on the spot asking for hers. Now here are some examples of guys who just didn’t have a clue.


I’m walking up the steps of a library and some guy mutters to me. I don’t even know for sure he’s talking to me. All of a sudden he grabs my arm and says, “Hey, I said let’s talk!” I’m 22 and too polite to kick him anywhere. I just stare in disbelief until he says, “Never mind.”I’m having lunch with a couple of friends, when a guy sits at a table near us and starts trying to butt into our conversation. Stuff like, “Are you all from here?” or “How long do you think this place has been open?” After a while, he starts asking us what he should order and practically reads half the menu to me. Finally, he moves to another room and we enjoy a half hour of peace.
I’m closing out my tab at a bar around 1 am when a guy puts his arm around me and says, “No, you gotta stay.” Then he taps his chest. “Because I’m here now.”A friend of a friend shows up to a grad student party. We’re making polite conversation, and all of a sudden he starts stroking my thighs and crotch. He leans in and starts explaining what a rough week he’s had. I just don’t understand how much a kiss from someone like me would mean to him right now.Here’s when flagging down a girl with headphones really doesn’t work: the airport. I have gotten downright rude to a couple of guys who wouldn’t stop talking, either in the food court or on the plain flight. I’m not going to fuck someone in the plane potty, okay? I’m also not going to start a long distance relationship with someone just because we had the same layover. I also don’t like talking to people on long flights. I want to read and listen to my electronica. That doesn’t make me a bitch, or mean, or lonely.


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