An Account of How One Homeschooler Met with Flirting...and Survived6:12 PM
I told my roommate once, "My mom and I are really the only ones in our family who enjoy learning."
"What did you say?"
"I said my mom and I are the only ones in our family who enjoy learning."
"Oh, good. I heard that you and your mom were the only ones who enjoyed flirting."
"No, Claire. I do not enjoy flirting at all."
Honestly, I never practiced that skill long enough (read: never) to know whether that statement was true. And being homeschooled, I never even knew what it is. In theory, yes. In movies, yes. In real life, no. So I listened incredulously and unempathetically to my friend's story of the creepy guy in the Detroit airport hitting on her by complimenting her feet.
No, any male who ever showed an interest in me showed no smoothness or subtlety. Just blunt requests for marriage from truck drivers old enough to be my dad. Maybe my naivete showed so plainly that it demanded bluntness. I mean, it took me half a semester to realize that the boy who walked me everywhere, tried to hold my hand during Bourne Legacy, and texted me every half hour to find out where I was actually liked me. And my cheerful response was to banish him from my presence for a week.
I'm not good at navigating that pre-relationship phase. My biggest fear of breaking up is reverting back to the pool of singles with no excuse of a current boyfriend to ward off creepy guys. Ever since that boyfriend, though, I can report improvement -- improvement in the way of appearing cute and available.
Working retail helps. Perhaps all men who enter the store assume that the girl's platonic, happy greeting and her offer of limited attention to find earbuds means she's all open for something further.
Hello, creepy. You're an indefinite old age with a triangular smile and that fascinating face where I can't distinguish stubble from dirt. Ew, did you just look me up and down like they do in the movies? Yeah, look away -- I'm not much to look at in khakis and an extra small work uniform that's still five sizes too big, am I?
I still second guess my ability to pick out a flirt. Maybe, just maybe, the kid with the greasy long hair got all excited and meaningfully said, "See you later!" only because we had a mutual friend in common. In fact, I'm almost sure that was innocent. The kid with the ponytail who started grinning seductively when I bumped into him in the candy aisle? A textbook case, kids. Because not only did he not stop smiling in a way that made me feel like an ignoramus easy to hit on, but he also came in the other day with a suave, low, "Helloh" that made every hair on my living body stand right up on end. And then he swaggered off whispering with his friends. For the record, I cast no longing gaze after him.
Despite my aversion to men on the prowl, my heart still holds a soft spot for those young guys who look at me starstruck like they never talked to a girl before. A very nice guy he was -- reminded me of one of my boyfriend's acquaintance, an innocent gamer in a baseball cap and glasses who spends his Friday nights eating chips and playing a low-violence computer game with his buds because no girl ever loved him. His eyes never left me from the moment I said, "Hi, welcome to Walgreens!" to "Do you want to sign up for our Rewards program?" And yes, of course, he wanted to sign up for the Rewards program, since I was offering it, and wow, your eyes are pretty, as he gazed at me with a gentle, dumbfounded smile. (This is not a word-for-word exchange: I was merely translating his eyes into what seemed obvious to me.) It helped that I smiled extra big and tucked my hair behind my ear as I said it. Oh my word, did I really just do that? Then came that precious moment when I explained the points program while he never heard a word over my beauty. Then --
"Can you hurry up so we can get some cigarettes and get out of here?"
And he left, my new beau, as I whispered a "Have a nice night and be well."
No, no, I don't really flirt with vulnerable young men just to get them to sign up for the Rewards program just so I can check off my goal sheet just so my team can win a free jeans day. That was a total accident. But then again, if I ever became desperate....