Here I am, the girl who is supposed to be "living flirtatiously" — and what did I do the other night but completely bungle a nice little flirtation that just fell into my lap?
Lemme tell you the story. Late Monday night, I was at the gym. It was nearly deserted. I headed to my favorite spot: a quiet little alcove where there are only two cardio machines, both Summit Trainers. A man was using one. I climbed onto the other and had just started giving it a go when the man said, "Sorry, but I left some stuff over there — I hope you don't mind." I peered into the circular water bottle container near the display screen and, sure enough, there was his wallet, a phone, and two identical felt-tip pens — the spoils of his pocket, apparently. In the rectangular slot for books and magazines, there was a strange item: a hot pink cocktail stirrer, with a hot pink star on the top that was sticking out. I told him not to worry.
"I changed machines because that one seemed to be making a funny noise," he replied, "although I guess it's stopped."
The guy had an appealing face, but he also looked older than I am — and I like my men young, unfortunately, as many of you know. As such, I wasn't turned on by him. And I find it much easier to flirt when a guy is kinda cute but not my type, as opposed to when I am totally weak in the knees for him. So I pointed at the cocktail stirrer and said, "Is that for the piña colada you plan to have when you're finished with your workout?"
He laughed. "No — that was there before I arrived. But a piña colada actually sounds pretty good right now."
We smiled at each other, and I went back to working out. A moment or two later, he said, "So, you don't use the handles on these machines?"
"Nope," I said. "Using them doesn't strengthen your arms as much as it makes it easier on your glutes. I get a better workout this way."
He agreed that I probably did.
That night, I'd forgotten to bring along a book to read, like I usually do. Also, there was only about five minutes left before the gym would close. So between having nothing better to do and figuring that if we got into a really annoying conversation, I wouldn't have to suffer through it for long, I decided to speak up again.
"What's the deal with the TWO pens? In case you lose one during the course of your day, you want a backup? Do you like to be totally prepared, so that you can always write down a deep thought when you have one?"
He laughed and said, yes, that was the case.
"So what's the deepest thought you've had this week?"
"Well, the best thing I heard all week came from my brother," he said. "He called on the 4th to wish me a 'Happy Entrenched Plutocracy Day.'"
Mischievously, I said, "I assume your brother is some kind of Marxist or a Commie. Or is he just a vegan?"
The guy laughed. Then he said, "No, I'm the vegan."
While I have vegan friends, I'm sort of opposed to them as potential boyfriends — it seems a little too high-maintenance. Nonetheless, we got into a chatty back-and-forth about the reasoning for his veganing ...
Then the announcement came over the PA that the gym was closing. I told him to take care, dashed to the water fountain, and was on my way out when the guy came over and said, "I'd invite you to an art opening, but the flyers are in my bag, in the locker room ... so ... "
Gym employees were milling around — shutting off machines and cleaning up — and since I am friendly enough with the staff, I felt really self-conscious. So, like an idiot, I said, "Too bad. But it was nice meeting you. See you around." And then I cruised out.
I tell you this story for a few reasons.
1. When a perfectly easy flirtation falls into one's lap like this, one should certainly avail oneself of it. Especially when it involves a guy who seems — as this guy did — quite smart, quite friendly, and self-confident enough to deal with it when a complete (and completely impudent) stranger poked fun at him.
2. Training yourself to be impulsive helps. I've found in the past that when I'm taking chances on a regular basis, it makes me more likely to be able to make proper use of unexpected situations like this. Which is to say: The more often I strike up conversations with strangers, the easier all sorts of impulsive behavior becomes. I think if I'd been better, in recent months, about talking to strangers in general, I would have been less self-conscious about telling the guy, "Go get the invite out of the locker room. I'll wait."
3. Maybe if I'm more impulsive, it will help you. Perhaps if we all become a little more aware of, and ready for, the possibilities for impulsive behavior, we'll be better prepared to act on them when good opportunities arise.