5 Pointers on Flirting While Using Public Transportation

Last night, I met a stranger. Sort of. He was sitting across from me on the subway, reading a novel I've heard a lot of good things about. But he was too far away ... and he seemed so engrossed in his book ... and as station after station passed, I just couldn't open my mouth ... until ...

Hmm. I'm slightly depressed today, partly because the antidepressants I started taking in December are killing my metabolism, and I've gained a little weight despite the fact that I'm eating substantially less. (Ironic, no? Anti-D's making me depressed? But overall, they're helping a lot, particularly with my chronic insomnia problem, so I shouldn't complain.) Another thing that has me ever-so-slightly down is that so many of my single girlfriends seem to be hooking up with people! For instance, one of my cronies — who shall remain nameless — who has the world's perkiest boobs (while mine are about as upright as two drunkards after a long night at the bar) — she, my perky-breasted friend, made out with this great guy we know. Another one of my girlfriends just got out of a mini-relationship, and to cheer her up, I arranged a date between her and one of my male buddies; and now THAT seems to be going well. A third chick I know is having a no-strings-attached affair with some dude. And I got nothing. Unless you count Singer, which I don't. No disrespect to him, but there's not enough grist there to even properly call it a fling.

So here I sit, eating low-fat yogurt and clipping my toenails.

I know what you're thinking: Get out there and flirt, ya dope! And you're right.

Although last night, I sort of met a stranger. I had my session with Dr. H. (Which was pretty boring. We talked a little about my financial worries — I haven't made very much money this year — and about my usual not-good-enough self-esteem issues. Also a little bit about Singer and how, crazy as it probably sounds, I've learned a few good communication lessons from him.) Anyway, after the couch-time, I went to the gym, to Whole Foods, and then hopped on the subway to get home, thinking Must flirt, must flirt, must flirt! Must get fodder for blog!

And sitting across from me was an attractive-enough guy, who looked like he was of Southeast Asian descent, reading a novel I've heard a lot of good things about: Roberto Bolaño's 2666. A perfect opening, I told myself. Just ask him how it is. But he was too far away ... and he seemed so engrossed in his book ... and station after station passed ... and I couldn't open my mouth ...

At Times Square, a mob of Midwesterners streamed onto our subway car, and I took advantage of the diversion to slip across the aisle, and plant myself diagonal to Bolaño. He didn't notice me ... but I noticed the ring on his finger. Married. The stakes were gone. Which is why I was then completely capable of saying, "Hey, do you like the book?" without breaking a sweat.

I know, I know: That totally didn't count. But at least it was a little warm-up, right? (By the way, he's totally digging the book, which is something of a postmodern detective story.)

Here are some of my thoughts about the best ways to flirt while availing of the public transportation system in your fine city, town, or hamlet:

-Choose your seat wisely. It's a lot more natural to get close, conversationally, if you're not three rows back. But don't feel too self-conscious about making a strategic seat-change either. Chances are, the guy is never going to notice — and if he does, he might just be checking you out, too.

-If a guy's reading something, ask him about it. But don't just say, like I did, "Do you like that book?" Because then you're at risk of getting a one-word answer. Ask something more open-ended, like: "I'm sorry to interrupt you, but you seem to be enjoying that book. May I ask what it's about?" If the dude's got a newspaper or magazine, you might want to ask if there are any must-read articles in it.

-Remember that the two of you have at least one thing in common: You're traveling along the same route. So you could ask a question about how many stops the train will make before yours, how long it might take to get there, or which station is closest to your final destination.

-Keep this thought in your head all the time: I'm never going to see this person again if I don't talk to him now ... so what do I have to lose?

If you guys have any thoughts about how best to engage sexy strangers on planes, trains, or subway platforms, please let me know!

Later. xxx.