Body Language Basics and the Hard-Hat Hottie

A sexy dude in a hard-hat asks me out after we meet at the deli counter! Woo-hoo!

On my way to my shrink's office Wednesday, I had an incredibly awesome experience. For once in my life, I was a little early, so as I walked down her street, on the Upper West Side, I had time to look up at the beautiful stained-glass windows in the brownstone on my left, to notice how nice the white blooms and green leaves looked on the tree down the street, and to smile at the bulldog a woman was walking. Man, I was thinking, there is beauty and wonder to be had all around us, all the time — if only we look for it!

No, I hadn't dropped acid before my trip uptown. But I WAS feeling particularly alive and invigorated.

I was even smiling a little to myself as I zipped into the corner deli to grab some coffee. A man in a hard hat was standing by the counter, eating a banana and waiting for something — a sandwich, I assume. But he made a gesture that indicated he was being helped, so I should go ahead and order.

"A small coffee, milk, no sugar," I said to the deli-man.

Then the hard-hat asked me, "Are you on your way to the gym?" (I was wearing my workout uniform: black spandex and a hoodie.)

"Yeah, after I do a few errands," I replied.

We smiled at each other, and the blood charged through my veins as I realized how cute he was — with large brown eyes that seemed especially round under his dark glasses, a sweet mouth, and one chipped front tooth. He was looking at me in a way that seemed particularly animated — wasn't he? ... Maybe not. Maybe I was just imagining things. Maybe he was just an especially friendly guy.

I paid for my beverage, said good-bye, and took off.

Once I got outside, as I walked toward a bench, I thought, That was a prime opportunity to flirt, you sad pathetic dating blogger! And you missed it! Get yourself back in there, little lady, and go to work! But I was too chicken.

I sat down ... and noticed the hard-hat running out of the deli toward me. Running, I tell you!

"Hey! Cute girl who has to do errands!" he said. "Would you like to go out some time?"

"Why not?" I said.

"Great!" And then he seemed adorably baffled. "So how should we do this? Oh — I have an idea — how about I give you my card?"

As I examined his card in delight after he waved good-bye, I learned he was a project manager for a building company. Not my usual type — I tend to go in for academics, visual artists, and writers — but he was so sweet and charming that I was on cloud nine for the rest of the day. And late yesterday afternoon, I texted him. When he wrote back, he said, "It's funny, but I was attracted to you right away. Just chemistry, I guess." (What? Not pure adulterated beauty? But hey — I'll take it!) I asked him: "Does that mean you don't usually ask out girls you meet in the deli?" He confirmed it was not his typical M.O.

I've got a busy weekend — including the date with the cute photographer! — but the hard-hat and I are hoping to go see a movie soon. I'm excited ... but also a little wary. After all, the last stranger who randomly picked me up and didn't seem quite intellectual enough for me was Jonas Singer, and we all know how that turned out. Sigh. I've been thinking about him a little too much the past few days; something about all the rain, I guess, and all the time indoors means I have sex on the brain. But thankfully, I've kept myself from contacting him.

(As for the Russian? I still haven't heard from him. I'm assuming it's dead in the water.)

Anyway, I thought I'd wrap up today by leaving you with a few insights from Jena Pincott, author of Do Gentlemen Really Prefer Blondes?: Bodies, Behavior, and Brains — The Science Behind Sex, Love, and Attraction, whom I spoke to recently about the basics of flirtatious body language.

ME: What subtle body language works best when a woman wants a man to know she's interested?

JENA: The answer is deceptively simple: Smile and make direct eye contact. Guys usually approach a woman only after she has made eye contact. *One study showed that it takes about thirteen glances before the average guy gulp down his inhibitions enough to approach a woman!*

ME: Thirteen glances? Wow! I always feel like I'm being a total floozy if I return a look more than two or three times. But to hell with the shyness, huh?

JENA: Yes. The smile, whether a broad grin or a coy pursing of the lips, usually seals the deal — it reduces any ambiguity about your intentions.

After contact is made, women make their interest known subconsciously... we tousle our hair, caress our wineglass, lick our lips, rub our necks, position our bodies in the man's direction. *What I like about body language studies is that they prove that behavior matters as much, if not more than, looks. One study found that women who make thirty-five or more signals in an hour are approached by an average of four guys, whereas women who don't signal, even if they're prettier, often don't get approached at all.*

ME: That is pretty awesome. ... What does a man do when he wants to let a woman know he's into her?

JENA: Before the man walks over to you and makes his move, he might put on a show from across the room. Not unlike alpha male chimps, some motivated men might make "space maximization movements" — like spreading their legs while sitting, throwing their arms over the back of adjacent chairs, or slapping their friends' backs. This is appealing to women because it displays social dominance, which many women find sexy. (Not all of us, though: I personally go for the nerdy guy who watches the whole scene, amused, and has more subtle ways of asserting himself.)

ME: What kind of body language from a man is a sure sign he's NOT interested — no matter how friendly he might seem?

JENA: *For both sexes, folded arms, even if accompanied by a smile, suggest tentativeness and defensiveness.* Another intimacy-avoidance move is the sideways turn. If a person positions his or her body at a ninety-degree angle from you when being face-to-face is just as easy, that doesn't bode well. Lack of eye contact is the most obvious sign. If he's looking over your shoulder (or if you catch yourself looking over his), or if he appears distracted in any way — don't fool yourself into thinking there's chemistry (unless he's really shy and nervous).