As I mentioned yesterday, my father is a very successful flirt. I think part of it is that he's a good-looking dude. (Can you tell at all from the blurry picture of us, below, how handsome he is? Too bad it doesn't run in the family. Ha! It was taken at brunch on Sunday by our waiter. FYI: My hair is soaking wet and pulled back in a ponytail, and my ears look especially large, no?)
But he's also just good with people--and unlike me, is completely fearless when it comes to chatting up strangers. In fact, not long ago, on his way to visit my sister and her husband in the NJ suburbs, he wandered into a deli and struck up a conversation with the guy ahead of him in line. They talked about politics, provolone, who knows what else. Once the other guy had his sandwich, he shook hands with my father and walked out. When he did, the deli-man turned to my father in amazement and said, "Do you know who that was?" My dad had no idea. It turned out the dude was Chris Rock, who lives nearby.
Famous comedians aside, I asked my pop if he could give us some tips on how to have more engaging conversations with members of the opposite sex. Please keep in mind that my dad's favorite places to flirt are the grocery store and the parking lot of the church he goes to, so he is often encountering people he's already acquainted with. So I think his tips will be most helpful if you want to continue a blossoming flirtation (rather than kick one off).
Without further adieu, here's what he had to say ...
-"Start off with a smile." This might seem obvious, but I think sometimes in our nervousness, we forget to do it. Smiling puts both you and the person you're talking to at ease.
-"Let a person know how good he or she looks." By this, my dad doesn't mean you should say something blunt, like: "Wow, you are so hot!" Rather, try a line like, "What's the secret to your beautiful skin? Have you been doing yoga?" Or: "You look like you've gotten about 5.7 years younger since the last time I've seen you!" Or simply compliment the person on his or her bright new shirt.
Whatever you say, however, be sincere; if you drop a line that is completely unbelievable, it could very well work against you. Being specific, on the other hand, helps you seem credible.
-"Make the conversation all about the other person, rather than yourself." Often, when we run into someone we have a crush on, we either run at the mouth or clam up completely. Neither of these are winning tactics. What is? Asking the other person how he or she is doing--and really wanting to find out the answer. (Who doesn't love talking about him- or herself? Who doesn't need someone who will listen?)
Don't just say "How are ya?" Follow that up with questions like "How's the new apartment?" Or "How's your dog?" or "Didn't your mother break her ankle? Is she better now?" (Although, obviously, you should first be sure that [a] the person has a dog, or [b] has a mother who did in fact break her ankle.)
Unfortunately, one of the most bang-up things my dad does cannot be translated so easily into a flirting tip for anyone who isn't nearing retirment. It's a move he uses fairly often on older waitresses, but also on the elderly biddies he often escorts out of church to their cars: No matter what age a woman is, he always calls her young lady. The bizarre thing is, I don't think he's ever been called out on this. Not a single female has ever said, "Come off it! I'm not young!" Instead, every woman he has ever said it to smiles--or even giggles!--effectively becoming about forty years younger than she is, at least for a few seconds. Perhaps this is because my dad's a bit of a geezer himself these days. But I think it's also because, subconsciously, instinctually, we all think of ourselves as much younger than we actually are.
My dad also threw in one last random piece of advice, which I don't agree with: "If you have a tattoo, you better cover that thing up before you start talking to anyone!" (He is really not into body art, in case you couldn't tell.) Tomorrow, here on the blog, let's discuss tattoos, shall we?
PC! I'm sorry to hear your dad is difficult. But I agree with Rae: Don't take up a course of study or a career just to please him; isn't your happiness and life satisfaction worth as much as his is? Also, I doubt you would ever be happy that way, yourself; and then you'd have passive-aggressive anger towards him; and I'm sure that, if anything, your relationship might deteriorate even more. I think, in general, that changing our lives in the hopes of pleasing another person is a dangerous gamble that almost never pays off. Hang in there. ...
Also, I was being tongue-in-cheek about meds helping everyone; but I think any person with depression can truly benefit enormously from them. And Xen? I'm ready to go head-to-head with Tom Cruise if he wants to argue with me!