Subverting the Usual (Boring) Get-to-Know-You Q's

When we meet someone new, we always want to know his (or her) name, job and hometown. And yet asking those questions can make you come off like a boor--like you're conducting a job interview instead of really getting to know someone. Dating coach John Keegan comes to the rescue! Ask the Big Three Q's according to his suggestions and a person will feel intrigued, not interrogated.


I scored some points in favor of living flirtatiously over the weekend! But that is a story I will have to tell you tomororw ...

Today, on the other hand, I must impart more wisdom from my darling dating coach, John Keegan.

The dude must sprinkle me with some kind of pixie dust because everybody wants me when I'm with him. Honestly, it's weird. On Thursday night, for instance, no less than five guys looked over their shoulders to check me out when I was with Johnny-Boy --and I'm not ugly, but nor am I usually the object of such frequent + extreme double-takes. And after I left John the other night, I must have continued to glitter with his magic -- or, at least, I continued to channel his playful energy. As I entered a branch of my gym on the Lower East Side, a man ahead of me approached the front desk saying, "I'm looking for Jeremy?" After the Jeremy person walked around the counter to give the guy a tour, I proceeded to the counter and said to the young man there: "I need to find the person who is NOT Jeremey. Is that you?" Not-Jeremy looked confused for a second, then laughed. I grinned at him, swiped my card through, and was walking off to the locker room when he came after me to give me a towel. "My name is George," he said. No, your name is Gorrrr-geous! I thought. Then he asked me for my name and we shook hands.

Following my work-out, as I was leaving, I held the door open behind me for some young dudes, and one of them--dressed up like some kind of rapper, with a brand-spanking new baseball-hat and a pristinely white hoodie and thick rhinestone-studded glasses--said to me, "Look at that--a cute girl, holding the door for us! Chivalry is not dead!" Then we came to the real exit, which I again held until I could hand it off to them. "What is this?--you're incredible!" the faux-rapper said. "We'll be encountering a lot of doors tonight--would you like to come with us and open them all?" We laughed.

I continued on my way to Whole Foods. There, I was looking at the jams as some male clerks behind me stocked nuts. Judging from their sudden silence, I got the feeling they were conspiring about something ... and I'd just chosen a jar of organic blueberry preserves when one of the workers came up to me, with an enormous smile on his face, and said, "Is there anything I can I help you with?"

Now, it's true that grocery clerks say this all the time to me and everyone else in the world--but he was being flirty, I swear! And when I told him I had all I needed, he said, "Well, I'm Joe. Give a holler if you need me."

* * *

That night, John and I talked about how BORING the most essential get-to-know-you questions are. What's your name? What do you do? Where are you from? When we meet someone new, we all want to know the answers to such queries ... and yet, doesn't it always feel so tiresome to ask about such things? Even worse, you know how boring it is for the person you are talking to respond--to repeat the pat biographical information he's been rattling off his whole life.

Luckily, John has come up with a pretty brilliant way to make the usual cocktail party BS more scintillating for everyone involved.

#1: The easiest way to mix things up: MAKE AN OBSERVATION rather than ASKING A QUESTION.

Instead of saying "What's your name?" ... say "You look like a HAROLD because of that bow tie." Or "You look like an Eduardo, with your exotic features." Or just keep it very simple and silly: "Let's me guess: Your name is--well, you're just giving off a certain Arlo vibe. Arlo Pumpernickel: Is that your name?"

Instead of saying "What do you do for a living?" ... say"Judging by the fact that you're wearing a suit jacket with jeans and Chuck Taylors, I'm going to guess that you work in the entertainment industry." Or "Judging from your all-black attire, I'm thinking you're a creative person--a writer. Or a painter maybe. Is that right?"

Instead of saying "Where are you from?" ... say "You're so laid-back, I bet you're from California." Or "You're so friendly and polite--are you from the Midwest?" Or "This is just a wild guess, but given that Canadian-flag pin you're wearing, might you be from the other country in North America?"

Be playful with it. Have fun. Try to stay away from saying anything TOO complimentary--like, "You have such amazing cheekbones; you must be a model!" Otherwise, you could be giving the other person a little too much power. (On the other hand, you could get away with saying something incredibly flattering if you follow it up with a joke, like "You have such great bone structure--are you a model citizen?") But don't be insulting, either.

#2: Invite the person to help you guess the answers to the questions you want to ask.

Do this by asking him to give you CLUES about where he hails from and what he does for a living. So, you might ask him to tell you a few things that the region he grew up is famous for--its hospitality? its weather? a certain kind of food, like deep-dish pizza or hush puppies, kettle corn or Macadamia nuts? To find out more about what he does for al iving ...

#3: Skip the job question--and ask instead what he loves most about how he makes a living.

Plenty of us are somewhat defensive about what we do--laywers expect everyone to think they're boring, TV journalists expect everyone to think they're smarmy, musicians expect everyone to think they're starving artists, etc. So approach the topic in a more invting way by asking your co-conversationalist to tell you about the things he like best about his job. He'll appreciate the opportunity to frame things in the most positive light.

#4: Ask him what he's most passionate about in life.

How many of us would prefer to talk about our hobbies than what we do from 9-to-5? Ask anyone what he does with his time after he punches out, and he's sure to be glad of the chance

Lovelies: What do you think about my darling John's advice? Do you have anything you would like to add or contradict? Any one-liners you want to share with the rest of us?