I know a guy.
Let’s call him Shadyface McCreeperson. He’s that guy who talks to you with calculated interest, yet you can’t help but sense something disingenuous because you know he talks like this with every. single. girl. And then he pretends he has Aspergers because whenever you try to politely sneak out of the conversation, he won’t let you. He’s also probably a close talker.
I also know this other guy. We’ll call him Nicey McGuyerson, because I’m feeling very imaginative today. He’s amazed by how McCreeperson is always talking up a girl, as if he was some kind of exquisite mind genius instead of being that guy who’s willing to strike out 99 times because statistically the 100th try could be a win. As Nicey McGuyerson tells me this, I’m just trying to stave off an aneurysm, because amidst my sympathy for the girl who is, at that moment, clearly trying to find a frantic escape route from whatever conversation McCreeperson had roped her into, I fail to consider the possibility that anything about that guy might be admirable. Then again, for all I know, the amazement may have been at the lack of self consciousness on Shadyface’s part, despite all his shadyfacedness. Heck, I’m amazed by it.
The next day I’m over at a friend’s house, talking about how she mailed a mix tape to a guy she likes, and he seemed to like her too. In fact, he liked her so much that he sent her sunflowers as a thank you for the mix tape, because she lives in a place where it rains a lot and it makes her sad. This was the sweetest thing ever, but it got me thinking: flowers are so cliché, and being cliché is exactly what repulses me about guys like Shadyface McCreeperson, so why am I discriminating?
Here’s the thing: it’s not that this guy sent flowers. It’s not that he did something that boys are supposed to impress girls with. It’s that there was thought and affection in the gesture, and it was sincere. In fact, the gesture was a response to show that the feelings were mutual. If a Shady McCreeperson gave me flowers, I would just feel like he invested $15 towards potentially getting laid. Basically, making a move, even if it’s just a small compliment, is really sweet when you’ve had a chance to establish enough mutual ground and interest to warrant it. But if you tell me I’m pretty and we should “hang out” after ten minutes of synthetic conversation, I’m going to assume I could just as well be anyone, and that’s not very flattering, is it?
I want to connect with someone and feel something significant. I want to feel like this guy is talking to me because I’m who he wants to talk to, not because I happen to be the closest person with a vagina. And who doesn’t? I’m not saying stand outside my window with a boom box or anything (unless you’re John Cusack, in which case by all means, stand away). There’s either a connection or there isn’t, you can’t force it with calculated conversations and unsettling amounts of eye contact. I always feel like guys who do that just read some bad dating book and rely on rehearsed methods because they don’t have enough to offer by just being themselves. And that’s sad and awkward.
I mean, look, inevitably, you’ll fall into awkwardness either way. It’s just much more fun when it stems from sexual tension, and not your efforts to balance between good manners and the urge to flee. A friend of mine told me once that she and her girlfriend finally got together, after weeks of awkward tension, when they went for a walk and one of them took the other’s hand. So simple, so sweet, and so sincere. Honestly, if you hit a point where something so small takes on such meaning, you respect the person for their courage too much to reject the gesture. It’s about actually connecting, and while it may look impressive when a guy can talk to any and every girl, you won’t get too far with him unless you’re just looking for a fling. And if you are, you can probably do better than a Shadyface McCreeperson.