Wherein I question my own indulgence of my guilty conscience.

In light of recent events that have more to do with proving other people wrong (my parents, no less) than actually garnering up some cojones and embracing my bold femininity, I’ve found myself rather aggressively (for me, anyway… baby-steps) pursuing romantic leads.   Of course, I’m well aware of the fact that success in proving-wrong will also result in success in my love life, and so it’s not exactly a chore.  But it certainly ain’t easy.

Two recent instances of pursuit created some internal conflict, because my desire to be daring and devastating (I am not opposed to the adjective “saucy”) was met with doubt regarding my approach, all because of some ill-defined notions of formalities and etiquette.

In one case, I met a feller in my professional realm.  I felt the spark of a crush nearly the moment I saw him, and 15 minutes later, had convinced myself we were meant to be together.  The fact that he lives in another country (albeit one I consider my second home, bonus!) and was leaving town the next day I considered to be only temporary hurdles, easily overcome by the power of our yet-to-be-discovered love.  Since we work in the same industry, and I opted to approach him as such.  I donned my proverbial Producer’s Hat and set out to “exploit my professional prowess.”  My initial congratulations and adulation towards his work was genuine, but … I did not jump through hoops to reach him just to talk about movies.  I wanted to talk about the adorable children we might have one day (yes, the crush hit me hard).

Thus far, my “exploitation” has been a relative-success, because I’ve managed not only to get in touch with him, but a handful of emails have exchanged with little time lost in between.  When it is my turn to write, however, I become completely caught up in the formality of the “professional” email.  How do I go from “I really enjoyed the complexity of your film” to “I think we’d make beautiful music together”? Or, from “tell me about the projects you’re working on” to “tell me about what you’re looking for in a relationship”?  I live in fear of the day there’s really nothing else for me to write other than “I like you.  I think you’re real cute.  Are you keen on a, erm, long-distance producing partner?”

Is there any way to naturally segue from the formal, professional email to the friendly and flirtatious?  How do I move from the kind of email that’s signed “Best regards” to kind that’s SWAKed?  Is there a way to do it without compromising myself, professionally?  Or, upon giving myself away as a crush-monger, must I abandon all sense of professionalism and risk losing the connection all together?

I hate risking losing the connection altogether, she whined.  Alas – sigh – such is boldness.

Not one to limit myself to just one possibility (for “when it drizzles, it sometimes rains” – the my-life equivalent to the popular rain/pour idiom), I decided last week to approach a new flirty friend with whom I get along really well (and who is almost obnoxiously good-looking) for a number exchange.  My decision do to so alone prompted much support from my friends, most of whom know me best as being shy to a frustrating and fruitless fault.

Once at the bar where, indeed, my hottie was also spending his evening, I proceeded to fortify myself with a few doses of liquid courage while reading into each and every interaction with him.  I was feeling positive about it, too, and decided to get an outsider’s take on things to test my confidence – a newly befriended fellow bar patron, who knew the object of my interest seemed like the perfect source.  “So listen,” I began to him.  “I’m kinda keen on that guy.  I think he’s been flirting with me.  I was going to ask him for his number.  Have you noticed any… vibes?”  My new friend shook his head, almost sadly.  “He has a girlfriend,” he leaked.

“Oh.  Poo,” I replied.  That put a kink in my plans.

I assumed, right then, that I’d take the route I normally do when disappointed about guys – sulk home and drown my sorrows in low-fat crackers and copious amounts of cheese.  (How two delicious things like cheese & crackers became my romantically un-satisfied go-to snack is somewhat beyond me.  It makes me a little sad.)  This night, however, I chose not to get bogged down in what I’d normally do, and in a very, very un-me-like moment, I approached my crush.  I told him of my plan to ask him for his number, and then of my newly-gleaned intel that he was taken.  “Is it true?” I ventured to ask.  He admitted this with a slow nod.  “That’s a shame,” I said.  “For me.”

The next day, I wondered if it was inappropriate for me to put that out there to him – after all, for as much as I’ve previously been a party to infidelity (although never knowingly), I feel like it’s not my place to actively entice you out of your relationship.  (If you just so happen to be enticed, well, then, that’s another story.)  I’m still not sure if that’s even what I did.  I let him know I was interested.  That’s a positive thing for me.  He let me know that he was off the market… a positive thing for him, I suppose.  Yet every now and then, a pang of guilty-conscience surfaces, as though I’d violated some single person –> not single person protocol.  I ease my concerns by harping on the enormous feat I felt I overcame by being honest with him.  There was, actually, a sense of maturity to our little moment, accompanied by a kind of mild intimacy.  It felt good… but would have felt better if I’d actually gotten his number.  As it was, he commented on how well we got along, how nice our conversations always are, and that we pretty much know where to find each other.  I leave the idea of “So should he ever find himself single…” purposefully unfinished in my head.

The way I see it, in addition to the attempt to prove my parents wrong about the activity of my romantic life, these experiences are part of the uphill battle of learning how to know who I am exactly, and know what it means to challenge myself.  Is it worth it to adhere to formalities for the sake of comfort, but not productivity?  If so, why don’t we just reintroduce bows and curtsies?  Can abiding by those formalities ever eliminate this creeping self-doubt that wafts in to your psyche and plants itself somewhere between your head and your heart – or would it only aggravate it?

Maybe it’s just like waiting on your bike for the light to turn green before making that left on to a traffic-less street.  It may be the right thing to do – but perhaps it’s just delaying getting you from point A to point B.


It sounds dramatic, I know.  Bear with me.

Most of the time, life follows the following equation:


You only need to stick your hand into a fire once to realize that you shouldn’t really do that anymore.  Lessons that I have taken to heart via this “learning the hard way” method include:

  • Don’t forget your wallet when you are driving to your very first job interview ever and have to pay a toll, and your parents haven’t gotten EZPass yet.  You will not be able to pay the toll, and you will sit on the side of the road crying, and then you will find out that they just give you  form to fill out so you can mail in the $2.85, and apparently, it’s not the hugest deal.  I’ve never again forgotten my wallet en route to a job interview.
  • Don’t forget your wallet when you are traveling to Paris for the weekend.  Especially if you’re with a few friends that you haven’t known for more than a month.  Take a good look around your flat in London – including underneath your bag – before you pick it up and walk out of the room without a second glance.  I’ve never again forgotten my wallet before an international trip.
  • Don’t ask someone out if you’re so nervous that your hand shakes as you try to write down their phone number, then try to pass off the shaking as the side effect of a new medication you’re taking.  Bad news all around.
  • Don’t get drunk and tell the guy that you’ve been hooking up with that, while you were on vacation, you let another dude kiss you, and it was awful, and then demonstrate to this guy just how bad a kisser the other dude was.  Whatever you do, do not let it slip that Bad Kisser Boy tried to kiss your ear and it almost made you vomit.

Seriously, it only takes one godforsaken slip to learn to never do that – any of that – again.

How is all of this relevant?  I believe that I have discovered perhaps the only instance where intelligent and socially adept women (I’m putting myself this category now, even if the previous examples should exempt me from it) continually try try try without learning learning learning.  It is the Trifecta of Seduction… and it will be attempted, and it will fail, every time.

1)  Shaving Your Legs (and Everything Else) In Anticipation of Someone Being Close Enough To Appreciate It

Perhaps the most common insurer of Failure of Seduction for any woman who is not a compulsive, daily, full-leg-and-then-some shaver.  I swear, that teensy bit of stubble behind your knee is the easiest way to tip the scales in favor of getting your pants off.  And most guys that I know, glad to be getting the pants off in the first place, are wise enough to not give a shit – or at least not mention it – in the event that they even notice.  And let’s call a spade a spade, it’s not like he waxed his backhair for you.

2)  Cleaning Your Place In Anticipation Of Someone Being Over (and Sober Enough To Appreciate It)

With every stitch of clothing put away, with every desktop paper tidied, you are taking that guy you want one step further away from ever seeing those clothes or that desktop paper.  I’m not encouraging living in a pig-pen here, and I think its always wise to at least make sure that dirty socks and underwear go in the hamper faster than other dirty laundry.  Even for those perpetually-neat people (who probably shave their legs-and-then-some every day), hiding that picture of your ex-boyfriend will probably keep the newer one further at bay.  Whereas, say, that book you have called “How to Have Spectacular Sex” being left on the floor after some solo bedtime reading the night before will almost ensure that someone ends up there to help test it out.

3)  Wearing Sexy/Cute/Your Favorite/No Underwear In Anticipation Of Someone Seeing Them (or Decidedly Not Seeing Them)

Do you see where this is going yet?  I hearken back to “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” and the rather clever (if only slightly exaggerated) bit about the granny-panties being discovered in the most awkward of ways.  But for all the awkwardness, we cannot forget that, indeed, the granny-panties were discovered.  Which meant dear old Bridget got luckier than the rest of the chicas out there who oh-so-carefully selected the lacy thongy thing so she could look sex-x-xy for the 3.2 seconds in between layer-removal where they might be seen at all.  Another reason to keep this lesson in mind is that, if you are wearing your favorite undies, or ones that are impossibly sexy, and you still wind up getting some, and your beau fails to notice just how amazing they are, you may be inclined to point them out to him.  And nothing, no, nothing is worse than saying “No, wait!  Look!  They glow-in-the-dark!”  You will get laughed at.  Really, the transition of pants, on → pants, off, should be a fairly seamless and relatively silent one.  And if you’ve chosen to do away with the panties all together, you’re likely just going to enjoy the nice breeze on your solitary walk home.  Nothing makes the universe laugh more than being a little presumptuous, honey.

Ladies, take note: if you have chosen to defy the Laws of the Universe that I have just laid out, and you have schemed and shaved and straightened and seduced, and he is touching the smooth legs, seeing the neat apartment, noticing the fancy undies (as they get tossed to the floor), bear this in mind:

There’s a good chance you’ll realize in the morning that you didn’t want him there in the first place.  Plus, he’s probably married.

Disclaimer: These rules, of course, do not apply to those of you in happy relationships or contented, regular hook-ups, or even those able to boast the certainty of a real date.  But they are indeed for those of us existing somewhere in that relationship-nether-region of “What exactly is going on here? When will I see you again?,” those of us who don’t have the balls to  just say “I like you!”, those of us who instead just continue to haunt the places that we know/hope/feel/think we may see the man who we’d like to appreciate the legs/apartment/undies, prepared for any eventuality – except for the one in which we go home alone.  We’ve all been there at least once.  And if you haven’t , you probably won’t be too enthralled by the rest of this blog.

Visual tools are necessary for learning:

Trifecta of Seduction

Trifecta of Seduction