Maybe I’m getting older, maybe I’m out of practice, but it seems like the dating scene has changed dramatically in the last four years since I last was out on the prowl. I figured, hey, flirting again is just like getting back onto a bike, right? Not really.
Don’t get me wrong, I find Egyptian men completely charming in their shy, Neanderthal flirting ways of picking on my hair/outfit/accent all night long before professing their undying love for me, or my personal favorite, ignoring me for years and then professing their undying love for me. With all their shortcomings, they easily make up for it with their warm smiles, generous compliments and easy-to-talk-to-ness.
But lately, the flirting seems to have gone from clumsy/cute to downright lawnmower aggressive. Or as one friend referred to it, the Hurricane Katrina Approach: you won’t know what hit you till it’s over.
Exhibit A: Cute guy checks me out at the Jazz Club, although, in hindsight, the fact that he reminded me of one of those Prison Break thugs should have been a warning sign. Cute guy simply comes up and starts dancing with me [Note: This is ok as long as you have rhythm and you don’t imitate Akon’s Smack That moves].
TWO SECONDS into introducing himself as Zizo (ahem) he asks me where I live. Then he asks if I live alone. Then he suggests he drives me home. Then he suggests he comes home with me. Call me old-fashioned, but I was hoping to get past the small talk about work/childhood/aspirations in life before receiving the indecent proposal.
Zizo (whose last name was unfortunately not Natana) didn’t seem to take my nervous laughter and polite Nos as a No, because some idiot somewhere started a rumour that women mean Yes when they say No.
Note to men, If I’m pushing your chest away and shouting “No!”, that pretty much means No. Not much room there for misinterpretation.
Eventually the unfortunately named Zizo backed off and went home alone, but it had me thinking: What exactly is it about me that inspires men to use such sleazy lines? Are they so desperate to pull that they’ll risk getting slapped/kicked/beaten up by someone’s thugly older brother?
No, I don’t have a thugly older brother but that’s besides the point.
Exhibit B: I’m dancing at a Lebanese Club in London, and as luck would have it, I’m surrounded by Egyptian men who are obviously homesick and miss Egyptian curves as much as their mama’s molokheya. This motivates one guy to come up to me as I dance, clap feverishly and yell what is literally translated into ‘Shake it, Goose!’
Geese smell and have ugly feet. How on earth does that count as a compliment?
Goose boy then proceeds to eavesdrop on my conversation with a friend, and when he hears that I’m from Alexandria, he almost throws himself into my arms and shrieks ‘You’re from Alexandria? Say Ayoo, say Ayoo Please! Please! Say Ayooo!”
We don’t say Ayoo, motherfucker.
Exhibit C: Guy checks me out all night long. I know this because he’s standing right in front of me and staring without blinking. Eventually I have to move to the other side of the bar to avoid his glare. At the end of the night, as I’m pulling on my coat, Eyeballer walks up to me and says “Nice Hair!” and then runs the other way.
Exhibit D: Guy puts out his foot as I walk past, makes me trip in my heels, catches me and says: “Oh Look, I made you fall for me!”
What Zizo the Unfortunate, Goose-boy, Eyeballer and Bigfoot all have in common are two things-
1. They went from zero to 180 in seconds, far too fast for someone as rusty and shy as me. Don’t laugh. I AM shy.
2. Their lines, while sometimes funny, were just too intimidating. If you make me (or pretty much any woman) feel uncomfortable, you’ve lost your chance. No chat up line should make a woman revise her self-defense routine in her head.
Maybe this is how kids flirt these days, maybe I’m too shy, or maybe our generation is so caught up with the fast pace of life that we’re cutting to the chase in everything we do: deliver instead of cook, BBM/poke instead of call, lols instead of tediously spelling out the frigging words, we’re always rushing. But the beauty of flirting is its lazy pace, which gives us time to check each other out and become physically, emotionally and mentally intrigued. You have to establish some electric connection before reaching for the, ahem, light switch.
The ones who’ve worked their magic on me are those who compliment casually, flirt but not agressively, dance but not rub up against me. And above all, they have to make me laugh.
Note to those of you who download chat-up lines off websites (Yes you, I know you do it), the most fool-proof line that works every single time with me is this:
“Hi, my name is [insert name here].” Smile. “How are you?”