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staring conquest
flirting with disaster
by mike julianelle

My friends are appalled by it. I don’t understand why it bothers them so much. The way I see it, no harm no foul. Besides, it’s the little things in life! So I do it in my car, I do it on the T, I do it out windows and down hallways. Hell, I do it in the morning and I do it in the night, never trust a big butt and smile.

It’s the StareDown.

Flirting is fun. It’s fun because it’s all about potential and promise. No matter how unlikely those things are to be realized, it’s about enjoying the moment. Whether it’s the girl at Starbucks you buy your coffee from every morning, the waitress at your favorite bar, or the receptionist in your building, it’s a hell of a rush to exchange a few flirtatious words and imagine that she’s interested. Even though anyone in their right mind knows that you’re no different than the 3000 other guys who do the same thing every day and that nothing will ever come from it.

(Honestly, is there anything more suicidal than hitting on your waitress? It’s a kamikaze mission that I am proud to say I have flown myself, to no avail. It’s her job to charm the customers and bat her eyes to a bigger tip, and you should know that when she laughs at your clever (read: hackneyed and pathetic) jokes, she’s only doing it to pay her rent.)

Most of the time, better judgment prevails and such a trip into the lion’s den is avoided. You know enough to banter playfully but to never cross the line and make a proposition. Occasionally, though, after a cocktail or 12, your lust can get the better of you. Suddenly, that inflated self-confidence that comes with drinking a six-pack in under an hour has you walking up to the Sinead O’Connor look-alike at the local pub and slurring something oh-so-charming, only to be met with some diplomatic line about a boyfriend or a tazer gun.

You’ve got to pick your battles. Stay away from service industry types, unless she makes some absurdly obvious overture towards you, like a tongue in your mouth. You’ve gotta see the whites of her eyes before you pull the trigger - unless you’re drunk, when the misfire will barely register. Being blackout-style drunk is like being Leonard Shelby: it doesn’t make a difference what you do in that state, even if you make a tattoo reminder, because you’re just gonna forget the context and do the same thing the next day anyway. But, remember, the odds of success dwindle even further when you are drunk, so use your judgment.

Personally, I have a horrible time gauging anyone’s interest, or lack thereof, in me, and I therefore tend to walk the path of the timid. Again, drinking can help bolster confidence if you are a member of the low self-esteem club, but beware, for too much intake can result in massive delusions of grandeur (The hot lead singer of that band in that club isn’t hot for you, bro. It’s showmanship, not a come-on, so don’t be a fool.). The life of an alcoholic is a double-edged sword, but at least it’s expensive and life shortening.

Which brings us back to the StareDown. Now, the StareDown is by no means a way to reap any kind of tangible reward, but it is completely free from rejection and failure, so it can be mightily enjoyable. I prefer to use this tactic in the least vulnerable circumstances, such as from a car, safely protected by glass and metal. It’s simple and sensational to lock your eyes onto the face of a nice-looking lady, not relenting until she notices or is past your line of sight. Because, remember, she can do nothing about it. You are above reproach. Worse comes to worse, she thinks you’re a perv, which, let’s face it, you probably are. But you’re not breaking any laws; you’re just letting her know you think she’s worth looking at.

Yeah, it’s a bit much, but it’s all in the expression. Don’t leer, don’t whistle, and don’t make lewd faces. Just look. When she notices you, she’ll probably be flattered. Hell, she might even write about it on Craigslist (btw, I’m still waiting to be mentioned there, dammit!). If getting blacked out is like being the guy from Memento, then doing the StareDown is like being Roger Dodger. Or else it’s like being Charlie Manson. Or that really sketchy short guy from Accounts Payable who has three-day old Arby’s plastered all over his yellow and red striped rugby shirt.

Eye contact with an attractive female is one of the best natural highs out there. I have often based an entire workweek around such flirtatious eye contact, and it can be reason enough to look forward to the workday without fantasizing about shooting everyone in the office. Besides, if you creep out your targets for long enough, one of them might bring in an A-K and take the fall for you.

It’s a dance; we all know this. Those of us with either the least to lose, the biggest egos or the highest Blood Alcohol Content are usually the ones that win. You’ve gotta be fearless, but that works much better for people without shame, and, unfortunately, Adam and Eve blew that whole situation for us way back when.

The fact is, I don’t like rejection, so I try to minimize my chances of facing it. It’s a cowardly way to live, and it yields few successes. But, every once in a while, something close to a sure thing comes along. You’ve got to recognize it when you see it, and then you’ve got to capitalize, because, as a guy, you’ve got to make the move. I don’t care if she’s been staring at you all night; if you don’t approach her, it ain’t happening. So, when you do, make sure you don’t blow it. No pedophile jokes, no cheesy pick-up lines, no drooling or vomiting (I just wish I could follow my own advice, but those jokes are so funny they need to be shared!).

If you wuss out, there’s no real shame (just lots of personal disgrace and self-hatred. Plus your scrotum shrivels.). Just keep doing the StareDown and immediately checking Missed Connections and the police blotter. Someday you just might be noticed as something other than the drunkest guy in the room.


Let's get real here. You don't want to know about me. You want to know about "me".

more about mike julianelle


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published: 4.6.09


tracey kelley
10.17.03 @ 12:42a


Sometimes the StareDown is just flippin' creepy.

But I have to admit, I like the Stoplight Glance. That's always fun.

lee anne ramsey
10.17.03 @ 2:02p

Flirting IS fun! As you said: at worst, she thinks you're a perv. But at best - you've totally made someone's day.

mike julianelle
10.17.03 @ 5:23p

I figured this might piss off some women. And probably rightfully so. But I don't mean it to be creepy, although it definitely is.

sarah ficke
10.18.03 @ 12:20a

It's just really hard to tell when a guy means to be creepy or doesn't. If he's cute, you want to assume he's not creepy. If you're smart, you'll assume that he is (at least in my experience, they all were).

brian anderson
10.18.03 @ 2:34p

Sarah's Is-he-creepy-or-not thing is actually a problem that a lot of guys have with flirting. The line between interesting/clever and creepy is ever-changing, and it depends more on the audience than the speaker. It's a difficult balancing act between being harmless enough to be not-creepy and interesting enough to be intriguing.

robert melos
10.19.03 @ 12:30a

Flirting is about more than staring. I'm a master flirt, if I wanna be. My friend Lois and I used to love to play flirting games. She would flirt with guys for the fun of it, and I would flirt with, um, guys for the fun of it. Very easy to do with guys, because most only need a light stroke of the ego, and they are putty in my hands.

Women take more work. They enjoy the talking, the subtle innuendo, the knowing glances, and the mental play. Staring probably just creeps out the majority.

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