Saturday, July 15, 2006

Notes on scheduling with me the week of the 16th...

I have a shoot booked with this guy Friday afternoon, so Friday is right out. And I'm booked Monday until about 4:30. But as of now, I've got most of the rest of the week open, and it's my intention to fill that up.

Note that while I am usually *not* available Thursday evening, this week, I am. In fact, if you like evening appointments in general, this would be a good week for that.

Late July and August can be quiet for ladies in the industry because lots of people go on vacation, but I'm not going anywhere until Labor Day weekend, so call me.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Wella, wella, yesterday’s post definitely brought ya’ll out of the woodwork, didn’t it?

I’m seeing that for the guys, there seems to be two camps about telling a strange woman, in public, that she’s beautiful. (Or some similar remark.) One camp says: I’m not hitting on her, I just want to pay her a compliment. The other camp admits that when they say that, they’d like to get to know the lady better.

On the other side of the fence, a lot of the women seemed agree that a strange guy coming up to you in public can be startling, and make one uncomfortable.

As I said yesterday, it’s not that you can never speak to a strange woman in public, ever. As with most any social interaction, there’s a little dance to be done here, there are signals to give and to observe. That’s why I think the 3-Step Process is crucial. Let me elaborate.

We have a person who wants to initiate contact, and the person they want to speak to. Let’s say we’re talking a man and a woman. I think this is how it should be done regardless of gender, but what’s also true is that a woman is much less likely to perceive another woman as a potential physical threat.

  1. Man stays a socially acceptable distance away from the woman. He makes eye contact with her for a few seconds.
  2. During the eye contact – which may happen several times over a minute or two, as the woman looks, looks away, and then looks again – he smiles. Eye contact minus smile = creepy.
  3. Then, and only then, does he move close enough (if that’s necessary) to her to say “I just wanted to tell you that you’re beautiful.”

That’s the process. She’s far less likely to be startled, because you signaled your intentions. She may or may not respond the way you’d like her to, but I know that when someone follows this process with me, I am much more likely to smile and say, “thank you!” than I am to jump back and fumble for my pepper spray.

You’ll notice this can all be done in the time it takes a stoplight to change. If you really just want to pay a lady a compliment, I think the ideal circumstance is one where she can thank you and then be free to physically move on if she wants to. So, for example, tell the lady as you’re both getting off the elevator, not as you’re getting on.

I define "socially acceptable distance" as arms-length at least. There are exceptions where strangers routinely stand closer to each other - subway cars in New York, for example. But the closer you get, the more likely you are to seem like a potential threat.

I think the maximum time you can hang out after you pay a compliment and she says thank you is about five seconds. Past that, you’re hoping for a longer exchange, and the compliment has become a means to that end. That doesn’t make you a crazed serial killer, but if you want to not make an ass of yourself, there is another set of signals you should observe, in my opinion.

1. A woman who physically steps away from you is saying I don’t want to talk to you, and in fact, you’re making me uncomfortable. A gentleman respects such a signal. Do not step closer to her again. Don’t say, “hey, don’t run away”, or “don’t worry, I’m not going to hurt you”. What that tells me is that you are thinking about hurting me, so I should run run run away.

2. That stuff seems all fairly obvious to me, but there are subtler signals too. A woman who maintains eye contact with you and smiles past the five-second window is signaling that she’s open to further conversation. If she also turns her body towards you she’s definitely interested in talking. But a woman who turns away and looks away, steadily, is signaling no thanks.

I say steadily because there are shy girls who sometimes do that look-away, peep-back thing. (Is he looking at me? I hope he’s looking at me. Omigod omigod, he’s looking. Eeek! Like that.) Facial expression would be the indicator with a peeper. Is she smiling (or better yet, giggling) – or is her expression better suited to someone visualizing you in a police lineup? If she keeps her face and body mostly turned away, but cuts her eyes back to check on you, and she is not smiling, that means I don’t want to talk to you.

Personally, I think that if a woman gives the move-away/look-away signals during Step 1 or Step 2 of the 3-Step Process, the initiator should back off. However I will allow that failure to do so doesn’t instantly brand you a Pushy Creep. But – if you speak, and she backs away, and you don’t respect that, you are indeed a Pushy Creep. Proof positive: you keep talking to her, and she either ignores you entirely or makes one-word answers, while not looking at you. You’re the Mayor of Creepyville now.

Other thoughts: Bad places to talk to strange women are parking lots, parking garages, elevators in parking garages, dark alleys, any place dark and/or largely unpopulated/isolated. And yes, I’ve had guys try to chat me up all these places. Bad strategy.

But it doesn’t have to be a dark, scary place for her to be uncomfortable - I’ve been on a little corner of a beautiful sunlit beach and been uneasy because some strange-vibe guy found me and just wouldn’t go away and leave me alone, and there wasn’t anyone else close by. So be aware that if you’re alone somewhere with a strange woman, odds are good that she’s going consider, at least momentarily, whether anyone would hear her if she screamed. If the answer is no, your courtship is unlikely to prosper. It’s a not a personal slam at you, it’s just the way the world works.

So you’ve gotten the okay, I’ll talk to you signal from her. Here are some other ways to avoid being kicked back to creepy weirdo status: do not ask her name for at least five minutes. Do not ask her last name, period. Do not ask where she lives, or where she works, or any other potential-stalker information. Basically, don't a lot of personal questions.

Don’t say anything else about her looks. Don’t ask if she has a boyfriend/husband.

Talk about innocuous stuff – movies, music, sports, pets, whatever. Nothing too emotionally intimate, either. The point is not the information, the point is showing her you get it that there are steps and stages you, the guy, have to go through in order to get to know her better. And if you as much as mention sex at this stage, you’re the President of The United States of Creepy.

The one think I don't know is how long you must talk before you can ask for (and successfully get) her phone number, because while I've occasionally talked to guys I met wherever, I've never been willing to give out my number to a stranger this way. I'd be interested to hear what women who have met guys like this would say.

See, paul_tex, I'm as good as a Cosmo article anyday!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Strangers Without Candy

I had dinner with Miss K last night, and we were talking about how, some days, one just wishes one could walk through the world and be invisible. We got started on this topic because although she has a car, Miss K takes the bus certain places, and apparently there are certain bus routes in Seattle that are fine and non-eventful, and certain bus routes that are to be avoided because they are just chock full of scary people. Scary people who all seem to be riding the bus more as a social event than as a mode of transport from one place to another, and there you are with them. Hi!

Both Miss K and I tend to be reserved about talking to strangers in public no matter what. But there are days when you really really don’t have the energy to fulfill to the social needs of random whoever. Miss K was telling me about how she was standing in a parking lot lately, completely absorbed in trying to make her cell phone behave, when all of a sudden this guy was right up next to her, saying “I just wanted to tell you that you’re beautiful.”

(Author's note: Miss K is indeed beautiful. Plus she’s six feet tall so it’s kinda hard to miss seeing her.)

She said, “He had some type of accent so it took me a minute to understand what he’d said. I was startled, but I just barely glanced up at him and said thank you and then looked down again.”

And to his credit, the guy did immediately go away. But this has happened to me, too, and it’s really jarring when you’re moving through the world alone, mentally composing a grocery list or the plot of your next novel, and someone decides that the two of you are going to have some sort of moment together. (Remember, I’m not talking about a social event or even a bar, where conversational sallies are expected. I’m talking about, say, Bartells, or the corner of 15th and Harrison St, or the aforementioned parking lot.)

There’s also the fact that I don’t believe any man makes a remark like this to a woman without at least some hope that she’ll respond by wanting to know him better. I know, some guys will say, no, I wasn’t trying to hit on her, I just wanted to tell her she looked beautiful. But I have never had a stranger approach me like this when I’m actually with a man. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. You gentlemen who claim you’re just being friendly, consider this: would you walk up to a strange woman who was with a guy and say, “You’re beautiful”? If not, why not? What would you think if you were with a woman and another man did so? (We won't even get into the whole issue of how two women together could very well be...together.)

Whatever the motivation, I myself think approaching women in public works better when you give them a little ramp-up. You know, make some eye contact, smile – then when you get closer and speak, they’re not so startled. And if they’d rather be left alone, they can signal that with the averted gaze, the turned back, or moving away from you. Want to ignore those signals? Well, I hear certain Metro buses are a great place to meet interesting people.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Mistress sez: Well, that was a stupid little trick on someone's part, wasn't it? Okay, now back to the regularly scheduled program....

Monday, July 10, 2006

Sometimes reading other people’s journals is like watching Jerry Springer – it makes you really fucking glad you’re not that person. I was at a delightful party Saturday night with lots of my pals, and we were talking about a certain person (who shall remain nameless) whose journal I go read now and then. It was a bit surprising to find three other people who knew who I was talking about, but I suppose blogland is a small world, and the blogger has some slight claims to local fame.

Our verdict: the blogger in question is a train-wreck. I mean, seriously, but seriously whacko. I have several good friends who cheerfully identify themselves as crazy, and I’ve done a few rounds of “Hey, sweetie, I really think you need your meds adjusted. If you come in off that ledge you’re crouched on, I’ll drive you to the doctor, and I’ll buy you an ice cream cone afterwards. It’ll be okay, I promise.” So while I have no personal experience living in a head that doesn’t operate like other people’s, I know crazy when I see it. This woman is crazy.

And not well-managed in her craziness, either - that was one of the things that struck me. My closest friend Miss K, for example, has a life-long history with diagnoses and therapists and anti-depressant-this and mood-stabilizing-that, and she’s definitely learned to manage her unquiet mind and the effect it has on her life. There have been ups and downs in the thirteen years I've known her, but overall she’s become my yardstick for how well people handle their insanity. She always says, “Being crazy is a reason, not an excuse. You still have to take responsibility for yourself.”

So I read this blogger’s stuff, and I’m always torn between pity for her sheer animal pain, and eye-rolling what-the-hell-did-you-think-was-going-to-happen? disgust. We are handed a certain amount of unavoidable suffering in this life, but there is a whole lot more that actually can be avoided with even the most elementary of precautions, and when I see someone flinging themselves into a wood-chipper over and over again, it’s hard to view them as totally helpless victims of circumstance. One can only infer that she’s getting some kind of thrill out of her constant flirtations with physical, medical, financial and emotional disaster. God knows there seem to be any amount of people who will coo and say poor baby, poor baby, so maybe that’s it.

But good lord, do you have to heave it all up onto the web? We all have dark nights of the soul – I’ve certainly had mine. However, publishing the rawest, ugliest moments of one’s inner life to the world is a form of exhibitionism that’s incomprehensible to me. It’s not that there cannot be beauty in written descriptions of emotional pain. But all too many people fall into the pit of thinking that all written descriptions of emotional pain are, by default, beautiful.

There’s a story that BDSM author Laura Antoniou used to keep a shelf of the Chronicles of Gor novels above her writing desk, and that one interviewer claimed that her novels had been “inspired” by them. Ms. Antoniou clarified: the Gor novels were there to serve as a bad example, to remind her of the kind of books she didn’t want to write. One meets people in life like that: you look at them and think, “Wow, I really don’t want my life to look like hers.” And so you make that dental appointment you’ve been putting off, get the oil in car changed, and deposit that cash into your IRA. Then you spend time with the people who love you.