And yes, I can admit without shame that I am one of those that does not have it. I can’t tell you the amount of times that I have missed the signals until it was too late. And then when I finally catch on, an awkward tremor of ‘ewww’ will slither up my spine, wondering if my kind and pleasant words were like music to ears with a hint of orange zest coupled with a shot of ‘Yep! I’m in there!’.
Funnily enough, I’ve been told that my default expression often makes me look a bit mean. I can’t help that though; it would be a bit strange to walk around with a permanent smile fixed onto my face. But I am a nice person, you see. I even politely decline the people begging in the street, or those people who hand out newspapers at the station in the morning – when what most people really do is just flat out ignore them.
And for the most part I do. I don’t respond to hissing fits or cat calls because I find them degrading, but at times, there are those who persist – whether you’re alone at the bus stop or standing at the end of a quiet platform waiting for the tube – and there is often no means of escape. With these people, however, it’s usually blatantly obvious what their intentions are, however, because this isn’t fifty-years ago where it was common to exchange words briefly with a stranger. This is the twenty-first century where people can no longer be trusted and charlatans walk around in high numbers.
So I feel that in addition to myself, these people don’t ‘have it’ either. British people – unless drunk – are a suspicious lot after all – and if a complete stranger wonders up beside me and asks me my name and where I’m from, I’m going to wonder if he’s trying to steal my identity.
Usually in this scenario, however, the questions that follow are pretty ‘high school’. Where are you headed? Have you got a boyfriend? Can I get your number? And even when you do decline – or you do like I do and lie through your teeth stating that you’re with someone already – some will even bold-facedly ask if they can still be your friend.
These people are the creeps, however. The people that are so desperate for some coochie that they don’t care where they get it. I’m convinced that these are the kind of people that post up ads on plentyoffish.com with intentions of having an intimate encounter. Some are probably married.
But it isn’t everyone, however. And it’s not these people I fall victim to. It’s the people who have managed to bypass the level of acquaintance even though they mightn’t yet be my friend. I suppose it’s easier when you have something in common – it should pave the way for a little light-hearted banter – but I tend to find that with these people, it becomes very awkward when you have to let them down gently.
Here’s an example. My boss became very friendly with a man who fixed the boiler a couple of times so he would frequently come to the office. The guy was very talkative and friendly and even showed me a few tips and tricks that would save us if our boiler acted up again. I didn’t mind him. He seemed harmless, until one day when I was at work alone and he came in.
I had thought he’d wanted to see my boss about something – not uncommon as she’d had him over at her house to do some work. She wasn’t in, however, so he stopped to have a word with me. He began asking me what I did in my spare time and conversation turned towards my aspirations as I had yet to start my TESOL course at the time. He began talking about taking me out, which I fobbed off as a joke because not only does it seem to be a common joke in my workplace, but the man is old enough to be my father. I only realised he was being serious when he offered to give me his number.
I didn’t want to be rude, but I let him leave his number anyway. What I really should have said was ‘thanks, but no thanks’ – not in so many words, but enough to ensure he got the picture. I think he did get the picture, however, because I can’t seem to hide when I feel uncomfortable. He left shortly after and hasn’t been in contact since.
So I have to wonder to myself if my incessant pleasantries give off the notion of ‘leading on’ – or whether I’m just completely clueless about the inner workings of the male psyche.
Or maybe those who flirt naturally communicate in an entirely different language altogether – one that I haven’t really grasped. Because to me, the general consensus seems to be that a person is creepy or it’s all one big joke. But is it all down to suspicions or insecurities, or is it because I’m just not looking for it? You can’t catch what you can’t see after all. And in this case, things tend to find me when I least expect them to.
Or maybe for me, intentions need to be laid on the line from the get go - give it to me straight, doc. This is a little ironic, however, because if I genuinely genuinely fancied someone, that person would never know.