One day, after one of those deliriously busy lunch shifts at the restaurant ended, my friend Jenna and I gleefully ordered at the computer terminal a pizza and a big salad to share.
“Oh, can we leave out the wontons and the scallions from the salad? Wontons are empty calories and I hate scallions”, Jenna requested. “Sure”, I responded. She happily shares vegetarian pizzas with me every time we work together, who am I to care about wontons and scallions?
While waiting for our food, we gave our money to our boss, loosened our ugly ties, and removed our aprons in the back room. Jenna began to vent about the guy she met on Match.com and went out with a week earlier. “He still hasn’t called me back. It’s been like, 5 days since I left him a message.” I asked her what she said in the message. “Just a ‘thanks for such a great time, can’t wait to see you again’. We really did connect…I felt like we had a fun time together.” Jenna was genuinely sad and confused about why he hadn’t asked her out again.
We clocked out at the terminal and then grabbed our glorious feast and plopped ourselves in a booth that sits in a secluded corner of the restaurant nicknamed “The Dungeon” by the employees. The Dungeon is the worst section to serve because its seclusion makes it difficult to watch from afar and its location means you have to tack on an extra 5-10 minutes walking to and from the kitchen and your tables. That usually equals shitty tips from the tables whose food took longer to get to them.
I told Jenna in between forkfuls of lettuce that she should probably forget about that guy she went on one date with. “He ignored your message, that’s all that matters. It doesn’t matter that you two seemed to connect, what matters is he isn’t following that up with trying to connect with you some more.” Jenna reluctantly agreed.
Another friend of ours finished her shift and joined us with her food. Ellen usually orders from the kids’ menu. She sat down with a tiny bowl of macaroni and cheese. “Liz, did that guy on table 21 leave you his phone number?” Ellen was referring to the guy she believed to have been flirting with me the whole time I waited on his table.
“No, but what’s funny is his friend did–the guy who was sitting next to him on the right. Isn’t that weird?” I showed them the receipt with his number and name scribbled next to a note that said ‘You are beautiful’. I told them “He was the one who paid. I saw him stay behind as the others got up to put on their jackets so he could quickly write his note.”
Ellen casually says to Jenna “Liz gets hit on all the time.” Jenna responds, somewhat amused, “I know! Every time she leaves the house she gets hit on! I don’t get it”, to which Ellen enthusiastically agreed with a puzzled expression.
Did they seriously just say in front of me that they “didn’t get” why I got hit on? What? How insulting! I mean, I know I’m no supermodel, but come on! What did they think I was, stupid, plain, and boring? I chose to ignore their slightly jealous little barb, but a few days later I realized that their comment said more about them than it did about me.
I read between the lines: what Ellen and Jenna were really saying was “What does Liz have that I don’t have?” In other words, it’s not that it surprised them that I was approached often by men, rather, they were wondering why they weren’t approached as often as I was. Ellen and Jenna were attractive, young, reasonably smart (but let’s face it, in most situations, a stranger isn’t hitting on you because he can tell you have brains from afar), educated (both had college degrees, but were waiting tables to get by until landing good gigs in their respective fields), and both got out of their cramped Los Angeles apartments enough to be spotted by potential mates. So why weren’t they approached by guys more often?
At the risk of sounding narcissistic, it’s true that I got hit on a lot. While grocery shopping, or waiting patiently for my soy chai tea latte at Starbucks, or dining alone at my favorite vegan restaurant around the corner from my apartment. Sometimes the guy approaching me turned into a boyfriend eventually, but most often the initial flirtation resulted in one or two bad dates and then I moved on.
After much thought, these are the reasons I believe I was asked out more than my friends were:
1) I didn’t depend on friends to go places. If I was craving food somewhere, I brought a book or a magazine and got a table for one. If I needed to go shopping or just get out of my apartment even though my friends were busy, I just went without them. I browsed bookstores alone, ate out alone, and joined local meet-up groups that revolved around my interests. In other words, I was my own best friend and was comfortable in my own skin, which reeks of confidence. Not only does the confidence make you more attractive, but men are much less likely to approach a chick if she’s with a group of friends because who wants an audience? Not to mention feeling like you’re interrupting a group of strangers. I was hit on often because being alone simply made me more approachable. The only places I didn’t go alone were nightclubs, bars, and house parties.
2) I wore natural-looking makeup. When I was a teenager, I often heard guys express how much it turns them off when a chick wears too much makeup. Women look their best when makeup is used to emphasize their best features, not stand out on its own. For this reason, I never wore lipstick. If I were a guy, I’d find lipstick off-putting, because who wants to be concerned with looking like a clown after smooching his lover? I didn’t want my boyfriends to have to think twice about kissing me (and I didn’t want to hesitate kissing him to keep my lipstick from smearing either!) Lipstick looks great sometimes, like maybe for special occasions, but for every day—forget it. I do rock the dark eyeliner when I go out, but that can look understated if you don’t pair it with a bunch of eyeshadow. Anyway, bright shades of eye shadow, unnaturally pink shades of blush, lipsticks—all are meant for performance artists or the runway, not real life. Of course, there are exceptions to everything, but for the most part, less = more, ladies!
3) I don’t dress for other women. You know how there are some chicks who live to outdress each other? The trend-whores who consider themselves style icons and refer to themselves as “fashionistas” get dressed every day with the singular goal of catching other women’s eyes because they want to be envied for their status symbols. Look, I can appreciate great style, but great style doesn’t necessitate a Louis Vuitton bag. When you dress with disregard for what is actually flattering to your figure to don pieces just because they are “in”, you aren’t looking your best. When you dress for the attention of other chicks, don’t be surprised if you really only get attention from chicks. I dressed in simple, inexpensive, feminine pieces that were flattering to my body type. As a matter of fact, sometimes not following a fad made me stand out amongst my friends. For example, a friend of mine threw a house party for another mutual friend’s birthday. I wore a simple black and white cocktail dress and heels. At one point, a small group of guests had gathered around the dining room, sipping wine and talking. One guy that I had just met that night started chatting me up by pointing out that I was the only girl there who was not wearing 6 necklaces. This was back when the overdone look was popular, with the giant hobo bags and too many accessories. He liked that I didn’t have a gazillion necklaces on because he “appreciates a woman’s bare neckline…” It was a sexy compliment, but the point is don’t dress for women (unless you’re attracted to women, of course), dress with an eye for what catches a man’s eye.
4) I was easy to talk to. I probably wouldn’t have been asked out as much if every time a guy approached me he found me to have the conversational skills of a rabbit. You can spot someone you find attractive, begin to chat them up, and find them so uncharming and dull that you begin to silently plan your escape. It’s important to be able to have casual, friendly conversational skills about current events, your hobbies and interests, etc. I think Jenna and Ellen were good conversationalists with their girl friends, but guys, however, were more intimidating to them. I remember a few times at the bar when a guy chatted me up and Jenna and Ellen were impressed by my ability to just reciprocate the flirtation.
In all fairness, they were both about 8 years younger than I was at the time, so they had some catching up to do. Anyway, the point of all this is that getting asked out is not just about how “pretty” you might be. Other factors play a large role, too.