When I walked into my local Brooklyn Starbucks one mid-December morning, I wasn't expecting to get a New Year's Eve date. But as a recently minted 33-year-old with chronic No Boyfriend Disease, I did have a goal. Not only to get caffeinated, but also to test out a few pick-up tricks from the dating how-to guide I was reading, "Date Like a Man
," by Myreah Moore and Jodie Gould. In it, they assert coffee chains were "the Mecca for thousands of hyped-up singles."
This morning's outing was actually part of an even grander experiment; to read a different dating book every month for a year, taking the advice to see if I, whose "relationships" typically expired before the Half and Half in my fridge, could find lasting love in the city of barstool make-outs and three single women for every unmarried man.
So, when I walked in and saw among the couples not one but two members of the rare Brooklyn male species Bachelorus availobolus
, unencumbered by stroller or nearby female, I quickly put my newspaper down in the seat across from them.
When I returned from getting my coffee, as I sat and re-read for the seventh time a line about a goat in a version of polo played in Afghanistan I tried to think. What were those non-verbal flirting cues Myreah told me about
? I could flip my hair (currently tied in a rubber band), expose my supposedly "erotic" wrists, massage my neck (a no-go in my turtleneck), twirl something cylindrical (revealing my subconscious desires), let a shoe sexily dangle off the back of my heel (impossible as I was in double-knotted cross-trainers) or cross my legs, point one foot in his direction and let it swing, because "thrusting is a courting signal."
Limited by my choice of footwear and apparel, I went with a full re-do of my ponytail. As I let down my shoulder-length locks, one of them spoke.
"Any good news in there?" he asked, nodding at the crumpled paper in my lap.
And we were off. One 15-minute conversation, a digit exchange and a few phone chats later, and I had a date on the biggest night of the year.
So how can you snag a New Year's Eve honey on short notice? Here's a countdown of some of the most useful techniques I tried:
Read in a Public Place
The right book is like a good wingman. It keeps you entertained and does some quick advertising for you. In this case, "right book" means something gender neutral, or skewed to a male audience, to get his attention. Think the biography of Andre Agassi or "Into Thin Air," not anything called "Air Kisses" or "Accidentally Engaged."
Cruise Dog Parks, the Apple Store and Home Depot
No canine? No problem. Say you're in the market for a pup and doing some research. Ask for help choosing between the iPad and iTouch, or the difference between sheathing and plywood. On chilly Sundays, instead of staying in to watch "The Holiday" for the sixth time on TBS, hit a sports bar to watch football. Also check out karate studios, ski slopes, comedy clubs and the beer aisle of the supermarket.
After you put yourself in position next to men, talk to them! Put your shoulders back, step away from your female posse, smile, make eye contact and for the love of all that is studly, uncross your arms. If it makes you nervous, start small, initiating conversation with your cab driver or cashier, and work your way up to asking the hottie at your gym for assistance with chin dips. Be playful, pay him a compliment, and keep it light, fun and quick -- anytime, anywhere, with anyone. If you're not sure what to say ...
These are questions about anything, designed to make your contact seem accidental. One courageous morning, I asked a fine fellow on the subway where he got his belt. Did I feel stupid? Yes. Did I get a date? No. But I did get some valuable practice and learned Old Navy does nice leather work. Try "Do you know the happy hour specials?" "Have you eaten here before?" or simply "Do you have the time?" Note the difference between those lines and "Hi, I'm Mary. Do you come here often?" If it feels contrived or dorky, let it. It's worth it for an "Auld Lang Syne" lip-lock.
Go Out Alone
In the words of Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger, "Those who travel in packs do not attract." Girl gaggles are intimidating. Just because men usually do the approaching, it doesn't mean they're not afraid of rejection. Help them out. Have lunch sitting at the bar of a restaurant, attend a networking event solo, and when meeting friends, show up 10 minutes early.
Draw Attention to Your Product
Your "product" being you
. This means go beyond looking your best -- stand out. I don't mean ginormous bows or hot pink bunny ears; just one eye-catching color or accessory to get people's attention and maybe even help you step up your game. When I added a jaunty, plaid newsboy cap to my wardrobe (as something of a die-hard wool toboggan chick, I wouldn't normally wear it), I found myself being spunkier to live up to the cuteness of the hat. Experiment with a funky scarf, headband or pin that gives a guy a reason to come talk to you.
Lose the Headphones
I love my tunes as much as the next girl, but headphones are conversation stoppers that say "Leave me alone." Try commuting and working out without your beloved buds in your ears. You might hear something more interesting than Kanye's latest rhyme.
walk fast. Really fast. Sometimes when clonking loudly in heels down the street, I think, My cadence sounds like that of an agitated horse. People are turning in fright. I should slow down
. Dating gurus agree. Walking slowly is sexy. Dial down the pace and notice your posture and hips. Men will too.
Dress With Dudes in Mind
Not your girlfriends. Men want to see you in clothes that are brightly colored and snugly attached to your best bodily feature. Not crotch-drooping goucho pants, vests, cape-like garments, multiple layers, "boyfriend blazers," clogs or shoes so studded they could double as dog collars.
Be Aggressive, Then Back Away
Getting down to the almost midnight hour? Amp up your technique. As Steve Santagati notes in "The Manual," an assertively flirtatious statement is surprising and sexy to guys, so used to doing the initiating. Tug his shirt and say, "You're hot" before walking off with a smile for him to come find you. Or boldly say, "You should take me to dinner." A friend tried this once, and it worked. That random guy in 7-11 became her New Year's Eve date, not to mention her husband.