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This is a guest post contributed by Erin Whitehead. Erin is a featured writer for the online dating site onlinedatingsites.net and a comedian and improviser in Los Angeles. You can follow her on Twitter at @girlwithatail.
So I’m driving through Hollywood checking out a billboard for yet another show about beautiful people coping with terrible things, when the Mercedes in front of me gets smashed into by a classic Jaguar. I manage to brake in time and steer my little Echo over to the curb. Both parties are okay, though you can see the driver of the Jag eyeing my unscathed, dingy little car with a look of all being wrong in the world. Since I witnessed the whole thing I figure I should stay. First on the scene is a fireman. He approaches me and asks which car I was in. “Neither, I just witnessed it. Should I stay?” He smiles. “Let’s start with your name.” Oh right, witness protocol I guess. I tell him my name. “Great,” he says, “Can I call you sometime?” There are two smoking cars leaking fluid and holding up four lanes of traffic, two disgruntled drivers looking ready to fight (one limping), and this guy prioritizes asking me out? You gotta kind of respect that.
My friend Natalie and I have had this conversation before. She’s a free spirited German girl raised by gypsies and only dates sexually overt men. She has a tattoo of heaven on her lower abdomen and I’m still not sure whether that suggests the area below is hell. The last guy she dated picked her up in a store on Hollywood Blvd with the line, “Damn, girl, why don’t you back that ass up this way?” Natalie and I operate slightly differently in the love department. When the fireman handed me his number at the scene I smiled, pocketed it, then threw it away when I got home. It was clear to me that a guy who moves that fast on the street probably moves fast other places. And if a guy ever asked me to back my ass up anywhere I would either think I was in his way or he was totally sleazy.
But Natalie doesn’t see it that way. “He was just expressing an interest in you,” she tells me. “Yes,” I tell her. “An interest in… doing… stuff.” (I have an inner 12 year-old, by the way, who refers to sex as ‘stuff’ and my lady parts as ‘down stairs’). Natalie laughs and asks what else you think about when you’re first attracted to someone. When I found out she actually went out with a guy who’s first words to her involved a body part and a directional command, I was grossed out. But to her, he was just being direct. “How do you know if a guy likes you?” she wanted to know. I consider the mating rituals of the white and awkward. “Well, you know, we talk about everything other than the fact that we’re actually attracted to each other. Then we make some jokes to see if we laugh at the right parts… then maybe we make plans to go do something under the guise of just liking each other as people even though really, we’re probably thinking about making out the whole time.” Natalie looks at me like I’m nuts.
So maybe it does sound like kind of lot of work. Pretending not to want to kiss someone while also sending the signal that you want to be kissed is a tricky endeavor. And truth be told, Natalie has had far more lasting relationships with men who have picked her up with some kind of sexual comment than I’ve had doing my Wonder Years, “Do you like me or like-like me” dance. There doesn’t seem to be an argument that beating around the bush suggests more noble intentions. It’s more like a last attempt to throw a little romance into the courting process. Which I guess means that my idea of romance equals mixed messages and pretending. Maybe it all comes back to my inner 12 year-old, the one who got depressed after sex-ed because it all seemed so technical and dangerous, the one who cried when no one asked her to dance to “End of the Road,” by Boyz 2 Men. That kid still wants to believe that when someone likes you (like-likes you) they are seeing a piece of your soul. Yeah, that kid also apparently listens to Jewel.
I respect the direct approach Natalie and her suitors take to relationships. It seems no-nonsense, adult. But even though I am one, I find adults depressing. Congratulations if you can say, “I’m lonely, you’re hot, so here’s an obvious solution.” But even if it’s all means to the same end, I’ll beat around the bush a few rounds to feel like I’m falling for somebody, not anybody. And sure, then we can dry hump. Because now it’s meaningful dry humping.