I have heard many a delusional man wonder: how do I hit on a lady? If it’s not appropriate to approach them in grocery stores, where can I approach them? Why are you all such uptight bitches? Why can’t you understand that it’s just a compliment? Seriously ladies, whassamatter?
Alright, dude-bros, this is what you need to understand:
When a lady is busy doing something not directly connected to you, it’s an inappropriate time to hit on her. If your behavior could be construed as stalkerish, it’s time for you to go away. And if you try to talk to her, and she seems less than enthused? Stop.
Or, more specifically, adhere to the following guidelines.
How Not to Hit On a Lady: The Obvious
Don’t: figure out where she lives and knock on her door
Yeah, I had this happen once. A guy in my old apartment building tried to chat me up at the mailboxes; I was polite but distant; he memorized the apartment number on my mailbox and showed up at my door a few hours later. Thinking it was my pizza (that’s all I ate in those days), I opened the door wearing a hoodie and boxers printed with pictures of crabs, at which point he introduced himself and asked me out to dinner. I was a shy teenager who didn’t know how to reject people, so I grudgingly agreed, and we had a couple stupid dates. He was pretty hot, actually, until he revealed the American flag tattoo on his chest. (Also, he thought Stealth was a great film, which, no.)
Anyhow, this shit? Not an appropriate method for wooing the ladies. And I’ll tell you why.
Dude, all I initially wanted to do was get my damn mail. And then I wanted to eat my pizza. Alone. In my boxers. While listening to Deep Blue Something and thinking about my future. (Or whatever.) And using your deductive powers to find my apartment and then harassing me there is fucking creepy as shit. What the hell, man?
The creepiness of this particular encounter was compounded by the fact that I was 19—and looked it—while he was almost 28.
But then, age doesn’t really matter, because if a woman doesn’t willingly give you her address, you should not take it upon yourself to seek it out. Ever. You goddamn creepy bastard.
Don’t: use your child
I was once walking down the street when an adorable little girl waved at me and said hi. I returned the greeting, and then I heard her dad pull her over and say “ask her name.” The little girl looked confused, so he repeated it and pushed her forward. She waved at me again and asked for my name, so I made something up, smiled, and started to walk away. Her dad yelled a farewell after me, but I just ignored him because…I’m a huge bitch.
But c’mon, man. Using your kid? That is beyond manipulative, and it assumes that I’m some kind of domestic goddess in training sure to charmed by your precious crotchfruit. Yeah, your kid is cute, but you would have to be absolutely spectacular in every possible arena of life for me to even consider you as an option for anything.
Children: I like them in small doses, but not as dominant players in my life. (And lest my use of “players” seem dehumanizing and creepy—no, that’s only creepy when you try to use your kids as pawns in the tension-laden chess game of lady-harassing.)
Don’t: follow her to the gas station`
I once knew this guy I’ll call Creepy Kirby, because he is creepy, and Kirby is his name. He’d never had a real conversation with me, but for whatever reason he thought I was terrific. One day he noticed me walking to the gas station, fell into step with me, and walked me all the way down to the c-store, rambling stupidly while I rolled my eyes and wished he would go the fuck away. Once I got to the store, I saw a guy I knew and immediately went after him: “hiiiii, I haven’t seen you in ages, how are you?” Incidentally, I ended up exchanging numbers with that guy and dated him for two months, during which time he stole my broken laptop, so…thanks for that, Kirby.
This really shouldn’t ever need to be said, but here goes: don’t attach yourself to a woman and follow her around. It’s annoying, it’s creepy, and—believe it or not—it feels a little stalkeresque. I know, it’s crazy, but there you have it.
How Not to Hit On a Lady: The Should Be Obvious, But Aren’t
Don’t: at her work
I’m in a class about the films of Wes Anderson (American Modernism was canceled, okay?) and a few nights ago, we watched Bottle Rocket. Oh, Bottle Rocket—in which Luke Wilson charmingly follows a motel housekeeper from room to room, awkwardly injecting himself into her life sans invitation. Because there’s nothing creepy about that.
Look, guys of the world—if you see a woman at work, and she’s nice to you, chances are it’s because she’s at work. Where she’s required to be nice to everyone. Because work sucks. And taking advantage of that woman’s work-mandated pleasantness is a real dick move.
I used to work at a bookstore, under the direction of a crazy woman named Sharon. One day, some skateboarding douche named Josh came in to the store and hung around bugging me. Sharon was there when he came in; she left for a couple hours, and, when she came back, there he was. Bugging me.
Her response was to threaten to fire me, because “you should have told him to leave.” Yes—a guy came in, harassed me for hours, and I was threatened with the loss of my job. Of course, had I rebuffed him, I still would’ve gotten in trouble, because, customer service!
So anyway. This is an asshole maneuver because by going after a woman in an environment that demands she behave in a certain manner, you are effectively backing her into a corner, and because it could actually get her in trouble. It also suggests that you don’t respect her or her work enough to back the fuck off, but whatever.
Don’t: at your work
I know you’re bored, weird thirty-something waiter, but “Hey, you live on [redacted] street, right? In the little yellow house?” is a wildly inappropriate question. Especially since you were right about the street. The building, not so much—you thought I lived in my landlord’s art studio—but still, you were creepily close.
Like I said before: if a woman has not willingly told you where she lives, then where she lives is none of your damn business. This means that you shouldn’t find out on your own, you shouldn’t ask other people, you shouldn’t make a wild guess and then ask for her confirmation—whatever. I remember once walking through a park and bumping into some balding dad figure who asked “hey, you live in the [redacted] apartments, right?” That was the very first thing out of his mouth.
I just stared at him, then said “no.”
“Really? Are you sure?”
Well no. No I’m not sure. I might live somewhere else and just not be aware of it.
Look dude, either you’re wrong about where I live, or I’m lying; either way, leave me the hell alone.
Anyway, the point is that, again, figuring out where your dream ladylove lives is creepy, and that your place of employment is no more an appropriate place to hit on me than my place of employment.
Also, as much I hate to be That Asshole, if you don’t back off, I will talk to your manager.
Don’t: at the airport
I, like much of the world, hate the airport. If I’m in an airport, I’m probably pissed. So don’t even try it—and really, why are you bothering? You will never see me again. This is an extremely brief moment in the time and nothing more, because life is not, in fact, a rom-com.
I can only think of one time that I saw, in real life, someone I met on a plane. I was flying home next to some burly guy who was reading Twilight (yeah, I don’t fucking know), and sat quietly next to him, reading my own, less shitty book. The next day I was at work, and he walked in with his mother, stopped, looked confused, then said something like, “hey, were you on my flight from [redacted] yesterday?” We then proceeded to have an awkward conversation about what an unusually turbulent flight that had been, while his mother stood off to the side and beamed.
Nothing came of that encounter.
Anyhow, the airport. I’m busy in airports. I’m busy worrying about the status of my connecting flight, safeguarding my luggage, and imagining a world that isn’t O’Hare. That’s what I’m doing in airports. Don’t bug me please.
Don’t: at the grocery
This is a prime example of “lady busy doing something that doesn’t remotely concern you.”—and, for most people, something that isn’t especially enjoyable. Please don’t try to strike up a conversation with me about my purchase of lemon-scented Green Clean. That’s just my inner granola elitist coming out; I can’t help it.
Don’t: when delivering her pizza
That’s just awkward. Plus there’s the added creep factor of “ugh, now he knows my phone number and where I live.” Yeah, I had this happen once, got suckered into going on a date with my horribly awkward pizza delivery guy, and a few days later he left a gift-wrapped CD outside my apartment. I never called him again, and he was apparently so traumatized by the incident that he refused to deliver my pizza for an entire year. One time there were only two people working at the Pizza Hut when I placed my order, and he was so adamant in his refusal to drop off my pizza that his co-worker had to lock up the restaurant and deliver my food herself.
I actually feel a little bad about it, because I think he was more awkward than creepy, but again…don’t corner a woman in her home. Especially if she’s giving you strong “all I want is my damn pizza” signals.
Don’t: at the Laundromat
Sock-folding and pickup-lines don’t mix. That’s all I have to say about that.
And, okay, sometimes people do end up meeting in quirky places. People in coffee shops write each other’s phone numbers down on the inside covers of their moleskine notebooks; beautiful twenty-somethings bond at the deli over their mutual love of prosciutto; whatever. But as Pepper’s husband (a dude) pointed out, you can tell when someone wants to talk to you, and you can tell when they don’t. I think he added something like, “and if you can’t, you’re fucking stupid.”
And if you’re not getting obvious signals, if there is no obvious desire to chat, if the woman you’re blatantly eyeballing is just standing at the baggage claim looking panicked…just don’t.