So I had the chance to go visit an amazing childhood friend tonight and we hung out talking… he’s probably one of only 3 or 4 people in the Universe that I can do that with – sit down without food or activity at hand and talk with endlessly, it’s a comfort I’ve learned to cherish. Anyway as we were talking the topic came to his excited interest in a girl he’s met in the Quaker group he belongs to who sounds unreasonably cool (she wrote a book! and has a had a really interesting and deviant life). He was thinking about telling her that he’d like to see her outside of a Quaker meeting sometime, etc… effectively ask her out. As we were talking I brought up the possibility that she could be seeing someone already, and Tom had thought about it but didn’t know. But what I remember most is just how joyful he was about the excited possibility of a person he likes – an opportunity, a connection, a thrill, the prospect of so much happiness!
I didn’t know this sort of thing still happened these days. First off, I really, really (and I mean really) miss the days when I could actually ask a girl out. Not that I’m afraid to or unable to (well okay I’m seeing someone so it’d be downright unethical, but that’s not the point here), it’s that I’ve learned to get better at it. I liked the days when it would be the moment where you felt as if you had just jumped off the high dive (or off the 40 ft ledge canyoning) and didn’t know what was going to happen. Pure concentrate excitement, anxiety, thrill, joy, all mixed together.
Now-a-days the procedure is different. First off, directly asking a girl out is against the rules. I know not literally but there does seem to be a social norm established, it’s creepy to be that up front with someone, unless you’re some dashing lad who plays basketball or sings acappella. I’ve had individual women argue that this is different for them but my observation is that on the whole it’s not cool by most women’s standards. Most girls will shit a brick and desperately find an excuse to dodge you, quite visibly so if you do it in person. So what do we do? Trickery, step-by-step:
1) Find the person on Facebook, see if they’re single. No mystery in this regard anymore, and in fact I miss it so because it gives a false sense of permanency. People are no longer a questionable option – if you see they’re dating on Facebook then you’re ethically obligated to stay the fuck away.
2) Invite them to an event with mutual friends or a large scale public activity that’s little 1-on-1 face time or pressure. Talk to them a little more than might be out of the ordinary at this event but without really revealing your interest, for if you do they will shit a brick and you’ll be back to square one.
3) Find them on AIM (or Facebook or Gchat or whatever) and start talking to them about a common subject (question about class, their opinion on something non-political, etc…) and eventually evolve the conversation into something more meaningful.
4) Ask them out to a non-threatening activity, most common is lunch or coffee, but more creative versions in my past have been skating around with Inline Insomniacs or going to build a puzzle together at the library.
5) Rince and repeat the above until you’re fairly brick-proof and then you might think about actually asking them out on a real date. Maybe.
And honestly, I think this system flat-out sucks. I used to say fuck it and was bold and asked girls out and tried not to be dodgy. But it resulted in an endless stream of rejections and let-downs and a lot of depression. So after a while of that I tried various remixes of the misdirection bullshit game above and had a lot of success. My current relationship is actually as a result of this sort of thing, and I’m not particularly proud of it.
As happy as I am for Tom to have found a girl mystery and a new source of hope, I’m still sick and tired of a world where only guys ask out girls and being forward and honest with one another is considered creepy, not compassionate.
I really do like Facebook – on the whole – I like that it presents us a whole new level of information. But really I think it’s inadvertently helped to perpetuate this potentially sexist norm and a lot of passive or indirect type behavior. The thrill of discovering someone through asking them out on a date is immediately diminished from the get-go simply because you already start off knowing if they’re available. Sure you avoid the embarrassment of asking someone out that is in a relationship, but you also avoid the flattery, the excitement and dammit I fucking like getting reamed once a while it helps me remember I’m alive. It makes the times that it does work out all the more worth it and I’ve learned to respect the people who can look you in the eye and actually say no. We don’t feel comfortable asking a person out until we check them out on this twisted social ecology. Girls use it as a defensive mechanism to keep guys away from them, in fact – mark their relationship status and suddenly they can feel safe. I mean hell we even somehow declare a relationship real when it’s hetero and on Facebook (nevermind the LGBT discrimination here, or the age-plurality complex).
So a lot of complaining about passive women and gender roles, I know, my usual, right? This might be my best unsung argument for denouncing Facebook yet, is that it helped to keep dating dishonest, indirect and introvert.
Maybe someday we’ll see a gender-equality universe where women are just as likely to ask out men as vice versa and Facebook won’t be the biggest cock-block in town… I’ll hedge my bets with the LGBT rights movement.
Signing out for the night, positivity will return later, I swear.