Courting Disaster

How to Flirt: A Quick Guide for the Socially Inept

Courting Disaster is Jackalope Ranch's weekly column of dating horror stories, observations, how-tos, and more by Katie Johnson. Names of ex-boyfriends, past hookups, and bad blind dates have been changed to protect the guilty.

Like any person riding the existential roller coaster that is their 20s, I bounce back and forth between thinking I know what I'm doing and realizing I don't know shit. Moments of blockbuster confidence are followed by moments of complete inadequacy in the fetal position.

This method of one step forward and two steps back has become my sad white girl dance approach to work, friendship, and, sometimes, my love life.

Just when think I've found someone (I refuse to say "the one" because, come on, that's bull), I find out something else. Maybe they're not over their ex, maybe they harbor wanted criminals in their basement, or maybe, just maybe, it's me.

Remember when I said I would never tarnish my credibility on Courting Disaster by revealing my flaws? Well, it's happening.

Let's start with flaw numero uno: flirting.

See also: 10 Things Every Single Person Experiences at Weddings

I put the "F" in flirting.

Some days I wonder if there was flirting orientation that everyone woman but me attended. Maybe I was sick that day. Maybe I just didn't get the memo. All I know is that I seem to lack an inherent sexual skill.

I tried flirting my way out of a ticket once. The fine doubled. I tried my first shot of tequila with a handsome rugby player. I spat the whole mess into his face.

When I see women work their magic at a bar, I am in awe. I want to whip out a legal pad and begin taking notes.

I've tried wearing tight dresses; my stomach is not having it. I tried smooshing my boobs together in a sexy shrug, but my elbows touched before my breasts ever did. I try walking in high heels. It's like a baby learning to walk for the first time.

Someone told me the key is to make eye contact. "The eyes are the window to the soul."

I have a lazy eye. What kind of window is that? If you're going to start making these house-face metaphors, then I guess I'm just reserved to being the Winchester Mystery House (Google it).

When eye contact is made I look elsewhere. I look at the floor, at the ceiling, at the couple next to us. Anything to avoid being asked: "What's up with your eye?"

If a man stares too intently at me, I panic. Is there something on my face? Did I leave something in my teeth? Damn those chia seeds!

The biggest problem is nerves. When you're nervous, everything falls apart. Wrong numbers are given (on accident), stupid jokes are made (on purpose), and the chances of food or drink making it directly to my mouth are gone. They're just gone, people.

What do I do to hurdle my crippling social ineptitude? I ask questions. Lots of questions. Best advice anyone ever gave to me was to ask people about themselves. Because here's the truth, people can't say enough about "me." I mean hell, look at this column.

So if you find yourself in a situation much like myself, pit-stained and wondering how much eyeliner has worked its way to your lids, just ask questions. You'll seem interested, they'll feel interesting and the spotlight (and tables) will turn.

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