(This article appears on 5why, a Gen Y news site. For more of Kat James articles, visit 5why.com.au).
Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I don’t approach strange men often, as I feel it’s not really my place to make the leap. As a strong believer in keeping chivalry alive, my usual modus operandi is to simply facilitate a man’s approach, either by placing myself directly in his path or innocently asking for something so that he can play the hero by lending it to me.
Both of these strategies have failed dismally in my time, however. I once artfully slid in front of a man on his path to an unmarked door in a shopping centre with the hopes of giving him a good look at my striking rear-view; only to find myself confronted by a busy men’s room. Like the short-skirted, long-jacketed ice queen in the famous Cake hit song, I once asked a potential Mr Right to borrow his pen in my local bank and found it was one of those novelty gel pens where the bikini slides off the stripper. Awkward.
So for the most part, I field approaches, and if I could tell the men of Sydney one thing on this subject it’s that the recent trend in going for the ‘Quirky Attention-Grabber’ approach is deeply flawed. On my way to swim laps a few months ago on one of my brief but frequent fitness binges, a lifeguard I had noticed was particularly concerned by my water safety for hours on end stopped me before I could get in, finally having gathered the courage for an approach. Without so much as a hello, he blurted ‘I’m going to move to Alaska.’
I paused and considered this before replying ‘Oh?’
‘Yeah,’ he laughed, nervously.
‘It’s legal to own dangerous animals there. I’m going to own a wolf and an eagle.’
I knew what he was doing. It was the classic ‘Quirky Attention-Grabber’ approach. I was supposed to be amused, shocked and bewildered by his comment to such a degree that it would be impossible for me to move on without knowing more. It failed, of course, but it did prove an amusing Facebook update.
I’ve received the Quirky Attention-Grabber online, in dating site messages that simply read ‘Hey, baby. If you could have one super power, what would it be?’ I’ve received it while standing in line at a bar with a friend, when an Irish guy asked me what my favourite scary movie was. A man in my local gym once laid the QAG approach on me by offering to put my hand weights away and then comically pumping them like they were hard to lift, flexing his biceps inches from my face and grunting.
The failure of this approach lies in the modern woman’s ferocious determination not to be tricked, bribed or lured into any situation with a man, even if it’s a simple conversation by a pool, without complete clarity. The empowerment of women to choose or lose their partners without stigma means that we’ve educated ourselves on the science of detecting the deadbeat, and trickery and illusion is his number one calling card.
The modern woman doesn’t want strategies employed toward capturing her like she’s some kind of elusive Amazonian butterfly. She wants to see you, the real you, in all your romantic and respectful glory, with all your humour and cleverness employed toward making her stay with you, not snaring her in your trap.
So put away your bear traps, modern man. Set down your copy of ‘The Game’. Forget what your mates tell you about the perfect swagger or the pull of the put-down and simply smile, look at her eyes, and say ‘Hello.’ Trust me, it’s a winner.