Friday, April 11, 2008

Forty and Flirty

Flirting is like Potter Stewart's definition of pornography: I know it when I see it, but I can't describe it. It's the intention behind the actions more than anything else.

Some friends and I were discussing whether a guy at the Barnes & Noble was flirting with one of the people in the group. She said that she couldn't tell whether the guy at the counter was trying to let her know he liked her and not just the movies she'd selected. Was it flirting or just really friendly customer service? Since none of us had been there, of course, we advised another few rounds of movie purchases with perhaps some book and music discussions thrown in. With more data, we think we'll be able to figure it out.

That led to a discussion about all the times each of us had been someplace, like a grocery store, where we left wondering if the counter person/checker/barista was flirting. A friend asked me last night if the checker was flirting with her when she said, "Have a good night, love" and all I could think was, "Well, what was the tone when she said it? How was she looking at you?" and "Was she from the U.K.?" I got carded one time when I thought the person bagging groceries was flirting with me. I was so discombobulated by the possibility that I was being flirted with that I was totally confused when the checker asked me for my ID. If I had been the checker, I wouldn't have accepted it, I was acting so weird.

These days I don't get flirted with very often in stores of any kind. I think this might be because a lot of people in retail are all still in their 20s and now I'm much older than they are. In fact, I think I do most of my flirting with Zirpu, which doesn't really count, and with JR, which also doesn't really count. I also know that sometimes I say things to people that could be construed as flirting when I'm not flirting: If someone is wearing something that looks really good, I'll smile and say so. Sometimes I realize that they might be wondering what my intention is.

That's what is behind flirting: Intention. And that's what makes flirting so exciting: You don't exactly know who intends what - sometimes, anyway.

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