Monday, June 15, 2009

The Clueless, Smart Girl

To this day, I'm somewhat surprised I got married, let alone at the age of 20.

Back in eighth grade I was convinced I'd never marry because I was painfully shy, and see, marrying a guy would entail speaking to one first, and like that was ever going to happen.

Fortunately, I broke out of my shell a bit in high school and ended up with lots of guy friends. So that issue resolved itself.

But I never, ever learned to flirt.

It's this void in my female psyche. A gene I lack. Or something. I seriously don't get it and never have.

I had a friend back from our high school years (rival high school, but I loved her anyway . . . bulldogs, schmulldogs . . .) who was so brilliant at flirting to the point that she often didn't realize she was doing it.

We were both in Into the Woods together. She had a boyfriend. Yet she constantly flirted with the guy who played Jack. Jack, poor kid, had no prayer of ever winning her heart, but she flirted with him so much that he hung on for the entire show, thinking that maybe, just maybe . . .

More than once I had to tell her to knock it off, she's doing it again. But I watched in open fascination. How does one do that flirting thing? It was almost a scientific phenomenon to me at that point. I could identify that she was flirting, but I couldn't figure out how such a thing was accomplished.

Later, as BYU freshman, she and I had a class together. On one of the first days of class, she pointed to a guy in the back of the room and said, "By the end of the semester, he's going to ask me out."

Yeah, right.


Talk about stalking prey. I was stunned and amazed.

But also a bit disgusted. Because I knew one ingredient to her flirtiness, and I wanted none of it: she pretended to be stupid. She was actually exceedingly intelligent. She got several 5s on AP tests, including on the Calculus test her junior (not senior) year. She was a Stirling Scholar. And so on. But in front of guys, you'd think she couldn't count to 20 with her shoes on.

I knew there had to be more to flirting than acting dumb, but I never did figure it out. And I never believed people when they said that the first few days of university classes were a waste because of guys and girls checking each other out.

Me? I was checking out the syllabus.

About ten years after getting married, a friend of mine said she'd gone back to BYU campus for something and was sad that the guys no longer checked her out, that she was obviously an "old" lady now.

My brow furrowed. Yet again, my lack of some feminine gene was apparent. I was never aware of guys checking or NOT checking me out. Guys actually DID that? I wish I'd known to look for it. Maybe if I'd noticed some guy checking me out, I wouldn't have felt like such a dork.

When walking across campus, I was always thinking about my term paper or (very likely) actually reading one of the many books I was assigned. (I got rather good at avoiding people and navigating stairs and the like while reading.)

So it's no surprise, really, that I didn't meet my husband in a flirty environment. As cha cha partners on a summer ballroom dance team, we had two months of becoming friends before our first date.

When I realized I kinda liked this guy, I decided to test him. We were chatting in the hall outside the practice room when he mentioned an assignment that had him worried. It was a big part of his grade, and if he didn't get a good enough score, he might lose his scholarship.

Really? Man, tough. . . . And then I worked the fact into the conversation that I had a scholarship TOO, just to see his reaction. See? Your dance partner is a smart girl. Whaddaya think of that?

Didn't faze him. That's, I believe, the closest I ever got to actual flirting.

It's also the first big point he got in my book.

The second was when he quoted Shakespeare.


Anonymous said...

Flirting. That was never my thing either. I was not willing to act dumb, and was VERY irritated by girls I saw doing just that. Most guys saw (and I think STILL see) me as one of the guys. It was hard to make the leap from gal pal to girlfriend. And so it didn't happen often. I ended up marrying a very intelligent guy who would never have been happy with someone who was not an intellectual equal. Yes, we're a happy, nerdy couple. BUt being a nerdy grown-up isn't so bad.

Sandra said...

But flirting is sooo much more than acting stupid. One can be intelligent and still flirt.

Heffalump said...

I'm not sure I ever flirted the way your friend did. It takes a special person to pull that off.
I found that it was easier to just be a fun person, which is probably why I had crushes on my guy friends and never actually dated most of them.

Melanie Jacobson said...

Yeah, my husband took me to a Shakespeare on our first date and quoted TS Eliot to me on my doorstep. Marrying him was a no-brainer.

As for flirting, I can, I guess. I never would now, of course, but no matter what I never played stupid. It's so annoying when girls do that. I hope your friend married someone who could appreciate her for how smart she is.

Little GrumpyAngel said...

I agree with Sandra. You don't have to pretend to be dumb to flirt. It's really just a skill, and you either have it or you don't and it doesn't have anything to do with IQ.

Lara Neves said...

I don't think I ever learned how to flirt, either. My best friend sure knew how to do it, though! I was always a little jealous because she definitely had the dates. But when it came down to it, the guys I dated and wanted to date probably wouldn't have liked the flirting type much. I knew I really liked Joel when we were studying together one day and about 5 different girls came up to him and flirted like crazy and it didn't even phase him. Later, I found out how much it bothered him. Score one for the non-flirts! :)

Summer said...

I think I knew how to flirt a little but I mostly did it subconsciously and only if I really liked the guy. So I'm guessing I only ever flirted with two guys that I know of (first boyfriend and second boyfriend which became the hubby). And as for guys checking me out? If that ever happened I am totally unaware of it. But pretty much I'm sure that didn't happen. I was a smart book nerd like you.

Brittany Marie said...

I think I was flirting-impaired. I tried to flirt, but I was apparently very bad at it because none of the guys I flirted with ever asked me out. :p

Jenny P. said...

Yeah... I was like that. I think I tried to flirt, and just wasn't very good at it. Maybe because I wasn't willing to act stupid. :)

Fortunately, my courtship with my husband happened fast enough, there wasn't time to flirt.

Erin said...

Great story!

I think I flirted, but it was more of a "I'm kind of desperate and want you to like me" kind of flirt. In other words, I was pathetic.

Thankfully, I lucked out with who I married.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I had a friend like that and it would make me so mad when she acted stupid! I was kind of a flirt in high school, but not a dumb one. (If that makes sense!) My courtship with my hubby was about 3 weeks, so there wasn't really time for flirting...;) Best thing I ever did though! Fun post!:)

Sher said...

I used to be a giant flirt in high school. And I never thought that i was acting dumb, just, you know, flirty. But then, when I was about 16, my cousin who was 4 or 5 years older than me, said something to me about being an airhead, and I was completely floored. I'd always believed myself to be intelligent and witty, but definitely NOT an airhead! I guess when girls flirt we act stupid without even realizing it.

LisAway said...

Flirting is yucky. Okay, not really, I'm sure I did it, but NEVER that kind of "that guy's gonna ask me out." To me that's a little creepy and backwards. How do you know a guy will ask you out if you don't know that your personalities are compatible? Some flirting is just a way of not being yourself and being who you think the guy will like.

I was more of the lame punch-guys-in-the-arm-all-the-time type of flirter. I can't play anyone but me, which makes dating so much easier, I think. Not in the sense that you get lots of dates, but there aren't all those dumb games. I love that you didn't do any of that (it certainly goes with your personality). I like people who are down to earth, and heavy flirters aren't I don't think.

Randi said...

Interesting! I got to the point where I could turn it on and off. I don't think you have to act stupid necessarily... but needing help with something was always a good strategy.

Cynthia said...

Cute post! I didn't get good at flirting until after college. Flirting is all about confidence and I just didn't have it until then.

As for the 'guys are no longer checking me out' thing, I guess that's something only the really pretty girls have to worry about. I don't think I ever experienced much of that. YOU are lucky enough to be both smart and pretty. I just had to settle for smart (scholarship student here too! LOL!- but clearly not in English)

Luisa Perkins said...

So--dancing the cha-cha is not flirty? Huh.

Barbaloot said...

Bulldogs as in Provo High? Cuz ew---they're were my school's semi-rivals. We had other schools to worry about before them, though:)

I also never knew how to flirt---growing up with all boys I'm completely unaware of how to be anything other than a friend. My brothers are still trying to get me to stop calling guys "dude." But really-how else am I supposed to get their attention when I have something to say?

Miss Daisy said...

This was a fun post Annette! Like you, I was shy shy SHY! I came out of my shell on my mission. It's amazing that I even caught my husband--probably because he's a talker and I'm a listener. But it took me unti I was 25 to marry.

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

I couldn't flirt to save my life. I used to sit in a corner at all dances and social functions and the first test a guy had to pass was coming over and talking to me. Because I sure as heck wasn't going to initiate anything.

Kinda sad, really. I'm amazed I ended up married.

Heather Moore said...

I was pretty darn shy. My husband is the complete opposite.

That Girl said...

This post plunged me into at least five minutes of serious reflection. My conclusion: you're right.

I can't decide if that's a poor reflection on the female side of society or the male's.

I think you've struck at the root of the Megan Fox phenomenon (who I had never heard of until two days ago, and now I can't get rid of her). She complains girls hate her. That's because she's stupid. And boys still like her. Cuz she's hot.

I KILLED my husband on our ACTs. And he knew it within a month of dating each other.

And I love him.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'd have failed a class on flirting. Personally, sometimes it irritates the crap out of me. I rather like how in nature, the male are the pretty/flirty types. Let them strut it out.

The smart thing is what drew me to my husband. He's literally a genius. While it can be daunting to stand next to his brilliance, I really value having intelligent, thought-provoking discussions with him. Sure, he's hot but his brain is just sexy.

Carina said...

Oh honey, the very idea that you still think you had guy friends in high school just tickles me.

And flirting didn't come to me until college when I learned that sarcasm and flirting were NOT the same thing.

Heatherlyn said...

I enjoyed your post. I did NOT getting the flirting thing in high school. I did not get it in college. Only now, as a married mother of 5 do I finally think I get it. Of course, now I would rather die than flirt with someone. Life is ironic.


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