Bring Back Old School Flirting!

George Clooney & Catherine Zeta- Jones, Intolerable Cruelty (2003)

George Clooney & Catherine Zeta- Jones, Intolerable Cruelty (2003)

It was 1985. He was no more than 11 years old and already devoted to Run DMC, Beastie Boys, Metallica and Anthrax. Very rarely would you catch his eye, as he often kept his head down, briskly walking up and down the school halls.  Looking back, he was a cross between Pharrell Williams and Johnny Depp—shy but with a few mischievous friends, him being the least of our teacher’s worries. He mumbled his prayers before lunch just to appease the glaring eyes of nuns, kept his hands in his pockets at all other times and never raised his voice…ever.

Yet underneath his slick, punk-gothic, jet black hair and parochial school uniform— that by the way, only this kid could make cool—was a surprisingly young gentleman far more skilled at the art of flirting then he realized.

Young love or playground crushes generally involve tears, spit balls, name calling and the occasional hand holding in secret. I had everything but the latter. I was class dork (and only until recently, a proud one)—a total brace-face with strict parents, and a perfectly guilty conscience for even thinking about boys.

For some reason, this mysterious, soft-spoken and slightly nervous classmate liked me, but not like the average youngster. He never teased me, distorted my last name, or pulled my ponytail like the others. Instead he broke the ice by lending me videos of raw skateboarding footage. He told me I just had to watch it, before scurrying off toward his desk. It was great he wanted to share his interests, but also incredibly random, or so my naivety led me to believe.

I had absolutely no self confidence and was baffled by the gesture— never once entertaining the idea he was crushing on me. I watched the videos with at least one eye shut. The stunts were insane and I honestly feared his past time would put him in a body cast. Eventually VHS exchanges led to a few scribbled notes, some folded up into a paper football, but the kicker came a few days later—one of the scariest and most thrilling moments of my younger years.

A boy actually called the house.

I say scariest for good reason. My father is off the boat, old school Italian and the only men allowed in my life were blood-uncles—emphasis on “blood”. Forget the old “paesano” who was sort of like an “uncle”, but not really. Nope. Blood or nothing.

So when the phone rang after dinner one school night and my father answered the call—every last butterfly in my stomach died. The faint, yet understandably shaky voice on the line was audible and very familiar. My heart quickly rose to my throat. Fear, flattery—it was intense. It took my father about five minutes to get his name right before he came to grips with reality. Somebody other than an innocent little girl, wanted to speak with his eldest daughter.

Mr. Shy Guy was wise enough to pick up on the angst in my father’s voice. When dear dad asked rather hastily, “What is the purpose of this call?”, he claimed it was about math homework. Smooth and brilliant…Whew! I was reluctantly passed the phone, which so conveniently had a chord just long enough to strangle myself or better yet, keep me captive under my father’s disapproving stare. Did I mention he hinted every five seconds to hang up? Forefinger to the wrist—that’s all I remember.

At the end of the day, I was too young to have guy friends and far too scared to rebel. I was also a God-fearing, chicken doodle of a Catholic girl. It saddened me to have to explain this to him; it was either that or God knows what punishment from my parents. To his credit, he was the most mature eleven year old boy walking the planet, never once retaliating with the previously mentioned spit balls.

For that reason alone I’ve filed it away as a great memory. He was the first boy who wanted me to understand what made him tick— skateboarding, tracks like “Brass Monkey” and all. Although at that age, I do hope he didn’t understand the lyrics. Regardless, he flirted in his own way, wrote and called me; we’re technically talking about a gentleman trapped in eleven year old body.

Which leads me to ask, is the emotional rollercoaster of a first crush really all that different from the adult world— when we spot that special someone and muster up the courage to get to know them?  I would say yes and no. I’m not an expert in the realm of love, but rather a keen observer and what I see is troubling.

I found love just before cyber courtship really took off—and for that I’m eternally grateful. Why? Because quite frankly, finding love online isn’t exactly a bed of roses. Sorry EHarmony….not buying it!  In fact, for some it’s nothing more than a single rose emoji.

Let me be clear, I am not anti-online dating. I’m anti-FEAR. 

It appears today’s men AND women tend to err on the side of caution, hoisting aside traditional means of communication, barricading themselves behind self-made, unrealistic, virtual forts. It’s no wonder singles are finding it harder to make a genuine love connection. First encounters happen on a cold screen. If you want to play the singles game, you’re forced to answer a million questions, exchange overly edited answers, and in some cases a million more emails or vague text messages before the excitement either fizzles— or miraculously leads to a date. And when you do meet, it’s a 50/50 type deal, is it not?

Given all the self-primping and prodding from friends and family, the last thing you want to discover is a date resembling nothing remotely close to their profile pic or what you’ve conjured up over the past two months. Something’s missing, like hair, height, teeth or that supposed connection you established in your inbox—or was it all fantasy? Their so-called dating profile now reads like personal fiction. 

If that scenario plays out, we move on to another form of self sabotage— a sad barrage of endless excuses. It starts with how and why we’re way too busy to find the right partner.

Too busy?

If you have time for happy hour after a long day at the office, then please, if not for me, than do yourself a big favor. Simply lift your gaze from that cellphone or iPad and set them aside. Then sneak a peek at the amazing potential candidate poised just a few seats down the bar. I’d wager they’ve also fallen into an iPhone/ Samsung coma, but don’t worry about interrupting them. You could be saving their love life too.

Do you know how annoying it is for a married girl like me to see two great looking people, sitting right next to one another, back to back, hot and heavy over their phones rather than talking amongst each other? Part of me wants to drag them from their corners and get the ball rolling myself.

Now I’m not going to delve into how and where to meet men and women without putting a wrench into your social calendar, because guess what? It has nothing to do with ADDING to your already busy schedule. And you don’t have to be Patti Stanger to know that singles do not hibernate.

Instead I’m hoping you’ll look at love and first introductions for what they really are… Mac n’ Cheese.

The secret is finding quality cheese that truly makes the sauce. Forget VIRAL interaction. I’m talking about chemical— the kind that seals the deal, makes a relationship stick, keeps two people interested enough in a second, third, fourth date… maybe forever.

No text message, email or drawn out online dating site survey could ever replace the high you get from face to face interaction, full on flirting, a hand written note or long late night phone call. Blushing at the mere sound of someone’s voice…remember how that felt?  I promise you that a text message saying, “I had a great time last night”, is NOT the same as hearing it over the phone or better yet, in person. The human voice, one’s natural vibrato, was designed not merely to emit sound for the purpose of self expression. They literally transmit vibrations throughout your entire body, signaling, “this sounds enticing”—or in some cases “Hells no.” And you know what really puts the cherry on the cake? When you tell the person you had a nice time the very next day or how about right then and there, as opposed to waiting a week!

Love is risky and yes, love can hurt. We all know this as fact. But I think it hurts far more to potentially miss out on what could have been the best crush, first date or meaningful relationship. Yours truly would love to see more Mack Daddies or Mack Mammas open to old school “getting to know you” tactics. If you’re nodding your head, then get out there and flirt like an old school pro—start a movement!  Better yet, find your inner eleven year old, the Beastie Boy fan who’s shy but willing to take a risk. Have him or her invite that special someone over. Think dinner for two, with some homemade, yet very grown up, Beer Mac and Cheese. Yeah. I said beer!  So click on the link.

You never know. They just might want to stick around.


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