I was in line at the post office; a taller, 40-something guy in a nice coat was ahead of me.
Guy: That’s a nice coat, do you know what kind it is?
Me: (Opening the coat to look at the label) It’s from Macy’s, but I got it secondhand.
Guy: Oh, because it’s really nice. I work at Delta Airlines, here at the airport. I like to go to the downtown Minneapolis Macy’s. I get lost in there.
…and so on, the discussion continued. A nice, friendly discussion about nothing of consequence. Relaxed, natural.
“Next, please,” he gets called to the window. His transaction takes just a minute and then he turns back to me.
Guy: You look familiar, do you fly a lot?
Me: No, not too often.
He smiles, shakes my hand, says “Nice to meet you,” and hands me a business card.
Not my usual experience
It is an exceedingly rare experience for a woman to hit on me. Once in a long while, it will happen at a concert or if I’m out late at a bar, but those are alcohol-enhanced venues. At the grocery store or the pharmacy? Nope.
After my suitor left and I mailed my own package, I realized what happened and thought, “Hey, a gay guy just tried to pick me up.” I smiled to myself—not because of ego, but because the experience was so human. Since I’m currently writing a book on dating with a mindfulness component, I spend a lot of time thinking about the most natural and effective ways to engage with other people, sometimes with the goal of getting a phone number and a date. Usually I am the one doing the picking up.
Having been on the receiving end of someone’s attentions, I started to critique his approach.
Let’s score his game, shall we?
- He started with an innocuous compliment/question about what I was wearing.
- His body language was completely relaxed, he didn’t appear nervous and he didn’t crowd my personal space.
- He got a conversation going and managed to mention both where he works (at a nearby airport) and one of his interests (shopping for nice clothes).
- He used the “you look familiar” line which, while earning no points for originality, is a friendly way to try to make a connection.
- He gave me his business card instead of asking for my phone number. (Keep reading to learn why in his case this was probably wise).
It must be tougher for gay men, right?
When a gay man knows the target of his pickup attempt is gay, I think we can assume the dynamics are similar to male-female pickups. But to approach a man whose sexual orientation is unknown, he must be careful because in the worst case scenario he could face intimidation or violence from homophobes.
Think about this for a moment.
When a man approaches a woman, whether direct and assertive or smooth and classy, what is the worst that can happen? She’ll turn you down and if she’s having an awful day, tell you to f–k off. But for gay men, there are two problems: it may be unclear if the “target” is gay, and in some situations approaching the wrong person could be dangerous. I believe that’s why my suitor gave me his business card. This puts the impetus on me to contact him.
All in all, I enjoyed the experience—it reminded me what it must be like for women, and it let me see a pickup attempt from the other perspective.
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