Sunday, December 31, 2006

"Please, Spare Me the Details"

As little girls, we women were able to weave great webs of fairy-tale fantasies about the lives of our dolls, while little boys couldn't ad lib an excuse when caught red-handed with their fists in the cookie jar. Today, the stream of consciousness for little girls of all ages, nine to ninety, still runs stronger. This once again became evident to me just last fall. I was bicycling along a winding path in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with my buddy, Phil. We stopped to calculate where we were on the map. Just then an extremely attractive couple came bicycling in the opposite direction. They were both tanned, fit, and sportive. I flagged them down and asked the couple how to get to Oceanview Drive. The woman started, "Oh, this is a beautiful path. You stay on it for, oh, I'd say, a quarter of a mile—well, maybe closer to a half. On the way you'll see many beautiful trees, some of them overhanging the path. The colors are just starting to change. The path twists and turns a bit, but it's smooth all the way. In a while, on the left, you'll see a big white house. . . ." Her male friend suddenly interrupted her. "Yeah, just follow this path and turn left at the end," he said. "You'll hit Oceanview." As Phil and I rode off on our bicycles, I could hear sounds of the couple's arguing fading in the distance. She was most likely telling him how rude he was to interrupt her, and he was probably accusing her of being irrelevant and too talkative. As we pedaled along the beautiful path, I began wondering about what might have taken place if I'd been bicycling alone that day and run into the attractive man, also bicycling alone? How might the communication between us been different if he hadn't been with his girlfriend? I would have asked the attractive stranger for directions just as I did. But then, I realized, if he'd given me a short answer, all I could have done would be say thanks and pedal off. How much more I would have enjoyed having the attractive stranger tell me what a beautiful path was in store for me, how it twists and turns, and then give me details about the changing colors of the leaves the way his girlfriend had. That would have opened the door to further conversation with this attractive male. When I came out of my reverie, I asked Phil his opinion. Suppose he had been bicycling alone and come upon the beautiful woman bicycling without her boyfriend. If he had asked her for directions, what would he have liked hearing? First of all, Phil said, a tad accusingly, "I wouldn't have asked directions." "OK, OK, that I know," I said. "But suppose you had to find your way and were reduced to that humiliation?" "Well," he said, "she would have turned me off with all that babbling. Ideally she would have just told me to follow the path." "Like her boyfriend did?" I asked. "Well, yeah." I was merciless. I persisted, "Well, suppose she wanted to meet you and keep the conversation going. What should she have done?" "Criminy, Leil, I don't know!" But Phil could tell from my expression I was determined to find out. "Well, maybe if she'd added a little veiled compliment, it would have turned the tide. It would change the encounter from impersonal to, well you know, personal." "What do you mean by a veiled compliment?" "Well," Phil mused, "she might say something like, 'It's a long ride . . . but you look like you're up for it.'" "Oh, come on!" "No, really," Phil said.
TECHNIQUE #63 (FOR HUNTRESSES): JUST THE FACTS, MA'AM Huntresses, when stalking and talking with male Quarry, keep your explanations short. Shave down the details. If you want to extend the dialogue and switch into a more personal mode, try a little veiled compliment. Hunters, don't try this. Getting off the objective and switching suddenly into a more personal mode can come across to a woman as being too forward. Instead, extend the conversation by giving more details. Then, after you've been chatting for five or ten minutes, it's perfectly logical to suggest a further activity together, like having a coffee. TECHNIQUE #64 (FOR HUNTERS): PAINT A PRETTY PICTURE Hunters, instead of worrying about how you can score with a great line when you meet a woman, simply flesh out whatever you are saying. Elaborate, and share interesting details. If she likes your looks, she will love hearing about how something looked, sounded, or seemed. Paint a pretty picture for her to enjoy.

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