A few months ago, as I was hardcore Internet stalking a fella who’d been beeping on my, “I want to beep you” radar for a little while, my friend made an observation that shook my entire world.
“Gosh, you’re such a flirt, Ari.”
PARDON, MOI? Me? The girl who snorts when she laughs too hard and geeks out over changes in YouTube layouts? The girl who recently knocked over an entire juice display at Whole Foods and tried to play it off by attempting a Casablanca pun and saying, “We’ll always have pears…Paris. Pear-is. Juice. I’m so sorry!”
I sputtered out a confused, “W-what?” But I didn’t feel my stammering truly did the situation justice. I stopped what I was doing, reached for my glass of wine, and did an overly exaggerated spit take. And then immediately thought, “Why the fuck did I just spit wine out? YOU WASTEFUL, WENCH!”
“Oh, don’t even! You flirt with everybody. It’s not a bad thing! You just can’t help yourself.”
I looked over my shoulder and caught my reflection in the mirror. Was the freckled, petite goofball I saw staring back at me secretly a flirt? Had she been deceiving me this whole time? Was my lovable neurosis an act? Sitting there in my tattered Run DMC sweatshirt, hair sloppily tossed up in a bun-like/Cindy Lou Who mess, and with un-manicured nails, raw from playing guitar, I didn’t look like a flirt should look. But then again, what was that even supposed to look like?
I used to watch girls in high school effortlessly reel guys in while I stumbled to even get my fishing pole untangled from the boat. Actually, in that metaphor, I wouldn’t be baiting anything. Nope, I’m pretty sure I’d just be wearing a wig and/or animal mask, doing the Carlton dance, and screaming, “Fuck land, I’m on a boat, motherfucker! Fuck trees, I climb buoys, motherfucker!”
I never considered myself a flirt. Sure, I will make conversation with the guy next to me at the bus stop. I like talking to people, SUE ME! What I tend to think of as just being nice and a fellow member of society and mankind gets labeled flirting (different article for a different day). But, damn, really? Me?
I grew up with a doting Charlize Theron lookalike mother who told me, “boys are just intimidated by you.”
By what? My encyclopedic knowledge of Friends episodes? The squeaky high-pitched noise that escapes my mouth whenever I see animals? My milkshake?
No, I was about as intimidating as a bubblegum pink loofa, and equally as sought after by the menfolk. My milkshake wasn’t bringing the boys to the yard, so who did I need to flirt with? My future 76 cats? I settled on being me, and found that there were people out there who could totally dig that. But did I sweep anybody off their feet with my smooth moves and charisma? Nope. It was my Woody Allen lovability. Not flirting. Never flirting.
But therein lies a problem. It’s the problem of placing ourselves in such limited boxes, in believing this false idea that we can only be one thing. I came out of the womb thinking I was adorably awkward. And that was it. That was my cross to bear, and I had to accept being called cute. It never even crossed my mind that it could be possible to be awkward AND sexy. That maybe the definitions of sexy, flirty, beautiful, hot, etc. are not set in stone.
You know that guy I mentioned in the beginning? He’s straight up sexy. Actually sexy. The doesn’t matter your orientation or tastes, you will look at him and say, “damn, that is a handsome man” kind of sexy.
And I was prepared to seduce him the only way I know how, through my personality. I was going to be a little weird and hopefully funny. I could awkwardly charm myself right into his heart. But yeah, I wasn’t going to be some vixen, some sexy flirt. I was going to be the girl that he didn’t notice at first. I was going to be the girl that little by little worked my way into his head. But he wasn’t going to take notice of me at that party filled with bronzed, Blonde bombshells with legs that were longer than my body. He was going to meet me that night and I’d soon disappear from memory. I wasn’t going to be someone he thought about until later, when he got to know me.
That’s what society had convinced me of. If you are funny, cute, clumsy, etc, you cannot also be the girl who first takes someone’s breath away. You are either the flirt or the girl next door. You are not both.
But strangely enough, I didn’t fade from his memory. He remembered me. Maybe I am a flirt. Maybe I am sexy. Maybe I am incredibly weird and I dance and sing at inappropriate times. Maybe we are capable of being whatever we want because we are women. We have the power to bring life into this world, to carry and nourish another human. Another human to be labeled, to be seen as one-dimensional, when we will always be so much more. I say, be as many things as you want. Don’t let anyone, yourself included, convince you that are just one thing. You are all the things. All of them.