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|Posted on 14 February, 2014 at 16:23|
REVIEW of Susan Bradley's Flirting Safari:
“How to Flirt Without Looking Like You’re in Heat”
How to Flirt Without Looking Like You're in Heat" was definitely not a subject I was taught in Catholic school. Having your skirt an inch above the knee proved to be the secret password to the "Scarlet A" club. Did I mention I also played the piano? Yep, I'm Asian American, too. Flirting, let alone a flirting convention, was not even part of my vocabulary. Using your body language to attract a guy was trespassing into territory that belonged only to the "birds and the bees".
Growing up, the biggest sign of affection I saw my parents give each other was a pat on the back. I glimpsed a hug goodbye once, but it could’ve been an accidental casualty from my mom reaching for her keys. Having un-expressive parents was a history I shared with Susan Bradley, keynote speaker of the 2010 Bay Area Flirting Convention. But our similarities ended there. Bradley stood 5’10 inches tall with siren-red hair that flowed over her coyly placed arm-on-hip. She exuded seduction, perhaps not embodied it as Marilyn Monroe did, but enough to have been Christina Hendrick’s archetype. “Mad men” may have well been Bradley’s chewed-up leftovers.
“Why are you here? “ she asked. Crickets. “Come on, why are you here?” Bradley urged with a slight inflection that suggested she had an answer in mind. Not that there was a right answer, but there certainly was a golden one. Uncharacteristically that answer came from the back row. Like emerging from an herbal essence commercial, Bobbie Casey, rose to the front of the class with her bull’s-eye exhale, “To fall in love.” There was brief pause, suggesting that all the romantics in the room had repeated the timeless phrase to themselves, while the skeptics heard the cliché and looked for the closest exit to high-tail themselves out of there.
No matter the smiles, arms folded, legs crossed, eyebrows raised or heads leaned, Bradley stayed the course. “To fall in love”, she wistfully recounted. We, and by we, I mean 75 women, sat there seemingly curious to hear if the first lesson would jettison us into sisterhood, as if we were at a sleepover reading the latest issue of Cosmopolitan. Of course, equally if not more probable was the scenario that we would free-fall into the “8-second later” group, delayed in our individual reaction and more bewildered than when we first walked in.
“Engage and disengage,” she pointedly recited our mantra for the night, with the same cadence as “bend and snap” from the memorable flirting tutorial in Legally Blonde. Verdict? Cosmos all the way around.
She had it down to a science. Bradley explained, “Within 45 minutes, flirt 3 times using this technique.”
Step 1: Smile for several seconds from afar (engage) and look away (disengage).
Step 2: "Flirt-by" Walk by and comment on what he's wearing - "That is your color" or " I like your look" (engage) and walk away (disengage).
Step 3: Have a conversation (engage). Within the conversation engage and disengage.
Several groups of men had joined the conversation by this point, coming close to equalizing the amount of estrogen and testosterone in the room. By the eager expressions on their faces- the suits, baggy t-shirts, fedoras and even bow-ties that walked-in were like guys who just crashed their sisters’ sleepovers- eager to gather intel and demystify the creation known as woman. The men we were told do not typically show up until after the presentation is over, when the mingling begins. Luckily for us, they didn’t get the memo. Role-playing without a “Ken” would not have been as entertaining to be sure.
Clearly the ice had broken because unlike thirty minutes ago when it was so quiet you could hear the outgoing texts chiming from the bored person two rows ahead of you, hands were now raised vigorously waving to Bradley’s request for volunteers. She needed one man and woman to come up. Once they were on stage, she asked them to pick a victim from the opposite sex to join them. Guiding them through a number of scenarios, Bradley illustrated a few conversation-starters. Some of them were akin to “If I could rearrange the alphabet, I would put U and I together.” Included in this tier was her suggestion to cut out a paper heart and while giving it to our person of interest, say, “This is my heart. Will you hold it for a while- I’ll be right back.” “Exactly” some of us probably thought, smiling a stamp of approval, while the other half was looking for a paper bag to either gag into or scream, “What?!”
A dark horse in my opinion was her suggestion to wear a piece of jewelry with a story of origin, providing a natural segue for a pair to get to know each other. This resonated with me the most, as men do typically compliment the necklace I’m wearing, in which I reply with the dead-end answer of “thank you.” Once I’ve graduated from the “jewelry-wearing” stage, I may attempt Bradley’s recommendation to stand next to the person of interest, letting out an exhale, which hopefully will solicit the question, “Are you bored?” In turn, I’m to respond, “No, I’m just ready for a vacation,” which supposedly is "flirt" for "please talk to me."
Other tricks of the trade include sitting at the edge of your chair, securing proper posture to cross your legs, and ample pivot range to scan the room. Standing slightly sideways while talking to your interest is also apparently much more flirtatious than facing forward.
One of the most comical moments of the night was when all of us, men included, stood up for the “double-take”. In unison we looked over our shoulder, looked away, then snapped back to look at our mark.
Arguably, the most over-the top suggestion came in Bradley’s approach to finding out if the man of the night is married. If a ring doesn’t verify his marital status, you are to touch an article of his clothing, such as a tie, and ask, “Did your wife pick this out for you?” If he is in a group, you could ask, “Which one of you is the troublemaker?” This supposedly is guaranteed to generate a frenzy-finger-pointing contest, at which point you are able to weed out the single men by responding, “It must be the married one.” Either this will be confirmed or denied and hopefully not neither.
But the one sure to be reenacted, if at least in jest, was the same recommendation that proved most intriguing. Bradley explained how to overcome your nerves by tricking your brain. When walking into a party full of strangers, she suggests waving across the room, tricking your brain into believing you do know someone and, therefore, will feel more comfortable to converse with people. She allayed those of us who were cynics ready to protest by leading us through an exercise in which she asked us to picture a lemon in our hands and after several seconds of describing it in detail we were to take a bite. “How many of you have more saliva in your mouth?” she asked. Many, including myself, were amazed that we were salivating. Tricking our brains into believing we were about to eat a lemon apparently had triggered our salivary glands, initializing the digestion process.
But even more than the sideway talking, head snapping, brain trickery or simple smile, “attitude” trumps all. With attitude the sideway talking is accessorized with a hand on the hip, your head snapping transforms into legendary hair tossing, the waving doesn’t end up flailing and the smile can not be mistaken for misdirection.
One may ask, what makes Susan Bradley worthy of our attention? Can Bradley, a prior nurse become the next Dr. Phil? For better or entertaining, Bradley, was able to disarm and captivate her audience. But do her coaching abilities compel a double-take themselves? I, for one, signed up for the next Bradley event: the flirting safari. Basically through a number of challenges and Bradley’s coaching, a small group of us will venture into the Golden Gate City and put into practice what we learned here today. Would I replace my Cosmopolitan for “How to be Irresistible to the Opposite Sex” or another Bradley-authored book? I think there’s enough room on my shelf for both.
(Ha I was thinking of ending with "I think there's enough room on my shelf for both, next to my Bible. I even thought of saying NIV Bible to imply my conversion. ha. if my piece were shorter, i think it would work. but the way it is, it seems out of place.)
Susan leads seminars on relationships and coaching in the SF Bay Area and other areas of California. Contact her at [email protected]