For as long as I can remember I have been a flirt. For seemingly just as long, I have realized the futility in which I flirt, nabbing only about 5% of the girls with my sweet talk. In a baseball equivalent, I'm batting post season A-Rod (this is the most painful joke I have ever written). There are many ways in which I've flirted, from quirky letters to instant messages to a girl's away message, even to the occasional self-deprecating joke. One form of flirting that I never mastered--let alone really knew existed--was using eye contact.
It is something that always eluded me. For example, I thought a few girls fancied me in my US History class sophomore year, but I fully believe it was because a squirrel would scamper about just outside the windows with were situated to my right. I also took bored, blank stares as signs of affection, leading to many an awkward conversation at a party. "Oh, you're seeing him? Wait, you're not seeing him, just having sex with him? I see.... Yeah, yeah that squirrel is nutty. No, I didn't say that intentionally."
In any class since I started going to school, I have always passed idle time by looking at the most attractive girl(s) in the class. It usually wasn't about making eyes with someone, or trying to get her attention. If anything, it was a stupid game to see if I could get the same reaction. I'm sure most of the time it was a look of "why are you still looking at me, you creep?" but it was a look nonetheless. It was something to keep me going while I was falling asleep based on the subject matter or I was just bored from the endless droning of my classmates who couldn't understand Hamlet (not to say I'm above anyone, but jesus people, it's still English they're speaking).
This eye contact game I always thought was just my own stupid way to pass time. I was recently having lunch with reader/friend (redundant?) Westie, who was bragging about a relationship she has created with a boy in her class, based solely on stolen looks and quick glances. "This kid and I have eye sex," was her direct quote, but I feel that "eye sex" is an extremely awkward term to be kicked about. It is unusual to compare the sensual, discreet act of sexual intercourse with arbitrary eye movements. If they were more alike, I would probably get laid more. But alas, it's simply not as easy as looking at someone else directly in the gateways to the soul, so "eye sex" shall be stricken from the rest of this entry.
Never before did I realize that the girl might actually have something invested in this process, this sport of mine. I always thought it was action without consequence, nothing to note in the long run. Apparently, I am wrong. Not only is it important, but it can be a heavily influential device before flirting more. This was lost on me. After some meditation on the subject, I have thought of various places in which I have played my staring game and what the rules of the game are, along with pros and cons.
It is impossible to do anything in a large lecture hall. The numbers are absolutely staggering (upwards to 300+ other apathetic students and 10+ dorks who are absolutely enthralled) and do not lend itself to something as precise as eye contact. At any time you could think some girl has been staring you down the entire lecture before you hear someone yell her name from five rows behind and then see her react while you feel like an ass. The same goes for the opposite end, as your look at someone from the opposite sex could go through about seven rows of various guys and girls, making your focused beam of interest be refracted like sunlight through a cloudy sky, spreading your stare on to tons of the same sex and generally unsavory people. Bottom line is, unless they are down your row and you can bet that a single person will understand what you're doing, just don't do it. And avoid looking at someone of your own sex; cause if you make eye contact with them they'll make it with you and it will be awkward for everyone involved. Unless, of course, you're gay. I have no joke to follow that statement, for it is simply a truism.
Small lectures (30-50 people) is less awkward, but more difficult. For example, if you're sitting in the front row, you have absolutely no game. There is no smooth way to turn around and look at someone without being incredibly creepy. You cannot pass off "oh, I was just looking randomly to my left and Oh hello there!" No, you're very deliberately turning around and eyeing off, "I think you're pretty and might look good as a rug," while you strangely stroke your pet poodle. If you want to successfully attempt this, get as far up and diagonally across from the target as possible. Even doing this does not guarantee victory, but dammit, at least you have a shot. Move out, soldier (and remember to blink).
Classrooms are the preferred field of play. There are rows of desks and not enough people to really get in your way. Now you can very deliberately have your eye wander before finding the person you want to look at, seemingly as if it was one big coincidence. Be wary of people blindly staring in to space. This can be achieved by darting your eyes back and forth between the subject and something else, because if they don't react to that weirdo motion, they aren't going to react to a football being thrown at her face, Marsha style. Don't get any false confidence from ole' Spacey. Also, be sure to not stare too much, because that would make the opposite more apt to call the police than to call your cell phone. I cannot stress enough how thin a line it is before creepy stalking and harmless looking. Believe me. I can't come within 100 feet of an elementary school
There is one flaw to the classroom situation, and it is probably the most distracting and troublesome formation of the bunch: sitting in a circle. In this formation, everyone is laid out in either your frontal view or peripheral, and there is no escaping the looks from everywhere. I'm in a discussion now where we go into a circle, and the room is filled with eight males and around twenty females. Of the eight males, four are gay, one is quiet and keeps to himself and doesn't seem to have a firm grasp on English, and the other two aren't fit to be extras in movies about teenagers. That leaves me the alpha male. This is not a point of pride. I'm getting eye-raped from all angles, mostly by people I wouldn't make contact with; visually or otherwise. This also leads to the problem of me checking out who is checking ME out, giving them the false impression of reciprocity. My vision line in that class now looks like this (with - being the eye line): ___/ \____~' \______ I avoid them like the plague. Oh, and the two most attractive girls in the class will not return my visual favors, either. Poetic justice.
Finally, there is walking down the street, something most BU students do daily. I have a simple rule when it comes to walking: the double look. It is something I figured out freshman year and brought to the Palisades Mall in NY to try out. Sure enough, it worked, and really annoyed my then-girlfriend (mostly cause I would triumphantly proclaim how it just happened, much to her chagrin). It is, like any eye contact flirtation, an unsure science...like physics (gravity my ass). The way I use the system is that the person has to see you from some distance, get a general look, then look down/away/up before once again looking at you. Obviously this doesn't work with anyone but a stranger ("oh man, Steve looked at me today as I passed and asked if I had the five bucks to repay him - I think he wants me!"). It could also be, at least in my case, such thoughts that need clarification, as in, "damn is he really that tall?" or "is his face really dirty or...oh...beard...gotcha."
The basic gist is such: making direct eye contact can be threatening, flirtatious, or accidental. Have fun figuring out which look is which, cause hell if I know anymore.
And stop staring at me you fucking psycho. You! I can see you! Stop.