I suppose I should begin by saying that I think that pick-up lines, though funny in theory, are a rather lame and degrading way to try to get a date. I’m not writing about my experiences with this way of asking someone out to applaud them but more because each experience shows how dumb it is to use them. Also, they are rather hilarious.
When you imagine a guy trying to get a girl to have a drink with him, you typically see a Ryan Gosling-esque man in your mind, sauntering up to a lovely looking girl, who is typically in a bar or some kind of establishment where you almost expect people to hit on you. He runs his fingers through his hair then makes some sort of appropriate comment about the situation (“Hey, this joint is really hopping tonight”) then, after establishing some rapport, he whips out his best pickup line… “Did it hurt?” “Do you have a map?” “Do you have a quarter?” or something similar that leads to a cheesy compliment that might make you inclined to offer a courtesy laugh.
My experiences were nothing like that.
About a month into my time here in Graz, I headed home on foot after my Gothic fiction class. As I rounded a corner, I nearly ran into a guy coming from the opposite direction. Said guy had thin, red, curlyish hair that stuck out at odd angles. Perhaps his hair style should have been a warning sign. He said something urgent in German.
I’ve developed a policy that when someone starts to speak to me in German, I let them finish their sentence then say, “I’m sorry. I don’t speak German.” I really didn’t know what this guy could have to ask that was so important, but perhaps he was lost.
I gave him my English response.
“Oh..” He looks baffled and slightly interested. “Are you British?” Ah, so he knows English… but not well enough to recognize that I definitely don’t have a British accent.
“Nope. I’m from America.”
“Oh.” Wide eyes, more interest. (Americans are kind of a novelty among people here that actually want to know English) “You’re from New York?”
“No.” Shaking head, looking for a way to end this conversation since it’s obvious that he doesn’t need anything urgently.
“No.” No band-aids required. No directions to the nearest hospital or post office.
He looks amazed that Americans could be from anywhere else.
“I’m from Minnesota.”
“Oh!” More excitement, wider eyes. “Like Bob Dylan!”
“Yes, like Bob Dylan.”
“I’ve seen him 18 times!”
“Wow.” With about the amount of interest you show a toddler when they show you their 13th drawing of you… but it’s scribbles. (“That’s nice, dear…”) “You know him better than I do.”
Trying to leave.
“Do you know a good place to have a drink?”
A drink. A drink. Obviously, he doesn’t know who he’s asking. I’m a 10:00 pumpkin. I only drink wine… and even that’s rarely. I don’t even know where the bars in this town are except the pub I went to with a friend once… and left at 11:00.
“Um, like coffee?” Yes, I know how to feign naiveté. Or, perhaps, I was hoping that he didn’t feel the need to drink before 5:00pm.
“Oh, well,” He doesn’t know what to do with this. “Coffee, or something else.”
“Um, not really. The Beanery has good coffee though. It’s just down there.”
I try to make my escape now, turning away. I’ve done my duty. He knows where the nearest coffee shop is and that I obviously don’t care to tell him where to get a drink.
“Are you on Facebook?”
Apparently my face says, “STRANGER DANGER” and “I don’t know how to tell you no in a nice way” because he changes the subject.
“Are you free tonight? Will you be around? I am thinking it will be nice to get a drink with you.”
Hem. Haw. Doing that whole thing where your mouth moves while you decide which words to use to say no. I begin to say, “I don’t really know you….” He senses the rejection coming and says, “I am asking because you are very pretty.”
Dang it. I knew I should have worn my habit today.
“….. *hesitation* and nice.” Well, that was a good afterthought.
“Um, no I’m going home to… call my mom.”
I know. It was a lame excuse.
“But you won’t be around later?”
“Nope, I need to go.”
“Okay. I’m a little drunk.”
“That would explain a lot.”
And then I leave, because not only am I not inclined to go out with strangers, but I’m even less inclined to go out with anyone who’s drunk before 5.
Then there was the French guy in the park.
I was just sitting on a bench. I’d just finished eating an apple. It’s always the foreign phrases that get me talking to people. Then once I tell them I don’t speak whatever language it is they’re speaking, they keep talking in English.
Then he sits down next to me and tells me I have nice eyes after some confusion about thinking I was crying because I said I was sorry that I didn’t speak English.
“uh, thanks. I like them, too. They work. They see things. It’s nice.” Okay, yes, I was being snarky. Jesus probably wouldn’t have been snarky. But Jesus also wasn’t a 20-year-old girl traveling alone in a foreign country. Sometimes, snakiness is my best defense. I’m not friendly! You don’t want to talk to me. I also can’t think of a good way to walk away without you feeling like you’re welcome to follow me. So I’m using snakiness as a stall tactic!
“They’re like wahves.” Yes, he said it like that. “wahves” I had to turn that over and over in my mind. wahves, wahves… what does he mean?
“Ohhh, you mean waves? Yes, they’re blue.”
But then he keeps going on about how he was over there in the park when a wahve came up close to him. What would I do if that happened? I don’t know. He was very still.
He means a wolf. He thinks I have wolf eyes.
I came up with an excuse pretty quickly after that, also because I actually did need to go. The guy couldn’t take the snarky, cold shoulder hint.
You could say I’m a little bit wiser to the ways of the world now. And I’ve got some great stories for my children someday. “So, moral of the story. Don’t go out of your house or talk to strangers, girls.”
Just kidding. You can talk. But don’t talk long. Don’t make much eye contact. Don’t tell them your last name. Be snarky if need be. And have an out. Like… “I need to call my mom.” or “I’m meeting someone. Gotta go, bye.”
Moral of the story for all you single men out there: avoid pickup lines or anything similar. Also, don’t tell me that my eyes are like a wolf. That’s not really a compliment.