Yesterday evening I chatted up not one but two men on the tube. Or at least I think I did. I’m not really sure where the line is between chatting and ‘chatting up.’ But anyway, I approached two total strangers of the male persuasion and started talking to them. Something I have never, ever done before.
Number 1 male was a tall, pale, dark haired man in a suit. He was handsome in a kind of knackered, fed-up with life way. We both got on a Clapham and the train was busy. I was standing right next to him.
By this point I’d been on two other trains and had so far bottled any opportunity to talk to anyone. I had to go for it.
I asked him if the train was always this crowded. He looked up from his phone, said ‘yes’, and looked back down again.
Right. My heart started beating a bit faster but I wasn’t going to back down. I waited a minute before asking: ‘Where do you live?’
Despite being busy the carriage was very quiet and I could sense a couple of people looking up. A man sitting on a seat next to us smirked. I winced.
Knackered man in suit looked slightly alarmed. ‘Er, Streatham.’
‘Is it nice?’ I asked. I could see he was torn between not wanting to be rude and worrying that he had a nutter/stalker on his hands. He kept it short and sweet. Another ‘yes.’
I kept going. ‘Have you lived there long?’
He paused for a second.
‘WE’VE lived there for a couple of years,’ he replied, with the emphasis on the ‘WE’. Message received loud and clear. He had a girlfriend. But just to ram the message home, he added: ‘We’ve just bought a house.’
I carried on smiling and chatting, just to show that my world had not just ended because he had a girlfriend (which it hadn’t) and we made small talk about property prices before he got off.
And there you go – not a successful attempt at chatting up, exactly, but sod it, I did it. It was slightly embarrassing but no big deal.
Usually if I saw a good looking guy on the tube I’d imagine all the reasons they would absolutely NOT be interested in me. Too fat, too ginger, too badly dressed. I won’t even smile at a man I find attractive because I think that he’ll be thinking ‘She’s crazy if she thinks I’d be interested in someone like her.’ I don’t need men to actually reject me because I’m rejecting myself all over the joint.
So this small step was actually quite a big step. It felt good.
This is one of the things that Susan Jeffers says in Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway: ‘With each little step you take into unknown territory, a pattern of strength develops. You begin feeling stronger and stronger and stronger.’
I felt so strong after my first brief encounter that I went straight into my second chat up. With Mr Smirker.
He was reading a thick book and I asked him what it was about. He looked bemused but he was actually quite chatty. It was the History of the World in 100 objects, ‘I bought it for my brother, for Christmas but I ended up keeping it,’ he said. ‘It’s good. It was a Radio 4 series.’
We carried on chatting. There was no mention of the royal ‘We.’ I started to see his smirk as a lovely smile. He was an artist’s assistant. I imagined all the lovely art work our house would have…
We got off at the same stop. We went through the turnstiles and hovered for a second. I froze. He froze. I thought about asking him to my friend’s dinner party but then realised that it would be a very weird thing to do. For whatever reason it didn’t occur to me to just ask for his number. And I don’t know if I’d have had the guts to do it, if it had.
And he didn’t ask for mine. Instead he gave me a final smirk/smile and went on his way.
For half a second I let myself dwell on the fact that he clearly didn’t like me because he didn’t ask for my number but then another part of me thought that he was too embarrassed to.
But even if it was a rejection, weirdly, I didn’t care. I was too busy being delighted with my total and utter HEROISM.Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway: How to Turn Your Fear and Indecision into Confidence and Action