Sunday, April 17, 2011

Start of a romance: Is playing it cool for losers like me?

Years ago, while stuck more than 30,000 feet up in the air, I watched a ridiculous romantic comedy called Serendipity. Though sitting through a rom com is not my favorite way to kill a couple of hours, and it's something I generally only do in-flight, this one, costarring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale, was dumber than most. It gave love -- and rom coms -- a very bad name indeed.

I'm pretty vague on all the details, but from what I remember, Cusack and Beckinsale meet cute, and rather than writing down their telephone numbers and exchanging them like normal people back in the day when people actually did that sort of thing (as opposed to programming them into their iPhones, Facebooking each other, or stalking them on Grindr or Manhunt), she decided that if it was meant to be, they'd somehow meet again.

Stupid girl, I thought. Isn't it possible that the serendipity that she was holding out for had already hit her over the head when she met the guy in the first place? After what seemed like centuries of cheesy misadventures, they ended up living happily ever after, and I never gave the film another thought until yesterday when I was at a friend's birthday party.

I struck up a conversation with a lovely woman, and she told me about the possibly perfect guy she had met at a wedding the weekend before. They have a number of friends in common and had spent years just missing each other, so this was the first time they'd ever officially met. Although they spent quality time together at the reception, exchanged several longing glances, and put on quite the display of chemistry (so much so that it was the talk of the reception), they parted ways without exchanging numbers -- or I should add, anything more un-chaste than a handshake.

So the dilemma facing my new friend: Should she follow the Serendipity blueprint for romance and let nature run its course, or should she give nature a nudge? Facebooking him was out of the question. Too Generation Y, we decided. My advice was to not only give nature a nudge but a swift kick in its ass, too. Getting his number from one of their mutual friends and calling him would be putting herself out there a little bit too much, so I suggested that she and a friend casually stroll into the art gallery that he runs the following weekend, mention that she just happened to be in the neighborhood (how rom com!), and if he's not there, leave him a very breezy note that casually includes her phone number. If he calls, she'll know he was interested in more than a diversion at the wedding. If he doesn't, an unresponded-to note is far easier on the ego than an unreturned phone call, an unanswered text message, or an ignored Facebook invitation!

We fine-tuned this approach for a while before she came up with an even better one. Her flatmate happens to be a childhood friend of the object of her attention (Is this meant to be or what?!), so she could encourage her roommate to set up a casual night out that includes all three of them. Though this has the potential of turning the chemistry at the wedding into friendship rather than romance (third wheels often kill romance dead in its tracks, as when one rolls onto the scene, it can send out mixed signals such as "I like you -- but, um, maybe just as a friend"), I liked it because it would require absolutely no action on her part. I couldn't think of a better way to start a new romance than doing nothing!

But then again, inaction is for losers at love, like me. I'm hoping that my new friend's ploy works anyway, not only because I can say I was there (sort of ) and helped put love into motion, but because it might actually give me faith in love, marriage and weddings again.
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