Amy Alkon drags people, kicking, screaming, and laughing, out of their misery with her behavioral science-based advice column, which runs in about 100 newspapers.
Buy her science-based and bitingly funny new advice book, "Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck" (St. Martin's Press, June 3, 2014).
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A Man On The Meek
I'm a guy and need directions! For a month, I've been flirting with this woman at work, and I think she's flirting back. I now have a week's vacation, but I'm not leaving town. Before I left, she said, "You know, if you're bored, you can drop by work and see us." She said it again before I went down the elevator. Do you think she's hinting that she's interested? I'd ask her out, but if she said no, it'd be weird because we work together. What should I do? -- Between A Rock And A Workplace
Guys these days will find any excuse to avoid asking women out: It's too hot, it's too cold, the moon's in Aquarius, or isn't in Aquarius, or making a move could cause a woman to have an epileptic seizure, go into diabetic shock, or start speaking in tongues. And sure, those last few are serious concerns, especially if she's epileptic, diabetic, or has given some indication she's possessed.
But, assuming the woman's head doesn't start whirling around like it's on the spin cycle, and she doesn't ask you to drop by for coffee in a Satan voice, a guy could make the leap that she's less in need of an exorcist than a cute guy to take her to the movies on Saturday night. And then, in hopes of being that guy, you could make a slightly bigger leap and ask her out. That's what's worked since our ancestors were dragging their hairy knuckles across the African plain -- the guy pursuing the woman, that is, not waiting for a fortuitous turn of fate, like that the woman might eventually get assigned to the rocking chair next to his in the nursing home.
The notion of male pursuit got mucked up in the wake of women's lib. Post-modern gibberish trafficking became a legitimate university career, and the women's studies industry rose up, stuck its tongue out at men's and women's differing biologies and correspondingly different psychologies, and spread the ridiculous idea that gender is merely a social construct. Suddenly, meeker guys, guys who, in the '50s, would've had a simple choice -- ask women out or die alone -- got it into their heads that they might not have to, or shouldn't have to; that they could forget the alpha male ideal and start acting like alpha plastic daisies.
Oh, but you're not like that! This is just a workplace thing. Yes, it is. Which means you should take a wait-and-see attitude on goosing her in the elevator. But, if a woman says anything the slightest bit forward -- "We're all going for a beer after work, wanna come?" -- operate on the assumption she may be interested. The after-work aspect gives you plausible deniability. If it goes badly, or her interest seems only friendly, you can both pretend it wasn't a date. Or, maybe you get to the bar and she's all "Hey, whaddya know, nobody else from the office showed up." So, chances are, it's either a contract murder or a seduction.
But ... but ... it could get weird if she says no! Yes, it could. Especially if you dress in black every day afterward and crumple up beside the copier weeping -- as opposed to seeing rejection as the price of getting dates, and each individual rejection merely as a message to be on to the next. Good things do not come to those who wait. No, good things come to those who ask. Well, most of those. Of course, if Romeo had been too wimpy to go for it, Juliet might've ended up alive and well -- and probably thrice-divorced and living in Cleveland.
News She'll Never Use
When I talk to a woman and give her my business card, I never hear from her again. Do I have to get a woman's e-mail or phone number or ask where she hangs out to have better luck? -- Zero Messages
That card you give a woman may come in handy -- if she gets bits of food stuck in her teeth, drops an earring backing in a tight place, or if some other guy asks for her number and she has nothing else to write it on. In general, a woman wants to be courted, not left with a slightly longer to-do list. If a woman seems interested in you, ask her for her card. But, don't leave a message, don't e-mail her, and above all, don't lurk where you think she might hang out. Get her on the phone, chat her up, and ask her on a date. She might say no, but at least she'll say something, and you'll know where you stand. Take it from those who have stood before you, in bathroom stalls from coast to coast: "For a good time, call..." not "For a good time, stare at your phone."