as she wants to be known here. Shes always meeting men. Shes very pretty, of course,but so are her friends.
Yet Claudias charm goes deeper than her looks, and appears to inspire the kind of spontaneous exchanges with strangers that leave her girlfriends shaking their well-groomed heads in surprise, and then asking for pointers.
I just like people, says Claudia, seated under a large red umbrella at a sidewalk café.
I think people are interesting and I like meeting them. Imwilling
to meet people. I just look people in the eye and smile.
According to Claudia, 29, its this willingness to engage that provokes the otherwise seemingly apathetic L.A. male population to take action.
Take, for example, the sword swallower. Earlier this week Claudia was sitting in another café and, she says, a cute boy walked in. She smiled. He smiled back. She thought to herself, Iwish that boy would come sit next to me.
And, he came right over and asked, Isanyone sitting there?
They discovered they had friends in common, and soon he was asking her to come to the circus compound in Sonoma where he lives, and learn the flying trapeze.
Yesterday a cop called her at home to offer to replace her car window after she reported that someone had broken it to steal her purse.
The day before that she met a guy while buying makeup at the cosmetic megastore Sephora. Her eyes met the salesmans. One thing led to another, she says, and the next thing she knew he was giving her a really good makeover. Then, when she realized she was going to be late for her friends play and her car was parked far away, he told his manager he was leaving, grabbed his keys and drove her to the theater. He also gave me sunflowers to match my outfit, she says, picking at a chocolate-chip cookie.
That was all in the past four days, she says. It happens to me every day.
Why do you think that is?
In every exchange there is a choice you make, she shrugs. To [either] cut it off or keep it going. I tend to keep it going, to see what happens next.
Just then, as if on cue, the man seated at the table beside Claudias interjects.
he says. Icouldnt help but listen. Are you talking about men and women and how they interact?
Freddie is a blond 32-year-old set decorator from Switzerland who speaks in broken English. Almost immediately, Claudia and he are discussing the dynamics and politics of flirting.
I think men need to be direct and go up to women when they are interested, says Claudia, pushing her brown hair behind one ear. I really like that quality in men.
That makes sense, Freddie agrees. The female part is the receiving part; the male part is the giving part. Sometimes in society, it gets too much for me, always to initiate. I dont usually allow for random interaction with people, like this. Im kinda surprised about how this conversation [is] unfolding. It encourages me. It might change the way I interact with people,now that I think of it.
Freddie admits that he is flirting now, but he says he usually doesnt flirt. Instead, he waits for the precise moment to coincide.
Like, when he met his current girlfriend.
I saw her in a club, Freddie explains. It was 3 oclock at night. [He means 3 oclock in the morning.] She was wearing super-tight pants and I saw her ass first and I was like, Ohmy god, shes what I want.
But I was waiting for the moment. And she got out a lollipop and, the lollipop was with caramel and apples. I was like, Ohmy god, this lollipop!
I told her, Thatis a really amazing lollipop. I want some of that.
And, when she gave me the lollipop, it was . . . just on.
Were you on Ecstasy? Claudia asks.
Yes. I was, Freddie nods.
Claudia laughs, leans back in her chair and tries to explain the beauty and power of spontaneous exchanges with strangers.
I think people have rules. They dont just let things happen. Its like the encounter groups, where, in early utopian societies, people would get together and create these random interactions,but they werent really random.
Its a theatrical concept. Put people together and create situations. It was sometimes an exercise in self-improvement or getting rid of attachment. But those were contrived encounters as opposed to letting things happen in life. I just smile at people and they smile back. Its nothing new.
Did you smile at Freddie?
No. He just overheard [my] conversation. See, it can happen even when youre not looking. Claudia laughs. Maybe its magical. Maybe I am magic!
Do you think?
A little bit. Yes, I do actually.
Freddie, do you think Claudia is magic?
I believe she has some kind of magic going. I do believe if you put out intent for something to happen you attract it.
So Claudias magic is more than just her physical beauty?
I think there are really beautiful girls who probably dont have the same effect on guys. But then you get in the discussion of Whatis beauty anyway?
Certainly there is external beauty, but beauty is more than that. Its your whole attitude towards life.Are you attracting beauty? Or are you denying yourself beauty?
Either you choose fear or beauty/love.Are you gonna be afraid, and limit how much you allow? How much interaction?
Someone that allows or attracts beauty becomes beautiful.
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I notice that, Claudia agrees. I choose to see beauty in people. When youre looking for it, you find it. You become it!