“Make eye contact, smile, then look away.” It’s the classic landi move I was taught years ago, when I was a more gusgusin version of myself on Republiq’s dance floor. But it terrified me, so I never actually tried it.
“It’s scary!” my current 28-year-old self still thought. “You’re putting yourself out there. You’re showing interest.” It let in the possibility of being shot down. Of, in essence, being told through the other’s reaction that you weren’t pretty or interesting enough. Feeling ko pa rin mapapahiya ako kahit kaming dalawa lang ang makakakita.
“But don’t you already do that on Tinder?” my friend asked. “Yes, but I’m not there while it happens. And by the time I meet up with someone, we’ve already made a mini agreement that we like each other enough to spend the next few hours together.” Tinder keeps rejection at a safe distance. I can’t even remember any of the faces who didn’t swipe back on me. “Tinder is for the torpe,” I concluded.
But I looked around the cool bar we were in in Seminyak. I wasn’t always going to be this far away from home. It was nearing 11 pm and the place was steadily filling up with people from all over the world. And while I was still scared and self-conscious at 28, age has a way of making you take yourself a little less seriously. So I told my friend, fine. I’ll try.
I got a total of five guys to approach — including (apparently) one of Indonesia’s football stars who bought me a Bintang. (He turned out to be a douche, but free beer, I don’t see how that’s my problem). And as it was with most of the things I dread, it really wasn’t that hard. It got to a point where I wasn’t even aware I was being open. I just was.
“Ganun lang pala yun?” my newly mulat self enthused. “You do this little thing, tapos sila na gagawa ng lahat?” “Oo!” my friend answered, as if I were just finding out that the sun was a star.
“Quality over quantity,” she reminded me, after acknowledging my beginner’s success. And I agree, of course. But there is such a thing as sharpening your weapons, so that when quality shows up, asintado ka na. Malakas-lakas na loob mo.
I walked away from that night thinking I had inadvertently created a monster, but it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing after that. The next night, I tried to go for quality over quantity and didn’t see anyone I liked. What I did see, though was how the men were actually looking for openings, and the decision rested with me as I kept my walls raised. I had never seen a room from that view point before.
And then on another night, I got snubbed by an entire group of French men I was supposedly hanging out with (they do that to every non-French person I know, but it was still unpleasant). Then on my last day, I tried throwing the look at this guy who I thought was checking me out on the beach, and he absolutely did not smile back. Stone face.
But I lived. I ordered another beer and walked towards the shore, away from Stone Face, so I could drink while getting my feet wet. And literally within seconds found a welcoming face who actually wanted to talk to me. And later that night, I got asked out on a second date by someone smart and attentive.
I used to think that being good at flirting was this special state of being. You either were or you weren’t, and I most certainly wasn’t. But after doing nothing more than just giving it a few tries, I’ve started to realize that maybe that’s all I have to do. Try. Show up. Throw something in the bucket. Forget about how good or bad I imagine myself to be and just do my part. Voluntarily walk away from rejection because I’m more interested in what’s next.
This is basically what I’ve been doing with my new funemployed status—learning new skills, both the potentially lucrative and otherwise. It’s been great, haha 😛
Talo daw ng malandi ang maganda. Well, why not be both? Cheret.
From one late bloomer to the next,