**The Ayla mentioned in this post has her own blog, The Awkward Adventures of Ayla. Check out Ayla and her antics here!**
“Hi, I’m Ayla,” she said, smiling at a group of boys sitting on the sand.
“Hi,” they replied, admiring her.
They turned to me. I froze. What was I going to say? What is my own name? How did I get so drunk?
“Uh–hi…she’s Ayla,” I managed to say.
“Hi,” they said again.
Full of rum punch, we sashayed to the clear blue waters of Nassau beach. Or rather, she sashayed. I have no recollection of how my inebriated body made it from point A to point B.
That was last summer. A few weeks ago, Ayla and I told this story to her family during our week-long vacation in Avon, NC, resulting in a round of raucous laughter.
After their giggles faded away, something inside me clicked–Ayla had shared with me her secret to breaking the ice, and it was so simple.
“Hi, I’m Ayla.”
So freaking simple.
No crazy pickup lines.
Just an introduction.
Wow. If I only knew that when I was younger…
When I was eleven years old, I had a crush on this boy in my class…and so did a bunch of other girls. Every day, I tortured myself admiring him from afar and watching this one girl effortlessly approach him.
Her eyes twinkled. His eyes twinkled. They exchanged smiles.
“How does she do that?” I thought to myself. “How does she flirt?”
I filled my diary with my preadolescent frustration and longing.
During those middle school years, a rumor went around that I was mute because few people could see past my shyness. Anxiously, I decided that it was better to be silent than say something stupid. After all, I couldn’t speak to a guy (let alone make eye contact with him) without stammering and blushing and beating myself up later for being so awkward because goshdangit, Jackie, all he was asking for was a pencil.
It wasn’t until right before I graduated the eighth grade that I had my first victory. It was the last dance of my middle school career, and I still had not danced with anyone. I resigned myself (for the millionth time) to being a wallflower and watched from the sidelines as my classmates smiled at each other and swayed to the music.
I would have looked back at this night with disappointment and regret if my best friend hadn’t literally pushed me in front of this guy I had been feeling all sorts of tension with since the beginning of the first semester. The force of her push made me almost collide into him. We stared into each other’s eyes for a second. It was now or never. Breathlessly, I asked him if he wanted to dance with me. He put his arms around me, and all at once I understood the feelings I had denied all year.
But still, that didn’t happen on my own. That moment was sponsored by my friend’s uncanny arm strength, God’s impeccable timing, and my brand new Charlotte Russe skirt (which still had the ink tag, as I discovered later).
Without that combination, I was still the clueless girl who had no dramatic entrance, no opening lines, and no game.
Fast forward to my first year of high school. I was crushing so hard on this guy who eventually became our class valedictorian, and I was so awkward it was pathetic.
In my diary, I scribbled a poem.
I know that you avoid me
And I avoid you too
Because of fear I cannot
Bring myself to talk to you
I pined after him and his coke-bottle glasses all Freshman year. The year after, at Homecoming, I asked him to dance with me, and I told him how I felt. He let me down gently, but it was awfully ironic that DHT’s version of “Listen to Your Heart” was playing in the background.
Damn that song.
Junior year, I finally got my first boyfriend. That was the beginning of my winning streak for the next few years of my life. I finally grew into my features, and boys started noticing me. No one knew that I still got tongue-tied or shy because I didn’t have to approach the boys. At last, they were coming to me.
But even so, to this very day, I am still mystified by the art of flirting. How does one do it? How does one approach a man?
Just the thought of putting myself out there paralyzes me with fear.
But here, in the present, while sipping pineapple juice and vodka, Ayla made it all so simple for me.
Flirting is not complicated. Neither is approaching a man.
All I have to do is say, “Hi, I’m Jackie.”
Fate will take care of the rest.