Hey Baby, What’s Your Line?

A few months back, while grocery shopping near her apartment in Seattle , my friend Rachel was approached by an unfamiliar man in the produce section. He asked her if she knew how to pick a watermelon. Happy to help, she walked with him back toward the heaping pile by the front door, grocery carts in tow. As she tutored him and picked out a winner, they made small talk about hometowns and hobbies. Rachel learned that like herself, he was an avid bike rider. He suggested they go riding sometime, and they traded business cards. He was good-looking, intelligent, friendly… it all seemed perfectly natural and cool until, having parted ways to continue her shopping, she watched him pull into the checkout lane, his watermelon nowhere to be seen.

Hitting on strangers requires skill and bravado that takes 10 minutes to learn and a lifetime to master. Unfortunately I can’t share all my tricks with you; as they say, the game is to be sold, not told. However, I do have advice for the uninitiated…

The well-honed pick-up artist has the cold-calling confidence of a door-to-door salesperson, the fearlessness of a lion tamer, and the charm of a Hollywood heartthrob.If you lack all those qualities, you still have a shot as long as you stick to three fundamental rules.

  1. Be sincere. I know a lot of people who will lie about themselves to get a date. Even my rap hero Ice T condones lying to get yourself through the door. As Ice frames it, you can always retract the lies, and if you really have a strong connection with someone, they won’t mind. I think that relationships grow linearly, so if you aspire to honesty in the long-term, you should lead off with it from the start.
  2. Be funny. Humor is the skeleton key to most people’s hearts. It doesn’t matter if your jokes are cheesy, dorky, or self-deprecating; making people laugh improves your odds dramatically. Cleverness, wit, and creativity also fall into this category. Make yourself shine!
  3. Be patient. Any joke falls flat if you skip to the punchline too early. Similarly, your attempts to land a date will flounder if you are hasty. Give yourself long enough to make an impression before you make your move. If you are hitting on someone you are likely to see again (at work, at school, or around your neighborhood), then time is on your side and you should take advantage of it. Consider waiting until the 2nd or 3rd time you meet to ask this person out.

These guidelines may seem simplistic and obvious, but doing is much harder than reading.Try them out and let me know how you fare!

About Author:

Davy Rothbart is the subject of a documentary film titled My Heart is an Idiot, Davy Rothbart is the creator of FOUND Magazine, a frequent contributor to public radio’s This American Life, and author of the story collection The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas. He writes regularly for GQ and The Believer, and his work also appears in The New Yorker, The New York Times and High Times. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.