I want to caution anyone reading this advice that I never got asked out using this trick, but I got a lot of fun conversations using this. I call it either “the Surprise” or more endearingly but somewhat less accurately, “the Quirk”. I’m not sure how useful this will be, but I got to thinking about it because of this post by Donal and this post on Girls Being Girls.
The basic premise of the Surprise is that it is something that allows another person to easily strike up a conversation with you. I call it the Surprise because it helps if it is just a little unusual and makes the other person curious. I discovered this before I was dating age and basically rediscovered it in college.
There are three varieties of the Surprise that I’ve discovered. The Accessory, the Item, and the Behavior. For examples I’ll tell you my story about each one of these.
This is the one that I discovered very early on and completely by accident. As a child I was obsessed with dragons, so one Christmas, R (my father figure) got me a rather large, wooden dragon pendant. I wore it every chance I got, even if I had to wear it in a way that nearly strangled me. I was quite small (I’m still quite small) and the pendant was rather large, so naturally it got noticed by people. The most distinct memory I have about it opening a conversation was when my mother and I were at a restaurant waiting to pick up an order. A very tattooed man who was also waiting simply had to talk to me about my beautiful pendant and relate it to the huge dragon tattoo that he was slowly getting. I didn’t say much, being a shy child, but the door was still opened and I met someone I never would have spoken to. This wasn’t flirting (at least I hope it wasn’t), but in another situation this same pendant could have given an interested young man a legitimate opener that was related specifically to me. So he doesn’t have to open with something generic and potentially annoying.
Admittedly the Accessory works best if a) it was a gift or b) it has some sort of special meaning to you, that way you can keep the conversation going once the person opens and you don’t seem vain.
I live in a part of the country where, if you were born there, you’re not supposed to use an umbrella. An umbrella is the mark of a tourist. However, as an artist and a student I had stuff I needed to keep dry and my trenchcoat wasn’t going to keep my bag dry. So I bought an umbrella. An umbrella with a sword handle. So, not only do I not get called a tourist, I get a lot of comments on how awesome my umbrella is. The added bonus is that when I think it will rain later and I want to carry it, I’d stuff the umbrella in my bag and leave the handle sticking out. This meant I got a lot of people asking me if I was really carrying a sword. One guy even said, “Please tell me that’s real!”. It works nicely in combination with my feminine outfits, because it’s unexpected.
Works best if it is something you actually need and therefore don’t have to make excuses to use it. Also don’t make a big show of using it, for you it should be totally normal, it’s other people who are supposed to be pleasantly surprised and intrigued.
That’s a very ambiguous name, but I couldn’t come up with a better term. I used to read in between classes and did whenever I had to wait outside classrooms. However, whenever I got to wait between classes and had a flat surface in front of me I would do origami instead. I stopped reading between classes because unless I was reading a short story I couldn’t make much progress and I was frequently interrupted by others. Mostly asking me the aggravating question of “What are you reading?”, which annoyed me quite a lot because they ought to be able to read the title off the cover, but I digress. Also, I wanted to fold the origami anyway for other reasons. So that’s what I started doing. Naturally, this is somewhat unusual (okay, very), so it garnered a lot of questions from people. Why was I doing it? Did it take me long to learn? Was I trying to fold x number of them? Will you teach me? etc. I even learned the party trick of folding my origami of choice with one hand. It also came in handy on occasion. The point here of course is that it got people to notice and talk to me, without having to be loud, brash, or anything other than what I am.
This one is probably the hardest to apply, because it needs to be something that you want to do, would do anyway, and isn’t annoying or expensive.
There are things that apply to all three of these categories. The most important being that the Surprise has to relate to you, it has to tell other people something about you, something real. Don’t go out and learn to fold origami because that’s what I do, go out and learn what you want to learn. If that’s origami, fine, just make sure it’s what you want to do. Don’t go out and buy a big gaudy piece of jewelry to get attention. Think long and hard about your interests and try and figure out what other people always find interesting or surprising about you. Figure out how to show that to other people without saying a word. Make others curious about you. Is it a sure fire way to get men to ask you out? No. It just gets people to talk to you, which opens the door for friendships and romantic relationships. It just another thing that can make you easier to approach.
And don’t forget to smile. That’s the best way to pleasantly surprise someone.