Decoding those pesky subtle signals

A 27-year-old dude calling himself “Available in Illinois” recently told Dear Abby he had “no clue on how to read women’s subtle interest cues, if they ever display any.” They apparently have never simply ripped off their shirts to show him their silicone-enhanced breasts, as they do in porn videos, but he nonetheless “would like to believe” they are interested in him because he “puts in at least two days a week at the gym working with weights.”

Geez, he’s got even me foaming at the mouth.
Abby told him that any woman who finds him attractive and wants him to strike up a conversation will—I shit you not—”make eye contact and smile.”
Really? I work with weights at a college gym four to six times a week, and the 19-year-old cuties at the check-in counter look at me and smile every time. They also  routinely initiate conversation with suggestive statements like, “Would you like a towel, sir?” or “We close at four today, sir.”
I’m assuming “sir” indicates their hormones are flowing at twice the normal rate due to my middle-aged hotness. I have to assume, because, even though I’m twice as old as A in Ill., I still don’t know when a woman is displaying those cues. It’s really not fair, because you ladies know exactly when a man’s interested…because he’s always fucking interested.
Maybe that’s overstating things. But it’s no exaggeration that men often have a difficult time figuring out women’s minds—and not just when it comes to “interest.”
For example, when I assistant-coached a youth league girls’ softball team, one particularly obnoxious princess showed up to a game and announced that she couldn’t play. I asked the head coach what the deal was, and he said “women’s problems.”
Now, I know what “women’s problems” are. Being acquainted with Midol, I said—to the coach, not the player, in a manner I wrongly assumed to be discreet—“Really? They have things to deal with that.”
After the game, the young lady’s mom accosted me by shouting from the stands, “Who the hell do you think you are, telling 13-year-old girls to go on birth control?” At first, I wondered who the hell she was talking to.
Fortunately, I have women in my life who can translate for me. One of them—my wife—noted that birth control pills can, in fact, be used to reduce the severity of menstrual cramps. OK. The leap to “telling 13-year-old girls to go on birth control” still spanned quite a chasm.
Here’s another example: When I worked at a major metropolitan newspaper, I told another reporter whom I’d never spoken to that I liked her review of books about alien abduction—not to see if she was “interested,” but because I like books about aliens. She said, “I don’t see why anyone would like being butt-fucked by little green men.”
A few years later, this same reporter told a mutual friend I was “always hitting on the secretaries.” Said secretaries worked at desks between her department and mine, and they sometimes fielded calls that should have been sent to my phone instead of theirs. Our conversations went like this:
Secretary: Dave Thome, we have a call for you.

Dave: Thanks. Send it to extension 211.
Scintillating though these exchanges obviously were, I never expected them to lead to an hour of exchanging bodily fluids in a sleazebag hotel after deadline.
Before I met my wife I had no problem striking up conversations with pretty young things to see if they were “interested.” I also had no problem talking to them if I wasn’t interested in their “interest.” I worked with women and went to school with women—they were other people who happened to be part of my daily life. Even now, when I check out at the grocery store, I smile at the lady—or guy—on the other side of the counter just to start the transaction on a friendly note. I do not assume that anyone smiling back is “sending out signals.” I just think they’re being friendly, too.
I can see how it might be easier for some guys to talk to some gals—and vice versa. I don’t have a problem talking to anyone—well, almost anyone—but I imagine that’s just me.
There are two things I’ve learned about understanding women talk, though. Any man who wants to keep his sloppy reproductive bit intact should think several times before saying anything about what’s going on with women’s sloppy reproductive bits at “that time of the month.”
And, yeah, it doesn’t take any subtle cues to understand that there is, indeed, nothing funny about being butt-fucked by aliens.

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