So you've visited Ted's Military Surplus, got on your brand new BDU's and combat boots and you trek into the Double L. You belly up to the bar and purchase your favorite libation, now what? You see a hot looking daddy bear across the bar, he gives you the eye, and you look away. This cycle keeps repeating itself, it goes on for an hour, neither of you budging, eventually the man leaves. What went wrong, you ask yourself? You'd thought he was interested and there he goes out the door! If the above scene sounds all too familiar read on and I will give you a solution to your quandary.
Problem number one: Neither of you made the first move. For some reason everyone wants the other person to make an effort to speak first, but as it turns out they are probably just as shy as you are, afraid to approach youfearful of rejection. If you always use this approach you'll not only not initiate a conversation, you may miss out on starting a new friendship as well. Somebody has to speak first, why not you?
Problem number two: The distance between the two of you greatly diminishes the chance that you two will exchange words. You have to move closer to the person you want to make contact with. Even if you don't know what to say, if you were within ten feet of the other person they might even speak to you first.
Problem number three: You won't initiate a conversation. Before you put this magazine down in a huff, if you want to meet men you have to speak to them sooner or later. Staring intently across the room can get uncomfortable, even eerie at times. Have you ever had someone mutely stare at you for an extended period of time? Sooner or later things like the shower scene from Psycho start entering you mind. Intriguing glances may be effective at first, but even they get boring after a while. Say something! But I don't know what to say, you mutter. Don't worry I will give you something to say. That leads us to...
Problem number four: You don't know what to say. When I graduated from high school I was very shy. I had difficulty meeting new people. Because of this a friend of mine suggested that I take the Dale Carnegie Course. The course offered some good techniques for meeting people and making friends. I'm not suggesting that you go out and take the course, though it wouldn't hurt. I am just going to share with you a few of the techniques that were helpful to me.
Before I discuss what to say, let me mention what not to say. Pick up lines and excessive flattery come across as being insincere, so try to avoid using them. Being overly blunt about your desires is also a turn off (though it may work for a few of youpersonally it is the fastest way that men can get me to press the ejecto button). Case in point, one night I was at the Double L and I met a rather good-looking bear. Immediately after our introductions the man told me that he was horny and wanted me to go for a ride with him and have sex with him in his car. I tactfully declined; though the man was intriguing I didn't like being treated simply as a way of solving his horniness problem. His crude manner left me cold. Though there are times when people don't like the personal touch, I like to be romanced a little, made to feel special. I think everyone is like that to a certain extent; they want to know that they have your undivided attention, and though your interest may be fleeting at least they have it for that moment.
Dale Carnegie devised a memory system, visualizations that helped to easily remember things which he called memory pegs. He had a very good set of pegs to use to get through the first awkward moments of a conversation. Imagine this:
a name plate, a house on the name plate, on the roof of the house a child holding an airplane, on the airplane a hobby horse, and on top of the hobby horse a tennis racket. This code isn't as cryptic as it would seem. Now let's replay our first scene; you're at Double L in your uniform, you see the hot bear, you exchange glances, you walk right up to the man and ask his namethat's the significance of the name plate. For house ask, "Where do you live?" The child represents the question, "Do you have any children?" This may not be as appropriate in gay circles, so instead of the child you can visualize a dog with the plane in its mouth asking, "Do you have any pets?" Pets are children to many gay people, and people love to talk about them. As you ask these questions, you will go off on tangents. When you've exhausted that particular peg, go on to the airplane, "Do you like to travel? Where?" For hobbyhorse ask, "Do you have any hobbies?" (Computers can be included here). Lastly, the tennis racket, "Do you play any sports?" You can tailor this visualization to suit your needs. The idea is to come up with good, inoffensive topics to start a conversation and keep it going. Got the idea?
But what if I'm rejected, you whine. Don't whine, your risk is minimal. If the person talks you could start a new romance or friendship, if they don't at least you won't go home regretting not having the guts to speak to that hunk. I'd rather deal with a little rejection than regrets later on. So grab the bull by the horns, or the bear by the ears, and get in there and say something! My great uncle used to say, "He who hesitates is lost." So don't hesitate, go for it!
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 9, No. 12, Aug. 27, 1999