Sunday, June 28, 2009

Would You Like A Latte???

There is a name for it, but we'll get to that later. In the meantime, you've seen it and have most likely experienced it at least once. It's the guy or gal in the office (or wherever) who just can't seem to resist you (and of course, who could blame them, right?). They wear attractive or even slightly seductive clothing, always smile and speak, and perhaps wink or give you "the eye." Pretty soon you've got it in your head they're interested and only a complete idiot would pass this up, so you decide it's time to make your move.

You ask them for coffee -- nothing serious, just a little afternoon latte. Or, if you're feeling daring, a mocha with extra chocolate but hold the
shavings because that might be a bit much. Okay, okay, you don't want to come on too stron
  * Description: Coffee cortado (An latte...Image via Wikipedia
g, so how about a simple cup of Joe -- the coffee of the day. Black, no sugar, and by all means, no cream. We're only talking coffee here, not dinner, not a movie, and definitely not the rest of our lives. Not yet, anyway. Maybe after coffee.

Now, here's where things get baffling. Instead of the bright and cheerful "Why, I'd love to!" that we are absolutely sure is coming, they quickly say something like, "Oh, I'm so sorry, but..." And that, my friend, is the end of the delightful office banter that had you convinced you'd reinvented the concept of sex appeal.

What happened? Well, you've just had a close encounter with a personality Wilhelm Reich calls the hysteric. Hysterics manage their interpersonal anxiety by exuding a kind of sensuality that says, "I have to know if you're interested in me. If you are, then I'll feel anxious. If you can be around me without being seduced, you're okay and we can be friends." It's weird, I know, but if you've had this happen, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

When we get the rebuff it's natural to ask ourselves, "Did I say something wrong? Are they morally opposed to coffee? Should I have offered tea, chai, or a glass of warm tap water instead?" You wonder if you've accidently fallen through the door of Alice in Wonderland and Ms. or Mr. I Seem To Be Right is the Mad Hatter instead.

The simple answer is there's nothing wrong with you and your perceptions were correct: they seemed interested and maybe they really were. But, since this is their way with nearly everyone of the opposite sex, you can't ever be quite sure. One way to find out is maintain a friendly distance. If their attention represents intention, they'll likely make the first move and ask you for coffee. Whether they do or they don't, once the music starts playing, remember: this is a dance they need to lead. So, polish your shoes and try not to step on their feet.

Where is Arthur Murray when we need him?

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