Dear Oprah 4,
Adulthood is the best. There is so much freedom! All you have to do is fulfill your responsibilities and the rest is basically up to you. Sure there are drawbacks, like cleaning out your own fridge, but that is the small disgusting price you pay for being able to vote, rent a car, and pay for your own square dancing lessons.
Sometimes I feel like a little kid walking around doing grown-up things in grown-up shoes, as if tricking people into believing I’m a human wasn’t enough, so I further tricked them into believing I’m an adult. But the evidence is clear. I can drive to Taco Bell and get nachos at 1am. I can legally buy fireworks in 16 states. And there is no rollercoaster for which I am too short. The privileges of adulthood are numerous.
The first time I ever felt this kind of freedom was when my friends and I would go for long bike rides during summer vacation. There were no schedules to stick to and no rules to follow. Our parentals were like, “Here’s a quarter for the pay phone, check in with us in 5 hours, peace,” and off we’d ride. They probably thought we were going on some adorable suburban-kid adventures, like tanning in the park or graffitiing abandoned properties, but no. We had other priorities.
My friends and I didn’t care about anything on Earth except hanging out at Aldo’s Pizzeria, every day, where we would get pizza and discuss the important tween things happening in our lives. Aldo’s was in a strip mall that was sort of like the town hub. If you wanted a Coolatta or a haircut, you went there. There was also a bank, a dry cleaners, a pharmacy, a deli, and a Foodtown. Aldo’s was in the middle of everything, so we would sit outside and people-watch the shit out of everyone’s comings and goings. It was a place to see and be seen, to leisurely sip Coolattas, and to admire the pimped-out gumball machine. But superb ambiance wasn’t the only reason Aldo’s was our preferred destination.
All of the Aldo’s employees were males in their 20s, and they all had tattoos and knew how to toss pizza dough in the air. Everyone who worked there was greasy in the best way. We wanted them to think we were cool so badly. It was with this goal in mind that we set forth upon our bikes each day. While other kids our age foolishly wasted their summers earning paychecks as junior camp counselors, we were heading off to flirting practice.
Since we had no clue how to interact with boys our own age, we devised a plan to have forced, pizza-based interaction with older, cooler dudes with whom we had not a snowflake’s chance in hell. We knew that before we could flirt with any real boys who might actually want to hold hands with us, we had to earn our wings by flirting with the unattainable pizza guys. Our method was to get pizza and then loiter for hours after the pizza was gone, then get sodas and drink them quickly, become very silly, and play MASH over and over again. As a table of sugared-up goblins loudly sharing our strong opinions about The Craft, we were very annoying to the hot pizza guys. They would never have wanted to flirt with us, but that was exactly the point. Knowing we had no chance with them made us bolder; we weren’t going to get anywhere, so fear of striking out never came into play, thus allowing us to advance a few teensy steps deeper into the tangled thicket of human sexuality.
You see, Oprah, Aldo’s wasn’t just a pizza place. It was a training facility.
We took turns. Each day two of us would claim the outside table while the third one would go inside and order food for everyone. Aldo’s was kind of small and usually during the day only one guy was working, so whoever ordered food would use the time waiting for it to try to spark up a conversation with him. My favorite pizza guy was Jeff because he was the nicest. He tolerated my practice-flirting like a patient older hotter cousin would.
The thing about practice-flirting is that your game seriously lacks nuance. You don’t yet know how to harness your power, all you know is you want attention by any means necessary. Still, I find that the behavioral prototypes we developed during the Aldo’s experiments are universally relevant and can be applied to any flirting scenario on Earth:
1. Be direct.
You see, Oprah, thanks to flirting practice we were able to evolve into the highly advanced cute-machines we are today, secure in the knowledge that we will never be awkward again.
Until next time,
L is a space alien conducting research on human behavior for an organization of highly secretive intergalactic watchdogs while trying to be cool about things and blend in with her surroundings. On Earth she greatly enjoys rollercoasters and tiny fried foods, but greatly dislikes humidity and overdraft fees. She has never committed any crimes of any kind.
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