I never realized what a flirt I am. Like I’ve said before, I’m not a “girly-girl”; the thought that I’m a flirt absolutely never crossed my mind. Not until I began reading What Southern Women Know About Flirting, by Ronda Rich. The subtitle to this wonderfully insightful book is The Fine Art of Social, Courtship, and Seductive Flirting to Get the Best Things in Life.
Okay, just in case anyone is wondering–I am so married. Very. Happily. In it for life. Courtship and seductive flirting are not what I’m talking about here. Uh-uh. No. The only reason I bought the book was in hopes of enhancing the “romance” aspects of my romance novels, but what I got was a terrific characterization of Southern women. I’m serious. Think Paula Deen.
According to Ronda, flirting is basically just . . . being nice. It’s honest flattery. Emphasize “honest” here. There’s always something you can compliment someone about, and Southern flirts have no problem finding that something and gushing over it. I’m not a terrific gusher, but I do let folks know what I appreciate about them. If you want to know a real “gusher” you should meet my aunt Joyce. She’s so sweet, you can get gain ten pounds just by sitting near her. Folks who stay with her too long need to have their insulin checked.
I’m not like that. As a matter of fact, I don’t consider myself “sweet”–it just doesn’t fit my self image. In the “sugar and spice and everything nice” lyric, I’d put myself more on the spice rack. Part of being a redhead. But I do the things Ronda talks about in her book: I’m a hugger. I’ll lightly touch an arm or hand when I’m talking to someone. I’ll try to make eye contact with a person I feel would be interesting to meet. I’m quick with my humor–either sharing a funny story or laughing at one. And I can always find some way to connect with someone. “Oh, you’re from Georgia? All my daddy’s family is there. Isn’t it just the most beautiful state?!” Then, I’ll wink and add, “Next to Texas, of course.” They laugh every time. It’s all in the well-placed wink.
Oh, it should’ve dawned on me that winking is part of flirting. Oops. Right there’s the real evidence that I’m a flirt.
Social flirting works on everyone, making it a dangerous weapon; Southern women know that. In Everything She Ever Wanted, Ann Rule wrote of a woman who knew it too well, although the bulk of Southern women wouldn’t resort to murder if flirtations failed. For the most part, flirting is just a way of developing friendships and sometimes getting what we want. Like Ronda points out, a few kind words and a touch on the arm can lower a price, produce faster results, upgrade seats. And, if flirting fails, Southern women bake something. The best double-whammy comes with a wink and an apple pie. Of course, that shades flirting as insincere–and it can be in the wrong “hands,” but like I said earlier, the emphasis is on honest flattery. You may or may not get your way, but you’ve always uplifted someone by making them feel special.
The liberation movement has made women tougher, and that’s a shame. The sweeter weapons in our arsenal are rotting away like enamel on a sore tooth. I can be tough, a lesson learned the hard way by a college cop, a self-important land baron, and any number of people who tried to mess with my mama and found this bull in their path. But instead of facing every challenge by being the tough girl, I’d rather try the flirtations–now that I know that’s what it is. Of course, another way of looking at it is that I’m just being myself–cayenne pepper with sugar on top.