[Flirt]: nm. In the French language, ‘Flirt’ is a masculine word while ‘Romance’ is a feminine one. Interestingly enough, ‘Love’ is masculine in the singular form (“un amour delicieux”) and feminine in the plural form (“des amours delicieuses”). Draw your own conclusions.
Valentine's Day 2012. I stood still in the battle field that is Valentine's Day. I stood still and watched the mad rush to securing a date for the evening, booking a table at a restaurant, and buying rubbers “just in case”. I stood still and heard the communal grunt of thousands of women squeezing their bosoms into red lace lingerie one size too small. “Just in case”. I stood still and spent Valentine’s Day alone and single (not complaining mind you), and saw my past Valentine’s Days flash before my eyes.
V Day. A day entirely dedicated to love, romance, and flirtation. As though there was none of it happening on any other day. I stood still and watched men puff up their chest, ruffle their tail feathers, and women giddily escape the touch as if they had no interest, when in fact they did. Pigeons are the masters of this dance as old as the world. We didn’t invent anything.
Nostalgia. My mind floated back to the excitement of Flirtation, also traditionally known as ‘when men propose and women dispose’. But not any Flirt, no no. French Flirt – which is what I learned growing up – or the art of making them melt with attitude, a pout, and two glances.
This brought me back to a very dear and personal moment in my life. Once upon many, many years ago, I was deep in conversation with a French ex of mine before he became an ex, well actually before he became anything at all. He was a "mistake" I made when I was twenty-five years old… and twenty-seven… and...
It was a typical interaction for anyone who’d ever been on a date: he’d say something, I’d respond by a witty comment, he’d laugh, I’d bat my eyes. Then he whispered to me: “I know that you are attracted to me. I see it in your eyes, I see it in your body language and I see it in your lips. But I know that you will never make the first move, instead you will entice me to make it. You are so very French.”
Say what?! It made me think then, and it makes me think now. There is something to be said about the way the French implement and enjoy flirtation. We enjoy it like we enjoy a delicious meal or a striking piece of art. We see it, we approach it, we marvel at it, we observe it, we interact with it, we want it, so we take it.
There is also a very special bond between the French and their mouths. We use our mouths all the time to delight in food and wine. We also do have big mouths on us, with many opinions and things to say. Similarly, our eyes are submitted on a daily basis to magnificent things to watch and stare at for hours. So evidently, why wouldn’t our mouths and eyes be an essential part of our flirtation style?!
Deconstructed, French-style Flirtation really is a ‘double 1-2 punch': (get your notepads people, this is a moment to be marked in history)
The Body Movement.
General attitude is first step in French women’s hunting strategy, aka the bait. our bodies are to be limber, our walk energetic and light at the same time. We are to exude confidence and make it look effortless. Perched on high heels or smooth in ballet flats, there needs to be a rhythm to our every step; elongated legs, shoulders back, a light sway in the hips, and touches of feline grace throughout. I suspect this is why our mothers force many of us through years of ballet and modern/jazz dance training during childhood. In the end, no graceful movement can be achieved without confidence in our bodies and a great share of our lifetimes is spent nurturing our “carnal envelopes”. If this is still too abstract for you to pick up what I am laying down, watch Emmanuelle Beart in the Jean de Florette / Manon des Sources (Jean de Florette / Manon of the Spring) movie series, or Carole Bouquet (Aleksander Petrovsky’s ex-wife in the last season of Sex and the City for those of you who are fans of the series), whose posture and delicate neck make her look like modern day royalty.
Special Mention: Emmanuelle Beart wearing a sack of potatoes is still enticing, but just not as much as it could be. This is for the ladies: be feminine! It does not mean wearing a skirt every day, it means this: rouge your cheeks and lips, even just a bit; jeans are great… especially with heels and an off-the-shoulder top; show them legs; add a touch of lace once in a while; simmer in beautiful lingerie. Cultivate your personal style and make it work for you!
Aka the hook. "They" say eyes are the window to one’s soul. The idea here is to let them catch a glimpse of all the good stuff (confidence, passion, smarts, humor, the promise of a very good time…) without letting them see the not so good stuff (fear, doubts, are my hips too big?…). The eyes should look straight at and through might I add the prey with no shyness, no ambiguity, and no apology. And then, just when they think something extraordinary is going to happen or be said, you look away. Wait, wait… and then you look again. This is a common strategy across the world. If the guys you are pulling this on are not getting it, move on. Definitely not the right prey. Examples of eyes that will not let them get away without it, you ask? Audrey Tautou (Amelie) and her childish innocence. Louise Bourgoin and her mischievous sparkle reminiscent of a Bardot gone bad (in a very, very good way). Marion Cotillard and her sensual, provocative stare. Isabel Adjani and her legendary ice picks.
Aka the reel. My favorite subject as it is used for all most sensual acts in life… I was speaking about eating of course! Take good care of your “bouche” and pay close attention to what it does. Practice its sensuality, find your own style. Tools are nothing if you don’t know how to use them. Don’t force it, never overdo do it, but always remember: the lips are the main element in executing on the promise for a very good time you made earlier with your eyes. Just sayin’. Need inspiration? Mais bien sur! Sophie Marceau‘s pout, Brigitte Bardot‘s pout, Laetitia Casta‘s pout, and Melanie Thierry‘s… well yes, pout.
Aka the kill. Interacting and socializing is what we seek to do on a daily basis in France. Even when alone, we sit for hours at the terrasse of a Bistro in the midst of others. Debate is our third most practiced national sport… right after strikes and very politically incorrect humor. Be present in the conversation. Ask questions, listen to the answer. Be quick, be funny, be witty. Stay away from touchy subjects. Tease them ever so slightly, enough to let them know that you are no fool, but not too much that they will feel under attack (kind of like an amuse-bouche introducing a great meal… and here is the “bouche” again). Smile, be comfortable, look at them straight in the eyes. Revel in a great connection when there is one.
Four easy principles which I swear to you work. Walk in like you own the place, pout, look straight at your new-found prey, look away, pout, look again, look away, pout, insert sensual movement here, get accosted, smile, throw a witty comment, done. These elements put together are the most powerful of weapons, they don’t stand a chance. Practice lots, comment back, and enjoy every minute of Le French Flirt!