Does the global focus on the World Cup have to wreck romance? Or prevent you from finding a date?
No and no, says Jean Smith, a social anthropologist and expert on the art of flirting. “Nothing, and I repeat nothing, should stand in the way of flirting,” she emphasizes. And winks.
It’s evening, there is a pause between World Cup games, and Smith, a bubbly blond Iowan turned Londoner, has gathered a group of 20 odd tourists cum students for her unique tour and lesson.
Welcome to the “Flirting and Walking Tour of London,” where, for 25 pounds ($38), you too can learn where to pick up the ladies, chat up the guys, and generally flirt your way across the capital city – even in the middle of the World Cup.
“Its all about timing this month,” explains Smith, tossing her blond locks. “If you were to try and flirt in middle of an important play that won’t work. No,” she shakes her head. “And I would not recommend flirting with someone whose team is losing, either. No. Not ideal.”
But, she continues, upbeat, as is her wont, “…on the upside, it’s a month in which many people are in good moods, and feeling passionate, and this can all transfer into their interactions with, well, with you.”
Not to mention, she adds, with everyone talking about the same topic, it’s easier to start up conversations: “What about those North Koreans?” “I feel so sorry for that British goalie,” or, if you really know nothing at all, even “Who are you rooting for?” will do.
“It's not actually important what you say. It’s not about having an intellectual conversation,” she repeats over and again, like a mantra. “It's just to get you communicating.”
The eclectic group, made up of men and women of all ages, hits a mixture of regular tourist spots, like the National Portrait gallery (“We are not, and I repeat, not, here to see the art,” stresses Smith) to a Tesco’s supermarket in Covent Gardens (“Take a basket with you so you don't look like a stalker,” she kindly advises) – all along practicing, practicing.
“I’m having a World Cup party, do you think this cheese would be nice?” Daniel, a young lawyer in a tie, asks some unsuspecting shopper in the dairy section. The two – who would have thought? – get to discussing gouda. Smith, from a distance, smiles.
“Put your cue card away,” she gently suggests to Jennifer, a pretty computer programmer in a mini skirt.
“Do you know where the water is?” Dave, a tall black pub bouncer, says to a harried red head. She shrugs in the direction of the water.
“Don’t be afraid of rejection,” councils Smith. “There are a million reasons you might get rejected, and most of them have nothing to do with you…just keep going. Keep practicing!” And, she adds, handing out another pearl of wisdom, don’t make statements or ask "yes or no" questions. “Next time, try more open ended questions,” she tells Dave. “I mean, where do you go from ‘where are the raspberries?’”
By the end of the two hour tour, having gone from galleries to supermarkets to book stores, to bus stations to bars, its time for a World Cup match. “Lets get out of here,” Alex, a consultant suggests to Mindy, a teacher, in the group. “Maybe go catch the game?”