When you’re in a relationship, it’s important not to completely abandon the skills that make you a desirable human. Now I’m not saying you have to actively flirt with every attractive person you come into contact with, but you can’t let yourself become solely a sweatpants wearing, Netflix binging, reddit surfing lump. Bat those eyelashes. Smile at strangers.

Even if you’re coupled up (actually, especially if you’re coupled up) it’s important to occasionally practice skills like the act of flirtation to make sure you don’t lose your touch.

This past weekend provided me the perfect opportunity for some subtle practice that I knew my boyfriend wouldn’t be threatened by in the least.

The object of my flirtation attempt? Why, a bookstore cashier, of course.

A bookstore is really the perfect place to start a conversation for a number of reasons. First, bookstores are deserted. Seriously, it’s a ghost town. You basically have the floor to yourself for as long or short a period of time as you need. Everyone else is buying books off Amazon.

Second, there are dozens of random conversation starters at your disposal. You can talk about the best sellers in the window, comment on the funny greeting cards on those squeaky, spinning wire racks in the back, or, you can do what I did and zero in on the magnets up by the register. You know, really deep, thought provoking stuff.

So I’m buying my book, rifling through my wallet to find cash, and I decide to make small talk. Because, why not? Guys usually find it charming if a cute girl chats them up, right?

Except, rather than make normal, non-awkward conversation, I just blurted out the first thing that popped into my mind.

“Those for sale?” I asked, pointing at the little magnetic tchotchkes next to the tip jar.

“Uhhh…” The clerk looked at me strangely because I was literally pointing at a jar with a sign that said: Magnets — $0.75 each.

“They arrrrre,” he responded, drawing out the phrase with a note of concern.

“Magnets are pretty cool,” I continued, bobbing my head aggressively as if I were agreeing with myself. “Once when I was in kindergarten, the teacher gave us all magnets and told us to touch them to everything in the room and see where they stuck. I touched a computer and broke it.”

I chuckled nervously. Young me was hilarious.

Except, apparently not to the bookstore cashier, who at this point was looking at me like he wasn’t sure he wanted me occupying space in his store any longer. Without a word, he held out a hand for my money and I sheepishly handed over a ten.

The cashier wrapped up my book in silence and gave me my change in that weird hand floaty way where all skin-to-skin contact is completely avoided.

The nickels thudded into my palm.

“Okay… have a nice day,” he mumbled, eyes averted. “Enjoy the book”.

I slid it into my purse and thanked him. Man, I was lousy at this flirtation thing.

On my way out the door, I made one last attempt to salvage the interaction. “Thank you!” I called out. “Good luck with those magnets!”

Good luck with those magnets?? Seriously?? Smooth. Really smooth.

If those are my flirting skills, I better pray to the god of relationships that I’m never single again or I’m pretty sure I’ll be alone forever.

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