Style isn’t just about what you wear. It’s about the way you carry yourself. What you say. How you act. I recently shared an elevator with a man who – despite being perfectly well-dressed – was nonetheless flagrantly out of style.
I don’t think I’m breaking any new ground when I say that riding an elevator with strangers is almost always awkward. Pretending to be riveted by the numbers lighting your journey up or down while trying to forget you’re stuck in a wire-suspended box with no exits.
What makes it more awkward? Staring. One morning last week, I stepped sideways into an elevator just as the doors were closing. The relief I felt at catching my ride quickly subsided, though, as a man in a tailored suit fixed his gaze on me for the next six floors up. Slurping a jumbo, sweating Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee, he stared intently at my chest. Smiling.
The slurping got louder.
I ran through my list of possible reactions. Should I say something? (“Hey – eyes up here buddy.”) Turn away? (But where, towards the wall?)
In everything I do, I try to live by the maxim, “What would Jessica Fletcher do?” The dignified sleuth played by Angela Lansbury on Murder, She Wrote for over a decade, Jessica always knew what to do in any situation. She could be stern (with bumbling detectives whom she only wanted to help crack the case!), then caring (towards the wrongfully accused murder suspect), then friendly (when chatting up strangers to gather clues). In this instance, I thought Jessica would just stare straight ahead and ignore this strange man. So that’s exactly what I did.
As the doors opened, I prepared to make my escape. And then, he spoke.
“Roy G Biv?” he said.
“Roy G biv!” he said again. “Colors!” He pointed at my chest – more specifically, the silver pin the size of a quarter bearing the color spectrum abbreviation and sticking out of a buttonhole on my denim jacket.
“Oh…yeah,” was all I could manage before scooting out the doors without a look back.
Whether this man was trying to hit on me, or just make conversation, he did not succeed in doing so with style. The staring. The slurping. The pointing. Oh dear, the slurping.
Had he taken a different tack, my overly-caffeinated Romeo might have gotten a friendlier response out of me, maybe some small talk even. At least, that’s what I like to think Jessica would have done.
Below, a few lessons in style learned from Mr. Pin-Pointer to use in your next chance elevator encounter with a beautiful woman:
This is no time for your long game. If you’re going to talk to a woman on an elevator, do it fast. Every second counts, and the longer you show interest without making a move, the creepier you come off.
Make your intentions clear.
For heaven’s sake, don’t stare at a woman’s chest for any extended period of time. Even if she’s wearing an interesting necklace or pin, she may not remember she has it on. And honestly, you can’t expect her to assume you’re admiring her jewelry.
Stop with the slurping already.
That’s just unnecessary.
Have you ever attempted an elevator pickup? Were you successful? Subway? Bus? Any public transit?