Sunday, November 4, 2007

Your Feet May Give You Away at Starbucks

An anthropology professor at Rutgers, Dr. Helen Fisher, who studies human mating rituals, has written a book, Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love. Her lab is the cafe or bar. Fisher contends the way you sit with your cappuccino or Apple (the laptop, not the fruit) is sending off a signal. She’s broken down the ritual from stirring to steaming to five steps:

You catch someone’s eye
Cock your head to the side
Raise your eyebrows (a problem if you’ve had Botox)
Look down
Look away.

The professor has spent enough time at Starbucks to have observed that looking away has developed into an art form at this chain. Nobody picks up a napkin or Splenda wrapper -- not the man or woman in pursuit, nor any employee. It's recommended that you have a tetanus shot before going in.

To launch a conversation with a stranger, the professor suggests questions ("Excuse me, do you know a good place around here to grab dinner?") and compliments ("That's a great laptop case. Where'd you get it?") She calls these “grooming talk” because they require a response, but what you’re saying is of no consequence. Unless, of course, the answer to the first question is, "There's a KFC across the street" and to the second, “The laptop case was a gift from my wife. What’s it to you?”

Do we need a professor to tell us that women gain intimacy from face-to-face interactions while men choose to avoid it...or to learn that men love sitting at a bar and watching a game with their buddies while women prefer staring into their lover’s eyes over a candlelit dinner? There's nothing less sexy than decoding mating behavior. If we can read, we already know a book won't propel us from a large skim latte to a chopped liver mold.

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