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May 6, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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Fixing Your Life (Because Ours are Written Off)

Dearest Janetanyahu and Hectorialis Major

There’s a girl in my English Lit lecture whom I adore. How do I get her to notice me? I don’t want to be that creepy guy who stares at her the whole time.




Hi Bernardo,

I don’t want you to be that guy either. My conventionally attractive friends tell me that those guys are the worst.

All that aside, my answer depends on how concerned you are with retaining mystery.

If you are concerned with retaining mystery, you’ll want to run into her outside of uni so that you don’t have to do what I have set out below. If you know of any mutual friends, ask them about her. Find out whether she has a boyfriend or a girlfriend. If neither, sleuth out what she’s doing that weekend and go to something that chances are you wouldn’t normally go to. Standard stuff.

If you are not concerned with retaining mystery—i.e., you are someone who can chat up while sober—you should sit next to her in your next lecture (or somewhere near her, if classes are generally badly attended) and talk to her. Ask her a question. If you are nervous or not funny enough to ad lib (perhaps you are also conventionally attractive, in which case it is largely unnecessary) you can do some garden-variety conversing on the course: upcoming assessment, the lecturer, etc. You could point out this question in a copy of Salient and ask her which guy and which girl she thinks are the relevant pair. (That’s a fucking goldmine. That’s what I’d do.)

The pitfall of this discussion is that it requires mild snarkiness, and you ought not to let on that you’re a spiteful, mean person until you’ve tricked her into at least one date. As long as you don’t lead with “I have seen you at vicbooks. I like coffee too”, or “Have you seen Girls?” we should be fine.

I know you won’t screw it up, but in any case: before you’ve got her to agree to hang out with you outside of class, avoid such murky conversational waters as Hitchens, Family Guy references, your interest in bands you’re confident she’s never heard of—correspondingly, the terms ‘indie’/’hipster’/’alt’, anything you would say in a LAWS121 tutorial, your father’s job, the weather, creationism. Does that sound like something you can do? I find the separation of powers just comes up naturally.

As ever, listen to Hector,



Hi Bernardo,

Your situation is pretty much one we’ve all been in before, as much as none of us would like to admit it. I’m mostly just surprised that you found an attractive person in an English Lit class (joking, of course; it’s one of my eight majors).

Life is not Central Perk from Friends. This is New Zealand—people don’t just go up to complete strangers and start chatting. Let’s be honest here, at the end of the day you’re either going to have to make up some bullshit pretence like borrowing a pen, or just play it cool and mysterious and hope you bump into them at 2 am in Burger King.

That said, there are a bunch of things that you shouldn’t do. And no, I haven’t done these things personally. Not all of them anyway.

Don’t follow them after class. Don’t steal one of their belongings to return to them later. Don’t stand awkwardly at the end of their row waiting for them so you can leave at the same time. Don’t confide your feelings in their friends. Don’t cross the line from hilarious Facebook stalking to actual stalking. Don’t open with a quote from anything—that includes ‘Call Me Maybe’. Don’t be gimmicky. Don’t persist through multiple rejections, because that’s where the ‘that creepy guy’ thing starts. Don’t let yourself be kept on the hook. Finally, whatever you do, do not write angst-ridden prose about it. I’ve included that last one because I know what you English Lit people are like, in particular the ones who use the words ‘whom’ and ‘adore’ in correspondence.

I guess there’s always the fallback option of saying something like “Hey, look, I just wanted to say that you’re the most handsome/ conversationally nimble/fergalicious person I’ve ever seen/in this room/for miles and miles and I’d really like to buy you a coffee/beer/bevvo sometime. Are you free right now/after class/tomorrow?”

Actually, wait, scratch everything else just do that. If they say no; smile, thank them, and walk away. Your future emotional wellbeing will appreciate it, not to mention your dignity. I promise it’ll be more successful than VUW Cupid.

Telling you life is gonna be this way,

PS. Please don’t tell me you’re worried that girls don’t go for ‘nice guys’ like you. There’s a lot to say about how dumb that whole philosophy is but.. maybe some other time.

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