Friday, October 27, 2006

California Girls

I recently made a business-related trip to San Diego, CA, where I stayed at the Paradise Point Resort. Herewith a few observations:

1. San Diego girls are flirty.

Okay, maybe that's not fair. It may be that nice beaches and warm sunshine make So. Cal. women more open and relaxed. But, full disclosure: most of the women I had occasion to interact with were on the staff of the resort, so my sample was hardly representative. In all probability, these women have been selected for and/or trained to exhibit those qualities that make guests feel welcome.

How these women, all of whom were young and beautiful, succeed at this so well is difficult to pinpoint, but I think mainly in comes down to eye-contact. More full disclosure: I tend, fairly reliably, to creep out women just by showing up. (I've never figured out exactly why this is so, but it nonetheless has always been true. My devoted wife has told me that her friends have admitted as much.) In the day-to-day life of an engineering instructor, most of the women I interact with are service-industry workers (waitresses, cashiers, etc.) and my (few) female students; in other words, people who are pretty much obligated to be polite. And so they are polite. But I observe that they nonetheless limit direct eye-contact with me to the minimum amount necessary to conduct the required transaction. The more attractive the female, the more this appears to be the case. I suspect that many if not most men would experience this interaction very differently. And, in fact, I have had male friends whom I have watched interact with attractive women, and who clearly enjoy much better eye-contact and overall social response. Or so I hope, for their sakes. But in my case, this is what I see.

So imagine my surprise at spending two days in a world where the women actually smiled at me and looked me in the eye! And not just in a way that said, "Yup, there's a customer," but in a way that said, "there's a fellow human being into whose day I can bring good cheer."

Why can't all women be like that?

Of course, I know the answer: attractive women, by necessity, become adept at non-verbally discouraging unwanted attention from men (or at least from this one). Smiles and eye-contact might give men "the wrong idea." This is legitimate, though unfortunate, fear. Indeed, had I not been happily married, I might have received my first "San Diego smile" and thought: "hey, maybe I could, you know, start a conversation with this girl." Well, maybe not me. But maybe some alternative version of me that didn't become a traumatized omega-male chickensh1t in the presence of beautiful women.

I am not a frequent customer at high-end resorts; however, I do remember making this observation once before, about ten years ago. I went with three male friends for dinner in the Penrose Room at The Broadmoor Hotel. The Penrose Room is arguably the finest (and most expensive) restaurant in the city: a coat-and-tie-expected kind of place. Anyway, while we were waiting to be seated, a lovely young lady came out to take our coats and drink orders. Her name (I remember it to this day) was Jule. I surrendered my coat and ordered an Irish Coffee. (We would consume $600 worth of alcohol before the evening was over.) Anyway, in the course of this transaction, I saw it: eye-contact! The look! I have to admit, it's impact (I was still single back then) was pretty powerful. I toyed with the idea of, you know, starting a conversation, but Jule seemed so obviously out of my league, and the Penrose Room not really an accurate representation of my actual means, that I punted the opportunity. Probably just as well. I didn't realize at the time that high-end staff are trained to create this effect, and I would almost certainly have embarrassed myself.

Anyway, back to San Diego:

2. Paradise Point is expensive.

Paradise Point is on an island connected to the surrounding area by bridges. Since I didn't have a rental car, we were semi-captive, and so the resort felt free to rape us over extras. Vending machine coke: $2.25. Two pieces of french toast: $9.95. Internet service: $10/day. Access to fitness room: $15/day.

But the staff made it all worth it.

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