I Tried… Hitting on Men in Public

Simply pushing in front of someone at Starbucks and buying them coffee after has been suggested as a winning “move”.

Ladies, rejoice: according to Cosmopolitan, “it is time to lean in to shamelessly hitting on men.” Because it’s 2016 and, like, feminism, you know?

I was shocked to see this article, originally published in February, on the Cosmopolitan Snapchat story — to which I shamelessly subscribe — last week. While reading it for the first time, I assumed it was satirical. Then I read it again and realized the advice was serious, and some of it was surprisingly good. Naturally, I had to see how real men would respond to these very bold pickup techniques, so I decided to muster up my courage and test out these tactics in the real world. Suffice to say, I had quite an interesting few weeks.

Disclaimer: The words in bold are taken directly from Cosmopolitan’s article, “11 Genius Ways to Hit on Men in Public.” I wish I could say I wrote them.

  1. Slip him a business card, like the HBIC you are.

I had made eye contact with a guy on the second floor of Kimmel a few times, so I figured it was a good a time as any to use this tip. I don’t actually have a profession or any need for business cards, so I wrote my name and number on a ripped-off piece of notebook paper and added a smiley face for good measure. I was very nervous but I went over to him before leaving and smiled and gave it to him, then retreated immediately. It’s his move now, so please Kimmel guy, don’t leave me hanging on the telephone.

  1. Cut him in line at Starbucks like an asshole but then pay for his latte like an angel.

So, I partially tried out this tip (which is super fun and not rude at all) at Trader Joe’s, by cutting a guy in line but skipping the paying-for-them part that actually redeems the rude act. However, I pay for a coffee subscription every month so I don’t even pay for my own lattes, let alone some dude’s. I took a sample of cream of mushroom soup with fried onions on it and discreetly planted myself in line in front of a guy. He looked a little peeved with me so I flashed him a winning smile. This prompted him to compliment my shoes and then tell me I was smart for wearing shorts on such an unseasonably warm day, which was a little weird. I fake-laughed and then put in my headphones for the remainder of the line. The best part of this was the actual line-cutting: even though it was peak hours and the line was to the door, I got in near the dairy section and cut 10 minutes off my Trader Joe’s run.

  1. Ask him what book he’s reading and then say, “That one’s good, but her other work is much better,” no matter what book it is.

No matter how hard I tried, I could not bring myself to pretend to know an author, so I altered the question a little bit. I asked what book he was reading (I don’t even remember his answer) and then I said, “Oh, I’ve been wanting to read that. How are you liking it so far?” which seemed like a much more feasible lie. This was in the waiting room of the Student Health Center, not really the sexiest of situations, so he answered and I said “Okay,” and went back to reading my own book, which he didn’t even ask about. Unsuccessful.

  1. “Trip” on the sidewalk and fall into him, so he notices you and you can get an idea about his biceps.  

This was, in my opinion, the worst item on the list. I felt really stupid and all he said was, “Are you okay?” I laughed it off and said I was fine, but there was nowhere else for this interaction to go. Maybe if this was a rom-com he would have asked me to coffee.

  1. Lean over, grab his arm, and whisper, “Don’t you just hate Mondays?” or some other thing that literally all people hate.

I asked a guy this in the Meyer Building elevator. I didn’t touch his arm because it felt inappropriate: if a guy touched me while we were alone in an elevator together I’d probably freak out. I’m pretty sure he just thought I was making elevator small talk. He kind of fake-laughed and said “Yeah, Mondays, right?” and then we rode in silence to the fourth floor. Awkward.

  1. Pull a Pam Beasley and ask, “Got any new music?” if he has headphones on.

Admittedly, I did this to one of my coworkers instead of a random stranger because wearing headphones in public is kind of a big “do not disturb” sign. He wasn’t even listening to music — he was watching a hockey game. I was like, “Oh,” and then he put his his earbud back in. Such great conversation.

  1. Tap him on the shoulder and be like, “Hey, do you go to the YMCA in [your neighborhood here]?”  

I actually liked this idea because it’s a good way to talk to someone without appearing really weird or like you are obviously hitting on them. I asked if he went to the Equinox on Prince Street, to which he said no but then joked that he might have a doppelganger with a better fitness routine than him. He asked if I lived in that area, to which I said yes, and we had a whole little conversation. So I would say this tip is actually good; it’s an easy conversation starter if you don’t have anything else to say and really want to talk to someone.

  1. Ask if he has any good recommendations for some super obscure type of food nearby, because you’re incredibly cultured but new to the area.  

I asked a guy at a coffee shop in the East Village if he knew where to get any good gelato; I couldn’t think of anything more obscure off the top of my head and I was actually craving gelato. He was like, “Uhhh . . . Van Leeuwen is close and it’s pretty good.” No real sparks there. And upon further inspection, I found out that Van Leeuwen serves ice cream, not gelato. You can’t trust anybody, not even a handsome stranger.

  1. Literally just walk up to him and say, “Hello, how are you, you’re cute.”

I’m a forward girl, and this move was definitely the most natural for me. Instead of using a pretense to talk to someone, it’s sometimes easier to just say hi. I did this in a party situation over Halloweekend. If you feel confident and want to talk to someone, just go for it. We talked by the bar area for a little bit and then went our separate ways; I probably could have extended this interaction if I had tried, but I wanted to go back to my friends.

Overall, I think the idea behind all these tips is great. If you want to talk to someone in public, you should! But some of these methods were just downright idiotic. You don’t need to fake-trip on the sidewalk or pretend to have read a book that might not even exist to impress a handsome stranger. As I tried to do everything on the list, I felt like I was forcing these ideas into normal social interactions rather than just reading the real situation and acting accordingly, none of it came very naturally. The main takeaway, however, is this: you can’t get to know someone if you don’t actually go up to them and start a conversation.

E-mail Camille Larkins at [email protected]



  1. Came across your article Camille, great read!

    Hope you can try our ice cream / vegan ice cream soon ?
    Many say it’s a great date spot too!


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