One day, I realized that a guy friend had mentioned a woman several times over a couple of weeks, saying in casual conversation that she had called and invited him to various places.
"She invited me to the ballet on Saturday night. I don't really want to go," he said. "But I probably should do it, rather than sit at home."
This upcoming piece of advice has nothing to do with the story I'm telling, but I'll offer it nonetheless: Women, if you are interested in a man, do not invite him to the ballet. It will not further your romance. Trust me on this.
Once, a boyfriend attended "Swan Lake" with me. He was an athlete with no interest in the arts. I explained that the lead dancer had been turned into a swan by an evil magician but every night at midnight, she became a princess again until dawn.
"When she's a swan, she dances in a tutu. When she's a princess, she's in the long tulle skirt." He nodded.
A short time later, captivated by the mesmerizing performance, I leaned over and asked, "Isn't this beautiful?"
He whispered back. "It really is." He stopped for a moment then said in a confused tone. "If I could just figure out when they're ducks and when they're not."
See what I mean?
Back to the original story: I said to my friend, "You do know that this woman is chasing you, don't you?"
"No, she's not," he replied confidently. "We're just friends."
I laughed. "She has called you three times in one week with some reason to see you. She's chasing you."
The woman is not a Southerner and neither is my friend, so I continued my commentary. I always enjoy bringing up the disparities between us Southerners and the rest of the world.
"A Southern woman would never do that. No well-trained, self-respecting Southern woman would call a man up and ask him for three dates in a week. Never."
Perhaps others wouldn't, either, but I am most confident about the ways of Southern women.
"In fact," I continued, "It would be most unusual for a typical Southern woman to call up and ask for a date, period."
In complete disclosure, I have, on rare occasion, called a guy when I needed an escort for an event, but I can count on one hand the times I have done that.
My friend persisted in claiming she wasn't interested in him so I called together my committee of experts and asked them their assessment of the situation. For the record, I did not tell them what I thought. I just laid out the facts and asked their opinions.
"She's chasing him," declared Karen with absolute finality.
"Disgraceful," proclaimed Claudette. "It's unladylike."
"Chasing," said Penelope Ann, who flipped her hair over her shoulder. "I would never lower myself to such standards."
With Penelope Ann, you can always count on more barbs coming, so I waited. She did not disappoint. "Why, should there ever come a time, Lord forbid, that I have to ask a man to take me out on a date, I'll just pack it all in. If a man isn't interested enough in me to ask me out first, then I'm not interested in him."
We practice pragmatic flirtation. If we are skilled at what we do and how we beguile, the guy will think of asking us out on his own. Too, this kind of practiced art takes patience. Men can be slow sometimes in figuring it out. But as Shakespeare opined, "much rain wears marble."
I've never considered myself an overly patient person. I want to lose any necessary weight in a couple of days and I abhor waiting in long lines. But this I have come to know: I am more patient than I am brazen.
I'll just wait for the guy to call.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of "What Southern Women Know (That Every Woman Should)." Visit www.rondarich.com to sign up for her weekly newsletter.