Barry Dutter didn't get sand kicked in his face, but, like the wimpy guy in the old Atlas bodybuilding advertisements, he spent a lot of time at the beach watching beefy studs and outgoing guys meet all the girls -- the girls he wished he had the guts to address.
Dutter may be shy, but he's also resourceful. When he was 18 years old, he went girl-watching with a more aggressive friend at the Jersey shore. The friend spotted a likely pair and said something. Amazingly the girls came right over.
"Me being a shy guy, it helped to tag along with him and let him do the hard part," Dutter, now age 33, recalls. "And that's something all shy guys should consider -- that if they do know someone who is bold or aggressive, to take advantage of that."
Dutter ended up dating one of the girls. "We went out for a few weeks," he says. "It was nothing long-term, but it was a good start."
Indeed, the incident helped Dutter go from being super shy to being socially smooth. He shares his secrets in his new book, The Shy Guy's Guide to Dating, in which he dispenses advice on how and where to meet women.
An obvious place to start? The chapter titled "The Best Places to Meet Someone."
"I stress avoiding nightclubs, which tend to be loud, crowded, and filled with competition," Dutter says. "I recommend quiet places where women go alone: the beach, the mall, or a bookstore."
Dutter, a writer for Marvel Comics and Mad Magazine who has lived in Fort Lauderdale for two-and-a-half years, assures that the advice is field-tested. "I wouldn't put anything in the book that I wouldn't do myself," he says.
In fact, he met his girlfriend, Marcella, on Miami Beach. He was there alone; so was she. "It was the shy guy's perfect situation," he says. "If you are going to get rejected, you don't want anyone there to see it."
But that wasn't a problem in this case.
"I met her when I asked if I could borrow some suntan lotion," he recalls. "It just evolved naturally into conversation. I asked her where she was from, where she went to school. In the book I suggest asking a few harmless questions and seeing how she responds. Then, if she starts asking you questions, you know you've got her hooked."
Author Barry Dutter will read from and sign copies of The Shy Guy's Guide to Dating at 8 p.m. Thursday, August 20, at Borders, 2240 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Admission is free. Call 954-566-6335.