Spring Fever


Out on a Thursday night with the girls, in a sleek SoMa lounge inSan Francisco, I notice the giggling twenty-somethings at the table next to ours.

The Sociaholic: Spring Fever

“Must be close to spring. The hemlines are shrinking,” I think to myself.

Taking a sip of my chardonnay, it hit me… the dude in the suit is flirting with the chick in the short skirt. He is looking at her intently, leaning too far forward to be comfortable in that chair, smiling from ear to ear. She is blushing, unable to hold his stare, laughing at what sounded to me was a lame attempt at a joke, and gently brushing the top of his hand with her fingers.

I elbow my girlfriend and point out the couple with my lips (Pinoy-style). We both smile. They’re not quite on a date, as they were surrounded by other Yuppie-ish types, but they are obviously in a world all their own, oblivious to the hullabaloo going on around them. Ah, young love… or is it just Spring Fever?

Alfred Lord Tennyson once wrote in his famous Ode to Spring:

O, follow, leaping blood,
    The season’s lure!
O heart, look down and up
    Serene, secure,
Warm as the crocus cup,
    Like snowdrops, pure!

Apparently, there is a physiological justification for the symptoms of spring fever described by Tennyson — the racing pulse, the increased stamina, the giddiness. Dr. Norman Rosenthal, Director of Seasonal Studies at the National Institute of Mental Health inBethesda,Maryland, says that the advent of spring “prompts a readjustment in the body’s internal chemistry,” causing people to feel more energized, become more sexually active, and perhaps somewhat restless and distracted.

After the cold and gloomy days of winter, spring ushers in renewed vigor and intoxicating chaos into our lives. For many animals, spring signals the mating season. From fruit flies to frogs, horses to hamsters, spring means getting spruced up to attract the appropriate mates.

An online article on Javno.com (a Croatian portal) says that, “The spring fever or the so-called mating season is not an old wives’ tale. Although it does not sound romantic at all, it is a normal hormonal reaction to one of the most natural and available aphrodisiacs – light.”

Light as the catalyst for arousal? I thought it was the opposite… isn’t that why restaurants turn up the romance by turning down the lights and firing up the candles?

Light signals the pineal gland to inhibit the production of melatonin, responsible for regulating sexual development, metabolism, hibernation, and seasonal breeding. At puberty, melatonin production is reduced enabling the onset of sexual maturation. With longer days and more light, our pineal gland goes into overdrive in the Spring, the drop in melatonin stimulating libido.

Sex. Food. Sleep. Repeat. It’s a biological imperative after all.

As I glance around the club, I see additional pairings — the lucky few able to get away from the rigors of work and actually enjoy a night out on the town. With the bleak economy, many singletons are finding themselves slaves to the office, proving their worth with strenuous 60-hour weeks in order to keep their jobs. With only a handful of waking hours to spare for non-work activities, the prolonged dance of flirting face to face poses somewhat of a problem. The consolation: the ability to flirt in cyberspace.

In the real world, a prolonged glance coupled with slightly raised eyebrows or a well-timed touch on the arm or lower back signals flirting – difficult to get done in the digital domain. After all, words displayed on an LCD monitor can only express so much.

As far as I’m concerned, flirting requires that the act be:

  1. Subtle
  2. Short and sweet
  3. Non-threatening
  4. Playful
  5. Positive

If done with the appropriate actions, Facebook can offer many opportunities for cyber-flirting, from simple hits of the “like” button, to – if you can figure out where to find it – the ability to “poke.”

The secret to successful flirting lies in subtle acts. Nothing is more intoxicating than mystery and a bit of chase/retreat, in small, recurring doses. Often, overt advances with clear sexual undertones are just plain creepy.

I look back at the couple next to us. Yes, definitely flirting. And so the dance of spring begins!

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