"Passes" and "Pings"
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Parsing “Passes” and “Pings”

In order to survive and thrive normally, humans need nourishment (food and drink), sleep, sexual release, and social interaction. Take away a certain measure of any one of these (Humans can and do manage without shelter.) and the result is a damaged or flawed human. Sexual behavior is revealed by parsing passes and pings.

No matter what you or I might think of humanity we are all social animals. We need people with whom to interact. To deny this human social imperative is to deny the life force, the essence of a human being. Thus we all require interaction. Even the great stoic and American naturalist and philosopher Henry Thoreau could not live in solitude at Walden Pond for longer than eighteen months.

Nature and evolution drive human interaction (save for individuals circumscribed or impeded by organized religion) inexorably toward sexual union, whether that union be sanctioned or loathed by others. Perforce, the initiation of such union begins with either a “ping” or a “pass” Parsing passes and pings creates knowledge.

Ask yourself this question. What is the difference between covert and overt? Overt is easily seen with the naked eye (by most people). Generally speaking (not a dictionary definition) covert involves a somewhat hidden dimension not easily visible, not so obviously or forthrightly interpreted; whereas, overt tends to be openly and blatantly understood by any listener or observer. Using this covert/overt framework it becomes easy to understand the difference between a “pass” and a “ping”. Follow these eleven examples to become expert at parsing passes and pings:

Situation: No matter where or when, he or she compliments you on your attire or your grooming, or some other aspect of your daily life or your routine. This could be either a “pass” or a “ping”.

Situation: In the Publix supermarket you are picking a tin of soup off the shelf and a passerby asks for directions to find the soft drink aisle. This could be a “pass” or a “ping”. But wait a minute here. Think about it.  Soft drink aisle? He or she is in a supermarket for heaven sakes, and needs directions to the soft drink aisle? This doesn’t make sense (unless the person asking is totally clueless). So you must initially consider this situation as a “pass”, not a “ping”. Mind you, it is a clever “pass” because it is set up to look like a “ping”.

Situation: A classmate sitting next to you suddenly asks, “What did the teacher/ professor say just now? I missed it.” This could be a “pass” but the greater likelihood is rather that this was a “ping”. Why? Simply, because these kinds of exchanges must always be taken in context. After all, this is a classroom where such interactions are quite common. Pings are invitations to develop further human interaction. Passes must be considered as much closer to requests or demands for further involvement, usually of a sexual nature.

Situation: The cashier at the variety store which you frequent says, (She has no ownership interest in the establishment.) while tallying your purchases, “I don’t see you in here often enough.” This is clearly more than a “ping”; it is a direct “pass” (or strong invitation) because you have been invited to respond with some form or level of commitment.

Situation: At the local bakery as your order is being bagged another customer (while being served simultaneously by another clerk) turns to you and says, “Here – take this fresh warm baguette; I bought too many, and I don’t want it to go to waste.” Rather difficult to say whether this is a “pass” or a “ping”. It is an invitation but at the same time it is not. So, in this situation it depends on context: what was said prior, what has just been said and what happens (is said) next.

Situation: You are at a party. Someone is staying particularly close to you, eschewing opportunity after opportunity to mingle with others. This is an easy one – a straight out “pass”.

Situation: You are one of three, four, or five people sitting at a card table playing gin rummy, hearts, or some such other card game. The person sitting next to you ‘accidentally’ rubs their leg or foot against yours more than once. Twice is much closer to a “pass” but doubt still exists. More than twice it ceases to be an accident or a coincidence. The person has just made a definite “pass”.

Situation: You work in a role where you constantly meet people. One somewhat regular visitor never fails to stop at wherever you are located to chat. This might be a “pass”. It is certainly a weak (restrained) “ping”. (Some might call this a submissive or passive/aggressive move.) It remains for you to check it out by pinging back. (In this situation a simple compliment – a return “ping” – such as “You’re very cheery today” or “You’re looking attractive today” is best.) Then just wait for the other party to send the next signal (“ping”).

Situation: In a large group setting he or she corrects your very minor grooming peccadillo by brushing a speck of lint (or dandruff) from your shirt, blouse, or jacket. This might be a “pass” or a “ping”. At the very least this is a “ping”. Once again, you must check it out. So, in order to check the true intent, simply return a “ping” in the form of a question or a statement. Just five of many possible return “ping” examples: (1.) I’m always happy to meet a fastidious person. (2.) May I get you a glass of water? (3.) May I walk you to your car? (4.) You certainly do look pretty OR handsome when you smile. (5.) Do you have time to grab a coffee?

Situation: You are in a public venue (restaurant, bar, department store, gym, etc.) where it seems that another person can’t or won’t stop looking at you. This is clearly more than a “ping”; this is a “pass” – a “pass” without words. This kind of “pass” is very old and has a simple special name: The Look. [see Chapter 59 in my memoir: Lessons Inside 'the Lifestyle']

Situation: You meet a new person for the first time. You shake hands. This new acquaintance holds onto your hand for just a little too long, taking the handshake to the edge of your comfort level. This is a “pass”.

There are countless other examples, but know that parsing passes and pings sheds light on human sexuality.  

Next Post: The Power of Gestalt (Making Gestalt Work for You)

FACTOID: Seventeenth-century prostitutes were once called “nannies.”

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