If the word "Christmas" or "Hanukkah" slips out while you're relaying a funny family story, so be it. If the Bible or the Torah or a Jehovah's Witness brochure slips out while you reach for your wallet, that's a bit over-the-top. Religion and your relationship (or non-relationship) with whomever you may or may not believe in is your own business — at least for now. You don't want to put your date on the spot. If your date puts you on the spot by asking, say, whether you believe in God, simply change the subject by asking her whether she believes O. J. was guilty.

Remind yourself that you're here to have fun, and your jaw unclenches, your shoulders drop down, your eyes sparkle, your breathing slows, and you're ready to flirt.

Flirting is a delicious, low-budget, irresistible, safe-sex sort of way to make you and your date feel tingly all over. The essence of flirting is interest. No one ever flirts with anyone they don't want to know a little bit better. That's why flirting on a first date can be so alluring. You're showing your date you didn't make a mistake. You're interested and ready to go. What could be sexier that that? (Okay, I know, but not yet.)

Here's a quick list of what to do (and not do) when flirting with your date:

i Use your whole body. Talking the talk without walking the walk is utterly ineffective. Don't believe it? Try telling a woman she's beautiful or a guy he's hunky and then shift your eyes away, and see if you're believed. Flirty body language begins with the eyes and works its way all the way down to the tips of your footsies. Lean forward, make eye contact, smile, bend your knees a bit, and untense your hands and arms. Remember to relax a bit; this should be fun, not like defusing a bomb.

i Make eye contact. Looking someone in the eyes is very compelling. It makes a person feel like they've got your undivided attention, which they should.

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