I mentioned two days ago that there were terrific discussions and sharing among the group of spanking fetishist friends I had the honor of spending New Year's Eve/New Year's morning with. Tops and bottoms and switches weighed in on a variety of topics, and there was a lot of honesty.
At one point, we talked about "asking for play" vs. "bratting" vs. "none of the above." (Specifically, at spanking parties, where everyone presumably has the same interest).
The "none of the above" category was really something along the lines of: "You know why I'm here, I'm here because I want to get spanked -- why do I have to play games and be silly to get your attention? And why do I have to ask? I just want to be taken in hand."
That scenario HAS happened with me. But it's very, very rare, and you have to know the top well and he has to know it's okay with you and your partner, if you are part of a couple. When it does happen, though -- oh, God, it's a beautiful thing. Suddenly everything shifts from normalcy to that heart-pounding fearful anticipation as you're led away to your doom. You didn't expect it -- but now it's about to happen and you're going to get it.
At a party, I do prefer not to ask, but I don't mind it too much. If I want the scene to be more "natural" -- AKA, for there to be a reason for the spanking -- then I'll brat or do the witty banter thing. I will NOT be a brat with someone I don't want to play with. It doesn't make any sense.
I don't do over the top bratting like water guns, crackers exploding at a top's feet, or, God forbid, Silly String. Sometimes I will get physical, though. I might playfully smack a top's butt, or pretend that I'm going to spank him with something, or tug his ear -- something the top might do to ME. Childish, harmless play. When I do stuff like that to Rad he either spanks me or he'll give me a threatening look and promise to spank me later. Verbally, I may wait for a moment when he's been going on about some topic for a while, and then I'll say something sarcastic.
I don't think I would get spanked that much if I didn't ask for it or somehow call attention to myself. But there is one option, which came up -- using a go-between. If you want to play with a top but don't want to ask or be a brat, you ask a friend who knows him to see if he wants to play. Then you establish that it's okay for him just to walk up to you and "take you in hand." Then you hope it happens at a moment when you're not involved in a conversation with another top you've been hoping to play with...