Sitting, Waiting, Wishing
So after a brainstorming session with a writing buddy yesterday, I remembered this piece I wrote a few months back. In the spirit of my last post, I decided to share it. It’s a little longer than my usual stuff, so my apologies.
I remember sitting in French class senior year of high school chatting with my closest friends about our dating preferences (we were, after all, studying a Romance language). My friends and I decided to write down the characteristics of our perfect mate and we’d compare. My list was exhaustive, detailing several “must haves” and a few “cannots.” Some qualities were admittedly shallow—curly brown hair, piercing blue eyes, a clearly defined muscular build (without being too bulky) and the ability to play the guitar (my love of Aerosmith’s Joe Perry has run deep for as long as I can remember). Others were more admirable—intelligence, sensitivity, passion and unwavering moral fiber. I looked over my list proudly and handed it off to my friends, including a couple of my closest male friends. They gave it one look and informed me succinctly “Steph, that dude is gay.” Oh, to be young and politically incorrect.
I kept that list for a long time. It was so easy to hide behind the rigorous qualifications I had set before myself. I’d meet someone, then immediately size him up. If they fit the bill, I’d hurry up and wait until they asked me out. I’ll let you figure out how well that worked for me. The few men who passed the test were certainly not interested in asking me out. Isn’t that the way it works? Finally the voices of the naysayers got louder and began to make sense: I was too damn picky. So I threw out the list and decided to lower the hell out of my standards. You know, mix it up. Come what may, Universe! That’s when I met Will*: the pot-smoking Republican (!) who had spent the last couple of years waiting tables at a local chain restaurant in between his hours-long sessions of World of Warcraft. Sexy, right? Sure he had aspirations of joining the Peace Corps, but don’t all waiters have lofty goals never to be achieved? I guess now is as good a time as any to mention that I, too, was waiting tables at this same restaurant, so who was I to judge? He was hardly the type of guy I needed to be messing around with romantically, but he was good-looking and I was bored.
The first opportunity I had to see Will outside of the restaurant soon presented itself. He was heading out of town at an ungodly hour of the morning and none of his friends were volunteering to give him a ride to the bus station (servers are notoriously averse to mornings). While chatting in the drink station, I overheard him complaining of his predicament and before I knew it, I was offering to drive him to the bus station around six o’clock on a bitterly cold winter morning. He called me later that evening and offered to buy me breakfast in the morning as a token of gratitude. He was being courteous solely as a friend and me? Well I took it as a sign that he wanted me just as much as I wanted him. Just another example of my attempts at expressing interest landing me smack dab in the middle of Friendville. I pulled up to his sad little apartment complex while it was still quite dark outside. It was approximately 10 degrees outside and I was still adjusting to what the world looks like before noon. We decided on Denny’s for breakfast and I made my best attempt at being cute and charming over a Grand Slam breakfast. We talked about our plans for life after the restaurant gig and our shared love of Paul Simon, and then I dropped him off at the Greyhound station. With a warm hug and a goodbye, I was left with the lingering hope that he would be calling me upon his return.
Well of course he didn’t call because there was no factual evidence that he ever intended to call me in the first place. Us women, and our active imaginations. Despite the lack of interest, I still held out hope. After all, I was willing to drop my precious list and be more open-minded, damn it! I would finally be reckless and stupid, throw caution to the wind, make out with a cute guy who doesn’t always shower and often uses words like “avatar” in regular conversation. This was the sort of life experience that everyone was telling me I needed. The gang was heading out to our friend’s bar one night and Will was there. I sauntered up with my best flirtatious smile and he complimented my glasses noting a certain “sexy librarian” vibe. Tina Fey had really laid the groundwork for girls like me, and I welcomed the attention. I stepped away to get a drink and when I came back, presumably to pick up where we left off, the little hippie had run off somewhere. I didn’t think much of it until I realized that my friend Sara* was also suddenly missing. It is worth noting that Sara* was much more forward and aggressive in her male pursuits than I ever had any guts to be. However, I cast off my paranoia and continued to mingle. About 30 minutes later, I see Will step out of our friend’s office followed by Sara. He looked pretty inebriated and his long hair was in total disarray. It was obvious they weren’t helping our friend sort out purchase orders back there. Clearly the train had fallen off the tracks somewhere. I left the bar that night disappointed and confused. What happened? Would the universe not allow me one little fling? Even when I stopped being so picky, the guy still just wasn’t into it.
Thanks to both of them, I dodged a bullet. He was a very nice guy, but at the end of the day, he was not at all my kind of guy. I was willing to throw away all the years of patient waiting for a few make-out sessions in the back of a bar? Hardly the picture of romance I had envisioned for myself. I decided something that day. The list? While completely shallow and erroneous, it was helpful in the sense that there are several qualities in a man that I should continue to expect. The world would tell me that I’m too uptight and rigid in my expectations. But the world would also tell me that a series of casual non-committed relationships are completely natural and healthy. And that holding out for true romance is for suckers. No thank you, World, I’ll take my chances.
*Names have obviously been changed; however, if you worked with me during this time, it’s quite obvious who I’m referring to. I’m never as mysterious as I hope to be.