Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Love Is in the Air?

When I was in junior high, spring weather meant puppy love. The moment recess was blessed with mild sunshine, all the boys got cuter. It was a pretty hilarious phenomenon. Naturally, I stood on the outside of the happenings, amused by the budding romances around me. One year, a boy I played touch football with during lunch (yes, I played football daily -- for a very brief period of time) told a friend of mine that I made his blood boil. That was the end of my athletic career.

I'm still that awkward girl, completely unsure of how to deal with unwanted affection. (Or, frankly, how to capture wanted attention.)

I was at the library today, browsing through the stacks, when I heard someone say, "Hi, how are you?" I naturally assumed the man behind me was on the phone. Because strangers don't actually talk to me. Not in libraries. That's too romantic-comedy world. Not reality. So he said it again. I smiled. We exchanged perhaps two sentences, and I walked away. Because I don't flirt. It's not my area of gifting. And I don't typically give off that "approachable" vibe. Maybe it's insecurity masked as aloofness, I don't know.

On the bus ride home, a Frenchman said hello. And then began a full-on pursuit. Not just friendly chitchat, but he wanted to know my name, what I did for a living, what my nationality was. In less than two minutes. Everyone around us was listening. My first reaction was, "I am not a visa bride." Maybe it's unjustified paranoia, but the last French gentleman who followed me out of an elevator ("When will I see you again?") was looking for a way to stay in the country. I reserve the marriage-for-immigration-purposes strictly for Prince William or young, single Bono-types. Not bus strangers.

He was about to get off the bus when he asked me out. At least, I think he asked me out. It was loud on the bus and I couldn't hear him very well. I heard him say something about how it's a beautiful day and that I'm very pretty. I was instantly flattered and uncomfortable. He asked if I have a boyfriend. I didn't know what to say.

I have never, ever not known what to say to that question before. It's a pretty black-and-white question. With a black-and-white answer. But I couldn't tell him I was single. I don't know why. I knew I was going to have to reject his advances. And I froze. I just looked at him. He asked again. "Are you seeing someone?" I lied. "Sort of."

Sort of. What does that mean? "Yes, sometimes, when my eyes aren't closed, I see people. Fifty percent of the people I see are male."

He smiled and got off the bus.

This, my friends, is why I'm single. Because I'm sort of seeing someone who doesn't exist.

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