Awkward Things I Say To Girls


IT ALWAYS SEEMED LIKE THE RIGHT THING TO SAY AT THE TIME

“It could be, you know, terribly awkward.”

I paused outside my car and thought through everything. I was about to go pick up a girl for our date, my first first date in over a year. There has to be something I am forgetting. Let me think through it from the beginning.

Wait, I can’t type that with a straight face. It’s a total lie in all possible ways. I am fundamentally incapable of thinking things through from the beginning, which is part of why I think I’m fundamentally incapable of expressing complete thoughts to girls. Ask any of them. This is what I said to a girl last night on the phone: “I’m not so . . . verbally . . . well, you know.” But that’s quite another story entirely.

More realistically, things that I had done to prepare began flashing through my brain in an entirely non-linear sort of way. My car was as clean as it could be. I had reservations at the restaurant. My very favorite indie-rock CD’s were in the CD player, and I had pulled all of my very favorite hip hop CDs out of the car, not because I’m ashamed to own a Dr. Dre CD, but just because I didn’t think it was date appropriate. I was freshly showered and shaven. I picked out my favorite shirt and jeans. Directions were printed and I had my plan for what to do if the date went well and I wanted to get a drink with her afterwards.

My hair was not cut, because not only had I finally figured out what to do when it is long, but it hadn’t occurred to me to cut it until the day of the date, and, seriously a haircut on the day of the date just won’t do, which I finally decided on after some frantic e-mails to girls who I knew would know about these things. But it looked fine. It was fashionably tousled. There was product involved. I was proud of myself.

Okay, I’m ready to go, I thought, and started over to pick up the girl.

It’s true, I recently went on a date, as in, with a girl. But don’t get too excited. It isn’t anyone you know, because no girl I’ve written about on this website has ever wanted to go on a date with me. Which, you know, is a thing I’m fine with, much like ending a sentence with a preposition is a thing that I’m fine with. It’s their loss. The girls’ loss, to be clear. I really don’t care about the prepositions one way or another. So, now that I think about it, I guess those things aren’t alike.

No, someone else got me this girl’s phone number, a someone who is probably the most embarrassing someone to get dating help from, ever:

My mom.

Shut up. It’s not as pathetic as you think. First of all, my mom has excellent standards. Second, I talked to this girl a few times on the phone and she definitely seemed like a stand-up young lady. And third, how many of YOU have introduced me to someone I could take on a date? Eh? That’s right: none. So I don’t want to hear it.

Don’t think that the social abstraction and comfortable, familiar surroundings that are possible with a phone conversation in any way make me less awkward.

It is Date Day Minus 2. Date Girl and I were talking about blind dates, which, I thought, was a spectacular way to eliminate some of the tension that generally accompanies meeting someone new. Confess your fears, and suddenly the other person will share them instead of being their object.

At least, that was the plan. Instead —

Her: “I think it’ll be fun. You’re nice to talk to.”

Me: “Well, I think there are really two ways it could go. Either we’ll really enjoy talking to each other, or it’ll be, you know, um, like a horrible disaster.” There’s a nagging thought almost distracting me, but I’m focused on where I’m trying to go with this. “As in, it could be, you know, terribly awkward.”

Her: “Wha . .”

Me: “You know. Like, I’ve heard about blind dates before. I feel like it could go south. Quickly.”

The thought finally breaks through. It is this: shut up. Change the subject. Run. Set fire to your apartment building and say you need to call the police. Do anything, just stop talking.

It actually was somewhere in the middle, though, and that’s unfortunately where most dates fall. She was gorgeous and smart, and I’m pretty sure I made her laugh at least once. I remember thinking to myself, as she picked up and ate the piece of my tuna steak that I was trying to give to her but instead dropped on the table, hey – this girl is pretty down to earth and made me feel okay about a potentially super awkward moment. I could see asking her out again.

(Not that that exact thing is a requirement from someone I want to date. Maybe I’m just using that as a metaphor for meeting my partially-formed expressions of inner thoughts halfway. You’ll, you know, have to decide for yourself.)

But later, after we admitted hating some of each other’s very favorite books, I realized that, well, I could see her deciding that she just wasn’t that into me. (Again, not that she necessarily has to like the books I like. Liking books I like could, you know, be a symbol of mental compatibility or reciprocal intellectual curiosity. Or maybe she just hated Catch-22. Decide for yourself.)

So I asked, and she wasn’t (“her out again” and “that into me,” respectively). But I mean, that’s fine. She’s a tremendous girl who will have no problem getting guys, and, well, I have a good feeling about my own self in 2007. But here’s one thing I’m proud of, honestly: I think I put on a pretty damned good first date.

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