I used to believe in love at first sight. I can remember three specific girls who made me feel like I was getting hit by a train the first time I saw them. I thought I knew it was love because every time I saw them it felt like getting hit by a train again. It even felt like I got hit by a train all of the times all three of them rejected me, too.
When you think about it that way, it makes you wonder if love is supposed to feel like a train wreck at all.
Either way, that’s why I don’t believe in love at first sight anymore. Maybe people who can trust their instincts can have it, but I went 7-24 against the spread in college bowl games this year. I watched the Howard Dean scream as it happened and thought, gee, that guy sure sounds like he has the energy to get this thing back on track. I heard the Spice Girls for the first time on my first trip to London in high school, and was immediately struck by the inferiority of the British taste in music, because Americans would never listen to something as ridiculous as the Spice Girls. It’s not that my first impression is wrong, more that it is spectacularly disastrous.
But if you add a girl, it just gets worse. Take the line integral of the judgement vector field as I approach from infinity to r = 1 meter (assume spherical coordinates, duh) with a girl at the origin (assume the judgement vector field is the gradient of the scalar field of smelling nice) (duh), and either you end up with either a large negative number or a large positive number, but pretend it is large and negative because I’m sure as hell not whipping out a math text right now just so I can make sure I didn’t make a sign error in my multivariate calculus joke. I would also like to note that completing the parenthetic phrase about scalar fields involved leaning back in my chair, tapping my chin, and saying to myself, “What increases near girls?”
That sign issue still bugs me. I can’t even do multivariate calculus anymore. I’m a shell of my former self. All I think I’m good for now are excel spreadsheets and telling stories about girls. Maybe I should try starting one, eventually, here.
So: the most recent time I was absolutely love-at-first-sight obliterated by a girl-train-wreck was when I was working at a restaurant after I had moved back to Virginia from college in Ohio. I had just gotten word that I had been hired on for the cubicle adventure I now enjoy on a weekday-ly basis, and therefore was newly excited to be quickly ending my time as a server, when into the restaurant walked the cutest hostess I had ever seen in my life.
Now, I generally have a soft spot in my heart for hostesses in restaurants because, no matter how bad of a shift I’m having at the restaurant, it only takes ten seconds of flirting with a hostess and suddenly I’m feeling great. I just didn’t anticipate this particular server exploiting, like, 8 other soft spots in my heart at once.
She was tall and slender, with long dark hair, big eyes, and the kind of teeth that are crooked but cute, like Kirsten Dunst’s teeth, but with everything else about her being completely different from Kirsten Dunst, who is not my type at all, which nevertheless didn’t stop me from being convinced slash excited for a solid week in college about the rumor that she was going to enroll at my school (please note paragraph two above re: judgement). She (the hostess, not Kirsten Dunst) was ultra flirty with me, too. Talking to her was like a chemistry experiment exploding. And when she started dropping hints about liking geology and video games, I was done.
Seriously. Relationships work so much better, at least for me, when I am acquainted with a girl, slowly start to appreciate who she is, become attracted more and more, realize how she compliments my personality and I hers, and then finally decide that I can’t stand to be apart. This is how I did it this most recent time, and, I must say, good work, Justin. Gradually, is the thing. That way you get used to how amazing the other person is, in baby steps, and can be rational and not necessarily the apocolypse, or at least not in such large doses.
I ask you: how am I supposed to make any good decisions at all about things to do or say when you spring a tall, brunette, snaggletoothed science girl hostess in a black dress who loves videogames on me for four shifts a week? What do you want from me? If you prick me, do I not bleed? If I meet a pretty dark-haired science major who likes me, will I not somehow awkwardly screw it up?
After flirting my way into dinner with her after one of my final shifts, she asked me if I wanted to take her out for real the following Sunday night.
Now, first of all, hell yes I do. But, look. I’m a laid back cat who is hip to that jive. She jotted me some digits and I figured, whatever, I’ll give her a call eventually, if I even care.
Two days later, I can’t stand it anymore.
“This is Cute Hostess Girl. Leave a message. I sound high.”
“Hi! This is Justin from work. So, um, we were going to go out right? Sunday! You should call me and we can work it out.”
Another few days pass. It’s like giving a kid a marshmallow but telling him to be patient, it will hop into your mouth when it wants to be eaten. That wasn’t really the image I was going for. That was unintentional. I’m moving on. Another few days pass.
“This is Cute Hostess Girl. Leave a message. I still sound high.”
“Hey, hadn’t heard from you, so I figured I’d call back. This is Justin. From work. So, I think I should pick you up at, like, seven. On Sunday. We are going out, right?”
Sunday arrives. Still nothing. I mean, sure, that’s reasonable. Maybe she just forgot. Twice.
“This is Cute Hostess Girl. Leave a message. I sound like Keanu Reeves on Robitussin.”
“Hey, so, are we going out tonight? Because if not, that’s cool. Totally cool. I mean, you know. I know how it is sometimes.”
Another day passes, making it, yes, Monday. Finally, my phone rings!
“Oh my goodness! Cute Hostess Girl!”
“Hello! Listen, I’m sorry I didn’t call you. I was out of town.” By the way, do cute girls go out of town more than other people, or is this just the best way you could think of to reject someone? Seriously, ladies. At least have the decency to be creative. Zombies attacked, your dog turned into an alien from Saturn, you were busy establishing fight clubs around the state. Anything. Then again, technically, the last option counts as “out of town.” That must be it.
To return to the conversation: I’m approximately at the excitement level of an extroverted thirteen year old girl getting her first cell phone, her ears pierced, and a car, all after having fifteen cups of coffee.
“Well that’s an amazing coincidence! Because I’m just now watching the episode of Seinfeld where George leaves all these messages for a girl! He thought she was ignoring him but,” I chuckle affably, “she was out of town! Just like you were. And so he thought she didn’t like him but really she liked him, she was just out of town! Just like you! Have you seen that one? Did you have a good time out of town? What a coincidence! Isn’t that funny? Can you believe it? I sure can’t. Do you like to go out of town? When do you work next?”
Awkward silence on the phone. I can’t overemphasize how not-cool I am sounding at this point. It’s impossible.
Undaunted, like Lewis and Clark, I press onward. “Wow, so, like, when do you want to go out?”