Awkward Things I Say To Girls


Archive for the 'It’s Not a Date' Category

Michigan seems like a dream to me now.

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

Part 3, Chapter 10

“…and then when we woke up Michigan Girl and I went out for breakfast on that last morning before I left. We finally didn’t try to order the same thing as each other, but then when we went back to the cabin her dad said that he had ordered the same thing that I had, just a few hours earlier! And then…”


That’s what I did, the second I was back in Cleveland. It didn’t matter who I was talking to: my roommates, coworkers, friends, and even my ex-girlfriend became uncomfortably intimate with the most insignificant details of my trip to Michigan, and the girl who had become, for me, the living representation of the entire state. If you live in Ohio you have to hate the University of Michigan, but I was in love with Michigan Girl.

“…and then I was about to leave, but I saw my bathing suit on her clothesline, you know, drying? Which obviously means that I forgot to pack it. But, I figured, why say anything? Because now she’ll just have to…”

I simply would. Not. Shut. Up.


It’s kind of weird that there is foreshadowing and allegory in this chapter, even though this is just what actually happened that day

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

Part 2, Chapter 9

On (Tuesday) July 9, 2002, I woke up to an unconscionably blue sky pouring into the little Michigan lake cabin. Hot Copy Editor was brushing brown hairs from each other and squinting asymmetrically at me. “It’s about time you woke up. I’m not going to row myself around the lake.”

“I would have been up earlier, but you kept me up with all that excruciating conversation last night at the beach.”

Her mother walked in when we were ~80% finished with bowls of Cheerios (“Do you like Cheerios?” HCE asks. “I eat Cheerios every day for breakfast!” I exclaim.) and ~18% finished with the spread-out puzzle on the table in front of the window overlooking the lake, continuing to chatter like extremely sarcastic little children. “What are you planning for the day?” the mother asks.

“We need to go to the beach and look for Petoskey stones,” chirps Hot Copy Editor. “And then, Justin, do you want to go to Arcadia? It’s a cute little town right on the beach with little gift shops and ice cream shops. It’ll be fun.”


The only part I didn’t remember clearly was the phase of the moon, which I looked up online

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

Part 2, Chapter 8

“Whoop!” she whooped as I knocked on the screen door leading into the little kitchen. In a blur of arms and brown hair and jeans, there she was in front of me opening the door, being casually stunning. “You came!”

“I know! I’m sorry I’m late. Here is some banana bread I made. There are walnuts in there.”

“Thank you!” She took it and put it somewhere, beckoning me into the cabin. “My parents are out taking a walk. Come take a tour!”

Cabin was a pretty good name for the interior. For all the prettiness outside, inside was a cozy mixture of wood paneling and huge windows. It was a perfect summer vacation home. We walked through the foyer-slash-kitchen-slash-mud-room into the living room, which was dominated by a massive window showing Portage Lake. To the left of the window was a little partitioned off area (there was a curtain rod with a swept-aside curtain acting as a divider) with just enough space for a bed, some suitcases, and a bedside table overflowing with books.


Have you done anything this ridiculous to spend time with someone you weren’t dating?

Monday, March 26th, 2007

Part 2: Michigan
Chapter 7

At about 7:30 on the morning of July 8, 2002, I leave my Cleveland apartment with a backpack and two duffel bags, and walk the 6 blocks to the nearest light rail station. I am headed to Michigan to see Hot Copy Editor.

“Are you serious? You’ll actually come to see me at the cabin in Michigan?”

I was chatting online with her in mid-June.

“Of course,” I typed back. You’ll notice that we are using proper punctuation and capitalization, despite the fact that the IM style guide was written by blind kindergartners, who also happen to be drunk. This is because we are both massive snobs when it comes to proper usage of the written English language. “I can’t pass up such a great opportunity.”

“Hooray! You can row me around on the lagoon!”


Always trust the internet, is the moral here

Monday, March 19th, 2007

Part 1, Chapter 6

I’m sitting at my desk in the basement physics lab where I worked for the summer, not working on a stripline coil because, seriously, there’s no way that spiral of foil and epoxy and fairy dust actually will impede with the impedance it is supposed to be impeding with. My research advisor believes in magic, is what I’m saying. So, either I’ll fix it this afternoon, or maybe the low-temperature gnomes will come fix the damned thing during lunch. I have more important things to worry about. Like telling my problems to the internet.

Did you think this website was the first time that happened? Look, maybe I keep telling my problems to the internet because it always works.

“I just can’t stand being away from her,” I was typing. “I don’t know what to do.”


I decided to replace the part of this chapter where I get sadly drunk with a “time passes” dash. You’re welcome.

Monday, March 12th, 2007

Part 1, Chapter 5

Hot Copy Editor had a boyfriend. I was crushed. My blood turned freezing, the way it felt in high school when I realized I had forgotten to take my saxophone off the roof of my car before I drove to school.

She wasn’t proactive about it, either, something I took into my subsequent obsessive analysis. I was the architect of the line of conversation. It was, naturally, common knowledge around the newspaper office that I had a girlfriend, but I hadn’t been mentioning it in e-mails, just, you know, because when you’re conversing electronically with one girl who has captured your interest, your own girlfriend just somehow seems to slip your mind. Not necessarily in a malicious way, just, you know, in a forgetful, oops sort of way.

I decided to bring it up in a “what about you?” sense, as a way to suss out Hot Copy Editor’s singleness (singularity?). I wouldn’t say I consciously could identify exactly why it was that I cared. I just knew that it was information that I definitely wanted to have.


FYI – This post might be awkward because I am talking about multiple girls, or, actually, perhaps just because I was the guy who wrote it

Monday, February 26th, 2007

Part 1, Chapter 4

In the summer of 2002, after the third year of college, I had decided to do research in a physics lab to figure out whether or not I liked working in physics labs. I figured that if I liked it, then I could maybe get a master’s degree in physics. Fortunately, I realized that being buried daily in a living crypt of equipment whose ominous humming likely indicated a slow erosion of my ability to reproduce, only so I could add, piece by piece, to mankind’s great and august body of knowledge regarding how to fix pumps wasn’t what I was looking for in a career.

Before I found any of that out, though, I decided to go home for a week after junior year finals were over. As I was being driven home from the airport by my parents, I leaned my head against the rear driver’s seat window and looked out at the Virginia greenery of a May afternoon. I had things to think about, and being driven in a car is one of the best possible times to think about things.


Chinese food has never been this exciting, especially when nothing is happening

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

Part 1, Chapter 3

For every relationship I’ve ever been in, there’s always a moment of unbearable non-classical-mechanics, such as “sparks” or “chemistry” or “magnetism,” that predates the relationship. If that doesn’t happen, you don’t have yourself a relationship – which, sure, everyone knows that. But then, how come it sometimes doesn’t happen until months or even years after I first meet the person? How come the initial strength of this impulse seems in no way correlated to the intensity of physical desire, later on? What is wrong with classical mechanics, anyway? It’s as though the entire world of romance metaphors has it in for ol’ Sir Isaac.

When I walked into the Chinese restaurant for the customary end-of-the-year dinner in May of ’02, I wasn’t thinking about any of these things. I was thinking only about how late my friends and I were, and how it was, almost certainly, going to cost me the opportunity to sit next to Hot Copy Editor. As far as I knew at the time, it was going to be the last time I saw her for a whole summer. I didn’t want to be gazing at her across a table.


In this chapter, I flirt with our antiheroine using competitive vocabulary games

Monday, February 12th, 2007

Part 1, Chapter 2

“I figured out the world jumble.”

“What? Already?”

Hot Copy Editor was standing behind my computer with a printout of what was to be the back page of the campus newspaper in her hand. She couldn’t give it to me yet, of course, because the Editor in Chief had to sign off on the thing, just to make sure none of us had managed to subversively slip porn (didn’t happen), curse words (he always caught them), or anything disrespectful to women (did happen, he didn’t catch it, we felt bad, we got letters, but we were honestly kind of pleased to get some letters to the editor for a change) into this week’s edition.

She just wanted me to know that she was smarter than me.


I’m too self-conscious to say “love at first sight,” but you can think it if it makes it easier

Monday, February 5th, 2007

Part 1: Okay, now you have my attention
Chapter 1

I was sitting in the college newspaper office in August of 2001 waiting for the editorial board meeting to start, when the meteor struck directly through the roof of the student center, pierced my heart, and landed, quietly smoldering, in its own little crater on the dusty off-blue tile floor.

That’s what it felt like. Seeing the underdog football team pull off a miracle win with a crazy trick play. Having a police car turn on its lights and sirens directly behind you.

But all that really happened was that a girl I had never seen before had walked in and sat down across from me.