In a prior post I mentioned how I met up with a younger guy who had a crush on me while I was in grad school. I kept him at arm’s length, while he reached out to me sporadically over the years – mainly on major holidays like Christmas and New Years and my birthday. Contact was lighthearted and brief. Occasionally there would be the offer to hang out and catch up in person, but I didn’t want to be annoyed by someone else’s crushing. Eventually, I agreed to meet up with him mostly because I figured why not, and I thought he should be over any residual crush feelings. Then I met up with him. I was sheepishly interested and he was a bit reserved. The picture of platonic interest.
I couldn’t help but be amused and sheepish about the whole situation. He had looked like a teenager to me all those years ago, and now all dressed in black, while I looked scruffy in my post gym gear, he looked MUCH older. A 5’oclock shadow helps…. 🙂 After we went our separate ways, we traded a few lighthearted texts for the next couple of days, but then we went silent for about a week and change. I kind of had to give myself a self-directed inward eye roll. Ultimately, I decided not to focus on him and went about my business focusing on my professional development and networking.
After the texting silence (seriously everything is done over text now), he popped back up again, and after an easy breezy current events-filled conversation, he mentioned a movie he wanted to see but couldn’t find anyone to go with. At no point did I entertain the idea of going with him or even offering after he told the movie was Les Miserables. I go to movies I WANT to watch. It just looked like an awfully long, tone deaf movie. Plus, I have weird feelings about being stuck at events I do not want to go to and do not think I will enjoy. I start to feel like a trapped animal – a psychological claustrophobia. I love history. I love stories. I don’t love them when they are combined. With song.
Anyways, I REALLY DID NOT want to see this movie. But he kept on about not being able to find someone to go with so I grudgingly offered to go if he really couldn’t find anyone to watch it with. I did not hide my absolute disinterest and he did not hide his acknowledgement that I really did not want to see this movie. He said he would let me know if he absolutely could not find someone else to see it with. I was not anxious.
A week or so later, his girlfriend dumped him right before the camping trip he did not invite his girlfriend to with his friends.
It was two of my friends who mentioned the oddity of this. Why didn’t he go with his girlfriend? I can pretty much honestly say, I wasn’t even thinking. His explanation was that none of his friends were interested in seeing this movie and he did not want to go alone. It never occurred to me to ask why he did not ask his girlfriend to go with him. But men are funny creatures. One of my former supervisors told me that he hides the fact that he looks through his VP fashion retailer wife’s high end fashion magazines. He knows AS MUCH AS SHE does about the who’s who of the fashion industry, but he did not want her to know this. It was his dirty little secret. Anyways, I was surprised the guy wanted to see this super-sappy, melodramatic, former broadway show-inspired, novel-based musical movie. I sure as hell didn’t want to see it.
I will never know what would have been different had the guy’s girlfriend not dumped him some time before we went to see the movie. We eventually went to see the movie, after he returned from a camping trip, and I was right. The movie was HORRIBLE and I did feel like a CAGED animal in a room full of teary eyed Les Miserables enthusiasts. After the movie he quietly admitted he did not think it was going to be so bad – or so long. I, of course, could not be gracious and raged like an escaped beast recounting my former imprisonment for like 15 minutes. I could not stop talking about how awful it was and how awful I felt having seen it during the walk to the restaurant or during the first few minutes at the table. Had this been a date – it would have been a bust. Maybe, I would have put my best gracious self on! Oh well. To this day, I have never experienced such a horrific movie experience.
I can’t say that dinner conversation was the most natural or easy going because marked throughout there was an underlying awkwardness that would emerge between the casual chatter. It wasn’t a bad awkwardness, just a “I don’t know where the hell this is going” awkwardness. Throughout the dinner, I took an external eye and looked upon us and our surroundings to realize that this looked like a date, sounded like a date, and felt like a date. A good one. I mean, we were practically out of hour seats, leaning in talking to each other on opposite sides of what was already a small table.
Two hours later, we closed down the restaurant – or more like we realized they were putting the chairs on the tables around us and we needed to exit.
I went home that night realizing that I had some how ended up on what felt like a date – a good one, and I didn’t mind one bit.
I mean it wasn’t a date. But it was the best non-date I’ve been to. 🙂