There have been a lot of pretty cool updates in my life lately, mostly related to the job search now that my internship is almost over. Unfortunately, those stories will have to wait so I can tell you about this other, slightly more hilarious story. (As I’ve been promising this story to a good friend, I don’t think it’s fair to make her wait any longer.) Sorry in advance for the length of this post, but I love story-telling.
So a couple weeks ago I was at church with two friends. It was crowded, as it always is because it’s a great church, and so I scooted down my row to make room for people on the other side. I scanned the two guys I would be sitting next to: young, crew cut, muscular – definitely military. We were fairly close to Barracks Row (where the Marine Barracks are located) so I figured these guys were Marines. I was right, turns out. Anyway, the guy closest to me starts chatting, and we share a few lovely minutes discovering that we have a surprising amount of things in common.
As the church service goes on, I silently debate with myself. He’s nice. Maybe I should invite him out to coffee? I did that all the time in college, so it should be fine…it should be normal. Totally normal. Coffee: what normal people do. Would he think it’s a date? It’s not a date. I’m just being friendly. I don’t know anyone in this city, it would be nice to have a friend…Etc, etc, endless psycho-babble that girls deal with looped over and over again…
The service ended. Mr. Marine turns to me. “It was really nice to meet you!” he says warmly, and we exchange names. Let’s call him Jay. By this point I’ve decided to
go out on a limb be totally normal and invite him out to coffee. He seems a little surprised, but suggests that we go grab some ice cream right then.
“Sure,” I tell him, “just let me catch up with my friends and let them know.”
I hustle outside and find my two friends (who are married and have lived in DC longer than I have, and thus know way more than I do about this place) and quickly explain the situation. “Niiiiice,” my guy friend says, giving me a high five.
“Good going,” my other friend sarcastically scolds her husband. “Jay just saw that high five.”
Crappity crap. What to do in awkward situations? Pretend the awkwardness doesn’t exist. I meander over to Jay and his friend and smoothly invite the friend along for ice cream, too. After all, this is not a date. This is a friendly friend-thing. I’m just trying to meet new people in DC.
“Ummmm,” Jay’s friend says, looking at me and then looking back at Jay, “yeah, actually, I have to go do that thing.”
Jay: “What thing?”
Jay’s friend: “That thing with Mike. You know, Mike. My buddy from [insert impressive military acronym here].”
Jay: “Oh, right. Okay.”
Oh, right. Okay. This situation just got a whole lot less awkward. Ignore the awkward, I chant to myself as we pull on the door of the nearest ice cream shop. The door was locked – apparently they don’t open til 11 on Sundays – so we turned away. Fortunately, not two seconds later a woman blew through them and hurriedly waved us inside. “We can open early for you two!!” she gushed. I may be imagining the gushing.
But I don’t really think so, because after we got our ice cream and after she cheerfully rang us up, she practically sang out, “Will this be on one bill?” There may or may not have been winks involved.
“Um, sure,” Jays says, looking at me and slowly pulling out his wallet.
I put a stop to that faster than a crazy cat lady adopts a new stray. “No, no! I can pay!” Really, people. We are friends being friendly on a strictly friendly non-date. Geesh, can’t a guy and a girl just hang out without any strings attached? And without people assuming that strings are attached? It doesn’t have to be so stupidly complicated.
So. We eat our ice cream and walk around and chat. I finish my ice cream in about 5 minutes, given that it’s about 115 degrees outside (how I wish I were exaggerating), and we meander over to my neighborhood. Jay requests some air conditioning at this point, and I lead the way to my favorite coffeeshop, Ebenezer’s.
We grab some water, but honestly at this point I’m ready to go home. I’ve enjoyed hanging out with Jay, but I’m feeling wilted and tired, and to be honest the conversation has been a bit of a struggle. It’s just not flowing very well. Jay remarks on my apparent exhaustion, and I use that to try to wrap things up. He offers to walk me back to my place, and I don’t really care one way or the other so I let him do what he prefers. He prefers to walk me home. Which I think is really sweet. (And it’s broad daylight, with lots of people walking around, and he’s been a perfect gentleman thus far, and we met at CHURCH, so I’m not too worried about him being an ax-murderer or anything. Plus I don’t think he’ll remember where I live.)
I don’t want to be rude, so I invite him in for some water. (Because it’s still 115 degrees.) We’re still chatting, sitting at my kitchen table, and I’m still trying to figure out how to politely get rid of him when he says, “Oh, are these your movies?” He has spied my modest collection, which I left lying on the table earlier. He begins flipping through them and comments on his favorites. “A Few Good Men, that’s a good one,” Jay remarks.
“Yep, it’s my favorite. Classic. That and Hunt for Red October,” I return.
Jay looks like Christmas has come early. “Really? That’s my favorite!” Oh dear. I can hear it coming…and I reeeeaaaallly don’t want to watch a movie with Jay. I want him to leave so I can take a nap. But Jay is not reading my body language. “Wanna watch a movie?” he asks.
No Jay. I don’t. Not only because I’m tired and I’m done with this coffee/ice cream/walk/thing, but I don’t have a couch. I don’t have a TV. I just moved here, and I have nothing. I have a futon that unfolds into a bed, but happily it is currently holding the stuff of my roommate’s friend, whos’s visiting for a while. “Umm, gee, Jay, I don’t really have anywhere that we could watch it.” I diplomatically and politely explain the lack-of-couch thing.
“Oh, no worries,” he says, and then he keeps talking. About what, I’m not quite sure. I try to look like I’m paying attention, but I’m not sure how successful I am. At one point, Jay grabs my hand and hold it within his own. Having not completely paid attention, this action startles the daylights outta me.
Holy WTF???!?! I think, and nearly snatch my hand back, but then Jay says, “That’s a really beautiful ring. Where’d you get it?” My vanity momentarily takes over, because I really do love this ring – I bought it while abroad in the Middle East, as a little token reminder of my months abroad, and I wear it all the time. It’s pure silver, since silver is so cheap there. But then I am freaked out again and slowly draw my hand back from his.
No worries! God gave us two hands! So Jay reaches over to grab my other hand and asks about that ring, too. I explain the much less exotic story behind that one (my Dad bought it for me as a college graduation gift) as I try to wonder on what planet he thought it would be cool to grab my hands and continue holding them on the pretense of asking about my rings.
Jay: Wow, so that graduation ring is really beautiful…is that a pearl? It must have been really expensive.
Me (thoroughly bizarred-out by now): No, it was about 10 dollars.
At this point I need to get this man out of my house. I strongly hint that it’s getting later in the afternoon, I’m really tired, and I still have some stuff I want to get done. He doesn’t pick up on this. I don’t know why.
“Yeah,” he stretches in his chair, “I’m really tired too…I could use a nap as well.” He looks up at me, and I think I know where this is going, but I am still in shocked disbelief so I just stand there like a little fool with her metaphoric mouth hanging open.
“Could I just crash here?” he asks nonchalantly.
What.the.ef. No, Jay, you cannot “just crash here.” In case you forgot, I just finished explaining to you how I don’t have a couch. And the futon is in use. And I just met you. AT CHURCH. You think I’m going to happily drift off to the land of sparkles and dreams while there is a strange man in my house? One who could steal all my stuff, or kill me or rape me or who knows what? (Not that I think he would do that. I think he just wanted…I don’t know, to sleep with me? Or on the floor? My objection about the not-having-furniture thing didn’t seem to bother him in the slightest.) Sorry, Jay. Not even in your wildest dreams. And if you try anything, I know how to defend myself. Because I’m from Montana, and we do justice a little differently. You are warned. (You all are warned.)
At that point I stand up and say brightly, “Well, do you want some fruit for your walk back to the Barracks? Or some water? Really, take the glass with you, no need to return it…” Haha, no, I just offered him some fruit, which he declined. I gave him directions back to the Barracks, and he came over to hug me goodbye. Except it was one of those a-few-moments-too-long, hands-lingered-on-my-waist kind of hugs. And he tried to look deep into my eyes. I escaped, and showed him the door.
“It was really nice to meet you, A,” he said.
“Yeah, Jay, this was…interesting – I mean, it was nice to meet you too.”
I swear to you, I only wanted coffee as friends. Given that we met at church and only knew each other for a grand total of three hours, I figured I was safe in assuming that it would be a strictly platonic, normal outing.
But apparently Jay has a problem with the just-friends, no-strings-attached thing, too.