Sometimes the best place to start is the beginning. There's a girl at my work that I kind of like and I think she might like me, it's hard to tell. I deal with her through my job occasionally but not a whole lot. There is someone else at work that I used to work with in a previous job and he is sometimes my port in the storm and we play pool together a fair bit. Pool's a great activity as it fills the time but you can spend most of it in silence as the activity fills the space, and you just talk a little here and there. In one of these spaces between shots I confessed to him the situation I found myself in. "Oh she definitely likes you" he said. He would though, that's his job. It's what people do. I asked how he knew and he says he can see it in her face when she comes over to deal with me. It was one of those odd moments where I'm reminded that other people see things that I don't. But it also got me wondering if he was telling the truth or if he was just doing his job of dutiful companion, egging me on and boosting my confidence.
I've been sitting on the situation for a while and it's not going away. In fact it is occupying more and more of my thoughts. My concerns are many-fold. For a start I'm kind of happy in my life right now, mainly. Do I need change? Am I ready to be in another relationship? I am also worried that I don't really want to be in a relationship with this person, I just want to know that someone likes me. Also do I really want to get involved with someone I work with? If it goes wrong I don't think I'm robust enough to be around someone I've been in a past relationship with. I mentioned this concern to my colleague who told me it was no way to think. I'm also minded that I never get a chance to meet women apart from at work. My colleague was of the opinion that I should "go for it" but he would say that, it's his job.
I sat on the situation some more and it got to the stage where it simply had to stop. I had to do something to end how I was feeling. I was anxious a lot of the time so finally resolved to take steps. I was finding that confiding in my colleague was making things easier for me so made my plans known to him. I had made my mind up that I was going to try and push things onto "the next step".
But how? I'm never really alone with her, so over a game of pool I asked my colleague what he thought about asking her over an e-mail. He laughed solidly for about 3 minutes. When he had regained his composure he said, with a grin, "You can't do that" then continued to laugh again. The saddest part is that I'd already written the e-mail out, it was sat in my "Drafts" for want of a "Send". It was full of my literary style, my humour, rhythm and flow, my way of phrasing things. It was dynamite. The only women I have ever managed to seduce have always been through the written word. Is that bad? It's who I am after all. I know real men don't do those things; real men hitch their belts, grab their crotch and ask girls out on dates. Was it so bad that I didn't want to do that? It got me thinking...here was a rare chance of me doing something that normal people do. Asking a girl out...in the flesh. But I know I'd be rubbish at it, and the as-yet-unsent email was solid gold. What was more important to me? To pretend to be normal for 5 minutes even though I'm not normal, or to just be me? Half of me was excited and half felt like a traitor.
My plans were delayed slightly when she was off ill, but when she was back at work I knew I had to do this, I had to bring this thing to a conclusion one way or the other. While calm on the outside my insides were raging. My mind was racing, my heart was thumping, the adrenalin was surging. My stomach was in knots and at points felt like it was entangled in my throat. I did some dry runs, I paced the corridors, in my head I envisioned how it might all happen, and I realised something...the crashing fear was never going to go. The pure and utter dread was never going to end. This must be what it is like doing a bungee jump or a sky-dive. Standing on the precipice gripped by utter fear and nothing you can say to yourself will calm or sooth you. Nothing is going to take away the fear. In those situations you can either back down, or do it with the fear. You either take a step back from the edge and retreat, or you grab the fear with both hands, bear hug it and take it with you. I knew I couldn't back down, I knew this had to end...I knew I had to do this despite the fear. I had to do it fear and all.
I approached her desk "Can I have a word?" It was nothing out of the ordinary and she thought nothing of it, as I said we do occasionally deal with each other. She stood to follow me and I pointed to the hallway and as I opened the office door and stepped out I heard her side to a colleague "...it's an outside word?" I was petrified. I had stepped off the precipice and now I was free-falling. Inertia gone, momentum carrying me on a journey that I now could not stop even if I wanted to. The pavement was coming up fast. I was praying the corridor would be empty and for once my prayer was answered.
Sometimes the best way to say something is to just come out and say it. "I was just wondering if you'd like to come out for a drink some time?" I think that's what I said. To be honest my memory of the whole experience is somewhat vague. "What?" In a previous failed attempt to steady my nerves I had gone over the various ways I thought this conversation could go, but "What?" wasn't one of them. "You know...a drink..." "What? Sorry?" Words were failing me now so a "how about it" shrug had to suffice. "Sorry, I didn't quite get you for a while there, I'm still recovering from being unwell" was her response. At that point the Earth opened up ready to swallow me whole. Well...not Earth exactly but the elevator that I had the foresight to summon when we first entered the corridor. "Are you going out?" she said, spying my escape route. "To the shop across the road" I said. "Ok...we'll talk about this later" were her parting words as the cold metal doors slid between us and took me down to Hell.
At lunch I relayed the debacle to my colleague over pool who was upbeat about it and keen to point out the positives. But he had to...that's his job. He said that she was probably just a little shocked and didn't know how to react right away. She was too shocked to say "yes" but not shocked enough to enunciate "We'll talk about this later"? My colleague paused, then said that maybe today wasn't the best day to ask. He said that she had just come back to work from not feeling well and you could tell she was still down and not feeling herself. I asked him to elaborate and he explained that she wasn't wearing any make-up so probably wasn't feeling that great about herself so wanted to go and talk it over with her friends first. Who spots these things? Who realises that a woman isn't wearing make-up? Again I'm half wondering if this is my lack of social observation or him just trying to make me feel better.
I may be a social retard but I've learned enough through the years to know that "We'll talk about this later" is just a polite way of saying "No." The thing is though...at least now it's over. Now it's done with. Now I can get on with things and I'm feeling quite relieved. I don't think we'll ever have the "later" talk, she'll probably never speak to me again. If my colleague was maybe encouraging me a little too much I'm not overly concerned. Because I did it. I actually did it. Maybe I chose the wrong day, wrong time, wrong location and the wrong method...maybe I was a bit full on...but I took a girl to one side and asked if she would like to go for a drink. I completely exposed myself and made myself vulnerable. I made my intentions perfectly clear, I put myself out there and I said "here I am, this is how I feel now take me or leave me." I did it...I'm a real boy now.