Okay people, here's what you've been waiting for. Lots of drama, but probably not what you expected. But then, when does anything ever go the way I expected?
So a couple of weeks ago -- after speed dating was a bust -- I set up a happy hour at Lima with [newly engaged!] Megan expressly to meet guys. Sadly, the night ended with a guy asking us for advice on how to meet women (um, hello!!!).
I skulked home hoping I could at least run into Hot Redheaded Neighbor (HRN), even if I would be unable to say anything to him. I take that back -- Ashmi and Raghav coached me on what to say earlier in the week. Raghav played the role of HRN:
Raghav: Hi Mary El.
Me: Hi! How are you?
That was as far as we got, but it was something.
I stepped off the elevator on my floor, ready for my line, but he was not outside his door. I held my head up high, shook out my hair, and walked to my apartment to get Noli. Once I got her leash on, I stepped back out into the hallway and peeked over at HRN's apartment -- still nothing.
I pitied myself for 30 seconds as the elevator dropped to the ground floor. When the door opened, Noli shot out, her ears laying down on her head and tail wagging furiously. Uh-oh, she saw someone she knew. Could it be HRN?
Miraculously, it was him! He leaned down to pet Noli then straightened up and smiled big at me.
"Hi!" he said.
I stood there, mouth agape. What's my line? I panicked. Say something Mary El! Line! LINE!
"Oh...Hi! How ARE you?" I spit out. But when he replied, "Fine, how are you?" my mind blanked. We hadn't practiced for this! What was I supposed to say???
The answer to my question arrived at that moment -- Sabrina needed to borrow a shirt for a date with Dan Doesn't Talk the following evening. I had never been happier to see her.
"This is my friend who was interested in your friend," I explained to HRN. Sabrina's eyes widened and I looked at her apologetically. But it really was the only thing I could think of to say!
Sabrina began chatting with him, and as I regained consciousness I noticed HRN had a friend with him (Sam). And his friend's eyes were locked on me. I shyly smiled and then turned my focus back to HRN.
(BTW, I wish I could give you more details, but I was literally blacking out during this entire story. I am giving you the account of what I can remember and what Sabrina reminded me of later.)
When the conversation lulled, HRN's friend, never taking his eyes off me, spoke for the first time.
"You're really attracted to him," he said, pointing toward HRN.
Even though he was staring at me, I looked around, hoping he was talking to someone else.
"Oh yeah," he continued. "You're really into him."
"Excuse me?!!" I squeaked.
"You're acting upset, but secretly you're happy I'm saying this. You've been wanting to get this out in the open for a long time."
I was having trouble breathing. The hallway was spinning. All I could do was emit this high-pitched, whisper-type sound that resembled the word "what." During my conniption, I caught a glimpse of HRN. He had a wide grin stretched across his face that was getting wider the more I flipped out.
Sam noticed the visual exchange. "You know, I think you guys would make a nice looking couple. Go stand next to her."
HRN raised his eyebrows and gladly took a step toward me with his arm out. He swung it around my shoulder and pulled me into his muscly body.
OMG OMG OMG he's touching me he's touching me he's touching me.
"Actually," Sam continued, "I think y'all could get married one day."
That was it. I couldn't take anymore of the silliness. I flung HRN's arm off me and spun away from him. "Enough!"
Sam cocked his head. "You don't want to marry him?"
"No!" I squealed.
"Why not?" HRN pouted. "I'd make a good husband. I'd mow the lawn and fix our cars, and I'd protect you."
Okay, well that did sound awfully nice. But this was all just too ridiculous.
"I don't even know you," I said. "And honestly, my dog really needs to pee, so I'll see you guys later." HRN nodded and leaned over to give me a hug. I almost fainted.
Sabrina, who had been standing nearby but who I'd forgotten was there, followed me as I marched outside with Noli in tow.
"Did that just really happen?" I asked her as soon as the door to my building shut.
"That was really weird," she chuckled.
When we walked back inside HRN and Sam were gone, and I was relieved. I'd only hoped for a little encounter, not a marriage proposal. That's just a little much for a Wednesday night. Upstairs, safe in my apartment, Sabrina and I began sorting through tops for her to borrow. Then, as we were rehashing the events of the past half hour, we heard a strong knock on my door.
I crept to the peephole, and, as I had feared, there was HRN. Sheepishly I opened the door.
"Hey!" he smiled. "I was hoping we could talk some."
"Oooooookay, come on in, I guess," I said.
Again, I'd love to give you details of our ensuing conversation, but I don't remember much. I found out he's from Colorado, he's in the Air Force (just can't get away from those AF boys), he's 29, and when it comes to talking to strangers, he's basically the male version of me (he says whatever goes through his head with no censorship).
At some point we were discussing apartment layouts in our complex, and I couldn't figure out what his looked like, so he suggested we walk over there. I brought Noli with me as a little bodyguard -- didn't want him to get the wrong idea.
His apartment was pristine and decorated with African masks, Thai figurines, and framed, scenic photos. So he also likes to travel, I catalogued in the HRN file in my brain. While Noli sniffed out every room, we stood about a foot from each other in the living room, neither of us knowing what to say.
Now would be a good time to ask me to dinner! I inwardly screamed. Instead he said, "You have really nice hair, did you know that?"
"Yes." Oh, whoops, I should have said 'thank you.'
He laughed. Then he looked at me thoughtfully. "Are you high maintenance?"
"What? No! Well, maybe to some people. I don't know! What do you consider high maintenance?"
He laughed again. "We'll have that conversation later."
Then he leaned in for a hug. I patted him on the back, my inner monologue again screaming he's touching me!
"You are probably wondering why I keep hugging you," he said. "The truth is, I really wanted to touch you."
In hindsight that sounds super creepy, but at the time all I could think was Me too!
I walked back to my apartment in a daze. What was happening?
TO BE CONTINUED...