Friday, August 12, 2011

Why Am I So Freaking Awkward?

Oh God, I had a hitting-on situation yesterday.

So I had to return my cable box to the cable company yesterday, and of course they were in the ass middle of Nowhere, Chicago. So from work I had to take two different buses to get there. It was one of those creepy, depressing business centers with nothing but street and one-story office buildings. If I had driven it would have been no big deal. But having to walk through it is another story. See, I'm used to my urban center. And suddenly I find myself unable to hold out my arms and feel a building at each fingertip and I am scared. Suddenly Chicago stops being home to hot dogs and blues and John Cusack. It is now home of murderers and gangs and Al Capone, the original Scarface.

Someone else got off the bus with me. A skinny guy in I.T. Business Casual (clothes that are too big, tucked into other clothes that are too big) and some kind of accent. Something middle easterny. I pulled out my phone to figure out exactly where to go next. He said, "Bradley Street is this way, yes?" And, having checked my phone and realized that was the street I was heading to as well, told him yes and then gave him a few feet of buffer so we didn't have to awkwardly walk next to each other or on each others' heels (Joe and I have coined this type of situation. We call it "walkward.")

But when we got to Bradley, he checked with me again to figure out where to go. I pointed to the building with the cable company's name on it in big letters, and the guy took this as a sign to start talking to me. Lovely.

He told me we had been on both buses together and mentioned something about how he remembered because he noticed how cute I was. Well that was nice, actually. I laughed awkwardly. It may have been a guffaw. Because what the hell should your reaction be when you are involuntarily hit on in the middle of your cable company's parking lot?

We both went inside where there were two glass windows with women behind them. We each returned the boxes we needed to return. He left and I slowly, sloooowwwwwwwwwwwwly put my wallet back in my purse. I slooooowwwwwwly zipped up my purse. I sat down at a chair and checked my phone for the directions home. All of this very timed. I figured by the time I got out the door, he'd at least be halfway back to the bus stop by then and I could avoid an awkward walk back.

He was waiting for me. Looking at his phone in the parking lot, but obviously waiting for me.

"I was waiting for you." He said.
"Mmmmff." I said.

He kept talking to me. I don't know what about. He went to school at DePaul I guess. I don't know what he was studying, it was hard to understand with the accent and with me so voraciously trying to ignore him. I tried to give as little input as possible. Yes or no answers. "Oh, okay." That kind of thing. GOD, WHY CAN BOYS NEVER TAKE A HINT?! Why do we have to be so PAINFULLY obvious with you people?! Do you REALLY need me to say "Listen, I'm not interested, please back off"? You're just being a nice guy, please don't make me be accidentally bitchy! And PS, I will tell you one thing right now: if we are interested in you, YOU WOULD KNOW. There would be a lot more eye contact, giggling, and arm grazes and a lot less "Uh huh, *text text*"

While we waited for the bus, I tried to bury myself in my phone. "Oh, reading a message from your boyfriend?" he said, laughing in a the-kind-of-guy-who-types-lol-after-every-sentence kind of way. Ah! The perfect out! All I'd have to say is, "Yes, in fact this is a message from my big strong muscular jealous linebacker with a gun boyfriend, Astronaut Mike Dexter," and I would be, as Blago would say, f*ing golden.

"No," I said.

WHAT?! WHY DID I SAY NO?! Why do I have to be so scared of lying?! And what was I going to say instead? The truth that I was just scrolling my Twitter feed to appear busy?

"Just reading a message from a friend."

..........................WHAT?!?!!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?! WHY DO I BOTHER TO SAY WORDS?!?! GOD!!

Blech, so I failed the ultimate "leave me alone" tactic of bringing up the boyfriend who is NOT EVEN FICTITIOUS. Luckily the bus came quickly and I took the opportunity to walk briskly to a seat between two other people.

Here's the problem with other people: they are not there to be your personal buffer, and they often stand up and walk off the bus at a moment's notice. Jerks.

Cant Take A Hint McGee sat down next to me and said, "You know, I think I might go to the Target at Wilson so I would take the red line, too." WHY OH WHY had I told him I was getting off at the red line earlier?! Oh that's right because he already said he'd be taking a bus and I thought I'd be safe and home free. LIKE AN IMBECILE.

At this point I'd given up all hope of niceties. I raised my eyebrows and nodded and kept reading my book. At the next bus stop, someone else opened the back doors and saw my final glimmer of hope flash before my eyes. Without a second thought, I stood up and walked off the bus. Three blocks before my stop. Worried he'd gotten off with me but too scared to look back, I headed into the closest store. A 7-11. He was gone.

God bless you, 7-11. Bless you and your eight flavors of Combos.

I grabbed a cherry Slurpee (aka the nectar of the gods), paid my buck fifty and strolled out. It was the tastiest Victory Slurpee of Pathetic Awkwardness I'd ever had.


J. Skulemowski said...


Not to make you feel any worse, but this is a story about you having tremendous anxiety and dodging a perfectly nice guy's conversation. Also, in the first third of the story you mentioned that you felt vulnerable walking alone. Perhaps nice foreign guy could have been a deterrent for other lurking crazies? Maybe he just wanted to make friends? (can't believe I'm defending random stranger)

Emily said...

I guess I didn't convey the true awkwardness from this guy and the fact that he was definitely hitting on me, not just being nice.