This has been quite an interesting day for me.
But before I get into that, let me fill you in...
There's a guy I've known for a long time. We'll call him Will. Will and I went on a date once in high school. Nothing really came of it. We were friendly after and that was all. I do know that he once tried to get at a friend of mine (who, interestingly, he invited on our date but she declined later). From time to time, I wondered if he had tried to get to her through me.
Through high school, I was vaguely aware of Will's dating history/habits. From what I could tell, with the exception of one girl, he was really in it just to say he was. In other words, he dated certain girls just so he could say he was able to pull them, and some girls he dated just for sex. No worse than some of the guys I knew, but no stand up guy either.
At some point during college, Will took an active interest in me. Inquired when I'd be home for breaks, wanted to hang out, etc... I also felt a certain tension between us. I've often described it as sexual, but honestly it was something else. Like there was something that could be said but we weren't going to discuss it.
While I was home for Christmas, I hung out with Will quite a bit, but always in a larger group. One of the first nights I hung out with him, I invited him out to a lounge. He brought his brother and eventually he and his brother and I and my friend Maria (that same friend he tried to get at in high school) ended up at a 24 hour cafe. We were all slightly inebriated. Will started asking me a lot of questions that all amounted to whether or not I was dating anyone, but because he wouldn't ask me straight out (and because I was a little drunk and confused), I ignored him. Then he started telling me how much he'd changed over the last year or so. "I've turned over a new leaf. I'm done with all that stupid stuff, he said, whatever that meant. At some point in the evening, he went in for the kill. "Let's go get married tomorrow. I'll meet you at the courthouse." My mouth fell open. I was drunk, but I wasn't that drunk. My friend came in for the save, "Can't ya'll fall in love, first?" she asked.
Though I saw him almost every night the rest of that week, aside from the harmless flirting I'd grown used to, Will never said anything else. Even when I asked him if he remembered saying that to me, he feigned confusion and forgetfulness, assuming I believe, I'd blame it on the intoxication.
The night before he flew to NYC for New Year's Eve, I went over to his house to hang out with him and some mutual friends. I had been on the phone with him for most of the day and shortly before I pulled into his driveway, he asked me a question,
"Can you hook me up with Maria?"I was a little bit shocked. I knew the vibes I was getting from him, but this was completely out of left field. I told him that I didn't make it a habit to play matchmaker and that if he was interested in Maria he could pursue her on his own.
"Maria. Is she seeing anyone?"
"Yeah, actually. She has a boyfriend."
"Well, eff her man. I could take her from her man."
A few nights ago, Will text me to see how I was. We talked a little and eventually I made a comment about how I understood his money troubles, because I needed to start thinking about how I was going to pay for school.
"Maybe you should take some of these guys up on their offer," He suggested.He never responded. Later, I surmised he meant the marriage offer -- I forgot that I had, told him that a waiter at a restaurant I was patronizing had also jokingly asked to marry me.
"What offers?" I asked, genuinely confused
This morning, Will text me and asked for my help. He told me he had a bunch of girls who wanted to get with him, some of whom he liked, but he didn't do much to pursue them.
"What's wrong with me?" he asked.Before I could ask what brought this on, he text me again,
"I don't know," I told him, "but it's wierd that these girls are doing almost all the work for you, and still nothing."
"That's it! I like the chase. I want to work for the girl."
"My offer still stands"
"Don't you think we skipped a few steps?" I asked, hoping he was just beating this tired old joke.
"That's what the engagement's for. It's love at first sight, I can't help how I feel."
That sound you hear is crickets chirping.
"How is it love at first sight," one friend asked, "if he's known you for 10 years and is just now saying something?
Good question. I've consulted my panel -- that is, friends of mine who I think know me well enough to pick up on the nuances and to give me advice I'm likely to actually use -- and I've got a wide array of suggestions.
Everyone asked me if I was interested in him. To one inquisitor I responded, "If I weren't interested, there'd be no need for a conversation on this, would there?"
Eventually, he told me the ball was in my court. I told him I'll call him back tonight to discuss. Hopefully by then I'll have something to say because right now, all I got is sputter. As I told another friend, there's a level of vulnerability required here that I'm not comfortable with. I've long known that if I plan to make a relationship work anytime soon, I have to get over feeling bad about feeling vulnerable -- that mess is much easier said than done.
I'm blaming Valentine's Day.