To illustrate how badly this guy failed, here is just one example of the things they talked about. This particular example came in the beginning of the Phillies game, while he was still at his lowest point of drunkenness.
She mentioned that she was reading the series A Song of Ice and Fire, upon which the (amazing) show Game of Thrones is based.
She expressed how much she loved the books.
He said, “Isn’t that the shit with elves and shit?”
She then gave him a basic education of the series, doing so in such an accommodating and easy-to-understand language that made it easy for any second grader or drunken 28-year old to comprehend. And she described it in such an adoring and tender tone that made it clear that it was something near and dear to her heart.
I, myself, happen to love the show, and when she had finished her eloquent description of the books, I wanted to immediately pull out my iPhone, purchase it on iTunes, and begin reading it, right there in my expensive seats at the Phillies game.
“You really should check out the books,” she said to her date. “They are great.”
“Nah,” he replied. “I’m not into that shit.”
My mom is a hardcore Phillies fan. One of her most prized possessions is a gift that I got her a few years ago — a walkman. If the Phillies are playing, you can bet your ass that she has those headphones on and is listening to the game. Anytime we talk on the phone or I go to visit, she is always complaining or rejoicing about the team, whatever the case may be. Recently, it has been mostly complaining. But even when they are losing, she is a die-hard fan.
For such a big fan of the team, however, she rarely goes to any games. Maybe once a season. And when my parents do go to games, they typically sit very high-up.
So this year, my sister and I decided to splurge for Mother’s Day and get her super-close-to-the-action seats. Being the second-biggest Phillies fan in the family, I would accompany her, a task that I was pleased to fulfill.
And that is how I found myself a few rows behind the Phillies dugout, next to my mother, when a beautiful girl sat next to me.
If you’ve read my blog before or know me in real life, you know that I am not much of a go-getter when it comes to hitting on girls or trying to get their phone numbers. My quiet and seemingly unemotional persona caters to more of a love-him-once-you-get-to-know-him type of courting. And I’m fine with that.
But that’s the problem — the fact that I’m fine with it.
Because the real world isn’t like college.
In college, a missed connection is simply the first step to a relationship. The only piece of information needed is that the girl actually goes to the same school as you. At that point, it is almost customary to not exchange information. As a part of the courting process, it was better to leave them hanging… to let her become a little detective for the next week to find out about you (and you, her). Then you would find out what party she was going to be at the next weekend, where you would make an appearance.
And if you didn’t see her then, you knew you would have countless opportunities throughout the year.
College was filled with second and third chances, and my type of personality thrived on such a scenario.
But in the real world, a missed connection is nothing more than a missed connection. On a night out, it is a guarantee that I only have one shot to find a way to continue communication with a girl, and when I simply don’t try, the only thing I am left with is regret.
The regret of never knowing more about this girl, this person who was pretty or interesting enough to catch my eye. The regret of never knowing if she was actually interested in me, too, and just waiting for me to approach her, since it is the guy’s duty. The regret of never knowing if the two of us would hit it off on our first date, and maybe eventually turning into something more.
The regret of being a wimp.
For the next thirty minutes, cutting my hair became a secondary task. Occasionally, she would do some work, taking a small section off here and another small section off there. But her primary goal, it seemed, was to get to know me better. She often leaned against her counter, the clippers still buzzing through the air as she talked with her hands.
This type of unnecessary slowness usually pisses me off. But with Tracy, I loved it. Perhaps the pizza was still numbing the section of my brain that controls cynicism. But I think it was really her seemingly genuine interest in my admittedly boring life.
I explained to her that I had just moved to the area, no more than a week ago. We talked about the area. We talked about our mutual disdain for packing and unpacking. She told me about her plans to go to the shore for the weekend and how she and her girlfriends go to the shore every year for Memorial Day weekend. Then I told her about how I went to the shore every summer when I was a kid and about how I had lived at the beach for the past three years.
A bald man sat at a little island in the front entrance. “Hello!” he said.
“Hi, how are you?” I asked. The pizza was still settling in my stomach, but at this point I was on autopilot.
“Great! How are you?!” he asked. He was very, very friendly.
“I’d like a simple buzz?” I said, but kinda asked. As I did so, I raised my eyebrows* to signify that I was new at this whole unisex salon thing and I wasn’t sure if I was being completely ludicrous with my minimal request of a buzz cut, like Lindsay Lohan walking into a liquor store and asking only for tonic water.
*The last time they would be raised in their full glory.
“No problem!” he said, alleviating my concerns. “What’s your name?”
“Youngman,” I told him, craning my neck to his left and right and seeing no other customers in the store.
“Great! We will call you when it is your turn, Youngman!”
A little while back, I wrote about how I was offended when a hairdresser asked to “take care” of my eyebrows.
You can go back and read it, but if you decide not to, all you need to know is that, bushy as they may be, I sure as hell wasn’t about to let anyone trim them.
Until the other day.
You see, I finally moved into my new apartment. But I have not fully unpacked. One of the things that I have not been able to find yet are my hair clippers.
So to get a haircut, I once again needed to go and pay for it.
I figured that it would be a relatively quick task. I buzz my entire head the same length, so the haircut itself would take no more than five minutes.
In and out. Nothing complicated.
I went into McDonald’s today.
I had a hankering for a milkshake.
“Welcome-to-mcdonalds-can-i-help-you” the cashier said, without giving inflection or emphasis to any of the words. She said this greeting to nobody in particular, apparently, as she stared through me with droopy eyes.
For the sake of this story, I shall call her “Tanisha.”
“Yes. Hi, how are you?” I said with a gaping smile.
I have a tendency to overcompensate for strangers’ misery with cheerfulness. It is strange, because I am mostly pokerfaced when interacting with people who I know, which generally leads them to believe that I am depressed or angry.