On Saturday night I went out at the last minute with my roommate. We got to the bar at 11:30, and it was packed too tight to move, and everyone was drunk, and everyone was dancing, and the music was painfully loud, and it was just exactly the sort of scene that I usually hate. But then I saw a guy I had gone out with once during my brief and unsuccessful stint with Internet dating here. A short while after our first date I told him that, although he was a very nice guy, I wouldn't be able to see him again because I had actually started seeing someone else. (And we all know how well that turned out. Blargh.) Even though I hadn't initially been all that interested in him, suddenly from across the bar I noticed he was sporting an intriguing new mohawk, and, well, maybe I should be less picky, after all. And, no stranger to awkward barroom confrontations with former dates from the Internet--Well self, I thought, taking a deep breath, let's make this awkward. It was either that or--ugh--dance, after all. And so I marched on over, got up in his face, and said hi. With no spark of recognition forthcoming, I said (shouted), "We went out once!" Then I had to say (shout) it three more times. Internet, awkward does not begin describe it.
"Oh?" he said. "Umm...oh. Ohhhhhh, yeah." (Pining after me, clearly, all these months, the poor boy.) "You, um, changed your hair," he said, by way of excuse.
"Oh," I said, "yeah," because it was true. "But so did you," I pointed out, looking at his mohawk. "But I still recognized you." From just merely awkward to uncomfortably passive aggressive? Wow, I am a winner. Keep it up, self. Keep. It. Up. "Um, I'm Rachel," I mentioned. He nodded, but volunteered nothing. "And you're...Ryan?" I guessed.
"Mark. And now we're even," he smiled.
At this point a woman walked up and handed him a drink. She looked like she would continue walking, but he put his hand on her arm in a familiar way, and drew her back. Aaannnd he's here with someone. Well, that's just the icing on the awkward cake, isn't it there, self? I thought. I smiled and extricated myself as quickly as possible, with mutual promises to see each other "around."
"And maybe I'll recognize you next time!" he joked. Or, if I'm lucky you'll forget this conversation ever happened, I thought. I mean, sheesh.
I rejoined my friends, but soon found myself on the other end of the awkward equation, when a petite brunette flagged me down with a friendly hello. "Um...hi?" I said, squinting in the dim light. "Um...hmm...oh! Yeah! Hi!" I continued, her identity slowly dawning on me. Yes! Volunteer coordinator at the theater downtown! Right! "Yeah, hey! Did you, um, cut your hair?" I asked.
"Oh, yeah," she said, ruffling it up in the back. "I mean, sort of." And then it hit me: all this hair talk as conversational filler was nothing more than a convenient excuse for not recognizing someone out of context in a dimly lit bar: Ah, yes, I didn't recognize you at first because you, ah, look different. That's it! Did you cut your hair or something?
Not ten minutes later as I made my way across the dance floor, a hand reached out and grabbed me by the arm. "Rachel!" a voice said excitedly. I looked up. A smiling, bearded man was holding my arm and saying my name. Why is this smiling, bearded man holding my arm and saying my name? I wondered to myself.
"Yes?" I said, looking at him, and trying and failing to place his features. "Um...yes, that's me?"
My help me vibe must has been palpable, because, "From yoga!" he offered cheerfully.
"Ohhhh! Yes, right! And you're, umm...?"
"Andrew. It's been a while..."
"Right! Of course. Andrew. Yeah, it has been a while. Well it was good seeing you, Andrew. Maybe I'll see you at yoga sometime!"
Shaking my head in bafflement, I joined my friends again. Months of cloistered seclusion had left me utterly unprepared for this. So this is what happens when people go out! I thought. It's like, everyone I didn't know that I knew, all in the same room together. It's kind of weird. But then, that's Mythaca, I guess.
At this point, after I had my second or third gin and tonic, things started to get simultaneously a lot more fun and also a lot more weird. I even started dancing, a little, and Internet, you know how I feel about dancing. My roommate was dancing up a storm and so I mostly talked to a friend of hers--well, actually the boyfriend of a friend of hers. His girlfriend, who I've met, and who would be completely intimidating in her coolness if she wasn't simultaneously the sweetest person you might ever hope to meet, was out of town, and would be for several more weeks. I'd admired this couple from afar, without really knowing them, as being sort of the perfect couple. They'd been together forever, like five years, and they both just seemed really sweet and down to earth and seemingly oblivious of their rock star good looks. So it was slightly baffling to me as our conversation and our dancing progressed, this Perfect Boyfriend and I, and I found myself saying things like--
"Really? Like Lady Gaga, huh? You think?"
"No, no one's ever told me that before."
"Yeah, I am really tall."
"Like a model, huh? I guess so...Um, thanks."
"Oh, yeah, my haircut. You like it? Thanks!"
"No, actually, I don't get hit on all the time. Yeah, usually it's only guys who already are married. Or have girlfriends." (Ok, I didn't actually say that.)
I was flattered and yet confused and somewhat unsettled by the attention, and so I excused myself to the bar for a refill. Within seconds, Andrew (from yoga! duh!) appeared at my left elbow. We discovered we were both drinking gin and tonics, and he expounded on their excellence, which really was just preaching to the choir, as far as I was concerned. And the tanginess of the lime! he said. It's perfect!
"But, no," I said sadly, pointing to my naked drink. "No limes. They must be out. It's sacrilege, really."
"Really?" he said. "Because I've been getting limes all night." I gasped. Outrage! But he soon remedied the situation. He ordered a gin and tonic for himself, since I had already ordered mine. "With two limes," he told the bartender. My knight in shining Under Armour. (Just FYI, he was definitely not wearing Under Armour. But you know I can't let a good pun go by.) "Hey, would you want to maybe go out sometime?" he asked me. And how could I say no? He was my soul mate in citrus. And at least I know he'll never get scurvy.
"Sure!" I said, and gave him my phone number.
Back on the dance floor with my friends I commenced to have even more fun, while dancing with Perfect Boyfriend, whose hands I felt on my waist, and my roommate. Soon, though, the lights came on, and my roommate disappeared, and it was just Perfect Boyfriend and me. In my gin-soaked and happy state I found myself remarkably agreeable, and nodding along to any and all suggestions. Then I caught myself. Wait, I thought. Did I just agree to have him back to my place for another drink? That is so not at all what I want to do. Though, I'll be honest--a part of me did. Of course a part of me did. But the other part of me couldn't stop thinking about his lovely girlfriend and the fact that I had to be up in a few hours for work the next morning. It was not looking good. And then he gave me my out.
"Unless," he said, "you don't have any liquor at your house."
"Oh," I said. "Actually...no, we don't have any liquor at the house." (Lies.) "And," I said, before he could propose an alternate venue, "I have to get up early for work tomorrow." (True.) And so we hugged and said goodnight, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
In lieu of a conclusion, I'll leave you with a picture of The Haircut, otherwise known as "Nice If You Like Your Bangs To Look Like They've Been Attacked By A Roving Band Of Three-Year-Olds With Scissors." They're..."piecey?" They're...not really so bad? They'll...grow? Yes, I'm going with the last one.