I seem to fall in love on a regular basis these days. In the last few months alone, there have been several of these brief, imagined flings. Such as The Girl With Surprisingly Attractive Big Hair, The Infectious Smiler, The Girl Who Tried to Turn Right, She of the Many Freckles (who had an equally freckly boyfriend), The Girl Named After a Season, The Buoyant Redhead, Scarf Chick, and The One Girl My Manager Sexually Harassed Who Was Actually Kind of Cute.
But of all these, not one brings with her such a tale of woe as one who shall henceforth be known, thanks to Mason, as The Girl Who Wears Hats.
(Note: Some elements of this story, such as the frequency of hat-wearing, have been slightly enhanced for the purpose of storytelling. But only slightly.)
Our tale begins innocently enough. It was an ordinary night making shakes and sundaes on the job, and I was blithely unaware of what was to unfold.
Near the end of the night, a girl I’d met the previous semester came into the shop. I had thought she was cute, and, unlike the girl in another story, I had actually met her, though I’d never really gotten to know her. To my surprise, she smiled and said hi.
(Note: She was a lot cuter than my scribbles suggest. Just take my word for it.)
Anyway, because my ability to rearrange words in interesting ways mysteriously fails me when talking to girls, my response was more or less just “hi” as well. It wasn’t much of a conversation, but I still got to spend the rest of my shift basking in the “pretty girl smiled at me” glow.
And I figured that was the end of it.
But then, a couple weeks later, she stopped by again. Again we waved, said hi, and smiled. The next day, I realized, with chagrin, that for no discernible reason, she was stuck in my head.
I talked about it with my housemates, Brian, Prozac, and Mason, and they said I should call her and ask her out. I decided that seemed like as good an idea as any. And three days later, I finally built up the nerve to follow through. I psyched myself up, felt cool and confident, and made the call…
…and got an answering machine. I then drew the only logical conclusions that followed from this: She utterly despised me and had set her phone up specifically to block my calls. Brian proposed a much more ridiculous, improbable answer: Perhaps her phone was off.
Though I recognized this as a preposterous leap of logic, I decided to humor him and call her again a couple days later, a little less cool, a little less confident. This time, I got through to…
…the answering machine once more. Since I had called twice, I knew The Girl Who Wears Hats would by now have called the police to file a restraining order. So I hung up and waited for her trained horde of football players to come and beat me up.
They never showed up. Instead, she called me back…
…and got my answering machine. Unlike me, however, she had the foresight to leave a message. As it turns out, Brian’s absurd theory had been correct. Her phone had been off and she hadn’t seen the missed call until later.
A few missed calls and answering machines later, I finally managed to get through to her in person and ask her out. She said she wasn’t interested in dating, but that it might be nice to get together for lunch some time.
I recognized this as The Friend Zone, which I had heard so much about. Still, at this stage in my life, recently graduated, with friends scattering to the four winds, being in The Friend Zone didn’t actually sound that bad. So a couple days later, I called her up to see about lunch.
“Oh,” she said, with a tone that said, you weren’t really expected to follow through on that. “I’m really busy right now. I think maybe we should postpone that…indefinitely.”
I wasn’t aware that it was possible to be dumped from The Friend Zone.
* * *
A few weeks passed, and I had pretty much forgotten the incident. The campus’ winter play rolled around, a musical version of A Christmas Carol, and I had been looking forward to seeing it. About a month earlier, I had bought a seat that was right smack dab in the middle of the front row.
I was really enjoying the play. The Taylor theater department had put a lot of work into putting on the musical, and it showed. Then the lights came up for intermission, and I got a look at who else was sitting in my row.
As it turns out, I was sitting with none other than The Girl Who Wears Hats.
With her parents on either side of me.
My understanding of the rules of rejection is this: If a girl turns you down outright, and you run into her elsewhere, the only way to win rejection is to not make eye contact, say hi, or in any other way acknowledge that you recognize her. Otherwise, you lose.
With this in mind, I inconspicuously slid down in my chair.
I did my best not to let my newfound posture interfere with my enjoyment of the show.
After the play was over, I tried to make my getaway as quickly as possible.
However, cruel fate and a large crowd of people had other ideas.
Astonishingly, I managed to escape without being noticed. I think I could technically consider this a won rejection, but I have trouble seeing it as anything more than a draw.