261. free as a bird
First things first.
This is an entry about a “date” I had with Quest Girl (see blog 240 and blog 249 for the backstory). Technically, it wasn’t a date. We were just hanging out but for the sake of simplicity, I’m going to refer to it as a date (because typing out “date” is shorter than “hanging out” and easier to deal with grammatically).
Now the reason for this short disclaimer is because there’s an outside chance that QG has read, reads, or might read this blog so I want to dot the I’s and cross the T’s, so to speak.
As for the date itself, I have good news, bad news (sort of), and great news, each of which I’ll get to in turn.
First the good news.
I finally worked up the stones to ask her out. Here’s a brief account of how it went down. I’ve been attending what my church refers to as a C-Group (basically a Bible study). Well as it turns out (not entirely by coincidence), I go to the same CG that QG attends (but that’s not the only reason I chose that one). Well a couple weeks ago, after the formal part of the study was over, everybody was hanging out, chilling and shooting the breeze. Somehow it worked out that QG and I end up chatting and it was cool. Questions went back and forth and it was fun.
Now all the time we’re chatting, I’m thinking that this is the perfect (I mean, tailor made perfect) chance for me to ask her out. I keep telling myself that this is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for, that it would be so easy, that all I have to do is ask, but every time it’s my turn in the conversation to ask a question, I ask about something random like “how long have you worked at the tea shop” or “what’s your ethnicity” or “so, do you come here often?” I ask all kinds of questions except for the one I really want to ask.
Well finally she has to go talk to someone else before they leave and so we say, bye, nice to talk to you and go our separate ways.
As you might imagine, all through the drive home I was beating myself up, kicking myself HARD. I couldn’t believe myself, how lame, how useless, how stupid and weak I was. There’s a Weezer song that’s particularly apropos:
What’s the deal with my brain
Why am I so obviously insane
In a perfect situation
I let love down the drain
There’s the pitch, slow and straight
All I have to do is swing and I’m a hero
But I’m a zero
I almost felt too ashamed to pray but it was all I could do to keep myself from driving into oncoming traffic. But it was hard because I’d been praying for just the kind of opportunity I had that night but I failed, floundered, flunked (and some other words that start with “f”). I felt as if I had let God down again. But I did pray, first for God to forgive me for being such a spineless wuss, then for me to forgive myself for being a spineless wuss, and finally for the backbone to move beyond being a spineless wuss. It was a pretty tortured prayer session for most of the drive home.
And then it was as if a switch was flipped and everything turned around. Before I realized it had happened, I went from torturous self-immolation to joyous celebration. It hit me that she had sort of come up and talked to me that night and during the course of the conversation, it seemed as if she was asking more than her fair share of questions. In addition, she had mentioned things she’d remembered I’d said in previous weeks at the Bible study. I realized that despite my utter failure at asking her out that night, that I still had a chance – a good chance, in fact.
It’s a good thing my roommates weren’t home when I got back because I probably would have freaked them out with my fists-in-the-air, end zone victory dance around our living room. I made a stupid spectacle of myself because I felt as if I’d just won the lottery. Not only did I have more than all the encouragement I needed to ask QG out the next time I saw her, I also felt the glow of answered prayer. I mean what else could have brought about such a 180 degree change in attitude?
Well that Sunday rolls around and I’ve got the butterflies churning inside but I’m determined not to let them stop me. Service ends and I’m talking with a friend when I see her walking out the door. I don’t think I properly ended my conversation with whomever I was talking to because I set out after her. We chitted and chatted to the parking lot and as she made for her car, I almost wussed out again but I MADE myself ask her if she wanted to go hangout sometime. She said she didn’t want to date but if it was just hanging out then she’d be up for that.
I got her number, we said goodbye, and I walked back to my own car feeling as if I’d swum the Gibraltar Strait, run with the bulls in Pamplona, and scaled Everest. I felt like a bad ass. A couple days later I give her a call and we decided to see a movie, The Namesake starring Kal Penn (Kumar, from the movie Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle).
Okay, so that’s the good news. The bad news is. . .
I thought the movie was okay, but it tried to cram too much into too small a space. But that’s not the bad news. QG and I grab a bite to eat afterwards (well, I ate, she had already eaten) and we get to talk some more and that was nice. I walk her back to her car and I casually ask if she’d like to get together again sometime. She very nicely, very politely declines, suggesting we just see each other at CG and at church.
That’s the bad news but here’s the great news.
The amazing, almost too good to be true fact is that I was absolutely, one hundred one percent fine with that. And it may sound strange but I was nearly giddy with delight – not because she said no but because I was okay with her saying no. Driving home, I felt ten feet tall, strong as a herd of wild elephants, and able to leap tall buildings using nothing but my little toe. I felt free as a bird.
See, one of the things that used to cripple me when asking girls out was the fear of rejection. Now unless they’re a player of the highest order, every guy feels some ounce of fear when asking someone out. In my case, it used to be a ton of fear because I had a fragile self esteem so when I got turned down, I would crumble into a pathetic puddle of self loathing. When this happened, it would take a while to get back to feeling anything like normal. Of course I hated feeling like that so instead of risking rejection, I accepted the lonely despair of singleness because that felt like bliss in comparison.
So when QG turned me down and I realized that I didn’t disintegrate, I discovered that I had become a stronger person. I was no longer the fragile glass man like Samuel L. Jackson’s character in the movie Unbreakable or the lonely painter in the movie Amelie, I was Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything, able to ask out the most beautiful girl at school despite the odds against him (because one of the reasons I wanted to ask QG out was because I thought she was prettiest by far at the church).
I don’t know if I’m getting across the magnitude of this attitudinal change and how liberating this is for me. Imagine a hydrophobic swimming in the ocean, imagine an agoraphobic going to the mall. This approaches blind man seeing, lame man walking levels. Again, I feel free as a bird – a large bird able to fly intercontinental distances. Maybe even an alien space bird, able to traverse the galaxy.
No, things didn’t work out as hoped but that doesn’t matter. I’ve discovered a newfound resiliency. i’ve learned that I CAN ask out the prettiest girl and that she’ll say yes and that even if it never goes beyond the first date, I will survive, as long as I know how to love I know I’ll stay alive. I’ve got all my life to live, I’ve got all my love to give and I’ll survive.
I will survive!