The handshake was unwieldly, which was just how I had planned it.
How do you say hello to someone you’ve never met, but talked to, at times daily – hourly, even. But still, you’ve never met.
You can’t hug. You can’t not acknowledge each other either. Let’s take it to a new level and force a handshake on her. It’s a problem that seems to be something more common in our new era of online dating and networking and “friends” of “friends.”
She banged her knuckles on the door which she had opened for me. I remember damning the fact that the door was weighted to swing back closed. If not for that, I thought, the handshake would have gone better.
Still, she let me in. Thank god my faux paux hadn’t ended it all on the far end of an eight-hour trip.
I met her dogs and feigned excitement.
Yes, I loved them. They were amazing, and a great distraction from how nervous I felt standing in her apartment, but I would have gladly traded my meeting with them for some time to truly study her.
She, after all, was what I had traveled to see.
I loved the dogs from the start, but it was still a chore to keep my eyes off her. I had never seen her, apart from photos online, one in my coworker’s office and in my dreams.
There were girls I had never spoken to that I had spent more time ogling, but I knew she was different. She was a good girl. And she wasn’t interested.
I figured I could steal glances at her during the game, since baseball is truly the ultimate first date destination. No conversation if you want. Light enough to see the other party. Enough people around to see you to eliminate any pressure to make out and miss the game.
In other words, way classier than a movie. Plus it allowed for conversations in between innings, in between outs, in between strikes.
But the silence was difficult. Should I be talking? Should we be studying the game? Is she having fun? God she’s beautiful. That shirt. The back says “Nice Catch” and of course it’s baseball T-shirt humor, but those gathered there probably think she’s my catch, since she’s sitting next to me and occasionally speaking to me.
Sure we haven’t made any physical contact since that incredibly awkward handshake that I forced on her, but people must think we’re at least familiar. Even if I feel like she’s way too pretty for anyone to think we’re together.
The tomahawks were the key. I put one in her hand, insisting that she take part in the mob mentality of chopping the foam objects in unison.
Truthfully I didn’t give a damn. I just wanted an opportunity to steal some of her attention away from the game.
Yes, she’s a sports fan, but I want her to be a fan of me. I’m an attention whore and have no problem being shameless and going after it.
The chop began without me once and she touched my left arm with one hand while chopping me with the foam extension of the other.
This was the first indication I had that she liked me.
Let’s seize on it.
Or let’s just pretend like it was nothing. Just excitement over the game. Ignore it. She doesn’t want you. This is only friendly. You’re the only one in this stadium that thinks this is anything but a baseball game and a place to crash. Those text messages, they meant nothing. She’s way too good for you. You know that. You’ve known that.
The game ends and the high fives are electric. She touches your hand and you’re walking on air. Maybe there’s a chance she likes you.
Then the question of what to do next.
A bar? Belly dancers? Strip club? Is she crazy? All I really want is to have another beer and finally get a good look at her.
That chance came when we were seated on the couch in front of her favorite movie.
Daisy the dog provided me with my opportunity. Thank god I fell in love with that dog at first sight. Now to convince Daisy’s mother to believe in the same thing.
No. No way. She’s still distant.
On the same couch but literally feet away. Figuratively, the distance could be miles.
Slide closer. Pet the puppy. Hands touch hands. Stare up at her eyes while she’s distracted by Daisy and Vinny. God, they’re beautiful.
Sliding down the couch, almost like I’m perched on a slanted pew, I finally achieve my goal as our elbows lay flush.
She allows them to touch. But then pulls away. It happens twice more.
Fall asleep convincing myself that the game was what I came for.
A Braves win during their home opener is enough, I told myself. You’ll find a way to win tomorrow even if she’s not interested. Which she absolutely isn’t.
Months of texts and chats and phone conversations leading to stolen glances and the touch of elbows? Better lower my expectations for tomorrow, though I’ll set my alarm early so I can try to make up some ground early. We have plans at 3 p.m., so my time to be witty is short.
Fall asleep to television for comfort. The weekdays will come and this will all be over soon whether she likes you or not.
There, Ty. There’s the safety net you can’t operate without.