1. Be any type of cute. Any genre or motif. I’ll take whatever you’ve got and go from there without any of your help. If you help me with my laptop at Tek Serve, and mention that you have the same screen saver, that’s all I’ll need to imagine myself bragging to a friend, “I mean, I’m no good at all that technology stuff, but now I don’t have to be!” If you hit me with a door and grab my wrist to say, “Whoa you alright?” I’ll already be planning to say you “swept me off my feet, literally” at the rehearsal dinner. And if you draw a smiley face on my receipt when you hand me the check, I’ll go home and practice writing it over and over again, pretending it’s our thing.
2. Be sweet but really busy. All the time. The build-up will get me so anxious for our first date that’s been postponed two times already that I’ll probably cancel a night of babysitting to make it happen, even though I’ll really need the money.
3. Don’t be as nervous as I am, because it’ll make me feel like the lucky one at the table. Yes it will make me more nervous and I’ll probably ask you what your middle name is way too soon into our appetizer, but I’ll remember it forever and somehow I’ll find it endearing because of some song or movie or dog a saw once.
4. Don’t introduce me to your friends. It makes them seem like celebrity pipe dreams that I’ll only see when I level up.
5. Ask me out on a second date that never happens. And start to text me later and later into the night when the only option is a last call drink and then your bedroom. Your bedroom that doesn’t even have a real door on it, but some thick sheet that’s kind of dusty at the bottom.
6. Pick arbitrary moments to make me feel like someday, I will sit across a dinner table with you again. Tell me something about your mom or about that one time when you got stitches on the inside of your foot, or the eerie dream you had the night before your grandma died. It doesn’t have to be too moving, but just make sure you end the story by looking to the ceiling and sighing, “Huh,” followed by, “I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone that before.”
7. Kiss my mushy morning face before you leave in a hurry, and before I have time to realize what’s going on.
8. Start being an asshole. (You may have taken it upon yourself to begin this step at number three or four. Totally understandable, but just be aware, I chose not to see it then.) Text me “What’s up” and after I say, “Nada, what are you up to tonight?” don’t text me for about seven hours. At that point I’ll be nice and drunk and wishing I were thinner, and that’s when you say, “At some bar, what are you up to?” I’ll be so far down this deep hole of “Why am I not good enough?” that I’ll say that I’m actually really close by, and then I’ll take a cab worth 18$ to make that lie a truth.
9. Have some girl sitting halfway on your lap when I get there. Touch my face and say, “Awww don’t be like that,” when I tell you this wasn’t what I wanted.
10. Ignore me for a week.
11. Forget my birthday all day until 11:55 p.m., and then send me a text that ends with, “I told you I’d remember!” This time, I won’t text you back. By then my best friend will have shotputted herself across my lap, seized by phone, deleted the text, and your number, which I have deleted and re-added into my phone four times since we last spoke.
12. Wait until I’m actually doing pretty well. Wait until I’m busy. Wait until I’m glad and not just scared that I got a promotion, and I’m seeing someone who works on the floor below me, and it’s nothing serious yet but he has a great laugh… and then text me. Nothing too long. Keep your short style. Maybe you could say something like, “Long time no chat!” or “Hi Stranger.” Whether you add a winky face or not is up to you, because either way I’ll spend close to an hour trying analyze whether it was a good or bad thing that you either thought this random ass text was worth an emoticon or not. And when I go to happy hour with my best friend, she’ll know something happened before we even order drinks, and I’ll only have to show her your one-line message to make her face drop. And she’ll tell me that you’re so not worth it, and that she’s never seen me so broken up about someone I wasn’t even in a relationship with, and how I need to focus on the new copy editor guy because while he may not be as tall, he does have a better job. And I’ll say “I know,” and “You’re so right,” before I feel bad and ask her how her interview went.
I won’t stop dating the copy editor, but I won’t like him as much either. I won’t text you back, but I won’t delete your number. And when I see you out in the village or on the 2 train, I’ll pretend not to. But you’ll know that I’ll wish I had put on earrings that day, and that I still have a crush on you.