For the most part, I do not believe that “everything happens for a reason.” There are times I believe in fate, but for the most part, I do not believe that everything that happens in this world — good, bad, exceptional or ugly — does so in an order and at a time that is part of a larger plan.
This past week, I had the chance to play two softball games — one with a group I met through a friend, the other group being one I met through a friend of an ex-girlfriend. One game was scheduled for 3 p.m., the other was scheduled for 5 p.m., both at the same location. I figured that I would play in the first and see how I felt going into the second.
The first game went fine. I sat with the players afterwards, cooling down while waiting for the next game to start. I still wasn’t sure if I’d stay or leave. As I stood up, I saw four girls — four very pretty girls — walking to the field. They looked like former softball players; one of them had a bat bag and everything. I decided to stay.
The four girls were split into pairs and were captains for the game. They all seemed very friendly. As the game wore on, I found myself becoming more attracted to one of the girls. She was tall, like me. She was very thin, like me. She was wearing high baseball socks, a look I sported way back in the day. She had brown hair thrown into a ponytail, a look (the ponytail, that is) I find incredibly attractive (don’t ask me why, I just do). She also had a larger-than-average nose (like me), which was also something I found very attractive (again, I don’t know why. My mother busted my chops about it for years before I caved in and admitted it).
The game continued and as it was nearing the end, I made the decision that I was going to ask her out. When the game ended, I waited for a moment where I could get her alone for a few seconds. I didn’t want to ask in front of her friends because: (a) I didn’t want to be rejected in front of all of them; (b) I didn’t want to offend any of them; and (c) On the off chance one of them liked me, I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.
They were always together, so I decided to change out of my cleats to kill some time. While changing, I got distracted by someone who asked if I was going to the local bar after the game. When I broke from the conversation, I saw that the girls had already gotten in their car and were turning out of the field.
Dejected, I went to the guy who allegedly knew them. I asked him if the girl I was interested in — the one he knew, in particular — was single. He said she was. I asked him if they were going to the bar. He said he wasn’t sure. In a desperate, but somewhat casual way, I said, “Dude, you should tell them to go!” I dropped it after that.
I was pissed that I didn’t just take the risk and ask her. I left for the bar, which was only a few miles away. As I was driving, I came to a red light. I looked to my right, at the ice cream parlor, and saw the four girls sitting there. The girl I was interested in saw me, so I yelled out the window, “Are you girls going to the bar?” They said, “Maybe.” I said, “You should go!” The light turned green, I drove straight, to the bar, which was a few yards up the road. I couldn’t believe that they were there. What were the odds?
I turned into the bar parking lot, then, without stopping, turned around and headed back to the ice cream parlor. I told myself, “No way. That’s too coincidental for them to be there.” Plus, I wasn’t going to risk them not showing up to the bar, and now having a second opportunity squandered. My heart was racing the whole way back. Being a hopeless romantic, I could see the girls — maybe one, maybe all of them — thinking it was a cute gesture while they pondered why I had turned around. Being a realist, I could see the girls — maybe one, maybe all of them — thinking it was extremely creepy. We seemed to hit it off at the field, so I didn’t think they would be upset to see me, but I had no idea, for sure.
I parked the car, then sat for about two minutes while I made sure this was going to happen. I figured, “Screw it. If they’re happy to see me, I’ll see how it goes; if they’re not happy to see me, I’m at least asking her.” I sat down with them; we talked and got to know each other better. In talking, I found out that the girl I liked was a communications major, like I was. She even considered going to my alma mater. I eventually convinced them to head to the bar, so we went.
At the bar, we all continued to hit it off. They were incredible young women — beautiful, intelligent, engaging, athletic — any guy would be lucky to date either one of them. I’ve had trouble on dates getting a girl to keep a conversation going. Here I had four girls, all contributing to the conversation and it was going smoothly. Time was flying and I was having an incredible time with all of them. One of the girls said that they were planning to go to karaoke later in the week and asked if I was going. Being a karaoke buff, I was more than happy to go, but I didn’t want to impose. “Well, if that’s an invitation to go, then absolutely,” I said. I decided to hold off on asking the girl I liked out another time; maybe see how karaoke went, then go from there.
We paid our tab, and left the bar.
As we walked to our cars, the same girl asked again if I was going to karaoke. I said yes. She said, “OK, well then I need your number.” Maybe it’s because I read women as well as I read quantum physics notes or maybe it’s because I genuinely did not feel that there was any romantic interest in the question, but I gave her my number, in front of the other girls. I figured she was asking so that we can arrange when to meet and whatnot. I also did not ask for her number, which I also thought would send the subliminal message to the other girls that I did not think her asking for my number was a romantic gesture.
We got in our cars, and left.
A few minutes after I got home, I got a text from her, saying that it was nice meeting me. I responded, “The pleasure was all mine.” I thought that this is a pretty well-known phrase and didn’t read much into sending it. It was a pleasure meeting her… and the other girls, too.
We texted the rest of the night, just asking generic questions to get to know each other better. Since the girl I liked was her best friend, I treaded lightly. I was also starting to get the vibe that maybe she liked me, so I also didn’t want to send the wrong message (figuratively or literally).
The more I talked to her, the more I enjoyed talking to her. She was Italian, like me (they all were, actually). She hated it when friends bailed on plans last minute, like me. We had the same sense of humor. As I fell further into the predicament, I consulted two of my female friends on the matter to hear what their thoughts were. After about three days of texting, I convinced myself that I had to tell her. Regardless of what the outcome would be to her finding out, she had the right to know. After all, I still had no idea if she liked me or not, nor did I have any idea whether or not she would be upset that I liked her best friend. In any case, I considered telling her, so I led into the confession.
“Can I ask you a question, hoping for a brutally honest answer?” I asked. “Hit me,” she responded. “What was your (personal) reaction when I showed up at the ice cream place?”
She joked, “When you went straight, I was like, ‘Well, guess he doesn’t want to hang out with us!’ Then I was really surprised you came back.” I told her that I never stopped at the bar, and that I turned right around to go back. That’s when she asked why I turned around.
I paused for about 10 minutes. I wanted to make sure I said everything I wanted to say, the way I wanted to say it. During the pause, she sent, “SCARED TO ANSWER YOU BABY!” in a joking way. That actually eased my mind, slightly. I closed my eyes and sent the message, which was — for a text message — a short novel.
“Interesting!” only left me more confused. Interesting how? Did I misread her interest in me? Did her friend say anything about me? Did the friends say anything? She then wrote, “Listen, you can ask her out, but I can’t promise I’d still text ya like this!” Of all the responses that could have been sent, that was one I totally understood.
“Whether I do or don’t (ask her out), and whether she accepted or not, I would still want to be friends with you,” I wrote. “I like talking to you, but I get that it’s your best friend and that’s exactly why I’ve felt so bad the last couple of days, contemplating when/if I should tell you.
“I feel like I’d rather put it out there before I did anything, and if you hated me, you hated me; rather than hear it later or afterwards,” I continued. I did still want to be friends with her. I wasn’t using her to get to the friend; but if her friend and I did date, I obviously wouldn’t talk with her as much as I was. I also wanted her to know my intentions before anything (if anything) was done with her friend.
She told me that the friend was the one who told her to ask for my number, which only made her — and now the both of us — feel stupid. I told her that I felt like the biggest asshole in the county, because I did. She said that it was just a little misunderstanding. I told her that when she asked for my number, I thought it was innocent. She said that her friends thought I was into her and that she thought they were crazy for thinking that.
Days ago, she had already told me that the girls were probably going to bail on karaoke by the time the night came. I told her that even if they did, I would still want to hang out with her. She was going away for the weekend, so I likely wouldn’t see her at softball next week, if they came. Even after this blow up, I told her that I would still want to hang out with her, but that I understood if she didn’t.
“I’ll be around, but you want to hang out with (her), not me lol,” she said. “I’ll feel silly if it’s just me now.” So, I wrote back. “I want to ask (her) on a date. I wanted to hang out with you regardless of whether or not I asked her out or whether or not she accepted.”
I told her to sleep on it and that I would respect her decision either way. I apologized for dropping this all on her, but that I really didn’t want her getting the wrong idea. I’ve spent 25 years of my life misreading situations (especially with women) and/or trying to figure out what the situation is, and it’s brutal. I’d rather everything be out in the open from the start.
She said that she respected me for that, which eased my mind and helped me sleep later that night. I decided to go for a night run at 11 p.m. since it was nice out and I really needed to clear my head. I started jogging, got about half a mile down the road when I saw a flash of lightning. Seconds later, it started drizzling. A few seconds later, it was raining. A few seconds after that, it was pouring.
It was as ironic and literal of an act as there could be: When it rains, it pours.
Now a day after this fiasco, I’m replaying the week in my head, trying to figure out what I could’ve done differently or what signs I could have missed. Then I came to the realization that, honestly, I wouldn’t have done anything differently except maybe tell her sooner about her friend.
As romantic and/or creepy (depending on how you saw it) as the move would have been to ask the friend out at the ice cream place, if she would have said no, it would have been humiliating. If she wanted to say yes, but didn’t want to hurt her friend’s feelings, it would have been awkward. If she would’ve said yes, her friend(s) might have felt bad and/or embarrassed if they were interested.
And that’s one real-life example of learning that things in real life do not work out like they do in movies. In the movies, the guy makes a balls-to-the-wall gesture with no fear of repercussions and it just works out. The guy professes his feelings for the girl in front of everyone, she feels the same and the friends think it’s adorable. No. It doesn’t work like that. In real life, there is that possibility of being utterly humiliated. I’ve experienced it in the past and don’t really want to again, so I didn’t pull the trigger.
Despite all logic saying that there should be no reason why a guy can’t date a girl and be friends with her friend, in the real world, it doesn’t look right. Many believe that the guy always has an ulterior motive. Someone asked me if I would date the girl I was talking to, knowing she was interested me, rather than risk going for the friend. I considered it for a short period. For one, I wasn’t even sure if she did like me (at the time), but even if she would’ve come out and said it, I still would risk it.
This girl and me get along great. For all I know, we could date and be happy for a long time. But I knew I was interested in the friend, and I wanted to pursue that route. It wasn’t fair to me to leave that option in a land of uncertainty. For all I know, I could’ve talked to her at karaoke and realized there wasn’t much there and then asked the original girl out — having never told either one of them anything. But that wouldn’t be fair to her. Nobody wants to be thought of as, much less be, a second option. I did the “on-deck” thing for a while until I got sick of it. There is someone out there who wants to be with me — not be with me only if it doesn’t work out with someone else.
Spilling the truth to this girl could mean that we never talk again, and that would suck. Yes, I would love to keep talking to her. Yes, I would love to hang out with her. Yes, I would absolutely consider dating her. Yes, it sucks that the other girl happened to be her best friend; not like a co-worker of mine whom she didn’t know, but her best friend. It’s a horrible situation, and it’s a situation that I often find myself in, to some degree: I fall for someone, then it turns out the friend is the one who likes me; or, I fall for someone and she likes my friend. I’m sure it’s happened to you at least once, if not multiple times. Just once, I would like my brain and heart to pick the right person.
I spent so many years being the guy who didn’t make a move at all; the guy who never said anything about how I felt — and I was tired of it. I would rather swing and miss than not swing at all. The old me wouldn’t have talked much to the girls; he probably would’ve just waved at the red light, but he definitely wouldn’t have turned around to go back to the ice cream place.
Depending on who reads this, you can think I was admirable for being honest, shady in not telling the girl right away, or just plain stupid for telling her. Movies go from start to finish in roughly 90 minutes. You don’t see the day-to-day dilemma, if there even is one. I honestly don’t care if this post finds its way to either of these girls’ computer screens.
Ladies, men think about a lot more than you realize. You may think that all we care about is sex and having as many partners as possible, but I promise you that it’s not the case. Some guys are like that, yes; but the vast majority of us aren’t.
Like many men out there, I value good conversation over a good lay. You will spend more time talking in life than you will sleeping around, and so the ability to communicate is key. I value someone who is kind-hearted over someone who is good-looking. Your attributes will likely fade with age, but a warm heart is something that stays a part of you forever.
I’m not trying to be Noah from The Notebook; I’m not trying to be Landon from A Walk to Remember; I’m not trying to be Gus from The Fault in Our Stars — I’m Mike. I may do things unconventionally and I may act on feelings that may or may not be reciprocated, but somewhere out there, someone will love that about me, and that will be my movie-like ending.