Even when there’s no crush…

So I’m getting on the Metro on the way home from some minor shopping after work. It’s crowded, being rush hour and all, and I nudge my way a little bit down the row, letting my eyes drift among the variety of faces I’m presented with.

A few seat rows back from where I am, I think I see someone who looks familiar. But I’m not sure if she’s who I think she is. Sometimes there’s issues with recognizing people outside of the context you’re used to seeing them. Especially if those places are kind of dark and often feature fancy dress of some sort or other. She’s not someone I have a crush on, per se, but she does fall within my parameters for being “cute and interesting.”

But I’m not sure it’s her. And it’s rush hour. I know how I get after a long day at work. I most certainly don’t want to be bothered by someone I barely know. Especially if I’m reading a book and/or nodding off on the Metro ride home (both of which she was doing at one point or another).

And so, there I stay a few rows away from someone I may or may not know. Not sure at all what I’d say if I were to wheedle my way through the now thinning crowd. “Hey, we may or may not have met before…” and then watch the panic or recognition spread across her face? Watch for annoyance, discomfort or that ever fleeing bit of genuine joy? No. I don’t like to bother people. And that chance of a non-forced welcoming smile (from someone I barely know and who probably knows me even less) is just too slim.

“If she gets off at the same stop as me,” I tell myself, “then I’ll say hello.” That way, I figure if I’m wrong about who she is or I manage to spook her, at least she won’t be trapped on the train with me. That way, if she turns out to be nowhere near as interesting as I’m certain she is, I won’t be trapped on the train with her. The rush to a car or bus is the perfect excuse to keep things short. Almost as good as the push of people in a club or the constant distraction of random conversations at a bar full of people you (and she) know much better.

Stops go by, the crowd thins more. She changes seats, from the one she is sharing with someone to one that is all her own. She chooses to go a few rows farther away from where I am instead of to the seat that is closer. Did she see me, recognize me and make it a point to move away? Do I really care? Perhaps a little, but not enough for it to feel like a snub. At best we’re passing acquaintances. I can’t even bring her real name to mind most of the time. I don’t think we’ve ever been officially introduced anyway.

More stops go by and I run through potential conversations in my head for when we get off at the same stop. I could, in as non-creepy a way as possible, invite her to dinner. People always like dinner when they don’t have to cook it, right? Can you invite someone you barely know to dinner on a Metro platform without seeming creepy? No. Probably not. Scratch that idea.

And then, one stop before mine, she gets up and leaves the train.

As she walks up the platform and the train rolls past, I know for sure she is who I thought she was. For a moment I muse, “Well, now I know what stop she gets off at…” But I stop myself before that thought sounds too stalkery in my head. She’s not even someone I have a crush on. No need to sound like I’m after her in any way, shape or form, right?

Right.

So goes a normal progression of thoughts in my head whenever I see anyone I think I may know outside of the normal context. Regardless of gender or crush status. (Though I tend to panic a little more when it is someone I’m crushing on.)

Even when there’s no crush, I’m slow on the approach. Often too slow for it to really matter.
All that said, if you ever see me out and about and think I’m ignoring you or snubbing you, I can promise you that I am not. I’m just trying to not bother you and doubting that you are who I think you are. If you want, just come right up, poke me and say “Yes, it is me.”

At the absolute least, I may offer dinner.

Get Adobe Flash player