Hump Day Crush: Dating and Timing

Relationships are part of a vast plan for our enlightenment…

—Marianne Williamson

In high school, I attempted to go on a few dates. By most standards, none of those attempts were successful. By the time I got to college, I fel a lot less pressure about dating and tried to get things going more often. While most of those attempts weren’t successful either, they were, at least, less painful to fail at. That failure, when it occurred, could be attributed to a handful of reasons. Two of the most common are different flavors of plain old bad timing. (It’s that whole “Day Late, Dollar Short” thing, y’know.)

Bad Timing (By myself)
Anyone who’s been reading my words here for a while will know that I tend to crush on people pretty easily. Every now and then I actually try to upgrade a crush to an actual date. As those loyal readers also know, my luck when it comes to who I crush on isn’t always the greatest.

So, it should be no surprise that when I actually get around to asking a girl on a date (without doing my research first) things turn out to be timed just plain wrong.

Case in point: My second year at college a large group of my friends and I frequented the main campus dining hall. At that time, the food was still top-notch (especially considering it was the campus dining hall) and, even better, all-you-can-eat for one price.

The counters were staffed with students, of course, and after going regularly for a few weeks during any given quarter you could get a pretty good idea of everyone’s schedule. It was nice to have familiar faces behind the sneeze guards, standing dutifully in the steam. Sometime, when the lines weren’t too long, you could strike up a conversation or two with people you probably wouldn’t recognize without their trusty tongs and serving spoons.

I am a big fan of pizza. And my college had some pretty good ‘za. Even better, they had a few really cute girls that would rotate through the server position in the pizza station. One of them really caught my eye.

She was a little shorter than me, not incredibly slender and not too curvy, with this great loosely curled red-brown hair. She was cute, not gorgeous, but cute in a very safe, friendly sort of way. Her name, I would eventually find out, was Wendy.

After a few months of smiling at her as I picked up a couple of slices and offering pleasant “Hello”s, I managed to psych myself up for the actual Big Question. Luckily, I had my friends to help with that “psyching up” process. I tend to perform better when I have an audience to turn to if things go really bad. At least then I can share the laugh.

So on this particular day, as I go up for a second slice and first swing, I have it all planned out. There’s movies on the weekend that would be great, some camus events coming up–even if I have to schedule the date a month from that day, I’ve got options I can rattle right off.

After I get my ‘za (because having to ask for the food after asking someone out would just be awkward no matter what their answer was), I almost chicken out. I begin to walk away and then turn back.

“I know you probably get this all the time,” I say, almost wincing at how much that sounds like a typical pick-up line, “but would you be interested in going out some time?”

Wendy smiled politely. The kind of smile that says “Damn straight I get this all the time,” but in a nice way. She tells me she’s got a boyfriend, so the answer is no.

I say, “That’s OK…” and make my way back down to my table to relate the tale of failure to my eagerly awaiting friends.

For the rest of that quarter, I got my pizza from the other side of the cafeteria. Just to avoid awkwardness. After that, it was back to the polite smiles and general pleasantries.

Bad Timing (By Others)
My bad luck in dating often exploded to truly riotous proportions. Sometimes it was so bad, I could have sworn I was in some sort of scripted sitcom. A bad one. Where I was the sidekick to some dashing hunk.

By the end of my second year at college, I had switched majors. This brought me into contact with a whole new batch of people in a very varied group of classes. One of those classes was International Media (taught by one of my favorite professors of all time Dr. Michael Prosser). It was an interesting class–fun, creative and educational. Even better, though, were the people in it. Well, one person in particular.

Her name was Liz V. (not to be confused with another Liz who would end up in my classes… and who’d I’d have considerably more success with when it came to dating). She was very earthy. Her straight dark hair came down to just below her shoulder and her eyes were a warm brown with a sparkle of excitement in them. She didn’t wear a lot of jewelry or makeup, and when she did she went from attractive to stunning in her own way.

I had a couple of chances to work with Liz on projects in class and we got on pretty well. About halfway through the quarter, I decided I’d take the chance and ask her out. Though my job at the campus magazine, I had managed to score a stack of passes to a new movie coming out, so I even had an excuse to talk to her about something other than Russian news casts.

That day I made it in to the classroom early, so I could be ready as soon as she came in. Before long, she was there, getting situated in her desk. I started up the conversation and quickly got to the part I had rehearsed in my head.

“So what are you up to this weekend?” I asked.

“I don’t know yet,” she answered. Just the answer I was hoping for.


This was the point where my friend Jill walked into the room and took up the seat next to me, on the opposite side from where Liz was sitting.

“…I have some passes to a new movie that’s opening and I was…”

“What movie are you talking about?” Jill interjected.

“Uh,” I turned and glared at Jill. She was not part of my plan. “Don Juan DeMarco with Johnny Depp and Brando.”

“Oh!” Jill said with such vehemence you’d think she knew exactly what she was doing to me. “I’ve heard that’s a movie you have to get laid after seeing!”

I turned back to Liz. Using every ounce of my will power to not pummel Jill.

“Or we could go see something else…” I said sheepishly.

Then Dr. Prosser came in and class started.

I never got an answer. And I didn’t ask again.

After class, I explained to Jill exactly what she had done and she apologized. It was one of those moments of true obliviousness that you don’t actually believe exist until you experience it for yourself.

I ran in to Liz V. a year or so later (coincidentally when I was actually dating, uh, Liz…) at an event in the city. Her, my girlfriend, her boyfriend and I chatted very briefly before we went out separate ways.

I haven’t seen her since.

Get Adobe Flash player