Perhaps I am digging myself in a hole by bringing up this guy this early in my blogging career, but I was thinking about him recently (because I think he’s engaged or something. Just goes to show there’s someone for everyone!), and decided it was a story that I wanted to tell. Fret not, fellow awkward-teers! I still have plenty more material.
He was a friend of a friend and he was very cute. He also appeared to be just as awkward and as terrible at flirting as I was, so we hit it off pretty quickly. We used to kick each other and toss out harsh insults because, even though I was 20, expressing my feelings made me just as uncomfortable as it would the average 12-year-old boy. I thought he had a similar strategy for obtaining someone’s love and trust. I later came to learn he was instead the quintessence of an “odd duck” and no better at life than a smelly, old douche.
The first incident of overt weirdness (IOW) was when he asked me to eat breakfast with him one morning before class. We agreed to meet up at 8:45. So, I got there at 8:45 because there is absolutely nothing exciting about me. It was very clear he wasn’t there yet, since there only about 3 other college students who regularly ate breakfast before 10. I got an omelet and I waited.
I am not good at waiting because I automatically assume the worst. When 9:10 ticked by, I began to realize that I hadn’t been asked out for a romantic cafeteria breakfast for 2. I had been led into a trap. I immediately began looking around for a clever place to hide a paintball gun sniper or a bucket of pig’s blood, when I saw him strolling in around 9:15. We had class at 9:30. He looked right at me but didn’t acknowledge me, bought a granola bar, sat down without saying a word, opened the granola bar, took a bite out of it, then looked at my plate and said, “Whoa, big omelet!” (It was a big omelet. I was hungry again 30 minutes later. When am I going to stop this silly writing business and realize competitive eating is my calling?!?!).
I said nothing in response because I was confused. He finished his granola bar, looked at his watch, and said, “Well, time to go. Can we do this again on Thursday?”
…Sure. I could eat alone again on Thursday. In fact, I was looking forward to it!
Thursday rolled around and I trudged into the cafeteria at 8:45 to enjoy solitary meal of silent solitude. I got another omelet and sat down at a small table-for-two. The guy was nowhere in sight. I chewed with my mouth open and got ketchup on my shirt because 8:45 me doesn’t give a shit.
I looked up to assess my surroundings because I would probably choke if I didn’t slow down when I saw him sitting a few tables away with some other guy. We made eye contact and he waved. But what did it mean? Was it a, “Hey, there you are! Come over here!” wave or a, “Oh, God. She sees me. Better be friendly or she’ll eat me next,” wave. I had no way of knowing. So I just sat there and kept staring at him for awhile. Probably muttering all these thoughts aloud with a twitching eye.
He waved again, unfazed, which led me to believe that yes, I was supposed to go over there. I sat down and he said, “I’m so glad you made it. This is Eric.” Eric and I exchanged our hellos, and then he and Eric continued to talk as though I wasn’t there. 9:20 came along and I announced I had to go. He looked up at me with an adorable smile and said, “You have ketchup on your face.”
My natural assumption was that I had been friend zoned. And I wasn’t too broken up about it, to say the least.
One night, my friends and I decided to go to a party in one of the on-campus apartments. So they got all dolled up and I left my day clothes on and followed begrudgingly behind them because I need a barrier between me and the people at all times. The party itself wasn’t that bad as far as parties went. We were dancing and having an okay-enough time when I got a text from the guy that said, “Where are you?” Hmmm…odd. Especially with no context or prompt. Why was he looking for me? Was I the rook is some greater government scheme after all?
I texted him back my exact location and I swear, not 10 seconds later, he burst through the back door with the force of a sassy, drunk giant. He walked straight to me, eyes only focused on me, pulled me into him…
And we started doing about the most awkward dancing that any two already-awkward people in this world could accomplish. It was some uncoordinated combination between traditional salsa, the percolator, and two paraplegics trying to hold each other up. His mouth was open and he was slobbering on me like a horny dog. It was magical.
He came back to my dorm with my roommate and me. She managed to fall asleep despite the fact that he insisted on continuing to dance. This time to obscure 80s Irish music (yes, you read that correctly). He had my wrists in his hands and he was swinging them back and forth with utter fascination, he was looking at me longingly, and so I took that as an opportunity to lean in and kiss him.
It went on for a little bit. He was a surprisingly good kisser. But suddenly, he pushed me away and said, “I like cheek kisses better,” and planted a nice wet one on me. Hey now, what? I mean I had showered that day and my breath probably smelled like peach schnapps. I was a breathing, passably attractive female standing in front of a 20-year-old man and he wanted cheek kisses? IS IT CUTE OR IS IT CREEPY, READERS?!
These weren’t nice little cheek pecks either. He was voraciously kissing my cheek. He was kissing my cheek with passion and fervor. He was making out with my cheek. Now I was starting to get concerned.
“Can I sleep here?” He asked when he finally came up for air.
“Uh…..” (I go over how I feel about sleepovers in Spending the Night: A Tragicomedy).
“I just want to sleep next to you.”
“I mean, okay.”
So we climbed onto my top bunk and laid down. I turned one way thinking he’d want to spoon me or something. He turned the other way and went to sleep.
The next weekend, some friends were visiting my roommate and me from another college. The guy and I had been texting all week and actually ate breakfast alone together and I was getting kind of used to the cheek kissing, I guess, so I asked him to come over and hang out with all of us. He stumbled into my room, perhaps the drunkest I’ve ever seen a person, saw my black friend, and immediately started spurting out some of the most racist things I’ve ever heard. He was an awkward, skinny Catholic racist. He was the boy who couldn’t say a word to me over a granola bar and here he was casually throwing around deeply offensive racial slurs. I had to get him out of there before they all kicked his ass.
He asked me to go back to his room to “read his novella.” This was not a euphemism. This is actually what he wanted to do. Only when we got to his room, he decided he didn’t want me to read it because the story was too nice. So we sat on the floor across from each other in the pitch dark for awhile because he didn’t want to turn the lights on, when he leaned toward me. I thought he was going in for one of his special cheek kisses and braced myself, but instead he whispered in my ear, “Can I tell you a secret about me that nobody else in the entire world knows?”
Well, what are you supposed to say to that other than, “Okay”?
He leaned back and stood up and turned to stare at his wardrobe as though he were a mad scientist staring at his most grand experiment.
“I love to shop,” he said as he bust his wardrobe open with vigor.
And in that wardrobe, lined up and perfectly pressed, were about 50 black V-neck t-shirts. Nothing else.
“I love clothes. I love fashion. I love looking good,” he sighed and sat back down. “So, that’s me.”
We sat there in the dark silence for a bit longer after that and I guess at some point, I fell asleep on his floor. I rushed out the next morning before he woke up, but freaking Eric saw me leaving his room, and then there were rumors for awhile that that guy had finally gotten laid. I didn’t bother to correct them because first of all, I didn’t care. Secondly, who would believe the real story?
There are a few other IOWs from this period of my life when this very strange individual and I were cheek canoodling, including one that involved a pizza party and a suspicious encounter with one of my professors, but this is most certainly the highlight reel. We didn’t talk much after that. Maybe telling me his deep, dark secret took too much out of him. Suffice it to say, my cheeks were grateful.