Whenever I’m at some sort of gathering of my peers, I usually have my Awkward Sensors on. It’s not always intentional, but I’m generally able to sniff out those who are just as uncomfortable as I am. And then we sit next to each other in eye-contactless silence and a new friendship blossoms.
But sometimes there is that person who clearly wants to be included, but other people are avoiding them because they’re hard to talk to or maybe a bit unpleasant. And I inevitably end up talking to that person because my empathy kicks in (I’m fairly certain I’ve been that person before) and because sometimes I prefer a little genuine unpleasantness to forced conversations about nothing.
But sometimes that comes back to take a big ol’ bite out of my behind. Because sometimes that person reads your talking to them as you wanting to hop on for a ride.
Perhaps I’m a bit naïve but I’ve never understood why talking to someone of the opposite sex when there is alcohol involved means you are randy and ready for their sweet, sweet love. That sounds like a case where I would avoid talking to that person at all costs.
So, I was at this party and wasn’t really having that great of a time, but I had promised myself I would stay for at least an hour, because this was one of several parties I had been to thus far that summer and had never lasted very long at any of them. Frankly, many people there had no idea who I was. I was hired two weeks into this summer theatre festival to do admin work and not only was everyone else on a different schedule, but I also have this habit of never introducing myself to anyone ever, in the hopes that makes them less likely to remember what it’s like to watch me eat.
Anyway, there was this guy there who I had spoken to a few times. He was a bit of a narcissist who made people feel uneasy, but he wasn’t the worst person I’d ever met in my life. We all have our flaws, and he was clearly looking for someone to hang out with, so I thought I’d go over and chat. We talked about things I like to talk about (books, mostly), and repeatedly, people would walk behind them so they could shake their head at me and make a “What are you doing?” face, and I would roll my eyes. I was getting texts from someone else I knew at the party saying, “Are you INTO him?” And no, I wasn’t. I was honestly just trying to be nice, so that when I meet St. Peter at the pearly gates, our encounter would be less awkward.
It was getting late and I wanted to leave. He asked if I would like to take a walk. We were all living on a college campus and I was planning on walking back to the dorm I was living in, so I said sure. Little did I know this was some sort of secret code for a booty call request. Now if a guy asks me if I want to take a walk, I just slap him in the face and run.
We got about a few feet from the party before he pulled me into him and said, “I’d like to kiss you, may I?”
“Uhhhh, no, thank you,” I responded.
He frowned and furrowed his brow, but he let go of me and we kept walking.
He fell in step behind me and I thought maybe, since everything was super duper uncomfortable now, he was just letting me go ahead and ending it there. For that, I would have been grateful. However…
Suddenly, there was a pair of hands on my shoulders. His thumbs were digging hard into my spine and I thought…this is it. He must know some pressure point in the spine that will knock me unconscious and then he will smooch me to death and bury my body. This is how I die.
Then he moved his thumbs outward toward my arms in a light, stroking motion.
He was massaging me. While we were walking. A mobile massage.
Well, this was a first.
“What are you—?”
“Shhhhhh,” he said, running his fingers up my neck and to my ear lobes, “don’t ruin it.”
I opened my mouth to say something anyway, but then there were two fingers in my ears. In my ears. Moving in a circular motion, rubbing my hearing holes. All I could think was, walk faster, Jillian, but it’s very hard to walk faster when someone else’s fingers are in your ears.
We were only a few feet away from the dorm at this point. My keys were in my hand and I was ready to get the fuck out of there. As we reached the door to my room and his fingers came out of my ears, I felt a beautiful Hallelujah envelop me in a warm hug.
“Mind if I come in?” He asked, keeping about two whole inches of space between us.
“I’m really tired.”
“Just for a minute.” He pushed himself into the room. I made a point to leave the door wide open. Now, I’ll admit, I was a bit scared.
He pulled me into him and tried to place his mouth on my mouth. I tucked my lips so far into my mouth that they hopefully wouldn’t be back until it was time to announce it’s spring. He was biting at them, trying to get at them, chewing on my chin like a corn cob.
I pushed him away. “I’m cold,” I said abruptly, moving to the heater on the opposite side of the room.
“You know what keeps people warm? Blankets.” He started making his way over to the bed. I took him by the shoulders and pushed him toward the door. But he looked a little turned on by this. So I did the only thing I could think to do.
“You know what else keeps people warm? Calisthenics.” And I broke out into a set of jumping jacks.
It is the first and only time I have heard of anyone using jumping jacks to get out of awkward making out. Patent pending.
He frowned and furrowed again. “I get it. You’re not in the mood.”
Gee, ya think?
He finally left after that. I shut the door, locked it, and sat on my bed for awhile, pondering every moment of my life that had led to a somewhat-acquaintance giving me an ear massage.
The next morning, more texts came in. “Did you guys hook up?” “He said you hooked up.” Ugh.
As ridiculous as this night was and as good an anecdote as this has become, I consider myself extremely lucky and learned a lot from the experience: don’t leave a party with a dude you barely know, don’t assume people are into the conversations they are having or the people they are having them with, if you’re walking with someone carrying obvious tension in their shoulders, maybe you should try backing off instead of on, and cardio, man. Cardio saves mouths.