There’s a Shy Guy UPDATE here – see it below…
When I first saw him, I thought he was closed in. Indifferent to those around him – save for the fleeting grins as he observed some strange behavior from the people surrounding us both. Indifferent to me, even – barely said two words when we sat briefly together at a table a few weeks ago, in fact. Even when we reacted similarly with eye rolls at each other when the tipsy woman fell off her heels. Again.
Until I grabbed the last open seat at the bar recently – the seat next to his, down near where walk-up people order their drinks. He didn’t say much – but a few folks said hello to him by name. Or tried to engage me in conversation, in increasingly obnoxious ways as the night dragged on. One of them said to me ‘are you with him? (gesturing to Shy Guy) & I shook my head & said no – only to see a brief fleeting look of, um…was it hurt? on his face.
Naw, couldn’t be. But an idea was born, so I impulsively turned to him – “hey, do you mind if I act like I’m with you? I’m not in the mood to deal with guys hitting on me tonight.”
(I wasn’t. And it wasn’t a come-on – I swear! I thought he didn’t like me, and I don’t go after guys who aren’t even remotely interested in me. But I thought he might loosen up a bit & have some fun with it, maybe…)
So we talked…which led to harmless flirting, casual touching, and a few confessions on his part:
(“I’m shy.” “I’ve seen you before & was attracted to you – but I didn’t do anything about it ’cause I don’t. Ever. I usually sit in this spot every week & just watch what’s going on.” “I want to be with a good woman – but I want to go slow. Do stuff – see movies, go to the river when summer finally gets here, talk on the phone – is that ok?”)
Yeah – slow & shy is okay, I guess. I have this other thing slowly percolating along, but it’s complicated – and I should keep my options open, right? Right…
So we exchanged numbers & made plans to meet again for an open jazz jam session. (I’m rediscovering my love of jazz thanks to #SheTeen; he’s a musician in his spare time & knows a lot of people in the local scene, it seems.) He’s stunned, but pleasantly surprised, that I actually showed up like I said I would at the jam. He buys my drinks, remembers details about my kids. We talk a lot more about music, performing, #SheTeen’s jazz director (who he knows) – and he walks me to my car at the end of the night, punctuating the ‘slow slow slow’ mantra with a kiss or two and promising to call.
And then? The phone doesn’t ring all week long. (We’d talked about reconnecting at the place we met last night as backstop, just in case…) So when he came over last night, I teased him a bit: “did you lose the number, change your mind, or get too scared to use it? I’m good with whatever you decided, you know – don’t want to presume…!”
He said he lost it, and was hoping I’d be there so he could apologize. I didn’t quite believe him, but let it go. And he proceeded to ask me to dance one, two, three – no four times last night, even though he said earlier that he hates to dance & thinks he’s a ‘lousy dancer’. (He was doing it because he knew I liked to dance & he wanted “to make me happy”, it turns out – and yes, I finally asked him.) The conversation was stilted at first, but limbered up as he steadily sipped on his ever-replenished gin & tonic.
And the more I talked to him, the more I heard ‘scared’ in place of his constant variations on ‘shy’. Saw ‘paralyzed’ in place of ‘slow’, ‘won’t’ in place of ‘can’t’.
His friends there (people he dismissed as casual acquaintances) would murmur ‘don’t let him run away from you, hear?’, or were stunned that he was actually talking to/dancing/holding hands with a woman in a public place, it seemed. And the snippets of conversation hinted at promise, but only after climbing over obstacles that just didn’t need to be dealt with Right Now (“how will your son react to meeting me?”) or didn’t take my wishes into account much (“I want to take you home tonight, but it’s too soon – we will be together at some point this summer, though.”)
I watched him throughout the night doing something with his left hand in time to the music – and as the mom of a budding musician myself, it’s clear to me that music is a passion of his. “You’re playing your horn along with the music, aren’t you?”, I said. “Why don’t you bring it in on Sunday for the jam? I’ve heard a few people ask you to play in public, & I’d like to hear you as well.” And when I heard the ‘I’d love to play for you, buts…’, strung together with all kinds of cockamamie reasons why it’d backfire (‘if I play here once, they’ll want me to play all the time’), I thought about where he was at right now.
I get shy – it’s how I’ve labeled myself for years, in fact. I get scared – I’m scared a lot of the time these days as I put myself out there & get knocked down from time to time.
But I won’t live with the assumption that someone /thing will always come along to shoot me down – so I might as well not even try. (Turns out that my original guess that he was ‘too scared’ to call me was closer to the mark than he originally let on.) I can’t be the one constantly encouraging someone to do things they don’t like to do, just because it might make me happy. And I especially don’t want to be with someone who seems to get his courage (not to mention his conversational ability) from the bottom of a bottle.
The bar began to close down & people filtered out, saying their goodbyes around us. He launched into the latest litany of reasons why he a) wanted to be with me tonight and b) it would definitely happen SOON but c) it wasn’t a good idea now so he was going to walk me to my car & say goodnight, ok? But I stopped him mid-stream. “I respect your decision, am not going to argue with you, and talking about it further will only frustrate us both, no? So I think I’m going to leave now & you should stay & finish your drink, ok? Goodnight…”
And – after one semi-chaste brief kiss – he let me go without protest.
I don’t think he’s going to call me. Ever. Do you?
And since I’m not eager to take on another project (getting my own self over my own fears & baggage is project enough, no?) – that’s Just Fine with me.
(dedicated to @robwagpdx, who was hoping that some #whimgrin fallout might result in more self-deprecating yet entertaining dating posts!)
The promised update: Because I am all about The Closure, I couldn’t resist heading over to last night’s jazz jam to see how Shy Guy would react to me after the way we left things on Friday. Lo and behold – after a bit of innocuous conversation, punctuated by a nervous cigarette break (yep, his body language was so closed in it wasn’t even funny) – he came back in, sat down across from me (instead of heading back to his usual spot at the bar) & said this:
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. I’m not ready for anything. It’s too soon. It’s not you – I really like you. It’s me.
To which I said – yep, knew you’d come back with this eventually, thought that’s where you were really at (despite what you might have said before) and I think it’s the right decision. Because I’m a nice human being at the end of the day, I gave him props for being (finally) honest & direct about it & coming over to talk to me when he could have just slunk back to his seat like he wanted to.
And then I left, taking my definitive closure (not to mention a sense that I’d once again sidestepped The Toxic) with me.