Face Value - 12.01.97

About a week ago, I made a decision to be more outgoing. I had been sitting around complaining that no one would talk to me, when I realized that I was the main problem. Instead of going out and chatting with who I thought looked interesting, I simply sat back and hoped that others would come up to me and start conversation. This apathetic approach was getting me nowhere.

To kick off my Friday evening, I decided that the best place to start would be a place that I didn't usually frequent. I went downtown and tried to make my way into one of the bars, acting as if I were a regular. It wasn't very late yet, but there were already quite a few people there. The music was some sort of alternative mix, and it was actually almost bearable. After surveying the place a little bit more, I walked up to the bar and ordered a soda. I got my drink and once again turned around and started looking at the crowd.

There were people from every social spectrum hanging out here. There were some definite preppies, some punk looking types, and several types in-between. As I was wondering who I would talk to, a song that I recognized and liked started playing in the background. I was almost humming along with it when I overheard a couple guys next to me talking about the album that the song was on. It was the perfect chance to strike up conversation, so I meekly spouted off some random music fact about the group in the general direction of the two. Instead of shying away and continuing without me, they asked me where I had heard what I did.

I told them, an eventually we started chatting about music and even some other things. They were still in school, so they talked some about what had been going on in a couple classes while I simply knodded along. After a bit, we broke into a new conversation about some movies that had recently come out. I once again added my input and we had a few laughs. Things were going pretty well, but soon, one of them looked at his watch and reminded the other that it was time to leave. They were headed to a friend's house to a party. At first I thought I might get the invite, but they both took off and said, "see you around" at almost the same moment.

So I sat there alone again. I had only been out for about 45 minutes, but I had already met two people. Granted, we didn't become best of friends, but I at least talked with someone, which was much more than I usually did. I finished off the rest of my soda and twirled around to the bar again and ordered up another round. When I had paid for my drink and turned around, I saw a girl standing near a table on the opposite side of the bar as me. She was by herself, but seemed to be waiting for someone. Although I didn't want to seem too obvious about it, I couldn't keep my eyes from wandering in her direction every few seconds.

Then I started thinking that I should just go up and talk to her. It would be the ultimate test of my new, outgoing self. If I could get the nerve to go up and talk to her, that would be it. I sat there for several moments building up the strength to go talk to her. Finally, I took the final drink of my second soda and set it down on the bar near me. Just as I was making my first step, another guy walked up to her and started talking. He asked her a couple things and she shook her head. I couldn't quite hear what they were saying, but eventually the guy left looking kind of defeated. She kept smiling nicely and watched him as he walked down to the other end of the bar where some friends of his were sitting.

I tried to figure out what the exchange had meant. One situation I came up with was that he had asked to buy her a drink and she had refused. The reason for this was that either she didn't like the looks of him, or she was waiting for her boyfriend. Hoping that it wasn't the latter, I again started building up the gall to go and talk with her.

After a few moments, I somehow again found it in me and walked over to where she was. I didn't have a clue what I was going to say, but I went ahead with it anyway. I walked up to her, saw that she was looking my way, and said the first thing that came to mind. It was definitely on the cheesy side, but it felt right at the time. With a sheepish grin, I raised my voice a bit above the music and said, "I know that you're probably here with someone, but I still had to come over and tell you that I think you're beautiful."

Given her initial reaction, I thought that I was going to get slapped for some reason. She just stood there without emotion for a second or two, looking at me and trying to gauge what I had just said. Then, in a voice that I could barely hear over the music, she said, "Thanks....Thanks a lot." Just as I was wondering what to say next, she asked me if I was there with anyone and what my name was. I told her, and then asked her the same question. I found out that she was indeed waiting for some friends, but they weren't to arrive for a few more minutes still.

We talked a little bit more about several different things and I found out she was also still a student and what her major was. I told her that I had just graduated and I was living and working in town. Things seemed to be going pretty well. I was actually starting to feel at ease when her friends arrived. From that point on in the conversation, everything was rushed, though. They were tugging on her to get going, so I went ahead and busted the question of whether I could have her number and call her sometime. She looked a bit hesitant at first, then pulled out a pen and scribbled a number on piece of paper I gave her. She left the bar with her friends and I watched them through the windows as they burst out laughing on the way to their new destination.

I looked down at the number scrawled on the piece of paper. It was barely readable in its frantic script, but I folded it up carefully and put it into my wallet. I went over to the bar and had one more glass of soda before I made my way home for the night. As soon as I got in the door, I started thinking about the number I had gotten. What was the acceptable amount of time that I should wait before calling? I didn't want to seem overzealous, but I also wanted to let her know that I was definitely interested. I decided that the following evening would be perfect.

I woke up the next day and was already anxious about the call that I was going to make. I piddled around doing random things all day and even went for a short jog. I had just eaten dinner that evening when I decided it was time. I pulled the number out of my wallet and layed it down on the table by my phone. I went into my room and put on just the right music and started working myself up. I reasoned that it was much easier than talking to her in person, and I had done that easily the evening before. I plopped down in my chair and looked at the number again. Eventually, I picked up the reciever and slowly dialed the numbers. It instantly rang through and I felt the butterflies rising in my stomach. With each subsequent ring, I felt the knot in my stomach get larger and larger. Eventually, it hit number 5 and I heard an answering machine pick up. I was ready to hang up when a deep voice on the other end said, "Thanks for calling Eastmans Mortuary, please call back during business.." I hung up and started laughing. I had dialed the wrong number and was completely freaked out for no reason.

This time, I looked at the sheet and punched in each number one by one. When I had finished, I put the reciever up to my ear and felt the butterflies rising. Again, it rang several times and an answering machine picked up after the fifth ring. I listened carefully as the voice repeated, "Thanks for calling Eastmans Mortuary, please call back..." This time I hung up the phone, grabbed the piece of paper with the number on it and crumpled it into a ball. There was no way I had misread the numbers on the paper. I felt bad for even bothering her in the first place. I felt stupid for believing that she liked me enough to actually give me her number. I guess I still have a lot to learn.