“I’m sorry but, er - you’re really beautiful.”
I’m sorry, what? Perched unattractively near the bottom shelves of the Bristol Farms refrigerated section, arms loaded with two different brands of chocolate coconut water, hair greasy and unkempt, make-up non-existent, I strain my neck around to see who, in their right mind*, would issue such an unfounded compliment. (Yes, I had already determined that the comment was directed toward me. Because I like to balance my self-deprecation/insecurities with a solid dose of narcissism.)
Ah, yes. This guy. This guy would issue that compliment. Boyish face with an actor-y, fresh-off-the-United-flight from some Midwestern suburbia vibe. I squint through my near-sightedness, trying to decide if I think he’s attractive or not. TBD.
Me: Aw, thank you. That’s so nice of you to say.
He shuffles self-consciously two and a half feet away, staring unseeing into the glass case of groceries, side-glancing my way every three seconds or so.
I immediately feel the need to make him feel comfortable. One, because I’m fairly confident he’s new in town and I want him to know that there are nice people here and two, because, judging by his demeanor, it had to be fairly intimidating to [politely] approach a female in public and I’ve always believed such behavior should receive positive reinforcement.
I offer some chatter on the obvious health benefits of sugar-infused sugar water. He accepts. Er, sort of. He counters by pointing my attention toward his own favorite beverage, insisting I give it a try. He’s almost a tad too insistent. Slow down there, Turbo; this lady makes her own decisions -- especially when it comes to hydration.
The conversation progresses [slowly]. I learn that his name is Mike**, he’s an actor (I knew it), he’s been in LA for less than a year (God, I’m good at this game), he’s sober (I take this moment to tell him how I’m still hungover from the night before), and he lives with his manager one street away from me (Oh goodie?).
Mike: Is it hard to make friends out here, or is that just me?
Me: Oh man. I mean, I’m just glad I went to school out here. Most of my friends went to SC with me. I feel like people’s circles out here can be pretty closed. It’s probably a little tough to try and get in there.
Mike: Yeah. I moved out here not knowing anyone. Would you – uh would you mind if I got your number – just to like hang out sometime?
I’ve pretty much decided that he’s not at all my type, but I figure I can go to lunch with the guy. He seems fairly non-threatening. I give him my number and open my mouth to say goodbye. My exit plan gets, um, interrupted.
Mike: Are you single?
Caught totally off-guard and being really bad at lying, I answer truthfully.
Me: Uh, yeah.
Mike: Well, uh, would you, um, I mean, would you want to go out sometime? I mean, I don’t know if I’m your type, but I know I would really like to go out with you.
GAH. So sweet. I am so bad at saying no to nice people. So I don’t.
Me: Um, sure, yeah, that’d be fun.
And by fun, I mean probably super awkward and weird.
Mike: Ok great. Um. When?
Me: Uh, well, the next two weeks are pretty gnarly, schedule-wise.
Mike: Gnarly. Wow. I haven’t heard that in a long time.
Me: Ha yeah it’s a favorite of mine.
I’m slowly edging backward, hoping this convo is coming to a close.
Me: Well, I should probably –
Mike: So you’re not free tomorrow night?
Me: Tomorrow? Uh no. I’m actually heading out to Palm Springs for a bachelorette this weekend.
Too many details, Stacie. Way too many details.
Mike: Ok well –
Me: Just hit me up in a couple weeks and we’ll figure out a time.
Mike: Ok. Um. How do you feel about guys with kids?
Me: Do you have a kid?
Mike: Yeah, I’ve got a ten-month-old little girl.
Great. Now if I turn him down, it’s going to seem like I’m doing it just because he has a kid. Awesome.
Mike: Look, here she is.
Mike proceeds to take me through an entire album's worth of photos. My left arm is about to break off from the weight of my basket, but there’s no way I’m setting it down and risking prolonging this whole situation.
Me: So cute. Well, I really gotta go. It was nice to meet you.
This time I don’t wait for interjections as I make a break for the cash register. He follows close behind. Seriously? There are two other open lanes. Pretty sure you left your social etiquette back in aisle three, Mikey.
Mike: I really would love – I mean, I hope you really do want to go out with me. You’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen. And you seem nice, not like most of the girls I’ve met out here.
Oh God. Please say it a little louder; I'm not sure the guys back in the deli area heard you. This is excruciating. Placating smile. Eye-contact avoidance. Deep breaths.
Outside, breathing in the sweet smell of freedom, I attempt to figure out how I’ll get out of the impending date without hurting this guy’s feelings. Despite his social awkwardness and bizarrely slow cadence, he seems like a well-meaning dude just looking for a little human connection.
Mid-mental deliberation, I receive this text message:
Mike: Awesome and great to meet you. Honestly I am direct and forward but text can be miss construed [sic] but I’d love to do [sic] out and see you soon.
Just so you remember me
Oh man. A headshot?? What am I supposed to say to that? I decide to respond with something nice, but appropriately non-committal:
Me: Awesome! Great meeting you as well. Thanks for brightening up my afternoon :)
If he reaches out to set an actual date, I’ll find a way to politely decline, but I figure we should be good for now.
Back at home, I grab my phone out of my bag:
Mike: We’re [sic] you attracted to me?
Dear sweet Jesus. Is he serious?
Five minutes pass.
Mike: Be honest if that’s ok?
Gahh. Do I really have to answer this?
Mike: And an artistic pic so?
Welp. This has officially gotten weird.
I decide to set my BlackBerry aside as I delve into some work.
One hour later…
Mike: Hello? I don’t want to annoy you or text too much. But text me I guess. Let me know if your [sic] interested. Or if you were attracted to me.
Ok. He’s putting it on me. Cool. We should be done here.
My phone rings. Stop. Wtf. I just met you two hours ago, dude. Calm the F down.
Fast-forward twenty minutes:
Mike: Text me or when you can. I won’t be annoying you.I do want to know you. But lett [sic] me when you can hang thanks. Have fun in Palm and keep me posted.
- You won’t be annoying me?? I think it might be a little too late for that.
- Why does “I want to know you” sound like a threat?
- Palm is not an accepted nickname for Palm Springs. (I knew that was one detail too many.)
He waits another thirty minutes before unleashing this diatribe:
Mike: *let me know when you can hang out and if you want to get tea soon. I’m free if you keep me posted and have a safe trip and fun time in Palm Springs. Would love to know you and meet you. You are one of the most beautiful woman [sic] I’ve seen and your eyes I can’t say anything bad. Don’t want to scare you im just very complimentary. And I may seem aggressive but dinner time. Talk soon hope we talk.
So many gulps. You don’t want to scare me? In that case, perhaps you would like to back the f*ck off? Also, please heed your spellcheck’s suggestions. (Also also – when did “I can’t say anything bad” become a compliment?)
For some reason, I still think Mike is going to get the very silent hint. Oh, the naiveté of youth(ish).
9:17am the next morning:
Mike: Hey you drive safe and have fun. Do you have a kid?
I just...I'll just leave that one right there. It was quickly followed by a call from a blocked number. I’m not saying it was him, I’m just saying I wasn’t about to answer it to find out.
Two days later. 10:58pm:
Mike: How was your bachelorette party beautiful
Still in progress, not that it’s one iota of your business?
The next afternoon, I receive a text message from a number I don’t recognize: “Hey”. One quick Google search links it to Mike's Instagram profile. Dude. DUDE.
My BFF and I debate whether I should reply and ask him to please stop contacting me. At this point, I’m sort of afraid he’s teetering on the brink of the deep end, and I don’t really want to see his desperate entreaties plummet into rage. Since, you know, he basically knows where I live. (Note to self: Be more mysterious.)
After another phone call, a lengthy, meandering voicemail, and a text message two days later, I decide to make it clear that I’m just not that into him.
Me: Please do not contact me anymore.
Apparently this was confusing to him.
Mike: Um why. By the way your nips were showing when we met your [sic] being uncool.
Classy. There goes that nice guy idea.
Mike: Hook up buddies what’s your deal I and you were both attracted to each other hunn
Oh, ‘I and you’ were, were we.
Mike: Stacie what’s your deal explain why your [sic] being a snob. You have a boyfriend?
No, I don’t have a boyfriend; I just think *you’re a crazy psychotic sociopath.
Me: I’m not interested. Please do not contact me again.
Mike: Why? Why did you give your number? You make no sense
Out of pity. It’s a bad habit I’m working on changing. Thank you for helping me get there faster.
Mike: I did nothing and wanted to get to know you because you were attracted to me and so was i. I don’t get why your [sic] [this dude really needs to figure out his yours] acting weird I’m being honest and direct I am sorry if you think I’m into you but idk you so your [sic] [obviously] being crazy
Erm, some might say you did too much. Also, I think the word you’re looking for is ‘dismissive’. I am being dismissive. You, sir, are being crazy. In the purest sense of the word.
Mike: Whatever Stacie good luck and best to you. Sorry that you feel the way you do. Your [I’m not even going to bother anymore] beautiful but you must question yourself why your 45 and single. Bye and sorry deleting you
FORTY-FIVE?? Good one, Mike. I’m going to go spend the rest of my night questioning myself.
(While also spending two and a half hours on the phone with AT&T attempting to block your number.***)
*HAHAHAHAHAHA. Guess I called that one.
**This is his real name. Just in case, you know, my body is found raped and murdered. I want the police to have some sort of a lead. Since Mike's such a unique name and stuff.
***My favorite part of that conversation: “I honestly have never owned a BlackBerry and no one here seems to be familiar with them at all. Let me brainstorm here….” Duly noted.
UPDATE #1: I just got an email from some other chick who had pretty much the exact same experience with this dude last week. He even sent the same two scintillating photos. Apparently he works at Brooklyn Bagels on S. Beverly, so uh, all females may want to go elsewhere for their carb-fix.
UPDATE #2: He apparently just found me on Tinder. "Your 31?" Shocking, I know. "Just saw you on tinder. So your single but why the attitude and you know that God things happen when your nice. Anyway really wish we could have gotten to know each other but I'm sorry I was not your type or whatever. I mean I text and communicate many people don't know how to then they look like the bad guy and so anyway maybe one day you can give me a shot." ...Maybe one day, Mikey. Maybe one dark, desperate, dystopian day. *shuddershuddertwitch*
UPDATE #3: Three months later...just when I thought I'd never hear from him again:
Update #4: Apparently he's hanging on through 2016. So nice of him to think of me at 2am this morning!!
Update #5: This is getting ridiculous.
Creepers never say die.