Hi. I Don't Want To Have Sex With You. But I'd Like To Hang Out, Somehow.

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 3.618% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

So I went to get my nails done the other day.  And next to me was this pretty blue-haired girl.
When I mentioned Harry Potter as part of my conversation with my manicurist, she perked up.  We all started talking together about Universal Studios and Disney and trivia quizzes about the best parts of Harry Potter, and then it was time to go and I fumbled about awkwardly and then left.
Somehow, saying, “WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE FRIENDS?” seemed weird to a total stranger.
And I had no ulterior motives.  I joked with my sweetie afterwards, who had gone with me, that I could have held her up as proof: “I’m full up on dating!  She’ll tell you! This isn’t about that!  You just… seem neat.”
But then I thought about navigating those weird waters, trying to say “This isn’t a date” when in fact that’s what every quote-unquote “nice guy” schmuck says when he’s hoping to sneak into somebody’s pants through the act of friendship, and watching her face as she determined my level of creep, and doing that in front of my manicurist and the whole staff, and….
I left.
And the truth is, it’s kind of hard to make friends.  There’s that awkward transition where you meet someone on a plane or at a bar, where you’ve enjoyed this conversation but you’re not quite sure whether this enjoyment extends to multiple engagements, and you’re worried you’re going to ruin this nice chat you’ve had by giving the foul aftertaste of  “Then he hit on me,” and so it’s easier to just leave it on the ground.
Gini says you gotta treat it like you’re six years old on the playground.  Just walk out across the sandbox, arms out, and shout: “WANNA PLAY?”  Which is great if you’re an extrovert and don’t mind embarrassment, but for me I often find myself thinking of people days later, wondering Hey, do they still think about me?  And if they did, how could I possibly find them?
I probably have potential friends scattered across America, hanging snippets of ten-minute conversations.  We connected, in those brief timeframes, but neither of us knew how to break that icy embarrassment of not wanting to intrude, not wanting to be eager.  And having been caught in a couple of awkward snafus where I was making polite conversation and someone wanted to be best buds, it’s not the worst thing to default to walking away.
Still.  She was nice.
We coulda hung.
Or at least I think we coulda.

6 Comments

  1. David Klecha
    Mar 18, 2016

    I’m an extrovert, albeit one with a high degree of social anxiety, and I can never make lasting friendships out of those kinds of encounters. What’s been revelatory in terms of making friends has been getting back into theatre. Thrown together with a bunch of people 3-4 nights a week for two months, eventually you manage to strike up the multiple subsequent conversations necessary to establish friendships. Ironically, the two closest friendships I’ve made that way over the last 15 months have been with two avowed introverts, who both separately happen to also be readers and gamers and who work at being social so they can maintain relationships with their friends.
    It’s been kind of a fascinating experience.

  2. Gayle
    Mar 18, 2016

    I think Gini is right, although I wouldn’t be able to do it, either. I’m thinking that maybe saying something like, “you and my wife would get along famously,” would help defuse the whole “and then he hit on me,” vibe, because let’s face it – polyamory is in the minority. Maybe we shy, introverted types need a script for encounters like this.

    • Lucretia
      Mar 19, 2016

      This was my thought as well. I hate saying it… But I’m often one to employ this tactic. Because I talk to folks, but I suck at making lasting friendships out of brief conversations unless I say something like “you totally need to meet my husband… He’s as obsessed about X as I am.”
      This comes out whether my new friend is male or female.

  3. Saraphina
    Mar 18, 2016

    This is why I always carry business cards. Because even a connection like that, I can say, ” I like that stuff too, here’s my email address/website” and smile and walk away. And it’s not *too* weird. Phone numbers are rather personal, but email isn’t quite to that level. And new new cards will have my social media contacts on it too. For added level of relaxed, casual contact. And maybe something like “Maybe we can get coffee sometime” because “coffee” is the perfect outing because dinner is a date, lunch is professional, drinks is possibly wanting to get into someone’s pants, but coffee is just coffee. It doesn’t have the same social baggage as the other stuff.

  4. Kristy
    Mar 22, 2016

    It probably sounds weird, but I’ve found that offering an email address to continue a conversation, rather than a phone number, felt like way less pressure to respond. To me, it’s like a phone number is too intimate, but saying, “this conversation is great, let’s continue by email if you’d like,” is less of a commitment. That’s just my experience, of course.

  5. Beal
    Mar 28, 2016

    I think making a “date” to get your nails done would’ve been a nice, low-key way to start a potential friendship. Something like, “This was fun! Perhaps we could schedule our next nail appointments together so we can visit again?”

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