I was on my way to meet The Russian for drinks, zooming along on my bike, and running late--or cycling late, I guess I should say. Too impatient to wait for the lights to change, I cut down one street, then another, finally ending up on a third without a bike lane ... where I realized--oh crud!--I was on the very block that my ex-non-boyfriend Jonas Singer lives on! (Was there was some subconscious longing behind what I'd done? Probably. But I didn't realize it till later.)
With a mixture of fear and hope, I thought: What if I run into him? What if he's outside his building, locking his bike to the gate this very second?
I slowed down a bit as I got closer to his place, keeping my eyes peeled ... and right there, standing plum in front of the building in question, lo and behold, I DID spot a very familiar figure.
It was my gym crush! Rich! All 6 feet and 195 pounds of muscle of him, in his snazzy Ralph Lauren work-out fatigues, having just gotten out of his sleek black BMW.
"Hey!" we both shouted at each other in unison. I skidded to a halt, put down the kickstand on my bike, and went over to give him a hug. I was a little trembly, all nerves, what with thoughts of Jonas Singer, and the knowlege I was going to be late, not to mention the surprise of running into Rich.
As it turns out, he lives right across the street from Jonas, in a big brownstone, where his parents also live.
Rich, may I remind you, is 24. And still in college. Sometimes it's easy to forget this because he looks like a big man. I guess he IS a big man, come to think of it. Still. That doesn't stop me from being an older woman!
"Look at you, in your little capri jeans and your lipstick!" Rich said.
Who, moi? It occurred to me then he'd only ever seen me in my spandex pants and a T-shirt before, looking like something the cat dragged in.
"Where the heck have you been, man?" I demanded. "I haven't seen you in ages!" Then I teased him: "You trying to avoid me or something?"
"Of course not! I've just been going to the gym in the mornings lately, because it's less crowded then. Anyway, where you headed?"
"I'm just off to meet up with someone." I don't think I needed to tell him the full details: that I was going to hang out with a Russian sociologist whom I'd gone out with a couple times with before he started dating someone from his master's program. We'd hit it off enough, though, that the two of us wanted to be friends.
"Oh yeah? Who's 'someone'?"
"Just a friend."
"Oh, a friend, huh? Is he taking you to that new Italian place on the corner?"
"We're only having a drink. We're just friends--really!"
Rich didn't seem to want to believe that. "I don't know," he said, and the skepticism was clear in his crooked smile. "If he's not taking you out for dinner, you sure he deserves your time?"
"Maybe not," I said, going along with the flirtation. And then, partly because I do--innocently--love Rich; and partly because I was all keyed up, nervous (and hopeful) that Jonas Singer might suddenly appear and see me being wooed by another man, I took things a step farther. "So when are you going take me out to the Italian place?"
About two seconds later, Rich, for the first time, had asked for my phone number.
That night, he'd sent me a few texts, telling me, in no certain terms, how into me he was. I wrote back, telling him I, too, had a crush on him, but that I was too old for him, and vice versa. He wrote back to say he didn't think we should let the age thing be an obstacle, but that, at the same time, he understood--and that I'd made his day by telling him I had a crush on him. I was thinking that might be that ...
I've gotten a few more texts from him since then.
And I feel like I've blown it a bit; like I took the flirtation too far by hinting he should ask me on a proper date. It truly is one of the bright spots of my day whenever I see him and I do genuinely adore him ... and I do occasionally think of what it might be like to stroll down the street, holding his hand. (He's so sweet--and so young!--that I don't quite fantasize about having you-know-what with him.) And I certainly wouldn't mind having dinner with him ...
Except I don't want to lead him on. I don't want either one of us to end up feeling hurt or stupid.
And I'm pretty sure it wouldn't end well if we went out on a real date. There's the age difference; and the fact that he's still in college--and still living with his parents--and more than anything else, I just can't see it ever becoming serious. But I fear that now that we've taken things up a notch, we won't be able to go back to the happy, light stage of just having fun with each other. Sigh.
-Don't ask someone when he's going to take you out to dinner unless you really want to get to know him to take you!
-If you DO want to get to know someone better, however, and you're already having a playful interaction with him, say something along the lines of "Look, I'm running late to meet my friend, so I better go. But when are you going to ask me to dinner so we can continue this conversation?" That way, you make it clear you're interested, but you also put the ball in the guy's court, so he has to make the move. By forcing him to do that, you get him more invested in the interaction. (And by saying you're running late for something, you put a time constraint on the conversation--and draw the interaction to a close on your terms.)
I think I've been a little too flirtatious, in all the wrong ways, this week, especially considering the much-older man who works at the car service down the street (who is literally old enough to be my father) just asked me out, too--after I gave him a muffin, thinking it would be a nice thing for him to have during his night shift. Seems like I need to harness this flirtatious energy and start sending it out in a more directed fashion, huh?