Saturday, January 27, 2007

What I Did, What I Almost Did, What I Need to Do

I was a mess of nerves all day yesterday. Couldn't eat, couldn't think straight, just felt a buzzing under my skin, a heady din in my brain. This intensity isn't justified, and almost bothers me, but there's nothing I can do about it.

I don't know why last night had to be pivotal, but it did. Luckily, I was meeting a group of female friends there, so I wouldn't be able to focus on Ben all that much.

When I got to the bar, it was more crowded than usual (though I'm starting to think a ton of people love this place as much as I do and "crowded" may be its natural state). No room to sit at the bar.

Willow and I squeezed in, waiting to be served. It was so busy, Ben didn't even see me for a couple of minutes. He finally looked over, gave me an I'll-be-right-with-you nod, then recognized me and waved. I waved back, feeling all "yay!" inside.

"I need to get an email address for you. I don't think it was on your story."

"No, it wasn't. I'll give you an email." Why did he need it?

He made our drinks and brought over a small notepad. "PLAY" was written across the top of the page, underlined. There were already a list of email addresses written out.

Oh. That's why.

I added my email, but didn't put my real name down (I have a cyber-moniker I use for online things, one other than Dolly). Gave him the pad along with a twenty.

Ben nodded, took the money, and gave me my change: a ten, a five, and five singles. I laughed.

Willow and I joined Sophie (my first mention of her, though for readers of Desperate Guy's blog, she is known as "Spinal Tap Girl" over there and she is lovely), who was sharing a large table in the front with a few friends.

This was good. Let Ben know I'm in the bar, but have better things to do than fawn over him.

I think it goes without saying that the circumstances for asking him out were beyond not right, were pretty much impossible. I was okay with that.

Next time I went up to the bar for a drink, Ben charged me (Polly pointed out he couldn't keep up the free drinks all night, which makes sense), and asked,

"Where did you go?"

"I'm sitting with some friends at a table."

"Did you write your email legibly?"

No, I wrote it backwards, with my toes, in pig latin, just to be difficult.

"I did."

"It's going to be a really fun show."

"It better be," I replied, "or I'm going to ask for my money back."

The guy next to me started cracking up.

"I want everyone to see it, it's going to be good. It's probably going to sell out."

"Well, you seem pretty confident about it." My tone of voice was slightly mocking.

There was no opportunity to talk to Ben, but something interesting happened at Cozy Bar. I found myself talking to everyone else. At the jukebox, outside during a smoke break, on my way to the bathroom, whoever was next to me at the bar. I wasn't doing it to show off for Ben, I was doing it because I was in a great mood and wanted to share it with others. I can't remember the last time I felt so confident and outgoing.

A little later in the night, I went up to the bar for a drink, and when Ben saw me, he said to two guys beside me,

"She's a really talented writer. She wrote this short story, it's very good." Ben turned to me,

"These guys work in publishing, you should talk to them, maybe they could help you."

I raised an eyebrow. "I work in publishing, too," I said in a not-impressed-at-all way.

Ben looked surprised. "I didn't know that about you."

"You don't know a lot about me."

I gave Ben a pointed smile and started talking to the two guys beside me. I didn't do it to make Ben jealous, I did it because my self-preservation instincts kicked in and I knew I had to stop pining at some point, and then and there seemed as good a time as any. Plus, one of the publishing guys was pretty attractive, and my age.

The three of us talked shop for a while. I didn't flirt, but I was exuberant and friendly. I asked the two of them to recommend some publications for my story.

Ben came over as I was putting together the list and I said,

"These guys are giving me suggestions on where to submit my story. I think I'm going to send it out. Just you wait, you're going to help me win the Pulitzer."

"I don't know about that," Ben answered, "It was good, but not that good."

"Hey, I do have another story in the works, so you never know. Baby steps."

I continued to chat with the publishing guys for a bit, then wanted to return to my friends. I couldn't, because the twenty I left for my last drink was still sitting there, so I asked Ben for a glass of water and my change. Once again, he brought me a ten, a five, and five ones. Hm, another free drink when I happened to be talking to other guys. Coincidence? (Actually, yeah, maybe it was.)

I wasn't really into either of the two guys and don't think they were interested in me, but it's nice to know people in the industry, so I gave them my email address. They stood to leave, and Ben held his hand out for them to shake.

"I'm here Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays."

(Whose benefit did he say that for, theirs or mine?)

He shook hands with one, then the other, then held it out for me to shake.

I shook his hand and said, "I'm actually not leaving. Still going to stick around for a bit."

Why did he do that? Not that I minded the physical contact.

Anyway, that pretty much summed up my interactions with Ben last night (apart from the "honey" thing, which I foolishly, drunkenly, made such a big deal out of).

Except that a little after 1:00am, when I must have been pretty tipsy, I made up my mind to ask him out. I'd go up there and say,

"So when are you and I going to get a cup of coffee and have a real conversation?"

Willow and Polly thought it was a cute and casual way to do it and encouraged me to go through with it. I just wanted the suspense over with, so I could get on with the rest of my life.

I didn't see Ben behind the bar, so I figured he was on a break, and went outside for a cigarette. I met a girl there and told her about Ben, the story, and how I was going to go back in there and ask him out. The girl was so excited for me.

"Good luck! Let me know how it goes!" she said when we came back inside.

"Thank you!" I turned to face my destiny... only my destiny still hadn't returned to the bar.

I waited until I realized that Ben was gone for the night. Saturdays must be his night for the later shift.

It was a sign. I knew what I had to do, in fact, I had already been doing it all night. Moving on. Getting on with things. Not acting like Ben was the center of my world.

It wasn't my intention to play it cool, but the crowded bar made it impossible to do otherwise. At the same time, it brought me to my senses a bit, made me realize that I can't do all the work. Ben has to meet me halfway. I made a big gesture, but now it's his turn. Except that I'm not going to be waiting for him to realize how special I am and act on it, I'm going to be out there living my life. I'm going to take off the blinders that made it tough to see other men and open my eyes, see what's around. Right now, the timing with Ben is off, but I have many other ways to pass the hours.

It will be at least a week before I go back to Cozy Bar, maybe more. I still can't eat, still feel that nervous hum that I know deep down stems from my feelings for him, but I also know this euphoria is something that does not have to be inextricably linked to Ben. Mom says I'm in love, but I don't want to believe that, not until I am sure Ben is deserving and can reciprocate. Not to be all Arrogant Girl, but I know I have so much to offer, and I deserve more than a one-sided romance. So I'm going to do the sensible thing, ride this happiness, and keep myself open to whatever may come my way.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think Barman Ben is smitten and in awe. There are soooo many hints in that story, I hope that PUA does another field analysis :-) I would love to know what he thinks of the handshake thing.

I kind of like the idea from one of the posters in the last thread: go into the bar alone and order coffee during a slow time and see what happens. He did tell you when he'd be there. And he made it obvious he prefers to have you at the bar instead of off at a table. He missed you!

Maybe you should just call him up and ask him out for coffee and find out if there is anything real there. I think he might be a bit old for you and he's on a shaky career track. But maybe there is something you could learn from each other even if he isn't the most appropriate guy for the long term.

Becca

PS It's not arrogant to think you have something to offer, it's just fact.

CoatMan said...

Dolly: It's difficult being in your position - but, for all you know, Ben could be feeling the same way, only he may not be all so terribly good at doing anything about it. Perhaps he's nervous, perhaps he's not sure that you're really interested in him romantically (although, with that story thing, it should be fairly obvious; although he might have thought that you'd gone off him if he's sufficiently inept). Perhaps he is what the pickup people call an "average frustrated chump". After all, I'll bet that it's not often that a struggling actor in his forties who works in a bar finds that an attractive younger woman with your sort of charisma (and general niceness) not only has a crush on him, but is seriously romantically interested.

Incidentally:

"I didn't flirt, but I was exuberant and friendly"

Many men have a great deal of difficulty in telling the difference. I think that I have a vague idea and can sometimes tell them apart, but am not very good at it (I tend to err on the side of caution and think that indications of flirting are just wishful thinking on my part, only later to realise that she had meant to flirt). Can you give some guidance on important signs that differentiate the two?

Halstead said...

Dolly,

Bravo! Well done.

-Halstead

Anonymous said...

he doesn't like you like that. get over it!

surfer said...

"It was a sign. I knew what I had to do, in fact, I had already been doing it all night. Moving on. Getting on with things. Not acting like Ben was the center of my world."

Now all you have to do... is do it.

Good luck.

Doc Love said...

Well now it all makes sense. He's gay. Move on Dolly. Promescuity is the way to go.

Ana Renee Jones said...

Hey Dolly,

I like what you said at the end about one-sided romance.

He doesn't seem to be going out of his way for you. There seems to be no reason for you to go out of your way for him.

Those feelings (not eating, etc) are hormone related (I love those feelings). I agree you should enjoy them, savor them, and do your best to hold on to the feelings (but you don't have hold on to the cause of the feelings), they will both fade quickly.

The body can't function without eating so the chemicals will subside soon. Enjoy it while it lasts.

You're a lovely lady, don't discount yourself by waiting around for some hunk to make a move...make your own by going out on dates and having fun.

Good luck in life, liberty, and love:
Ana Renee

Alec said...

I don't know Dolly, if you were a guy friend of mine I'd tell you you're being a bit pathetic. It's not fair of you to expect so much from a guy who works behind the bar and probably interacts with a hundred people a night. Stop expecting him to realize how "special" you are, he didn't ask for this and he's not the one sitting at home unable to eat or think straight. If you want this, go get it and stop being a pussy. The feeling is not going to go away just because you say so. Again, this is only what I'd say to you if you were my guy friend. But you're not, you're some (mostly) anonymous chick with a blog so go get it and stop being a pussy.

Halstead said...

alec,

Your male "pussy" rules don't apply here.

I think the point is that Dolly knows she can just "get it", if she wants to. That's not the trouble. She, like most women, want to be "gotten". You just can't force things like this.

I'm sure, even now, in her day to day relations with people, there are many young (or not so young) men who want her. She wants someone to be after her. If she feels she's worth it, why won't someone make an effort? I feel the same way, nothing is as validating as someone making the effort to get to know you!

I'm not even going to make an attempt to imagine what "Bartender Ben's" point of view is. And Dolly shouldn't either. If nothing happens, it's his fault no matter what. Dolly will come back smelling like roses. And this "Ben" will still be stuck where he is.

There's lots to be learned from Dolly's blog. Don't be a "Bartender Ben"...

-Halstead

Matt said...

"Not to be all Arrogant Girl, but I know I have so much to offer, and I deserve more than a one-sided romance."

That doesn't sound arrogant at all. It sounds like a kick ass standard you have. And Ben has yet to show that he meets that standard before you put in effort.

That's my interpretation

Cheers,
~Matt

Constant Dater said...

Dolly, what Matt said. It's not arrogant, it's a standard that you need to abserve to keep your self-esteem in equilibrium. You don't seem to be getting attention from Ben that meets that standard, so feh to that, and don't lower your expectations. As I always tell my girlfriends, it feels extra shitty when you lower the bar and still end up disappointed.

Alec said...

Halstead - I disagree. If nothing happens with this, it is most certainly NOT his fault. Like I said, he's not the one pining away for her. You can ascertain the entire situation just from Dolly's (admittedly well described) posts. When I said it was the advice I would give a male friend, I was hinting that the same advice was applicable to a woman. I think it is completely unreasonable to expect to get asked out by a bartender. If he really is a confident, smart, good looking guy, he has girls giving him their number quite often I bet. She has to step up, and that means more than giving him a copy of her short story and crossing her fingers.

zosnut said...

Nearly a crossover episode.
As much as we appreciate Barman Ben, it's great to have some news about Spinal Tap Girl ! We already knew she was lovely.

Dolly said...

Coatman,
For me, the difference between flirting and friendly conversation is the non-verbal stuff. If I'm interested in a guy, I'll find reasons to stand close to him, have our arms or legs brush against each other, lean into him, etc. If I'm not interested, I will try to lean away and keep some distance between me and the guy. I hope that helps!

Realtor Rick said...

Quoting a classic movie:

"Get over him. Go out with someone else."

Pary time, excellent!!!

CoatMan said...

Dolly: Thank you very much: that is indeed helpful! I suspect that there may be more to it than that for some people at least, but it's useful to know the distinction.