Unlike most people who usually begin with stiff pleasantries, she began with a joke, the perfect joke. It wasn’t funny, it was witty. And it’s not like she was trying to draw attention to herself; she muttered it under her breath, as if she amused herself. He heard her though and he liked what he heard.
These were really the best situations, he thought. She was a friend of a friend and do you know how many hurdles that removes for a guy? He won’t have to find a non-threatening, clever-but-not-over-the-top and confident way to introduce himself. By his count, most non-promiscuous girls have four layers of armor. Being a friend of a friend automatically puts you at level 2.
Immediately, he labeled her as perfect. This has been a tendency of his going back to the precocious age of 12. Steve Carell put a name to it in The 40-year Old Virgin: “Putting the pussy on a pedestal”, he recalled. He enjoyed the truth behind the phrase, not to mention the alliteration.
He’s long suspected that the perfect girl was being prepared just for him. This was a convenient way of seeing the world because it precluded him from actually having to make an effort. This has probably contributed a great deal to his singleness for the past however so many years.
This is just layer 1 of his deception. People ask him all the time. Why are you single? Why aren’t you dating? Are you picky? You must be picky. He loved it when people said this because it boosted his confidence. Why yes, I am picky. I’m so good and awesome that I can afford to pick and choose who I will date. I’m a regular AC Slater.
But inside he knew the truth. He sucked. He sucked at talking to girls, he sucked with his timing, he sucked at reading the situation, he sucked he sucked he sucked. He sucked even more in relationships. There were a number of reasons why he remained single for all these years, but inside, he knew the biggest reason was due to his suckiness.
So maybe he had to believe the perfect girl was out there. It was a more acceptable alternative to “I suck”.
But perfection produces pressure. When the pussy is up on top of that almighty pedestal, it becomes judge, jury and executioner. He knows he’s not perfect, not by a long shot, so he goes into it knowing that he’s almost always out of his league. Gods slay mortals: He knew this not from mythology but from personal experience.
Through years of rejection, he’s compiled a long list of things not to do. He understands from a rational point of view that with Dana, Chloe and Sarah…he came off as desperate. With Ji, he scared her off with his talk of marriage on the third date. With Samantha and Donna, well, let’s face it…he was still getting over Ji.
But each time, he learned something because hey, we’re learning beings after all. He felt like the collection of what he’s learned amounted to some sort of knowledge of love, but it was all just academic. He knew love like he knew Physics.
But see? He’s already taken everything he’s learned and thrown it out the window! One joke! One joke was all it took to repeat the mistakes of the past. Because his failures with Dana, Chloe, Sarah, Ji, Samantha and Donna had nothing to do with what he said or what he did, but had everything to do with looking for love when all he should have been looking for was a phone number.
Was he in love with this girl? No, but he could already see that by her prettiness, her smile, her sense of humor, the way she looked into his eyes, her unmistakable air of self-assuredness (girls cannot fake this, by the way)…by these measures, he could see that he could easily one day, in the not too distant future, fall in love with her. What was her name again?
Before uttering a word, he kicked himself for losing the war before the battle began. He would say to himself again, well, this may be the perfect girl I’ve been waiting for, which implies a divine being who’s playing matchmaker. Which implies that this is meant to be. Which, in turn, implies that no matter what he says or what he does, this is going to work out. He should introduce himself.
Before he opens his mouth, she turns to her girlfriend and says, “Mike would really love this. I wish he was here” Her friend replies with “Awwwww!!!” and gives her a hug.
He smiles at her and walks away.
How fast can you fall in love? Our man doesn’t have an answer.
But he knows, from personal experience, that you can have your heart broken in less than a minute.
For Under a Minute, see Jessica J.