It happens to everyone eventually: rejection. We all know what it’s like to be rejected, but I’ve been thinking about the last time I had to do some rejecting of my own.
It was not a picnic, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, thanks to an awesome geek.
A few years back, I went to see V for Vendetta with my college roommate and her guy. I had been spending the day with Em, and the guy was due to meet us at the theater. When we arrived, the theater was mostly empty, but shortly after we sat down two guys showed up and sat right behind us.
During the previews, it was almost like geek chat in stereo. I’d whisper to Em (who isn’t keen on gore) that Silent Hill is a video game; two seconds later, I’d hear one of the guys behind us say “That’s a great game.” After a few previews, one of the guys leaned up, between our seats.
“I just wanted to let you girls know that we won’t be talking like this through the movie,” he said. Em and I assured him that it was fine, and for a few moments we chatted, all of us. It wasn’t flirting, by any means; just a couple of minutes of geek comraderie that was fun.
Right as the movie started Em’s guy showed up. There was a barely perceptible stirring. I could almost feel the thought bubble looming above the seats behind me:
Darn! They aren’t two single girls after all.
After the movie, the guys asked us what we thought, and we said we’d liked it. The stereo speak continued: as the credits rolled, I mentioned that I liked the song that was playing, and down ahead of me in the tunnel, I heard the one of the guys say “I need to get this soundtrack!”
We were out of the theater and down the hallway when we heard, “Wait!”
Then one of the guys asked me to lunch.
Now, I am one of those embarrassingly transparent people – I can’t lie if my life depended on it. So it’s likely that my face was an interesting carousel of emotions, as my brain pretty much spasmed deciding on a course of action.
See, for one thing, I’m not used to being randomly approached by guys that aren’t, you know, friends first. So there was the entire inability to handle the situation, first and foremost. Chances are my mouth was hanging open.
Next, I was already with my guy – and even at that point, I knew he was destined to be My Guy for quite some time, preferably forever.
Making things even more awkward was the fact that the guy was totally the type I’d go for – cute in a bookish kind of way, clearly had similar interests already. Did he make me rethink My Guy? No, but had I been single I almost certainly would have given lunch a shot.
But how do you convey all this in a graceful way that doesn’t sound like an excuse? I sat in stasis for who knows how long, probably with a moronic, pained look on my face, until the guy totally rescued me and said:
“…Or are you in a relationship?“
“Yes, I am,” I said, eternally grateful. I might have added something lame, like “But I appreciate your asking,” but it’s kind of a blur. To be honest, I was dizzy from the oxygen that decided to resume its course to my brain. The bookish guy was totally cool about it, and probably glad that he was saved a lunch date from a total weirdo.
And let that be a lesson to all of you, in… something.
First, maybe that the girls you might be approaching aren’t any more skilled in giving the “right” answers on cue than you are, and in fact might be worse, so take pity. Honestly, if I had been single, I might not have been any less awkward.
Second, that the occasional rejection often has nothing to do with you as a person, but more with mitigating circumstances. Maybe there’s already a guy, like with me, or maybe you look too similar to her brother. I knew someone who dated a guy whose name rhymed with hers, and after that she swore never again, much to the dismay of many guys with a really common name.
Finally, no one ever wants to reject anyone, no matter the reason. It sucks for all involved, and the fact that the guy was so cool about it made the situation much less terrible. Sometimes I think of the Movie Theater Guy, and how classy he was, and I fervently hope that he found someone he deserves.
So if you’re out there, thank you, Movie Theater Guy, for being awesome.