Sexual Invisibility, Incoherent Babbling, and Other Effective Prophylactics

I have some highly dramatic news for you all:

Our server went down at work today.

I know.

Our computers run on Citrix, which is something I hope you never have to know about or understand. In a nutshell, it means that every computer in the building is a mere ghostly shell, existing only on the network and in our binary code dreams. It also means that, when the network went down, every computer in the building froze simultaneously, losing hours upon hours of work and effectively screwing over the entire organization.

The entire organization, that is, except me.

Fortunately for me, I do not do this "work" of which you speak, so all I lost was some banal Flickr commentary on the engagement photos of my third grade summer camp bunkmate, commenting encouragingly on the falling divorce rate and her bold choice of shoulder pads.

Our computers were down for almost a full two hours, coming back just in time before the shakes set in. My loss of precious Gmail access had a bright side, however. Without Twitter and Facebook to while away the hours, I was forced to catch up on some much-needed work in the office. Namely, organizing my snackcake inventory, shaking the granola crumbs out of my keyboard, and making artistic photocopies of my left hand.

What I was not able to do, however, was tell you this story. So I am telling you now, from a neighborhood coffee shop, where I’m armed to the teeth with Mexican decaf and vegan cupcakes.

Real blog post in 10… 9… 8…

===

I was just slipping out the door when he stopped me.

It's not a bar I frequent often. It's a five minute walk from my house and the soup is delicious, but it's somehow never where we end up. The last time I was there, in fact, was six months ago-- the night I met Jalapeño.

I almost didn't even go. I'd spent the past two weeks in full-on HermitMode and I was looking forward to another Friday night with a cup of tea and words that weren’t my own.

But then C called. And I hadn't seen them in far too long, so I shrugged on my coat and resigned myself to brave the cold.

And I'm glad that I did. It was a night of board games and pinot gris and the kind of tummy-aching laughter that garners dirty looks from neighboring patrons. And at an hour dangerously close to my bedtime, I paid my tab, buttoned my coat, and bid my farewells.

I was just slipping out the door when he stopped me.

"Excuse me," he said as I reached for the door. "Were you on the 4-East today?"

I stopped, surprised, and turned to him. Blue eyes. A nice smile. He looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn't place his face. I answered in the affirmative.

"That's so funny," he said, holding out his hand with a laugh. "I'm Ethan."

We shook hands in the dimly lit entry way, jostled against the wall by heavy coats and scarves as people shouldered their way in from the cold. He told me he'd just moved back to town and he asked me where I worked. We chatted for a moment or two and then--

"Well, I guess I'll see you around on the bus, Ethan." I turned to go and then--

"Actually... could I call you sometime?"

I stopped. I turned.

I blinked.

===

I never kissed boys on the playground. I never held hands at the skating rink. The first time I ever kissed a boy at all, I was twenty-years-old and, even in my adult life, I've gone long stretches without anything remotely resembling a boyfriend.

Sexual invisibility is part of my identity. I am a sexual being, of course, but I never expect people to see me that way. I expect people to see me as independent to the point of asexuality, and they usually do. "I just can't imagine you with a boyfriend," friends used to say to me. They didn't mean it as an insult.

It isn't about my self-worth. I know that I'm an interesting, attractive, intelligent person, with whom any man would be lucky to share a cereal shelf, let alone a bed. It's not about that. I just have a hard time seeing myself as someone who could be partnered. Like I'm some separate, untouchable species.

And when a man does ask me out, I always have this sense that I've accidentally tricked him. Like he missed the memo on my undateability and I made it in on a technicality. It's difficult to explain this, but I almost feel guilty about it. Like-- God, this poor guy. He doesn't realize. Should I tell him?

...

Anyway, I gave him my number.

He didn't call over the weekend, which was nine parts relief and one part disappointment. But on Monday’s ride home, he slipped into the seat next to mine with an awkward sideways smile.

“How was your weekend?”

We chatted about our jobs and the weather and the places we’re from and I continued my time-honored tradition of babbling incoherently and startling everyone in a nine-mile radius with my uncomfortably loud laugh. After what felt like an eternity, our bus pulled into the transfer point.

"9-1-2, right?" he asked, as we climbed off the bus onto the cold, gray concrete. I turned to him, drawing up the hood of my coat against the wind.

"9-1-2 what?"

"Your area code."

I blinked at him in surprise. "No, it's 917."

He paused. "... Oh."

We both laughed.

"Alright," he said as he scuffed his sneaker against the pavement. He smiled as he turned to go. "I'll call you."

images courtesy hownowdesign