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Li’l Sis: So, I have a third date this weekend.
Me: What’s the scoop?
Li’l Sis: We met out at a bar, in line for the bathroom… Very romantic.
Me: Nice. Where are you going on your date?
Li’l Sis: I don’t know yet. Probably dinner. The whole thing is impossibly awkward.
Me: Why awkward? Or no more awkward than usual dating?
Li’l Sis: Well, all dating is awkward.
Me: Who asked out whom?
Li’l Sis: We exchanged emails and then one thing led to another…
Me: “So, yeah, I guess we should get together sometime or something.”
Li’l Sis: Pretty much. I think it was more like, “Do you want to get a drink or something, or whatever, maybe.”
Me: “But if you don’t that’s cool, in fact, forget it, I’m moving to Nova Scotia.”
Li’l Sis: Yeah, I’m very much of the, “I might like you, if you like me, but if not, then no I’ve never thought about it.”
Me: See, me too, but history has shown me that you have to just go balls out, or whatever the female equivalent is.
Li’l Sis: How would you know? You’ve been with Rachel for like 10 years.
Me: There was a time when I wasn’t and I vaguely remember that time.
Li’l Sis: Oh. Well, I think the problem is I normally date very forward women, who do all the awkward stuff.
Me: Well, you’ll just have to grab the reins. What’s the worst that can happen?
Li’l Sis: She can say, “Ew, what the hell? I don’t like you like that.”
Me: Well, I doubt she’d say â€œEw.â€
Li’l Sis: You never know. I think its one of those â€œtime to be an adultâ€ moments.
Me: Look, you ask her out, and if she says no, you never see her again.
Li’l Sis: Well, we’re already going out. The issue is somehow moving to the next level. On our last date, we were sitting in her car, it was clearly time for one of us to make some sort of a moveâ€¦ and that’s when I ran out of the car.
Li’l Sis: I know. The chicks dig it.
Me: Next time you’re in that situation, where you’re both thinking “someone should make a move,” someone should make a move. Otherwise she’ll start thinking, “she doesn’t like me.” I mean, come on, sitting in the parked car?
Li’l Sis: I know. I kind of panicked.
Me: Been there. But, you know, be charming and hilarious, like, “So… Seems like one of us should make a move here.” What a great “how we started dating” story!
Li’l Sis: I guess. It’s just hell. Plus, she bought dinner on the last date so I thought she would be in charge of “moves.”
Me: How enlightened of you
Li’l Sis: Well, if she’s going to be the man-figure, so be it.
Me: “She bought dinner, so I’m expected to put out?”
Li’l Sis: Yes, that’s how it works. Anyway, I’m just used to dating more forward people, or rather, people who aren’t spazzes like me.
Me: heh. well, this is your chance to de-spaz yourself
Li’l Sis: Yes, my very helpful friends have suggested practicing the “lean in” in the mirror. I don’t think so.
Me: I’m picturing you smacking your forehead against the bathroom mirror.
Li’l Sis: Yes, it’s hilarious. Thanks, friends. I’m sure I’ll have a hilarious story by Sunday. My life is a romantic comedy.
Me: I can’t wait!
Li’l Sis: I know… You’re one of many people anticipating my latest antics. I dont know if I can top fleeing the car.
Me: That’s pretty awesome. Did you, like, say “i gotta go?”
Li’l Sis: You’ll love this. I said, “OK, well, maybe give me a call after Thanksgiving, if you want, or whatever.”
Li’l Sis: Yeah, it was classic. Then I shut the car door and said, “dammit.”
Me: It’s funny:in some ways I can’t quite help you because I’ve always humiliated my self in the other direction. And if not always, at least more memorably.
Li’l Sis: How?
Me: Attempting to bust said move, and receiving the stop sign.
Li’l Sis: No, really? That’s my nightmare! How are you still alive?
Me: I mean, it’s humiliating at the time, but that leaves less of a long-lasting stain than the pain of regret over action not taken. Those are the ones that haunt you. Oh, God.
Li’l Sis: What?
Me: I just remembered. One time in college, I went apple-picking with this girl. Afterwards we were sitting in her dorm room, on her bed, side-by-side, hands nearly touching. And I think “I’m in!” So, I lean inâ€¦ and she leans outâ€¦ and I say, “So… is that a print of ‘Guernica?'”
Li’l Sis: No, I’m dying. Really?
Me: Honest to God. Like, â€œNo, I didn’t just try to kiss you, what?â€
Li’l Sis: I can’t believe you survived the lean-out.
Me: It was awful, but, I got over it.
Li’l Sis: Huh. See, normally, I don’t have this problem. I just get drunk around people I’m attracted to, and… you know.
Me: Well, you can always try that approach. “So, instead of dinner, how about I come over to your apartment with a case of bud lightâ€¦ for me?”
Li’l Sis: I was actually thinking about that. I just need to get her over here and, also, we need to be drunk. Wow, Me, if you can live through the lean out, maybe I can do this. I don’t know anyone who’s tried it before.
Me: It’s true. I have survived the ultimate defeat.
Li’l Sis: I just hope there’s a â€œGuernicaâ€ print around.
Me: Totally. “What? No, I wasn’t leaning in, I was leaning over.”
Li’l Sis: Just looking at the art. Not trying to kiss you.
Me: What made it worse was that after my classy recovery line, she was all, “Oh, Me, I’m sorry, I’m just not interested in you that way.” So I couldn’t pretend it hadn’t happened.
Li’l Sis: Oh God. Insult to injury.
Me: So, not only did I get the lean out, but she wouldn’t blot out the memory. I had to go through the full formal rejection.
Li’l Sis: Sweet Jesus, you got the lean out and a verbal smack down.
Me: Inside I’m thinking “Dude, did you not get the clear ‘Guernica’ code word? ‘Guernica’ means ‘this never happened.’â€
Li’l Sis: She didn’t even leave you your pride.
Me: â€œYeah, I got the impression you weren’t interested when you leaned out.â€
Li’l Sis: How did you leave the room? Were you just like, “Well… and I’m done. That’s it for me, folks.”
Me: No, because now we were having The Conversation. I had to nod, and say yes, let’s still be friends, and she gave me a little “take care” and saw me to the door.
Li’l Sis: What did you do? Did you go home and just go, “Shit, now i must die.”
Me: Pretty much. Freshman year was a whole series of “Now, I must destroy the universe” moments.
Li’l Sis: Did you just turn to her and say, “Look, when I point out the ‘Guernica’ print, that means, let us never speak of this.”
Me: “Hi, maybe this was too subtle, but did you not get the idea that I would rather swallow tacks than speak of this?”
Li’l Sis: “Have I ever shown any interest in art? Who the fuck cares about a ‘Guernica’ print? Let me slink away, for God’s sake!”
Me: Anyway, you will not have to go through that. That was a unique event.
Li’l Sis: Huh, well this has really helped. I have never known anyone who’s attempted a sober lean in, and survived a lean out. And you don’t seem crushed, a shell of a man.
Me: No, no, I recovered.
Li’l Sis: Hmm…I guess I’m lucky I’ve put this off until the age of 27.
Me: I guess… I guess it could be easier when you’re older and have built up a wealth of successes.
Li’l Sis: True. Although everyone else I talk to says, “You want to try this sober? Seriously? How is that possible?” But now I’ll tell them: â€œGuernica!â€ It’s my new war cry.
Me: I’m trying to think if I ever started a relationship with a drunken hookup.
Li’l Sis: Seriously, that’s how I start all my relationships. This might be why they end poorly.
Me: No, I’ve seemed to take my bracing starts and ends cold sober. It’s like plunging into an icy stream: difficult, yet stupid.
Li’l Sis: Very brave. I’ve always done it the old-fashioned way. Drink too much with someone you’re attracted to, and it’s like a law of physics that something will happen. You know, a drunk object in motion… Some things are best attempted in a hazy fog, with a lot of deniability. I’m looking forward to losing some more of my self-respect. Looking in the mirror and thinking: â€œSeriously, this is my life. I actually got a lean-out? Thanks, world.â€
Me: It’s kinda win-win… if you don’t get the lean-out, obviously, good. If you do, you can say, with confidence, â€œI have survived the worst this universe can throw at me.â€ Bring. It. On.
Li’l Sis: Well, at least my hilariously awkward dating moments bring joy to others. Bird girl, girl who couldn’t spell, all good times.
Me: It’s true! So far this one’s only fault is she’s too funny. You can overlook that.
Li’l Sis: I guess, although I’m really more comfortable as the funny one. Now which one am I going to be? The nice one?
Me: Apparently, the forward one.
Li’l Sis: Maybe. Maybe I’ll be the forward one, and she can play the role of me, pretending to be oblivious to the other person’s attempted moves.
Me: Well, it’s better than The One Who Runs Away
Li’l Sis: Yes, although fleeing the car is an adrenaline rush.
Me: I can only imagine. Oh god, I’m thinking of more blaze-of-glory stories.
Li’l Sis: Go.
Me: This is too embarassing.
Li’l Sis: Please?
Me: It was at camp. And there was this girl I liked, so, naturally, on a night off, a bunch of guys went to Steak ‘n’ Shake. And, logically, the thing to do was obviously to write her a poem on the back of the paper placemat they give you.
Li’l Sis: No, no.
Me: And of course, to fold it up and kind of awkwardly hand it to her next time I saw her, and then scamper away like some small rodent. Then, of course, the next day, I saw her and said something like, “So… did you get the thing I wrote?”
Li’l Sis: Oh God.
Me: And she said “… … … yeah.”
Me: And I said “… … Ok then.”
Me: And that was that.
Li’l Sis: Me, never leave a paper trail
Me: Well, I know that NOW.
Li’l Sis: What did the poem say?
Me: Oh, who can say.
Li’l Sis: Was it rhymed?
Me: It was free verse.
Li’l Sis: Stop, stop.
Me: I can only imagine the scene when she read it. “What, exactly, the fuck is this supposed to be?”
Li’l Sis: You know she showed it to all her friends, right?
Me: Oh, I’m pretending that’s not so.
Li’l Sis: Did your friends ok this plan?
Me: My friends FORMED the plan.
Li’l Sis: See, these are not your friends.
Me: “You should write her a poem!” Yeah, you think? I mean, in my right mind, I never would have done it. But these people all said, “Yes, yes, good idea.”
Li’l Sis: A poem? Did they like her too? Was this sabotage?
Me: I mean, it was either a terrible joke at my expense, or we were all morons. A poem. On the back of a Steak and Shake placemat.
Li’l Sis: You have no idea what the poem said?
Me: God, I have no idea. “Duuurrrrr, will you go out with me?” shouldn’t be a poem.
Li’l Sis: It’s hard to make “want to hold hands in friendship circle?â€ into poetry.
Me: “Will you sneak out into the woods so we can make out” is pretty romantic, sure….Mine was the kind of crap a 16 year old would post on his Live Journal today.
Li’l Sis: Well, I feel prepared: No poems, and â€œGuernica.â€
Me: You should write those on your palm before you go out.
Li’l Sis: How on earth did you get to be so brave?
Me: Well… I dunno… the alternative was no nookie, so…
Li’l Sis: Fair enough.