It was a dark and stormy night…
Oh wait – it was bright and lovely afternoon. (Gotta admit, the first set up is a lot sexier.) I had hopped the T headed for a date in Harvard Square. This was an online thing so the plan was non-commital hot beverage consumption. Brice was a six-foot-eight-inch tall non-profit consultant who obviously didn’t get the memo that he was supposed to be a point guard for an obscure midwestern franchise.
Our designated meeting spot was the top of the train station stairs. Truth be told - we didn’t need to get that specific. It’s kinda hard to miss someone when they are a full 15 inches taller. I imagine I was my usual ten or so minutes late. My date was über prompt and waiting when I arrived.
They say women decide (well, you know) within five minutes. Unless there’s a significant emotional investment, I usually have four minutes and 55 seconds to spare. This was one of those instances. I can’t point to a specific reason for the lack of attraction. (Perhaps I sensed emotional availability.) 'It’ just wasn’t there. Considering high the percentage of people who don’t hit it off - not such a big deal. Chalk it up to one less man to date in search of that ‘indescribable something’.
In any case, meeting someone new is rarely a complete loss. Everyone is interesting in some way. The less apparent it is, the bigger the challenge it is to draw it out. That’s how I amuse myself, anyways. As we walked to the coffee/chocolate shop, I commenced with the small talk:
“Are you from around here?”
“You came up here for school. Which one?”
“Bergsen M.B.A., huh? What year?”
“Oh- do you know Drew Smith?”
[Cue: Awkward laughter.]
Brice did know Drew. From the look on his face I could tell that our mutual acquaintance wasn’t gonna earn me any bonus points. Now it was his turn to ask the questions:
“How do you know Drew?”
Well... Drew and I had dated on and off during the 2nd semester of my sophomore year. It was an odd pairing (better suited to friendship) but things ended amicably enough that we kept in touch. My fondness not withstanding, it wasn’t a shocker to learn that someone else held a different opinion. Drew was no diplomat.
Apparently, my old friend had “pursued” Brice’s girlfriend the year before they got together. I can imagine he was, how shall I say… “forward” in his approach. Several months after my coffee date, I heard the other side of the story (at Drew’s wedding, no less.) Everyone from the B-school crowd confirmed a similar story. Basically, Brice hated Drew with the fire of a thousand suns and Drew found the whole thing slightly amusing.
Not withstanding the unpleasant shock dealt to Brice by the fickle internet gods, he was a gentleman and offered to give me a lift home. I accepted, started to give directions and was stopped mid-sentence.
“Wait, wait, wait… that’s less than a block from where I live.”
It was. Our backyards are catty corner, on opposite sides of the same corner house.
You might be thinking. “Wow – what a coincidence! That’s a great ending to the story.”
You would be wrong.
When I got back to my apartment, I told my roommates about my afternoon. As I was telling the story I remember something. Something that turned the world from small to flat-out claustrophobic in three seconds flat.
[Flashback to a few months earlier]
My roommate, Hank, and I were chatting in the kitchen. He glanced out the window as he was stirring the sauce. All of a sudden, Hank began to gesturing for me to take a look at something- something that I had to see.
“K... K... Come ‘ere. Have you ever noticed this?”
By "this" he was referring to the unobstructed view into the first floor bathroom of the house behind ours... currently occupied by a guy... who was buck naked... on the commode... and obviously unfamiliar with the principals of horizontal blind usage for maximum privacy. That subject must not be a part of business school curriculum.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go poke out both of my eyes while you go outside to see what kind of free show you have been putting on for the neighbors.