A Different Language

I’m bad at starting conversations with women I’m trying to hit on. Well, I assume I’m still bad. I haven’t tried (or desired) to hit on anyone since my wife and I got together. I’m almost equally as bad at picking up signals women give me (and Chrisie says this is still the case). That’s why I was always thankful if a member of the opposite sex appeared to express interest and let me know instead of waiting on me to make the first move (which I was, again, very bad at). The only problem was, they apparently used an incomprehensible language that consisted of completely English sounding words that had completely unfamiliar meanings.

Now, one thing to understand is that I wasn’t just bad at starting conversations, I was really, really bad. As an example, I once tried to start a conversation with a girl in high school by asking, “Has anyone ever told you look lie the Angel of Death?” Oddly enough, no one had (and yes, my mind is a strange and scary place in which logic and reason often lose out to, well, whatever it is that goes on in there).

Clearly the deck was stacked against me if I attempted a first move. I had the innate ability to kill many relationships before they even thought about blossoming. That’s why a forward girl who actually told me of her interest in me was often key to forming a relationship. Unfortunately, the message I received was often not the one they meant to send. Or maybe they were just as bad at sending signals as I was at picking them up.

Once in high school, a girl from another school gave me her phone number as we talked at a band thing. I didn’t ask for her number, she just suddenly said, “Hey, do you want my phone number?” in the middle of our conversation. I took this as a very good sign and that I had a shot. Our first call set me straight on that issue.

“Hey,” she said a few sentences in to our call, “I appreciate your interest and all, but I really don’t want you calling me.”

“But you gave me your number.”

“So?”

“So what was I supposed to do with it?”

“Well, not call me. I get that you’re in to me, but I’m not in to you and don’t want you calling.”

“But you gave me your number!”

“Yeah, but not to actually use it.”

I got off the phone, completely flummoxed. I left her alone as I thought was her desire. The next time we ran in to each other she asked, “Hey, how come you haven’t called again?” I didn’t respond. I was too busy picking my jaw up to say anything.

Years later while in college, I discovered this phenomenon was not confined to high school girls. I found myself in a friend I wanted to be more than a friend’s dorm room. She and I talked about bad relationships and how we never had much dating luck. I even told her about the girl in high school who gave me her number but didn’t want me to call.

“Well, I promise not to treat you like that,” she said in response.

“Cool,” I laughed, “That’ll be helpful.”

We talked for a while longer. The time for me to go had passed, but we both found excuses for me to stay. Repeatedly. Finally, in a quiet moment she turned a held my eyes with her own.

“You know what I’d really like right now?”

“No,” is what I said, though I had a thought I dared not say out loud so settled on, “Why don’t you tell me?”

“I’d really like to be kissed.”

“You’d like to be kissed?” I leaned toward her and said, “By anyone particular?”

“Yes.”

“Care to share?”

“You.”

I stared for a moment, but it was all the encouragement I needed. I kissed her. She kissed back. Then she pushed me away.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Um, kissing you.”

“Why?”

“Because you said you wanted me to.”

“But I’m not sure I did.”

“Isn’t this exactly what you said you wouldn’t do? Say one thing and mean something completely different?”

“I didn’t do that.”

“How did you not do that?”

“Because I did want you to kiss me when you said that, I just changed my mind when you did.”

“You changed your mind in the middle of me kissing you?”

“Yes,” she said as she made sweeping hand gestures, “You know how you think you want something, but then in the middle of getting it, you realize you never wanted it in the first place?”

“I have no idea what that is like at all!

The next month, I thought I was getting along pretty well with a girl I met in a group of people. I thought this because she asked if she could come hang out with me during my shift on the campus radio station that night. I of course said that was fine. Who am I to turn down an attractive girl showing interest in me?

She sat quietly when I was on mic and talked with me during the music. At midnight, the end of my shift, she asked if I had any paper.

“Of course,” I replied, “Why?”

“Because I want to write down my number for you.”

“Uh huh. Why do you want to do that?”

“Because I want you to have my number.”

“Okay, but specifically why do you want me to have your number?” Fool me twice and all that.

“Because you can’t call and ask me out unless you have my number.”

“You want me to have your number and you want me to call and ask you out.”

“Exactly. Why are you being so difficult?”

“No reason,” I lied.

She wrote down and I took her number. I waited until a day to call because one of my roommates assured me I would seem desperate if I called the next day. I didn’t bother to point out I was desperate for a date with her.

“Hello?” she answered when I did call.

“Hey, it’s Leighton.”

“I was hoping you’d call.”

We talked for a bit. I didn’t feel the need to rush to ask her out since I already knew her answer. It gave me surprising confidence which felt pretty good for a change. She laughed at all my jokes and we seemed to get along well.

Finally I said, “So hey, would you like to go out with me this week? I figured we could get some food, a movie, or whatever you want.”

There was a pause. I wasn’t worried because even I could pick up the signals she sent the other night. “Yeah,” she started, “I don;t think so.”

“Great, so would you like to . . . wait, what?

“I don’t think so.”

“You don’t think so.”

“No.”

“So you’d rather go out next week?”

“No, I don’t want to go out with you at all.”

“But you said you wanted me to call and ask you out.”

“Yeah, but that’s not what I meant.”

I can;t count the number of times I had such conversations. Actually I can, but I just don’t. It’s too depressing. Fortunately I have stayed married to my wonderful wife and don;t have to worry about such silliness anymore.

Oh, she also uses a completely different language some of the time. I’ve just loved her long enough to compile a Chrisie to English dictionary of helpful phrases. That’s why when she says, “Is the door locked? I feel cold, too.” I understand that I’m supposed to go check the door (that I know full well is locked) and get another blanket for her while I’m out of bed.

I still trip up occasionally when she comes up with new meanings to phrases she’s used before, but at least I know exactly what she means when she slams her ice-cold feet against my back in the middle of the night.

I grumble, complain, and say, “I love you, too.”

© Leighton Brown and Stories Now Told, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Leighton Brown is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leighton Brown and Stories Now Told with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information, please see the Copyright page.
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About leighton

I could be considered a true Renaissance Man after having a long and storied (seriously, people actually tell stories about it) college experience and varied careers. I am also a shameless self-promoter (who did you think was writing this anyway?) who is prone to flights of fancy, an abundance of passion on any given subject, ,obsessive behavior, spontaneous storytelling (whether anyone listens or not), and making parenthetical references. I would also be thrilled if I heard someone use the word "raconteur" to describe me.
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5 Responses to A Different Language

  1. Terry says:

    Heh… wow. I can understand having multiple meanings in saying something, but, how can someone mean the exact opposite? This is where I would shake my head and say “Women” in a tone that conveyed part of my displeasure, but, I’d hate to get lynched.

  2. Cindy says:

    That was pretty comical, Leighton. I hope I’ve never been that intentionally inexplicable with anyone…sheesh!

    • leighton says:

      Well, that was that one time you were a semi-unwilling ventriloquist dummy, but that probably doesn;t count since they weren’t even your words. 🙂

  3. tulisha says:

    Well written, friend!
    And I enjoy how often these stories are a sort-of ode to your wife!

  4. Pingback: The Prom Procession | Stories Now Told

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