Not long ago, I had flashbacks to times not too long ago when I was being useless.
What do I mean by that?
In other words, it refers to being involved in a situation in which I am talking to someone who *romantically* likes me and has given plenty of hints expressing that they like me, but I clearly missed those signs until much later, when I reflected on what happened, was confused for a minute, and then ultimately face-palmed. Sometimes, the feelings were not mutual but, for the most part, they were and I definitely beat myself over not noticing, let alone initiating anything at all.
Looking back, I cringe at myself, but at the same time, I find it very hilarious. I am willing to laugh at myself for being an awkward, oblivious bean. These moments have also taught me to be more aware of people, to pick up on the cues sooner than later, and perhaps initiate flirting back. Especially in this crazy world of technology, instant messaging, and social media, it makes the dating game (heck, even just simple flirting) all the more complicated.
I would like to share some anecdotes of when I was useless. I am by no means degrading myself, as I can kid with myself at my awkwardness and naiveté back then. I am sure you might have experienced something similar in your lives when it comes to romantic interests and dating, so here are mine for your entertainment. Enjoy! 🙂
PS I am female, and I identify as LGBT. I have useless stories which involve both sexes, but for the sake of this post, I will stick with girls I have encountered. I will do a non-LGBT one later!
The “Sexy Septum Girl”
It was over a year-and-a-half ago while I was still abroad in France for work. It was my October vacances, in which I had a week off from work to rest. As I often did, I used the time to travel a bit. I decided to go to Paris for a few days– even if I’d visited multiple times prior to that, I still loved the city and didn’t mind going back to discover more of its lesser sights, i.e. off-the-beaten path.
I stayed in a hostel for the four nights I was in town. I’d stayed at this hostel before countless times, as it was reasonably-priced and conveniently-located in the city center. It’s a massive, chain hostel, so there are many floors, rooms, and beds inside. I roomed in a 12-bed mixed dorm, which I didn’t mind at all.
On my second night in, a new hostel-goer came in in the late afternoon while I was chilling in the room, journaling and relaxing after a long day of being out-and-about in the city. The hostel-goer was a young woman carrying a hefty traveling bag. It looked like she was or had been traveling on the road for a while, as her sack looked huge. Aside from her bag, I didn’t think much of it, and I continued to write in my journal.
After she got settled into her bunk, I noticed her come towards the table at which I was sitting to write, and somewhat hesitantly so. The table also faced the hostel window, and we were high enough so that we could get views of the canal Saint-Martin down below.
“Pretty, isn’t it?” she asked softly.
“I’m sorry?” I looked up, slightly-distracted from my writing.
“The view,” she gestured towards the window. The sun was setting, and the hostel’s lights were just turning on. They were multicolored– red, green, purple– that flashed a different color every second. I admit, I agreed– the view was beautiful.
“What are you working on?” she asked again, leaning in to see what I was writing.
“Um, just journaling. Just writing about what I did today,” I responded, hastily hiding my writing from her. Not to say that I was writing anything embarrassing– just that it was for my eyes only.
“Is this your first time in Paris?” she leaned against the window-sill, making herself comfortable. At this point, we were having a conversation, so I shut my journal to give her my full attention. It was also getting a bit dark, so I turned on the dorm lights– there wasn’t anyone else in the room, so thankfully I wouldn’t be disturbing anyone else if they were in.
In the light, I got a better look at the hostel-goer. She was young, tall and slim, perhaps not much older than I was (later I found out she was three years younger than me). She had shoulder-length brown hair that she had tied up in a half-ponytail. She had a small face, and I could tell right off the bat that she was hapa, i.e. half-Asian, half-white. First impressions were that I found her cute, but I didn’t think of it in the romantic sense at all.
What should’ve pinged my gaydar was a matter of two things: attire and accessories. Attire-wise she was wearing an over-sized green trench coat, with black tights and Doc Martens– a bit androgynous, and apparently I learned much later that Doc Martens are a stereotypical boot that queer women like toe wear. So her style was a giveaway…
As for accessories, what should’ve struck me right off the bat was that she had a septum piercing– right in front of me to see it. Not to say that straight girls don’t have it, but septums are also quite associated with at least being not completely straight. While I did notice the piercing right away and found it distinctive, I didn’t immediately assume that it was code for WLW (“women loving women”).
In general, the vibe I got from her was that she was friendly, but also nervous. And sometimes, she would be somewhat standoffish and “chill” when continuing the conversation, which I’d found a bit weird, but in retrospect I think she was just nervous. She did make it clear later that she was “very shy,” and I guess that had something to do with it.
After some back-and-forth talk, I asked for her name.
“E,” she responded. I gave her mine, and since she’d told me that she’d be traveling solo in Paris for a couple of days (until her friend came later), I thought it would be nice to invite her to join me to hang out with some teaching assistant.e friends that I would be meeting up with the following evening– it would be Halloween, and we’d made plans on Facebook to hang out since we all happened to be in Paris at the same time. I thought “E” was pretty cool, and to include her in the fun– I had no *romantic* feelings when I asked her to join, only platonic. Little did I know that she probably had an “inkling” of interest in me, and that inviting her for company probably wasn’t the best move on my part.
Any case, we did our own things separately the following day before we met up back at the hostel dorm in the evening. I wolfed down my take-out kebab (and said something stupid like, “I can’t believe I inhaled that in 10 minutes”), and we headed out to take the metro to the city center to meet up with the assistant.es.
We spent the night basically bar-hopping before going into a supermarket that would actually sell us booze on Halloween night (apparently, there’s a law that buying booze on Halloween is illegal), and we brought our crappy wines down to the Seine. Aside from the *massive* rats fighting nearby, it was a beautiful night out, with the *then-intact* Notre Dame looming in the distance.
Now, I noticed that “E” was still quiet talking to the others. Even when we played “Never Have I Ever” and she split some cigarettes with the assistant.es who smoked, she still was pretty reticent with everyone. Looking back, I guess she wanted just to hang out with me, instead of with company, but I think she was all right with company at the end.
We parted ways with the others just a bit past midnight, as we had to take the last metro back to our hostel. I was a bit drunk, and I did mess up a bit with the metro lines when we had to transfer. I mumbled a “sorry,” as I beat myself for messing up– “E” responded with a gentle, “no worries” and we caught the metro back. I noticed she looked even more withdrawn, and I felt her mentally pull away from me slightly. I found that strange, but in hindsight, I guess that was the point in which she lost interest in me, as I didn’t exactly reciprocate any interest based on the platonic hangout we had with the assistant.es.
It wasn’t until the next morning we saw each other in passing that she gave a small “hi” and looked away quickly. After that, she left to be in the same dorm room as her friend who’d arrived later that day, and I didn’t see her again. Looking back, I clearly saw all of the signs of interest from “E”: making the effort to talk to me, agreeing to go on the crazy Halloween bar crawl, etc. But back then, I thought she was just lonely as a solo traveler and wanted to make friends– maybe it was that, but she targeted me first. And her queer-coded attire was pretty obvious, too.
Alas, I will never know if she saw me that way or not. Granted, we are Facebook friends, but it’s already been almost two years since we saw each other, and it would be awkward to message her out of the blue just to ask this weird question. So “E,” if you every see this, I just want you to know that I was very useless back then, that you’re really cute, and I hope you’re doing well with your life right now.
Thanks for reading– more to come soon!
— The Finicky Cynic
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