Like Mace, sometimes the armor you use to protect yourself from strangers (headphones, books, newspapers, etc.) is used against you. Instead of indicating that you want to be left alone, “friendly” people see this armor as a conversation starter. I don’t understand these people, and they can really put a damper on my commute.
This morning I quickly opened the book I’m currently obsessed with, American Wife, after I snagged myself a seat on the bus. Although it’s a work of fiction loosely based on Laura Bush, I believe the fellow next to me perceived it as an instruction manual I carry around on my quest for a CTA-riding husband. I hadn’t even gotten through a sentence when he started the dreaded awkward conversation with, “Is that a book about being an American wife?” Oy.
So I briefly told him what the book is about and turned back to the page. One sentence later: “So that’s probably like more of a chick book, right?” At this point I’m getting pretty annoyed. I really am obsessed with this book – stayed up way past my bedtime Wednesday night reading it – and my commute’s not that long, and I like to spend it READING. Also, I was hungover from Thursday night. But still, I smiled when I responded with a nod. Why, why, why? I have no idea.
So he proceeds to tell me what kinds of books he likes and that he’d like to be in a book club but they seem like a girl thing … and asks me what I do and then I ask him what he does (why, why, why – I guess because sometimes I act human and I felt obligated. Sigh.) … and we talk about layoffs and I keep trying to go back to my book but he keeps on talking … and then he brings up his brother who works at Google … and this I find interesting so I ask more questions. Damn it.
And here’s where it gets real awkward. He says he’s getting off at the next stop and asks if I have a card. I tell him I don’t have any on me – oh well. But no that can’t be the end of it. He then asks if he can write down my e-mail address. Usually I would just give it but for some reason – I think because I was really pretty miffed; this book is like crack – I said no. But he did seem like a nice guy and who can really blame him for putting himself out there – I know that takes a lot of courage, especially stone sober at nine in the morning. So I added that I have a boyfriend and I just didn’t want to send mixed signals, something like that … at this point I was suffering from full-blown diarrhea of the mouth.
Then we sat in a painful silence for what was probably about three seconds but felt like a week and a half, during which I obsessed over what I had said and wondered if he had really just been being friendly, and was now thinking he couldn’t believe what a giant ego this girl in an Old Navy jean jacket had – that he couldn’t believe I had just assumed he was interested in dating me.
But then he kindly broke the silence by asking if I by any chance had a twin who was single. So I guess my assumption was correct… This person didn’t just want to be my friend. So then what’s the point of it all??? Is anyone of the opposite sex really just being “friendly”? Are you supposed to just ignore them right off the bat if you’re not single or interested? Ugh … I just wanted to read my book.