Welcome back to my continuing exploration of my past adventures in the realm of love and dating, which is sporadically interrupted by various thoughts, lectures, and recent developments. Where we last left off, it was the turn of the century and I had gone to college, which was a local community college. There were no frats and less of a social college scene than you’d imagine. There were clubs, but they mostly served to make your applications for other colleges look better with extracurricular activities. There were occasionally parties held, but they were often small and held by various clubs. I remember one Halloween party I went to where I knew little about the club hosting it beyond a date, time, and room number on a poster in one of the hallways. By the time I got there, I realized that I was of a different ethnicity than the entire rest of the party members, who were all speaking in their native tongue. I actually won the party’s costume contest (and won a boombox, which I didn’t need and thus sold for $20 at a local electronics shop) but things got awkward when I unmasked afterward. I still had fun, but it was hardly the best party I’d attended.
At any rate, I eventually picked a major, which for that school was considered “mental health and human services”. I would eventually transfer to a larger four year college where it became “social work”, but the community college called it “mental health and human services”. The last bit boggled me; as if to signify that it wasn’t veterinary science. I was attending school full time for a while and due to various schedule blips I sometimes had gaps when I was planning my classes for some semesters. This meant I could take some extra courses, and one semester I chose “First Aid”, which was a 2 credit course held for 2 hours (I believe once a week). The class was held in the phys ed building, which was fine as during this time I was trying to take advantage of the school’s weight training room on occasion. I estimate I was between 19-20 years old at the time.
Many classes which were of my major or not in more popular fields (such as liberal arts, nursing, or business) tended to be smaller and more intimate. This one was no exception; I believe there were barely more than about 15 students in the entire class. The text for the course was a fairly inexpensive soft book with the end goal being preparing the student for certification under the Red Cross – which required passing a final exam as well as mastering all of the various techniques as well as sending $10 by check or money order to a designated address. Naturally, most of the women I would become attracted to during this time of my life were fellow students from class, and this case was no exception. I’ll dub her Viola. She was a soft spoken women with short black hair and tan skin; I believe she was either Middle Eastern or Hispanic, but like many people (including myself) her background likely included many lands. She was very intelligent (and majoring in nursing) but seemed a bit shy, which I certainly could relate to. I’d noticed her on the first day of class and over time wound up talking to her. By this time I’d theorized that since many of my classes were small and often involved talking about oneself at some point, instead of immediately making a move I would try to learn as much about the object of my desires over time before making such a risk.
Now, it’s easy to just assume I did such a thing because of my own lack of initiative or boldness. And that’d be true, to a point. But I also didn’t want to bring undue irritation to someone else. I could imagine what it was like to be a young woman in a class just trying to go about life and suddenly someone else is hitting on her. If she has a boyfriend, husband, or just isn’t interested, she has to go through the effort of blowing me off and then share a class with me for another few months. And having these concerns for any target of my desire was atop of the usual litany of faults within myself that I knew I had, and usually tried to hide. At the time, though, as pessimistic and cynical as I thought I was, I still was much more hopeful for a better change in the future than I am now. After all, I was still young with high school being recent; I still considered myself a “young” adult.
I remember lessons regarding rescue breathing and CPR, and then wrapping bandages around wounds or forming clings with gauze got more interesting because it forced us to get out of our seats and interact more personally on or around a mat. One of the classes involving slings and bandages involved having to practice on the arm of a “partner”, and by now Viola and I had been paired up for such things because we sat near each other. At one point one of us screwed up a little on the sling/wrappings (I forget whether it was she or I) and the teacher remarked, “Hey, are you two tying each other up or what?” We chuckled and I tried not to blush or show any hint of my desires. I usually did my best to try to get in some words or quips with Viola when I could during class or set up, and she seemed to respond well. My other usual tactic at that time was to use the “can I walk you to your next class/to the bus stop” line as an excuse to try to continue talking to a woman after class. Yet throughout the entire semester Viola seemed to dart out of class immediately and I never got a chance to ask.
Regardless of how well we seemed to get along during brief interactions in class, I never took that to jump to any conclusions regarding interest or odds of successfully asking her out. As I have said in August, I don’t assume that any sort of positive or friendly action on the part of a woman I interact with to be a sign of romantic desire (or the potential of it). I’ve noticed in interacting with guys as well as observing them online and in “real life”, that many of them seem to interpret nearly ANY positive interaction with a woman as a sign of their desire. Heck, many men seem to see themselves as such a “gift” towards women that a woman’s very existence seems to be a sign of such desire (i.e. catcalls). It’s how I am now and it’s how I’ve been since as long as I can remember in that I simply see friendly interaction as friendly interaction. A woman would probably have to be extremely blunt or obvious in her flirtations in order to get through to me or have me assume that the odds of me succeeding in asking her out were favorable. Maybe. Perhaps I saw dating as I saw schooling; just make enough observations, studying, and note taking and I could “pass” it. It’s yet to work. By the time I learn enough that I think my odds are viable, the moment passes or something comes up. I look for any excuse or reason why I don’t have a chance.
At any rate, Viola’s rapid, ninja style exits from every class fed into my own doubts about whether our interactions were anything more than just friendly classmate banter as well as about my appeal to women in general. While I am slow to assume any positive interaction with a woman betrays romantic interest or potential, my ability to assume any woman already has a boyfriend/is married or is disinterested is instant and immediate. This case was no exception, and before long the semester was almost over. One day I decided to try to leave rapidly as well and see if I could catch up to her. Much like the intro to college post, I assumed she was perhaps being picked up by a boyfriend. As it would turn out, she was meeting up with a friend (another woman) who seemed to break from a class nearby, and they’d walk together. Naturally, I had no intention to interrupt or impose myself upon such a situation. I wondered that had I not assumed she’d had a boyfriend from her rapid exits if I’d actually had the stones to try to ask her out or something, and by this point it was too late; if memory serves the class ended two weeks later.
Incidentally, I sent in my $10 money order and to this day never got that Red Cross certification. It was only valid for a year, I just hate that I threw cash into a black hole.
I look back at my other major interactions with women in college and this was really the only one where either competition or a very long term relationship weren’t revealed. I can’t easily say whether there were any signals that I missed, I was just too chicken and neurotic, or if all it was was friendliness and it was wise not to throw a monkey wrench into it by assuming too much. I suppose it can be easy to see by previous adventures how previous attempts to reveal how I felt about someone as a kid were used against me, but on the other hand I suppose by college I should have “manned up” and not been so sensitive about such things, or cared as much about making a situation awkward for somebody else. I suppose this may be a mountain out of a molehill, making a lot out of a woman I used to chat up in one class, but she really was quite friendly and nice, and regardless of how things turned out I never forgot her completely.
Unfortunately, not all of my romantic ploys at this community college ended as simply. The next one had other forces at play, and it’s outcome likely impacted me for the rest of my time at college, and maybe even to this day in some minor ways. It should make for a more interesting read, though, with other “characters” at play. I don’t regret this one as much as I did the “Millennium House Party” from the end of high school, but it was one of the first major protracted interactions I had with a lady classmate in college which wasn’t simply me pining from afar and never saying a word. If I had to remember and list how many female classmates I had where I simply would admire them from afar but either find out they had a boyfriend via class discussion and/or never even say much of anything to them, I’d be here all year!