Of mice and men (and a woman)

Sometimes it seems that I should have named this blog, “the past adventures of Dateless-Man” since most of my recollections of my encounters with the opposite sex are from years ago. Yet today while I was running some errands I did have a notable encounter. Before I analyze, psychoanalyze, and over-analyze this incident, I figured I’d summarize it. I’ve chosen the method of poetry I’ve mastered, which is the limerick:

I saw a woman get scared by a rat

And we began to chat.

With my schedule to blame

I never got her name

And it was all over like that!

To recap, I ventured into Manhattan (New York City) this afternoon/early evening to run some important errands. One of them was paying a bill at a storage facility. It was quickly past 7:00 p.m. and I had to perform two errands which were roughly a mile apart from each other in less than an hour. I was on foot and while there were buses, I couldn’t rely on them or their schedules. As I was leaving the facility, I hopped off the staircase and there was a woman walking down the street in front of the facility as I did so. She glanced at me and I believe smiled. She was thin, about 5′ 6” and had very short hair, and black rimmed glasses, wearing a black coat and boots. If I had to guess her age I’d assume she was in her 20’s to possibly early 30’s at most. I nodded to her and crossed the street on my way with my tight schedule; shortly after she crossed it behind me.

New York has gotten a lot of snow this winter, but today it was warm enough for much of it to finally melt. I was passing by a church which was near the storage facility and passing by a box which was near one of the remaining snow/ice piles. I heard what sounded like a shuffle, like a door opening or someone coming from the church’s nearby stairwell to their basement level. Only there was no one there, and quickly at least 1-2 rats fled from the box and scattered to different directions. New York City is rather notorious for their rats (and pigeons), especially in the subway system. I let out a “Whoa!” in surprise, which I suppose was interpreted as a warning. A second or two later the woman I’d encountered screamed at the sight of the rats and was clearly rattled.

She caught up to me, as I’d stopped to see if she needed help. She wanted to confirm what she’d just witnessed, and I did confirm it for her.

“Normally I’m not squeamish about those sort of things,” she rattled off.

“It’s alright to get squeamish about three rats fighting about a yard from you,” I replied, or words to that effect.

I made a few light hearted comments about the situation. I am always good with what I call “Spider-banter”, named after the sorts of endless wisecracks that Spider-Man tends to say in comics and cartoons. She seemed to smile and enjoy them; making someone laugh is rarely difficult for me. It’s really the only social skill I have.

“Good thing I wore my extra long boots today!” she exclaimed at one point.

“Can’t leave home without ’em!” I quipped.

We walked together for about two short blocks before my pace seemed to naturally be faster than hers. I realized at that point that we’d just had a friendly chat and it has reached a critical junction. A normal person might have introduced themselves, at least exchanged first names. A particularly charming or confident dude may have sought to get her phone number or other contact information. I weighed both options in my head. Official introductions for me are always awkward and difficult for me to pull off. While she was attractive to me, I also was hesitant to exploit the situation to attempt to land a date. Capitalizing on an early evening scare with vermin seemed like a sleazy thing to do or consider. Despite being startled I did think that the interaction was positive and I didn’t want to cause her any discomfort. From what I have read from many websites, one of the things that women dread are unsolicited cat calls or attempts to pick them up outside.

I also had a very strict timetable to run my final errand. I had less than half an hour to walk a mile (or hope to catch a bus whose schedule I didn’t know) and I had no time for a side quest. I bid her a good evening and quickly departed from her path. It would turn out that I’d missed that bus by a minute and I probably could have walked with her another few short blocks (which were on my way), but I had no idea that I’d missed that bus and couldn’t have known. I did just barely make my final errand (with 13 minutes to spare, after some jogging). After that I naturally went home, but with a fresh “adventure” to type about.

As I have mentioned several times, I don’t take any friendly or positive reaction or interaction from a woman as romantic interest. Not only is such a thing the last thing I would assume, but I would probably deny it if a third party witness claimed such a thing. Sometimes friendliness is just that, and nothing more. It would have been bold, but also a bit cheesy, to try to exchange numbers with a total stranger after such an incident, as I estimated at the time. Yet I do know of many men who wouldn’t have been so shy or thought as much about such a simple thing as exchanging first names. It also confirmed what I knew of myself and my own interaction abilities with women which has remained unchanged since college. I am fine with small talk or brief amusing banter, but anything beyond that and I hesitate. I seek to analyze everything, consider whether or not I am bringing discomfort to my guest since that isn’t what I want to do, gauge every angle and weigh all pros and cons. And then the moment passes. It was extremely unlikely that she was single, and it probably would have been poor form to risk any sort of overture, especially given the rush I was in.

I’m not the Dateless-Man because I am a monster or because I never get along with women. I’ve never claimed that and don’t usually assume that. Instead it is because for whatever reason I cannot bring things to the next level, go out on a limb regardless of sense or logic or what I know from experience to flirt or make an attempt. In some ways that’s almost worse; to have an idea of a flaw but being unable to fix it. I can’t even have some bliss in ignorance. In the end I was glad that I didn’t risk ruining her day with some fumbling overture, but I did think about it afterward.

It was a quick and cute New York encounter, though. Nothing says the city more than bonding over rats. The only way to have made it more New York-ish would have been to involve pizza or the Yankees.


9 thoughts on “Of mice and men (and a woman)

  1. Try to free up your schedule when hanging out with women who are potentially dateable. I had encounters of some women showing a confusing level of perceived interest (touching me from behind, giving me the eye, asking lots of questions about myself, crossing their legs, returning compliments, and asking me out to a movie), but I later found out that the woman was “just being friendly”. I don’t know how to distinguish mild flirtation to actual interest. It’s very confusing to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Don’t worry that you can’t distinguish between a woman being friendly or being flirty. Truth is, you simply cannot know by a woman’s interaction with you, if she’s willing to take it to the next level (unless she is very sexually direct of course). Some women just have a flirty way with men, but still no agenda. And you can’t tell if they want to go further. It has happened several times to me: It was in my early twenties and I was at a club with some fellow students, among them my new boyfriend and a female friend of mine. And she was clearly hitting on him! – I believed … I was very annoyed with her and talked to her the next day about it. She was convinced she wasn’t flirting and probably she didn’t and had no intentions taking it to the next level. On the other hand, in my late teens a “good friend” of my then boyfriend and me was always very neutral in her behavior towards him. And then, one time when I wasn’t around, she tried to seduce him. You just can’t tell. When my husband and I are invited to befriended couples, I watch out that I joke equally with both of them, make eye contact with both of them and so on. I want to avoid making the other wife or my husband feel uncomfortable.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your encounter was totally cute 😍 And there are studies that show that if people meet in a high adrenaline situation it is way more likely to develop romantic feeling for each other 😉 So cheers to the little NY rodents 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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