I have a history of attracting strange, yet harmless, men who typically believe I’m interested in them, and who subsequently become fascinated with me.
In high school, it was J.C. At the start of sophomore year, I took to smiling at other students in hopes of making new friends. But J.C. misinterpreted. He told someone, “Vicky always smiles at me; I think she likes me.” Our relationship culminated with a surprise phone call during which he asked if he could borrow one of my brother’s CDs of dance-hall music for a compilation he was making. I said I would think about it. Twenty years later, J.C. is now my friend on Facebook; he is the first to comment on or “like” my status. I think he still thinks I have a crush on him.
My adult-life J.C. is the guy who hangs out at the neighborhood café. He wears a black bomber jacket, the kind that was popular for a moment among skinheads in the 1990s, and cargo jeans. Our dance of courtship began with a series of coincidences: I often go to the café when he is there. I went to a bar in a neighboring city, and he happened to be sitting at the counter. I saw him at the café again, and then again at another bar down the street. He has taken these coincidences to mean we’re fated to know each other. He told me so. I disagree. When he approaches me at these establishments, he butts his head into my conversations to such an aggressive degree that even my companions get offended. When I go to the café now and he’s there, I hold my hands around my face as though I am blocking the sun, and I do not move them until he leaves.
I am not an antisocial person; I’m merely baffled by the confusing language of social cues. How did J.C. misread my obviously platonic gestures? And how can neighborhood-café-man not catch on that we are simply neighbors, not cosmically connected soul mates? Let me know if you have an answer.
Read the next Memorable Come-ons story: Supermarket Fireworks
Coffee Culture: My Six Favorite Local Cafés
Friendship or Fire? The 4-Way