Like two ships passing in the night…
Somewhere between two and three in the morning on a Saturday night (Sunday morning?) I’m sitting in my dorm’s courtyard with my friend having a typical early morning/late night college kid conversation. A comfortable and exciting back and forth of half-born ideas and muddled thoughts of profound importance. Nicotine and cigar smoke only heighten the mystique and intellectual excitement of the experience.
We didn’t feel like doing much that night and figured a walk around campus with cheap cigars would be a pleasant, pseudo-sophisticated activity— better than getting wasted in a sweaty frathouse basement or trying to score with the girl on the 3rd floor. While we wander from one topic to the next, we watch partygoers and night owls roll in from the night’s festivities. You can hear the bass bumping somewhere, the faraway drunk girl cacophony.
Awkwardness knows no time of day and heeds not the rollings of heavenly spheres. And while Plastic Czar Dubra and Foamy King Keystone (light) dull the fiend's haughty spear, all the more Awkwardness doth seek out the sober.
My dorm is U-shaped. The courtyard and benches are in the middle facing inward. Enter a girl on the starboard side. She’s got long dark hair and a black dress. Fancy shoes throw her gait a little slinky, or she could be drunk; it doesn’t matter. Although I’m pondering the world’s problems, trying to explain the most reasonable solutions to them all, I notice her as she walks out the door. Her course to the other side of the courtyard runs in front of us, although the space's layout forces her to stay at a distance. As she nears our 12 o’clock I’m formulating a Socratic question for my colleague. I’m sure I have the answers, but I must lead him to enlightenment.
I open my mouth but I guess the girl muttered some sort of greeting to combat what she thought was impending awkwardness. In fact, I was intellectually absorbed, and had hardly noticed her. In fact, I was kind of staring at her, the way people stare when they’re thinking. Thinking profound thoughts, that is. I was trying, but couldn’t tell what she looked like— the lighting was bad and I probably had smoke in my eyes. The black dress, long hair, and swishy walk warranted further examination.
“What…” I pause to reword my question.
“I was just saying hey” She snaps.
She said? To me? The world's problems take backseat to making sense of what just happened. I had just inadvertently given a slightly argumentative "What?" to her "Hey."
By the time I figure this all out, she’s at our 10 o’clock. Too far to call back. I’m wearing a big red flannel shirt-jac and a dorky hat, smoking a cigar, and talking too loud; I might have looked a bit strange and was acting strangely for all she knew. Calling her back would be even stranger. She’ll understand given the right information. This is a top university, where men philosophize on Saturday nights.
So I decide to repeat myself, louder, so that she may hear the prelude to my Socratic question and understand that my initial "what?" was a part of the said prelude (much like when your movement on a couch makes a farting noise when you're next to a girl and you desperately try to recreate the noise repeatedly and loudly so that the girl will understand you didn't fart and that you were simply a victim of a squeaking couch/sneaker. Except in this case, I found she was already out of earshot by the time I realized what had happened- so much like the girl on the couch getting up before you could reproduce the fart noise, this girl was left to thinking I was a pretentious, snobby dickhead and there was little I could do.)
“What…What do…What do we…What should…So, what is…”
It’s too late. I'm looking at the stars, stroking my chin, gesticulating with my cigar but she doesn't pick up on my pathetic theatrics. A late night philosopher is brought to his knees by a mysterious woman in a black dress. I was blindsided, cut down when I thought I was safe.
The world’s problems haven’t been solved since and I haven’t found out the shaming dame’s name or if she knows who I am. Zero sum, I hope, yet awkwardness saunters away with a prize.