Important Life Update: that hair that was growing on my chest is back again. Taking a poll on whether I should grow it out for the summer.
Let that fun fact be the backdrop for the first of what will be a mini-series of stories about inappropriate times I’ve been flirted on (to? at? ‘Flirted with’ sounds too reciprocal. No flirts were given on my behalf.)
As at school or the gym or other places the same people frequent, you tend to see the same familiar strangers in the halls at work. You smile and mouth ‘hi’ and carry on.
There was one familiar stranger at work whose path I happened to cross a lot. I supposed we either had the same pee schedule or snack schedule or he had a secret twin. By whichever coincidence, I saw this man in the hallways often. We’d smile, mouth ‘hi,’ the usual.
Hallway Man was a 50something adult male who wore tight-ish t-shirts and dress pants. I am a 20something adult-ish female who has been asked by the employees in the work cafeteria, “Shouldn’t you be in high school? It’s Thursday.”
On the spectrum of platonic to romantic, I would put my interactions with Hallway Man at a solid “acknowledging my friend’s dad at the grocery store.”
One day, around Christmastime, I saw Hallway Man passing by while I was getting coffee. We acknowledged each other, smiles exchanged, and he continued walking away.
Then, this feeling came over me suddenly, in a very That’s So Raven way. The feeling being “Hallway Man is going to come talk to me.” If I were one of the X-Men, my power would be intuiting when strangers are going to approach me. My defense mechanism would be nervous stomach feelings and armpit sweat.
It’s important to note I was wearing this sweater at the time I knew Hallway Man was going to talk to me:
Sure enough, Hallway Man started walking back toward where I was drinking my coffee. I was already nervous sweating through my Santa Claus. He introduced himself and possibly shook my hand. I don’t remember because I was too distracted by his explanation for introducing himself, which was:
“You just seemed so sweet. And tomorrow is my last day here.
So, for what it’s worth…”
At this point, he gave me his business card, which had his company email address crossed out and his personal email address written in. It was something really professional like Sportsfan4Ever77@aol.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I remember the 77 because I realized that was when he graduated high school (Deciphering email addresses is also one of my superpowers.) For reference, I was negative 13 years old in 1977.
I took his business card, and he walked away. Then, I had a mild brain aneurysm and ran and told everyone what just happened.
My immediate reaction to anyone acknowledging me in a way that is out of the ordinary is to freak out internally, questioning why anyone is paying attention to me, and then to freak out externally, letting everyone know YOU GUYS SOMEONE PAID ATTENTION TO ME ISN’T THAT CRAZY AND WEIRD YOU SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO ME WHILE I TALK ABOUT HOW CRAZY IT IS THAT SOMEONE PAID ATTENTION TO ME.
The next day, I did something I’ve never actually admitted to anyone: I purposely went to get coffee around the same time to see if Hallway Man would talk to me again.
I have this condition called Being An Absurd and Insecure Person, and the symptoms are simultaneously wanting to be both acknowledged and ignored by anyone and everyone.
I did end up seeing Hallway Man while getting coffee because he probably suffers from a condition called Being Super Obsessed With Me. Or, the more likely condition, Needing Caffeine At 2 o’Clock Like Every Other Working Adult in America.
Either way, our exchange was back to the usual smile and ‘hi.’ I was both disappointed and relieved (see “Absurd and Insecure Person”).
Time passed, and I did not soon forget Hallway Man, because I’m obnoxious and told anyone who would listen about this rando at work who talked to me one time.
Hallway Man did not soon forget me either because he sent me this Facebook message a week later:
Hi, apparently there’s only one ‘Mia’ at work. Sorry for the presumptuous introduction last week. Always wanted to say hello.
Then, he mentioned that he was writing me from some quaint cottage in Europe, and I had another mild brain aneurysm.
I felt bad and weird and giddy with insanity, and I didn’t write him back. Because what would I have said?
Hi. Super cool that you searched my name in the company directory and then told me about it. I definitely searched for your name as well, but I have too much shame to admit it. Except, whoopsies, looks like the cat’s out of the bag now! Maybe we can be intergenerational pen pals, and I can feel weird when you say open-ended things with flirtatious undertones.
More time passed, and I still had not forgotten about Hallway Man (see aforementioned obnoxiousness).
And he still had not forgotten about me, because a month after his first Facebook message, he sent another. This time it was much shorter. Just a “Hey, how’s it going?”
Again, I felt all of the emotions and questions and confusions. And again, I didn’t respond. Because, again, what would I have said?
Hey. It’s going well. Just reading too far into your 4-word messages and playing out every possible scenario in which a 50something man would want to have any sort of extended conversation with a neurotic adult-ish girl in a Christmas sweater.
None of the scenarios seem very fun. All end in Lifetime movie adaptations.
Hallway Man has not tried to reach out since, and I think that’s for the best.
I like to imagine he’s given his business card to another adult-ish girl in another Christmas sweater. And they talk about how he’s just retired and how she’s only a year into her first job out of college. And they laugh about whatever complex everyone presumes they have that makes them want to connect with someone 30 years their junior/senior. And I am a story he tells. Or doesn’t tell. Or, hopefully, doesn’t really remember.
Because how sad would that be? Him, recanting our sole interaction, supposing all the things it could have meant a year and half later.
And me, completely past the entire situation, contemplating which racially ambiguous actress should play me in our Lifetime Movie.
(Probably Vanessa Minnillo.)