24 July 2011

Would You Say Hello?

How many times have you seen a stranger in the supermarket or bookshop you fancied the pants off? Too many to count I'd imagine. And how many times have you then actually asked these attractive randomers for their number? A whole lot less I'm guessing, or at least it is in my case. It is possibly a cultural thing.

In many American sitcoms you often see the protagonists asking for a cute randomer's phone no/a date (on Friday at 7pm of course) and 99% of the time they get a yes. In Britain, this isn't seemingly done, or at least it is not acknowledged if it is. Perhaps it's the social perception that approaching somebody you don't know whilst they are going about their lives is being rude. Perhaps it's a case of heightened reality and it doesn't happen even across the pond.

The reason I ask this is that for my first post I looked through my memories of past relationships, one night stands and embarrassing dates, I wondered which I would write about first. As I considered the options, I found myself repeatedly coming back to two incidents that very nearly became an actual case of the above.

The first was in Border's Bookstore (one of the worst casualties of the recession in my opinion) when I was 17/18. This particular Borders was massive. 3 floors and a Starbucks to boot. It was the perfect place to kill some time and one late afternoon I found myself having to kill an hour or so as I waited for a friend. I was sat in one of the big black leather chairs, engrossed in some book (I forget what it was) when I became aware of another guy in the chair next to me. I wasn't sure how long he had been there but for some reason it felt a little different than a random stranger.

Glancing up I took note of him. He looked around 18-20, was tall, slim and had shortish red hair with a spiked up fringe. Not drop dead gorgeous but certainly cute. Most likely a student I figured. In the following half hour we became 'aware' of each other if you will, going so far as to exchange those significant knowing but inexplicable gay looks that seem to come naturally to those of the male-male persuasion. So what was the problem? I don't know. I guess neither of us seemed to be willing to make the first vocal move. Finding a topic shouldn't have been that hard, we were in a bookstore! Eventually, he must have grown tired and he left, leaving a young me rather intrigued by it all.

The second was a few years later in a supermarket. As I queued at the cashier to pay for whatever I was buying I looked around me, as you do. My eyes became quickly fixed on a guy in a opposite queue who was quite blatantly staring at me with a slight smile on his face. He seemed to be my age, a similar size and attractive. My interest immediately peeked, I smiled back. He carried on smiling. Result! Or so I thought.

But then I had to pay for my stuff which distracted me. As I did a hundred thoughts raced through my mind. 'Should I go say hello?' 'Leave my no. next to his shopping?' 'Casually wait after I pay for mine?' etc etc. But no, I paid up and just walked out of the store. I couldn't tell you why. I probably just didn't have the nerve and panicked.

It's odd; in a bar, at a house party or on the dancefloor I have no problem striking up a conversation or manoeuvring my body into theirs. Outside of that environment though, I seemingly freeze. It's something I should probably work on. For all I know either of those two encounters could have led somewhere meaningful, or at the very least, pleasurable.

Point of the conversation: If someone smiles at you in a shop, don't be afraid to open your mouth!

- James.B.

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