Saturday, October 18, 2008
Like, um, so, do you wanna...
Yesterday, I screwed up the courage to ask my coworker out.
At least, that's what I imagined it felt like. I wouldn't know: I'm past the asking-people-out stage of my life and, honestly, I never did it anyway. Asking people out is scary, and I am -let's be blunt- a Wuss Extraordinaire.
(One of the secret, shameful satisfactions of girlhood is that girls, in heterosexual culture, can get with this kind of cravenness. Boys, unless they're inordinately attractive, can't. Not that I really endorse the sitting-on-your-ass approach to dating. You unfailingly end up dating people who are braver than you are, which brings its own set of problems.)
Yet, there I was, a grown woman, dangling an ostentatiously casual invitation for a beer after work. My co-worker and I were both new to the area. We'd already gone through the awkward dance of "we should get together at some unspecified time in the future." I simply picked a time and a premise, then walked into my colleague's office sweaty-palmed.
And what, you might ask, drove me to this dark pass? The thing is, life after college and graduate school is isolating. We spend our whole lives moving apart: from sharing a room, to sharing an apartment, to setting up shop in detached houses with lawns. The lawns get bigger and bigger as we get older and richer, and then, eventually, we die. Alone.
OK, I got a little carried away there. But once you start your "real" life, after all that education has gone in one ear and out the other, how are you supposed to make friends? It's not like in preschool, when you both shared an abiding love of sand. All the way through school it was almost too easy: everyone around you was around your age, was at the same stage of life, shared geographic proximity. Friends practically fell in your lap.
Nowadays it's different. The only people I even lay eyes on are the people I work with. They are every age and every time of life, all of them locked in their own little nuclear cells all around the city. No one can go out for a spontaneous beer, because to do so would involve an hour of driving, not to mention the disposition of spouses, children, small animals in sweaters, etc.
This kind of sucks. Everyone knows it's harder to meet a mate after college or grad school. Fortunately we've developed a mechanism for that. It's called Internet dating. But simply making friends? There's no Craigslist for that. It's easier to find a dominatrix online than a friend. No, if all you want is a few folks with whom intermittently to have beer, you need to do it the old-fashioned way.
Better late than never, I suppose.