Until not that long ago, whenever I saw a man who looked familiar, I would automatically flinch and think, "Coffee? Drinks? Dinner? Did I kiss him?"
I ran though this mental list with one guy who clearly knew me, and said hello in a very friendly manner. I said hello while wildly flipping through my mental images all, "Crap crap crap! I can't remember going out with him!"
And then he mentioned a good friend of mine, and I realized with relief! that I knew him because he dated her years ago.
Because while I was in mega-dating mode, I had so many first dates crammed in that at first glance a few months later, I wouldn't necessarily remember who the person was.
It was a lot lot lot of guys.
On the one hand, this approach is practical, in that it is, to some extent, a numbers game. (It being the meeting of the Love of Your Life, The One, the One of 26, your Soul Mate, or however you think about it.) Eventually you will meet the person. You just will.
On the other, it's exhausting. And it means that you could run into someone you've gone on at least one date with anywhere.
Including your own office building.
I've run into this fellow twice now. The first time we passed each other, I could read the "How do I know her?" look on his face. And I know I had the same one on mine. It wasn't until I'd opened the door to the building that it dawned on me.
We went out a few times a couple years ago. He is cute, and always, as far as my data points show, impeccably dressed. Which is not about anything, but is something I find impressive. And something we do not have in common.
We had two nice enough dates and then an awkward third, in which the fact that we had no real chemistry became apparent. It ended with a super awkward kiss. Somehow, he clenched all the muscles around his mouth, so his lips were in a very tight O.
And that was that.
The next time he suggested we do something, I sent a nice note saying thanks, but I just don't see this going anywhere. And that was that.
And so the other day I figured out who he was, and went on with my day. I ran into him again early this week.
Me, I had my unwashed hair all pulled back. And no makeup. And commuter sneaks on. I was carrying an enormous sheet cake into the building. Tej had picked it up for our monthly office birthdays, but she is hugely preg, and needed help carrying it in.
So we passed the guy. Neither he nor I said hello, or, beyond the eye dart, even acted like we recognized each other.
Tej and I got into the elevator, and I was leaning across the cake, mouth open, just about to tell her about the fellow we had just passed. When a third person got on the elevator. And pushed the 12 button.
I cannot say for sure, because to be honest I was very drunk at the time and it was last year, but I got all hair stand on end chilly with this near-certainty that it was Mr. Butternose.
And so I stood there with a frozen flinchy grin on my face, maintaining eye contact with Tejal across the elevator. While subtly darting my eyes toward our fellow passenger. Furtively, of course, so he wouldn't notice. But I really wanted her to get a good look at him.
Finally, finally we got to our floor, and as soon as the doors slid shut, I asked her. She doesn't remember what the guy looked like. So, it might be him, but it might not.
I really think it was. The fellow, he fit my vague recollection of the guy from that night. And he was going to the right floor.
But he didn't fidget, or give any outward appearance of having any bad memories associated with either of us. And with the pulled-back hair and ridiculous outfit, maybe he didn't even recognize me.
However, the truth is, if it was him, and he remembered me, and saw me with an enormous sheet cake worth of frosting...he took an approach that I'd have taken in his position.
This is the one that apparently works if you're trapped near hippos (which, as I like to remind people, are fast and mean and can turn on a dime).
Remain calm, remain still. No sudden movements. Best case scenario, they won't notice you.