So, let’s play a little game of make-believe. Let’s pretend it’s Friday the 13th, the day before Valentines’ Day and the anniversary of the firebombing of Dresden. You are single, and it is okay. It’s somewhere between -38 and absolute zero outside because this is Canada and the weather actively wants you dead. Winter has a vendetta, and it’s February 13th, so why not? You are wearing ski socks under your dress pants. You feel noticeably unsexy, totally Canadian.
Imagine you need to go to Vanier, which sounds like a terrible idea in retrospect. You have a meeting there, and you are 30 minutes early, so you go to Subway to have a cup of coffee and a cookie. You haven’t had a cup of Subway coffee in literally six years and it still tastes like the inside of a shoe, and it is boiling hot despite the cream you added. This meeting is important, so you want to look nice, but your hair is stupid because winter is really just a four-month long bad hair day. You may or may not be wearing several hats.
Your meeting goes well. You feel like you’ve made some friends. The sun is incredibly bright in the cozy, welcoming office. You are suffused with optimism, and you are not thinking about loneliness or stupid commercial holidays and how goddamn stupid they fucking are. You feel confident. The future is bright.
At the bus stop, the bus is late. A Dude approaches. He is good-looking enough to make you uncomfortable and definitely, definitely your type. He is underdressed for the weather and overdressed for anything you’ve ever done. He has a jaw that could sell cologne and his hair is very, very good, but you can’t help but think he’s a bit stupid for not wearing a hat.
He starts talking to you. His opening line is, “so, are you going to class?” You answer, barely. All the instincts you’ve honed over the years are tuned to the “Is This Guy Going to Kill Me and Turn My Skin Into Lamps” frequency. He seems normal. Turns out he’s a nursing student; turns out you have a soft spot for male nurses. Some people like bad boys in leather jackets who drive motorcycles; you like guys with empathy and the ability to insert a catheter. Suddenly, you’re enjoying the conversation.
Talk turns to the usual subjects: class, roommates, orthopedics, breast feeding. You are knowledgeable on these subjects and have lots to talk about. He mentions that his roommate might have “mild dwarfism”. You talk about a roommate you used to have who left animal skulls on the coffee table. You make a few jokes that he either doesn’t get or doesn’t find funny. You smile. He doesn’t: in fact, he looks to be more and more disinterested. Whatever is happening, he isn’t into it. You can’t tell if he’s stupid or bored. The bus comes, finally, and you get on at different doors. You sit, take off your hats, pull down your scarf, smile in a friendly way. He makes no attempt to join you and gets off at a different stop then he said he would.
You check your reflection in a compact mirror. Your hair is enormous, and your bangs are doing something that can only be described as “anime side mullet”.
If you were the kind of person who had more ego than sense, you would assume that this poor handsome gentleman was just so intimidated by your beauty and wit that he got scared away. If you were the kind of person into delusions of grandeur, you’d decide that you were never that interested in him. You’d roll your eyes at his fantasy baseball league. You’d decide that very good-looking men are always a little bit stupid.
Alternatively, if you were the kind of person prone to self-hate, you’d see this as just one more moment of failure in a vast ocean of your own unworthiness. You’d reflect that everything was fine until you opened your big stupid mouth. Part of you would think: if only I wasn’t such a weirdo, that guy would’ve totally liked me.
Instead, part of you thinks: I’ve been a giant weirdo forever, why would I give up on a good thing for a stranger at a bus stop?
You tell your friends about it; they are jerks, but that’s what you need. You make evenings plans with someone who finds you funny and either legitimately enjoys your company or has been pretending so long that he’s developed Stockholm syndrome. You go to work, get a few things done. You are not sad, actually. You are aware that life is full of chance meetings, that most people will not love you, that many will not even like you, and you are fine with that.
Your chronic bad hair day doesn’t let up until early April. Somehow, life goes on.