Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Human Mating Ritual

I went to the coffee shop to do some terribly boring reading and to drink more tea. It's actually more essential that I hold the tea to my face, thus clearing my sinuses, than it is to actually consume it. I sat at a booth because it wasn't very crowded. Eventually the few tables filled up, and a young man asked if he could sit with me. It's not an uncommon request, and of course I agreed.

For the next half hour or so, I glanced up to get a peek at his face. What he was reading. At his cast. What did his sweatshirt say? Grad student? I'm guessing undergrad. And he not so subtley did the same. What I was reading. Where I was looking. Eventually he closed his book and muttered something, so I looked up, smiled, and asked, "Interesting reading?" The title included the word Optimal and the reading material looked like calculus. Lots of charts and swirls and points. We chatted for a while. He was cute, friendly. He talked about what he was reading. An old book from the book sale. He does satellite something or other. Engineering department. He explained in simple terms, using the objects on our shared table, what the optimal something or other meant. Then he started talking about cockroaches and an experiment. At this point my interest waned. He laughed at the wrong times. He talked a lot about himself and what he was into, in response to a few questions from me. I stopped asking questions but he didn't ask any in return. He didn't introduce himself. He did mention that he observed how intently I was studying my reading. It was not interesting, I assured him. It just takes so much mental energy to read it. He laughed, said I seemed impervious to the music blaring from the speakers.

Then he packed up, wished me luck on Mather's article (how could he see that? I could barely read it) and left.

I like making new friends. But I was puzzled. Why not a name? Shouldn't he have asked me for my name? Maybe my number? Not necessarily, I suppose. Sigh. Is this what the beginning of dating rituals look like? Perhaps the next ritual will be more successful.


CM said...

I bet he was kicking himself after he left for not getting your number. If not, there's always the craigslist Missed Connections board.

WomanoftheLaw said...

While I doubt he experienced any pain or regret over the situation, I have to say that the Missed Connections board is a guilty pleasure for me. I chewed up lots of time last year, fascinated by the regrets and missed opportunities of others. One of my favorite movies is Sliding Doors - in which the protagonist's life splits when she misses / catches the train. It's fascinating to think about.