It was bound to happen sooner or later. In a city the size of Philadelphia, there are only so many single men, so many bartenders and so many routes one can take from Old City to South Philly. This is the problem with dating locally— or perhaps with serial dating, come to think of it. All I know is that after my little “encounter” earlier this week, I need to either A) stop dating or B) go back to long distance relationships.
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
A friend from the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference invites me to join him for a meeting in Old City. It has something to do with civic engagement and the arts and since I’m still struggling to develop a life beyond Match.com, I say “Sure, why not?”
(Additionally, there are going to be free drinks. As such, this is a no brainer.)
I’m wearing my very best power outfit: floral print dress, red heels, red scarf, red chopsticks in my hair and red earrings, all paired with a sober black blazer to lend the ensemble some modicum of seriousness. I know I’m looking fierce because on my way to Old City, I pass a very well-dressed, statuesque African American woman who is also wearing a killer power outfit and she says, “Great dress! You keep on walkin’, girl!”
When a woman this appointed gives you an unsolicited compliment on your outfit, you know it’s good.
I arrive at Trust, the bank-come-art-gallery where the meeting’s taking place, and spot my friend by the bar. As I make my way through the crowd, I breathe a sigh of relief.
Well, Trust is in Old City and Old City is Bovary-Reading-Bachelor territory, just as Northern Liberties belongs to Date #17 and Passyunk to the Man from Marshalls.
Given my taste in men, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find a former date at a meeting on civic engagement and the arts and given the venue of this particular meeting, I wouldn’t be surprised if that former date was the Bovary-Reading-Bachelor.
“It’s so good to see you!” I tell my friend. We talk about agents and manuscripts and day jobs and I finally confess, “I was afraid I might run into someone…”
“Oh?” he asks.
“Yeah. A former date.”
“Don’t worry,” he assures me. “I’ve got your back. If he turns up, I’ll create a diversion and you can make your escape.”
“Sounds good,” I smile. It’s not that I’m afraid of running into my previous dates it’s just that it’s never actually happened to me before. My exes are all in different states or different countries. I don’t know the protocol.
The meetings goes off without a hitch—by which I mean the Bovary-Reading-Bachelor does not show up– and my friend and I spend the next hour or so whisper snarky comments over our drinks.
It’s not until I leave that I see him.
He’s half a block away, heading down the sidewalk straight towards me. I recognize him immediately and he looks no less tortured than he did when we first met at Fork several months ago. He’s wearing jeans, a button down shirt, and carrying a messenger bag.
I know he sees me: I’m wearing red heels! We’re the only two people on the sidewalk and he’s just a few feet from me now.
I’ve always dreamed about running into an ex-boyfriend while dressed to kill. But he’s hardly an ex-boyfriend; he’s simply a man I once dated so the way I see it, there’s no need to cause a scene. No need to go stomping off in the other direction. No need to ignore him or say something vindictive or go all Shakespearian on his ass.
And so, upon deciding that a simple “hello” should be socially acceptable considering the circumstances of our acquaintance, I glance up into his face and say “Hi.”
He says nothing back.
He doesn’t even stop.
In fact, he continues right on down the sidewalk as though he hasn’t even seen me. And like I said earlier, I’m wearing my red-f*cking-high-heels. How could he not see me?
Intentionally, that’s how.
Math has never really been my thing but statistically speaking, this sort of thing is bound to happen again. I like Old City. I like NoLibs and I’d like to think that two rational adults could at least acknowledge one another’s presence when crossing one another on the sidewalk. Is this too much to ask for?
Having never dealt with local exes before, I’d love to hear your stories. Surely I’m not the only one who’s experienced this sort of thing?