I don’t know what’s happened to me. I’ve never been a proper extrovert but there was a time, a long, long time ago now, that I could zoom in on the nicest looking man in the room (or the nightclub, or the youth hostel, or the wedding reception) and make him mine.
I was 17 and at summer camp when I first laid eyes upon he-who-would-become-my-first-boyfriend. I can still remember watching him walk down the hill to the dining hall; I decided then and there that he was hottest boy at the camp and even though I’d never previously thought myself deserving of the hottest anything (being too tall for my age, flat-chested, and well aware of my large average nose) I did then. And it worked.
Then came London. I was ridiculous in grad school. Then came the Great Date Experiment. Even more ridiculousness. By the time TWD and I finally met, I’d dated so many men that my confidence was at an all time high.
But that confidence is gone now.
I don’t remember how to flirt.
I freak out when a man catches my eye and either run away or say something stupid. (Or I just smile like a moron and resort to Facebook stalking instead.)
Last week, my company was invited to perform at a benefit at Philadelphia’s Trocadero Theater. I had eight potential wingmen at my disposal, we were all in full makeup and the audience loved us. You’d think I’d have been in my element—and I was, sort of—but when a soloist from Pennsylvania Ballet caught my eye and smiled a warm, genuine, no-I’m-not-just-seeing-things sort of smile, I just smiled back, left the theater and hailed a cab (forgetting both my makeup bag and half of my costume in the process.)
I kicked myself the whole way home.
Why the hell couldn’t I talk to him?
It’s not like he was asking me to marry him. For all I knew he was already married, or gay, or both. Maybe he just wanted to say “nice job” or “Great hat!” or “Do you know where the restrooms are?”
But I’ll never know. Because I just ran away.
And it wasn’t just the ballet dancer. It was the cute guy in my yoga class. The man with the nice shoes in the salad aisle at Trader Joe’s. The awkward but nonetheless friendly dude from the art museum who asked if I was there for the “Etsy Event.”
I couldn’t talk to any of them.
It’s like I’m back in third grade, harboring my very first secret crush.
I should be better than this.