I am not scared by many things. I do not flinch when an airbag hurls itself at my face. I am unconcerned when the bill collectors threaten me. Although I know I don't have superb musical talent, I am not afraid to jam with the jazz band I recently joined. You could almost say I'm a man without fear.
But there is one thing which I am mortally afraid of - the fairer sex. Sure, I know that by mentioning that word in reference to gender, I've tripped some SurfWatch alarm, so some folks on the 'net might not even get a chance to read this article. But I think it's worth mentioning since it is my one big fear.
Actually, I'm not afraid of women at all; my closest friends have always been female. I'm quite comfortable inside romantic relationships with women. Attracting their affections is the part that scares me silly. So much so that John Cook has had to drag me out of my cubicle on occasion to get me to pursue a certain woman.
This is my quandary: I don't feel comfortable talking to women I don't know, unless I am trying to become friends. But, I also don't feel comfortable hitting on my friends. Because of this, I have a growing list of female friends and acquaintances here in Rochester, but I've never had prospects for romance.
Some (girl)friends and I were discussing how I needed to go out on a date with someone, and fast. My housemate Lori almost fixed me up with a coworker of hers, but decided against it due to our strong ideological differences. My friends kept playfully goading me into approaching women at our favorite bar - as if harried conversation in a dim, smoky room could spark any meaningful relationship. At least, that doesn't work for me.
I decided to do things my way. I was going to get a date with someone, and I was going to do it outside of a bar. Meeting people like that is no easy proposition - if I am not in a bar, I'm usually in front of a computer somewhere. Besides irregular trips to church, and jam sessions with my band, the only place I can be found with regularity is the bank, where I go to cash my paycheck.
My bank is different. I have developed a rather pleasant rapport with many of the tellers there. Maybe my charisma is increased by the presence of money. In any case, these people know who I am - the cool, geeky one with the PowerBook who loves showing off the latest games. Upon my second appearance in the local paper, a few of the tellers mentioned that they'd seen me. One of these tellers was The Bank Lady.
Her name is not really "The Bank Lady", as I have written in the previous paragraph. Rather, I have attached this monikker to her because it is convenient, and won't reveal her name to Internet users all over the world. In any case, one look at her, and I knew that she was the one - the first adult woman I was going to ask for a date. This was pretty big for me - Although I have been in previous relationships, I've never really dated per se. This is why I fear.
To add to my anxiety, this was no ordinary teller. She was beautiful. A knockout. Fine. Unattainable by a lowly slacker such as myself. It didn't help when I found out she was 28 - old enough to have been one of my babysitters. Yes, I sure know how to pick them.
I wondered about how to attract her attention. After much meditation, I decided to go to the bank dressed in motley for Halloween. By some bizarre coincidence, I actually got The Bank Lady as my teller. She told me she liked my jester's hat. "Oh, this old thing?" I managed to reply. I withdrew 50 dollars and began to check her fingers for engagement rings. She had none.
She was starting to count the money, when I realized that I had forgotten the reason I had come there. It was laundry month for me. "I'm terribly sorry," I interrupted. "I forgot to ask you for twenty dollars in quarters."
I don't know if it was because I looked so goofy dressed in motley, or because she really was flustered that day, because she gave me the two quarter rolls, and nothing else. "Do you think I can have the rest of my money?" I asked her, with a giggle. She blushed as she handed me some ten dollar bills.
If there ever was a time for me to speak up and ask her out, it was then. But my fears defeated my intent, and I politely bowed out of the bank. For the next month, I would make repeated trips to the bank for any excuse. Sometimes I went in to cash my paycheck. Other times, I would look for quarters. If anyone asked, I was doing market research at the local video arcade.
Despite my repeated forays into the bank, I never spoke with The Bank Lady. Sometimes, she wasn't there. On other occasions, she was with another customer. Sometimes, she was alone and approachable, and I chickened out. Either way, November was a total loss. Lori and some of my other friends were beginning to think that I had made up a story about a woman at the bank just so I could fool them, and they'd stop bugging me.
I decided to do it in December. I was tired of making up excuses not to use the ATM. So I asked my friend on the inside how I might get a chance to at least talk to her. He suggested that I change the PIN on my ATM card. We planned it very carefully. I was to go in the next day, change the PIN, and ask her if she would accompany me to dinner, or a play. My friend told me it probably would not work. No less than 2 people ask her out each day. Lawyers, brokers, and all kinds of people having greater balances than I were trying to get her permission for transactions after hours. And she turns them all down.
Being the crafty marketing dude that I am, I quickly changed the plan. I had been told that she liked to laugh, and I recalled how she had giggled on the previous Halloween. I was going to be the funniest bank patron she had ever transacted with. That day, I approached her at the desk, and asked her if I could change my PIN. "I feel so filthy every time I enter my PIN," I told her. When she asked me why, I told her that the letters which correspond to the numbers in my PIN spell out a dirty word. "I can't live with this profanity in my life! What would happen if a small child should pass by, and see me entering this PIN? Should I corrupt the minds of the youth?"
I had her chuckling. And her (Windows NT) computer was down, so I had to go into her office. We spent some quality time there, and she even signed me up for home banking. And as I left the bank that day, knowing that I had just blown the perfect opportunity to ask her for a date, I glanced backwards, and caught her gaze as the glass door closed.
She had been looking at me. She probably knew I had faked an excuse to talk to her alone. She probably wondered why I hadn't asked her out. She probably thought I was a total moron. You probably do, if you've read this far. I could not forgive myself. I swore the next day that I would do it. And the next day after that. No dice. My cowardice reigned.
That weekend, I decided it was time to use the power of the Macintosh to get myself a date. I made up a fake advertisement for a product called "Lemon Fresh Jason". The sales pitch talked about 100% guaranteed satisfaction, no further obligation, and half a dozen other advertising buzzwords we've all heard since our infancy. It was a work of art. Amazing! I knew there was some reason I had gotten the Color StyleWriter 4100.
I handed it to her that Monday. She laughed openly. She called it "absolutely adorable." She told me she wanted a date with me. She showed it to all of her coworkers. She told them that nobody had ever been so creative in asking her out. My Mac (and ClarisWorks) had done me well.
If only she hadn't immediately gotten sick, caught pneumonia, and spent the next month and a half in and out of hospitals. Yes, I sure know how to pick them.
I wonder what my new PIN is.