Why do I always feel like I’ve just met my next husband? Is that a thing for anyone else?
I honestly hate it (sometimes).
I was doing so well with my “I don’t need a man single lady” self, too, standing in line at the UPS store with my arms full of sex toys (my sister, Alicia, forces me to help with her side hustle), minding my damned business with a lot of other single lady shit to do.
Then, Joey caught my eye. He gave me a quick, discreet inspection before pointing to my fuzzy purple feet.
He said, “nice boots,” in his surprisingly dark voice, and I suddenly remembered I hadn’t had sex in a year.
I kept cool when I said, “thanks,” shifting the bags of toys from my arms to my hands, so I didn’t look like even more of a lumpy hobbit.
(Especially in comparison to his broad, tattooed shoulders, sponsored by creatine.)
After he gave. me his name (Joey, duh) and a socially distanced elbow touch instead of a handshake (no ring, by the way), we talked a long time about many things I don’t remember. I was watching the black waves of soft hair fall over his eyes as he took off his baseball cap, amber eyes smiling over the mask he wore.
He looked like Aladdin. It pleased me.
I know I read somewhere when someone makes eye contact and turns their body towards you, it could mean they’re attracted to you, I couldn’t help musing.
I’d be lying if I say I wasn’t a tad disappointed when he said, “bye!” watched me pass him after my turn, slow the fuck down, then exit the building without another word.
I told you he was being nice. He was a honey, though, I’d thought, willing to dismiss our passing as a (kind of lame) meet cute and move on with my day.
Then, Alicia said, “It sounds like the guy was flirting with you,” when I explained my delayed arrival home, and my resolve went to hell.
Why the Wedding Bells?
I love being single.
It’s been a year since my divorce, and you can bet your butt I’m enjoying myself. Going solo is awesome, and I’m certain that’s not only my opinion. And out of the many benefits of being single, my favorite is taking the time to work on yourself. So, in the future, you can find a more compatible partner.
I also very much enjoy having little crushes when I know they’re innocent. (There are a lot of cool people out there. I can’t help it).
The problem is that little tinkling of wedding bells every time you say, damn, they’re hot.
It’s a knee-jerk reaction almost — one possibly caused by the “love at first sight” daydreams crammed into our heads the moment mom learns we’re going to be girls. (And that’s fine, you do you, but our society is obsessed with romance. The wedding industry is a 300 billion dollar one for a reason.)
There’s also a lot of pressure to find a partner and settle down, from family, society, ourselves (because we think it’s what we need to do), or out of fear of dying alone.
We all know trusting the attraction being mistaken for “love” before we know a person isn’t the best of ideas (if the times you’ve fallen on your face haven’t convinced you enough, here are some other reasons why.)
For a good while, I was strong enough to keep the chiming at bay. Then my mom, bless her, had to go and throw off my groove.
My mother runs a casual small business. For the clients who live nearby, she started offering delivery, and that’s where I come in. One day, as I finished my rounds, I pulled up to a house not far from mine (and the UPS store).
Leave the package in the ice chest out front, were the only directions my mother had texted me along with the address and a name I didn’t recognize.
I’d thought I got off scot-free after I marched up to the porch and placed the bag safely in its container, but then a voice — surprisingly dark — -sounded from the nearby window.
“Hi, can I help you?”
Oh shit, it’s Aladdin, I’d thought.
Staring out at me, along with a curious German Shephard, was Joey (here on out known as Aladdin).
He disappeared before I could even choke out a startled, “Oh, uh, hi!” coming out the front door with a set of bright teeth to match his friendly, honeyed eyes. He was mask-less for a moment as he fished one out of his pocket so I could get the full effect of his striking face — the olive skin, the dark eyebrows.
“Hey, I know you,” he said, looking down at my feet to check for the boots I no longer wore.
He paused on my eyes, and then my hair. I wondered what he wanted to really tell me, good or bad — which is a derailing thing to wonder.
“Yeah, I remember your,” Aladdin pointed to his head and then made a corkscrew motion with his finger to indicate curls, perhaps.
I introduced myself officially, so he understood why I was creepin’.
“Come in,” he said, “I need to show you something for your mom.”
So, as I thought, this guy wouldn’t murder you in broad daylight, I followed.
Aladdin left the package on the counter. I played with his dog, Shady, as he tinkered in his fridge.
He handed me what he called a “defective” product, which apparently I’d come to replace anyway. “Your mom said I could just toss it, but, you know.”
He’d shrugged, and I resisted pointing out I didn’t need to come in.
I offered him my number (as a service, of course, should he need anything) and made my way out the door, playing “A Whole New World” on the ride home.
Not “that kind” of a crush
I want to stop here and note I am certain I didn’t have “that kind” of a crush on Joey, which might be confusing considering this piece is all about crushes, but I’ll explain.
It can be difficult to differentiate between finding someone attractive and wanting to have a relationship or love (especially for the inexperienced and the foolish — I’m waving my hand here). You would think understanding some of the most basic caveman feelings would be simple, but no.
Whenever that romantic comedy plays, or we scream sing Broadway songs in our car about a cute guy who says, “Hi” to a girl and she turns to goo (“History of Wrong Guys” from Kinky Boots is particularly relatable), we’re like, “what a rube.”
But the fact there are many sources (even from Ph.D.’s cashing in on our woeful dating skills) hammering these seemingly basic “love vs. attraction” red flags into our noodles, we make the same mistakes of jumping the romantic gun over and over again.
Now, just like there are no issues with being single, there is nothing wrong with having a crush.
(I’m a firm believer in letting people do whatever they want as long as they’re not hurting anyone. And, before you say anything, I’m aware romantic killings are on the rise and what a serious problem it is in this country crushes, but that’s another article.)
In fact, one of the most enjoyable parts of being single for me, at least, is having a crush.
Yet, not telling the difference between having a passing fancy and honest to goodness emotions about someone compatible could save you a lot of heartache in the future, seeing how easily a spark can fade and that 42–45% of marriages end in their first year.
And I could — and can — tell the two apart, but there was that whisper saying, you know how you don’t want babies? I bet he’d make super pretty ones.
A few days later, my mom sent me a text that further “complicated” my emotional see-sawing.
Wouldn’t you know it? She’d texted me, Aladdin’s roommate is a new client and placed an order. I figured you’d like to deliver.
I decided, what could it hurt to tell Al he could use my number if he wanted for more than just service? The worst I could do is make myself look like a weirdo, and he’ll say no.
Then, I made myself presentable and started to head out the door.
It’s just a phone number, right?
“I’ll take the sex toys to the UPS store today,” I told my sister as I passed her making coffee in the kitchen. “I’m dropping some stuff off for mom at Aladdin’s.”
“Mom’s client? The one you met at the UPS store?” she’d asked (I’d briefed her on the situation before, which is why her sudden pause and the way she knit her micro-bladed brows together made me nervous.)
“Is that inappropriate?”
“I was only going to tell him to use my number if he wanted,” I shrugged. “I can always make a new friend.”
Alicia then gave me that sister look — the one where your eyes rise with your forehead, the telling one that says, “You know I know you better than you do.”
“You’ve been doing really well lately,” she told me, her voice gentle and conversational but quiet enough for me to know it was in my best interest to listen.
“Flirting is one thing, Ev, but exchanging numbers gets sticky. Do you really like him, or do you think he’s cute? Do you know he likes you? Would you even like him if you got to know him?”
“It’s a phone number,” I’d said with a smile. “I don’t want a boyfriend. I just think he’s pretty. Why does it have to be like that?”
But Alicia’s last words as the door closed (“just think about it.”) followed me to the car and then to Aladdin’s house, where my mom said he’d be home.
I sat outside for a while, a lot longer than I should have, maybe, which probably looked super creepy, but I never got out of the car anyway.
Instead, I made my way to the UPS store, where I didn’t see Al (don’t ask me why I didn’t leave it in the mailbox. I don’t have an answer). I then paid to have the item shipped to his roommate, thinking, It’s fine, Aladdin’s not even my favorite prince.
And then figured out what I’d tell my mom.
It Doesn’t Have to Be “That Kind” of a Crush.
Flirting is fun, and so are relationships when the time comes, but there’s no rush to get into one if you’re doing fine (or do whatever you want to do, I don’t care).
My point is, some of us are taught relationships will make us whole, but you can be attracted to someone without it being “serious.”
(Plus, the other person might not even be into it, and it’s always important to consider their feelings and wants. No means no, people.)
And, being single isn’t a curse, no matter how tempting a harmless attraction can be. With the right mindset, it can be downright delightful.
So in the meantime, be patient, be smart, and enjoy the process of becoming a different person than you once were (hopefully, a better one).
This is what I’ve taken from the experience, anyway.
Though I have to admit, when I go to the UPS store still, I wear my purple boots just in case I have a nice conversation with another Disney Prince.
While I might not meet my next husband wearing them, they seem to be great ice breakers.
I’m hoping to meet Hercules next time (he’s not an official prince, I know, don’t ruin my ending). Who could resist that beautiful ginger hair?