Valentine’s Day is coming this weekend. A wonderful time of year. A time of love, joy, happiness. A time where you remind your significant other just how much of a part they are in your life, and that without them by your side, you wouldn’t know what to do with yourself.
Unless you’re single.
In that case, you spend this weekend with your other single friends. Perhaps you’ll go to a bar or a restaurant, and make condescending remarks under your breath as you mock the lovey-dovey couples around you, making goo-goo eyes at each other over the chocolate mousse or whatever it is couples get in celebration of their love. After this group commiseration, 7 times out of 10 you’ll find yourself back at your place, listening to Michelle Branch’s “Goodbye To You” and wondering just where you went wrong in the past year to find yourself alone on the single most romantic day in the 365 days that comprise the calendar.
Wait, that’s just me?
I have a very good reason why I am single.
I am physically/mentally unable to ask a girl out in a straightforward manner.
Looking back on the 10 years I’ve been in the dating game, I have come to realize that my past couple of relationships in college were ignited by the girl taking the dive and asking me to some activity or out for a meal.
In high school, however, I still operated under the archaic idea that the man is supposed to be the one doing the asking out.
It’s a simple process. Step 1) Approach girl. Step 2) Ask girl out. Step 3) If “Yes,” make plans. If “No,” shrug it off and try again.
Not for me, though. Oh, no. If I was going to ask a girl out, damn it, she was going to remember it.
My first attempt in gaining a date was for the homecoming dance of my senior year. I had not dated all through high school, and in a bid to have some fun my final year in public education, as well as disprove my mother’s theory that I was gay, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and get a date.
I was interested in this one girl, who for the sake of her, I’ll give a pseudonym. Let’s call her Jane. Jane was a sophomore (I think: I haven’t talked to her in over 5 years). She was a cute girl, nice, and I thought she’d be fun to take to a dance (She was, for the record). Since this was to be my first time in asking a girl out in the 3-plus years I had been in high school, I wanted to make it memorable. But how, how?!
It was then I looked down at the newspaper we got every Wednesday, and inspiration struck. Peering up at me from the print was that day’s word jumble.
That was it. I was going to make a puzzle.
Not just any puzzle. I was going to make a rebus.
For those of you who are not part of the puzzle-loving crowd, a rebus is a puzzle where pictures are used to identify words. For example, a picture of an eye would signify “I,” and so on. I spent two weeks working this puzzle out in my unused notebook for physics, writing about 10 drafts until I had a decent puzzle. It looked great on paper, and would no doubt win Jane over.
We had 5th period together. I received permission from the teacher to use the chalkboard to write out this puzzle, and further permission from the teacher in my preceding class to leave ten minutes early so I would have plenty of time to get the puzzle onto the board. I told my friends about my plan, and they all approved, telling me it was a genius idea, and no doubt that Jane would say yes.
I strolled into my 5th period class ten minutes early on that day, full of confidence. The teacher and I exchanged knowing looks, her informing the class of freshmen what I was doing. After telling the class, I got a few appreciative “Awwws” from some of the girls, along with a couple of confused looks from the guys. No concern of mine. They were lowly freshmen. What did they know about asking someone out?
I picked up that chalk and proceeded to draw out my rebus. My notebook in my other hand, I painstakingly recreated that final draft of that rebus, finishing it just as the bell rang, indicating 5th period was to begin. I set the chalk down, wiped my hands clean of the dust, and got the rose out of my teacher’s fridge, which she had graciously kept in there for me. I took another look at my creation, and nodded in satisfaction. I began it with Jane’s name, followed by the rebus, ending with my name. The message was simple, once deciphered: “Will you go to the dance with me?” I had been clever in my choice of pictures: A quill pen, followed by -Qu, +W, a picture of a sheep with the female symbol overhead, a picture of a flower with an arrow pointing up beside, followed by -r&w, the number 2, a picture of a stick figure with little marks beside his legs to indicate dancing, the word “with”, and a picture of a bee, followed by -Be, then +M.
Perhaps I had been too clever.
Jane walked in. I was sitting on the makeshift stage next to the door. My friend, who was in on my plan, pointed the message out to Jane. She went over to the board, saw her name, then mine. She looked at me, smiled, and asked, “What is this?” I smiled back and told her she’d have to figure it out. She laughed, shook her head, and looked at the board.
Then she cocked her head slightly to the right, and looked some more.
By now, there were other people standing next to her, all attempting to figure out this rebus. I stayed on the stage, still holding the rose behind my back. I could hear the small crowd talking amongst themselves:
“What do you think that is?” “It looks like a feather.” “But a feather doesn’t have a q or a u in it.” “Is that supposed to be a sheep?” “What’s that stick figure guy doing? Running?”
In my desire to make this attempt at getting a date memorable, I had forgot the fact that I am terrible at drawing.
Five minutes passed. Then ten. I shuffled my feet. My teacher just stared at me. The rose behind my back felt like lead. This entire plan was going to hell.
Finally, I cleared my throat, stepped down off the stage, and explained it. Jane’s eyes lit up as she looked it over again and with a quick nod, said “Oh, yeah! I see it now!” I presented her the rose, which she accepted and responded to by giving me a hug and agreeing to accompany me to the homecoming dance.
I’m pleased to say that we had a great time. She was a sweet girl, and I’m sure she still is.
Now, though, whenever I get the inclination to ask a girl out, I decide against it. Odds are I’d end up making it so complex, it could be used as a plot point in the next Da Vinci Code.
Someday I’ll get the hang of asking a girl out in a straightforward manner. Until then, I’ll have Michelle Branch on repeat.