We Can Work it Out

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
A brief narrative on the awkwardness of single life and looking everywhere to escape it.

A guide on how NOT to pick up girls - and they're boyfriends.

Submitted: September 17, 2006

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Submitted: September 17, 2006

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I'd been going to the gym for about two weeks when I finally got up the nerve to talk to her. The extended wait was partially due to my self-deception that I had begun to show signs of a well-toned physique, but mostly due to the fact that I had reached a breaking point with the social panic attacks she induced every time I saw her.

Truth is, she was the reason I started going to the gym in the first place. Not that I'd hope to woo her by amassing defined muscles - that just happen to be where she worked.

I was walking to my Tuesday Calc lecture when a swaying, blonde ponytail caught my eye. It was attached to a beautiful girl wearing a t-shirt with the word 'STAFF' emblazoned atop a perky right breast. I stood mesmerized as I watched her head into the university gym. After some heavy contemplation, I concluded that she could conceivably work in the gym. Thus began my fitness routine.

I ran back to my apartment, ditched the books for the classes I no longer felt the need to attend, took a five-minute breather (I was in no shape to be moving at a quick pace) and raced back to the gym. Once my hyperventilative attack subsided, I found her in the cardio room seated listlessly at a table of stacked towels as she conversed with just-some-dude of a coworker. The jeans and t-shirt combo, effortless ponytail and thick-rimmed glasses weren't anything you'd see on the cover of a fashion magazine, but I was hooked the moment I saw that glorious smile.

For the next two weeks, I could not get that smile out of my head. Every time I thought about that glowing face - this girl I'd never met, never spoken to, yet started a regular workout routine to accommodate my quasi-stalking of - my heart beamed in response.

During that time span, I did all the stupid things you do with an infatuation. You spend ten minutes fixing your hair before working out. You tease yourself into thinking she walked by your exercise bike on purpose so you would check her out. Or she didn't walk by because she was too nervous. You crank up the treadmill in hopes that seeing you struggle to run quickly on a motorized track will make her notice you. I realized how foolish I was being when I deluded myself into believing that all any girl really wants is a guy who can run a three minute mile.

Every minute I was there, I agonized over a way to initiate a conversation with her.
How about those weights, huh? Pretty heavy. No.

You're pretty. Wanna hang out? Don't think so.

I can hold my breath for 60 seconds! You're such a liar.

As is typical of me, I nearly settled on a completely passive and sure-to-be-rejected approach. I was going to leave my school ID behind in hopes she'd search me out to return it. In an uncommon instance of clarity, I reasoned that Lost & Found justice was probably not a part of the typical student employee's work ethic.

Finally, I came up with the brilliant idea of getting a towel at her table. That's it. I couldn't come up with anything beyond that. I only prayed she'd respond to my request with a passionate, \"I thought you'd never ask,\" leap into my sweat glistening, rock hard biceps and join me in beginning 'Happily Ever After' back in my dorm room. I hoped my roommate wasn't in the middle of a video game marathon with his Star Wars buddies in Oregon.

Though I wouldn't recommend it, I found myself sauntering up to the towel table at the university gym looking for love.

\"Hey, uh... Can I get a towel?\" It has since dawned on me that I was probably the first person at any gym to request employee assistance to grab a towel positioned 12 inches in front of me.

\"Hey. You're Joe Bradford, aren't you?\" Holy shit. I had no other thoughts. Just 'holy shit.'

\"Oh. Yeah.\"

\"You write for the school paper. I've read your articles.\" Recognition. Wow.

\"Gee...\" (Yeah, I actually said, 'gee.’) \"... thanks. Glad you liked them.\" No she didn't actually say she liked them, but who cares?

\"That one about foreign countries was hysterical!\" The one time I write a serious article, trying to sound politically-knowledged and it's misinterpreted as comic genius.

\"Oh, you know...\" I'm so modest. \"I'm sorry, what was your name?\"

\"Oh. Jennifer. Nice to meet you. I've actually seen you in here a few times. I was going to say something, but you'd probably just think I'm weird.\"

\"No, not at all.\" So charming. \"Anyway, I've got to get to this meeting, but do you want to get together later on?\" You know, we can both talk about how funny I am when it comes to politics and then take our clothes off. A few hours of sexual bliss; that’s all.

\"Oh. I - uh, have a boyfriend.\" Crushed. Absolutely crushed. But I tried to stay calm.

\"Gotcha. So I guess he doesn't like you going on inconsequential meetings with male acquaintances of a purely platonic nature?\" Down boy!

\"Well... actually, this is Tom. He’s my boyfriend.\"

As she affectionately placed her soft, creamy hand on the awkward shoulder of the just-some-dude coworker whose existence I had until now chosen to ignore, I’d begun to think my plan might be going terribly awry.

\"I see. This probably couldn’t get more awkward, right?\" Pause for an eternal five seconds. \"Cue the awkward silence and... we’re good. So, Tom all that’s left is for you to kick my ass. Do you want to do it here or would it be more appropriate in the yoga room?\"

She giggled. Were we in an animated film, her smile would have cued an orchestrated soundtrack and brightly colored birds would appear from behind her, fluttering around her head like a wildlife halo. Oh to be an animated bird.

\"You’re pretty funny. Look, me and my buddies are going to the bar tonight. You should meet up with us. No hard feelings.\"

Boy, was I off the mark. I had just scored a date with the boyfriend of the girl I was hitting on. Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything better to do, so I accepted.

So, I found myself walking to the bar around 10 - praying that Jen had decided to come along as well - when I saw Tom stumbling around Market Street, muttering to himself.

\"Yo, Tom. Where is everybody?\"

\"Huh? Who the hell are you?\"

The guy who tried to pick up your girlfriend with you standing next to her? Ring any bells? \"Um, Joe. From the gym.\"

\"Sure. Sure. What’s up?\"

It didn’t seem to bother him that he had no idea who I was, so I tried not to let it bother me. \"Yeah. What’s up?\"

\"Nothing, man. It’s great to see you. Really, really great. I don’t know where everybody is. They were at the bar a few hours ago. But then they left and the stupid bartender just kicked me out. ‘Don’t piss in the trashcan!’ Ha! Let’s get a drink! I know another bar around here.\"

\"Sure.\" This is what I get for developing some courage and approaching a girl.

We started walking back toward campus when Tom stopped me and said, \"Look, man. Can I just have a hug? It’s nothing weird. I just, you know, need one.\"

Before I could comprehend that what I had heard was in fact reality, I found myself taking part in a completely involuntary guy-on-guy hug. My mind raced for a topic outside of the horrible situation I was enduring.

My mind stuck on the most calming thought I knew: Jennifer. I imagined showing up at her place, performing the good guy routine as I expressed concern for her alcohol-poisoned boyfriend (who I would conveniently lose as I spot him \"chasing after some ugly slut\"). Of course she’d reward my noble and selfless deed by making out with me all night long.

It was just then - as I stood openly embracing the boyfriend of the girl I was currently fantasizing about – when things got much worse.

\"Um, Joe? Is that in an erection in your pants... or are you just, you know, ...gay?\"

\"Dude! That’s... my car keys!\"

\"But you didn’t drive...\"

I’m not sure why he required a full three seconds to consider my obvious lie, but then he broke away. Oh how quickly homophobia brings clarity.

\"No, it’s – look, let’s just get you home.\"

\"No, no. I’m fine. You just go... away. I’m good.\"

And with that, he tore across Market Street at the pace of about a three minute mile. Go figure.


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