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February 13, 2003

Today is the day to collect box tops.

If you live in Chicago, pick up a copy of UR Chicago Magazine (in the orange boxes) and read page 34.

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. But you can make the day after Valentine's Day anything you want.

I'm always astounded that a man would walk up to a complete stranger and ask her out. Not introduce himself, not strike up conversation, but flat-out ask out. When this happens to me, I'm dumbfounded, to the point of being incapable of just saying "no." Or even "No, thanks." Or, "Not tonight." I also awkwardly appear to accept. Meanwhile, however, I'm furiously constructing a fake identity and/or escape plan that will ensure I will never have to interact with this person again. And that's always the best way to go, isn't it?

To wit:

I was standing outside my office building [solution: go back inside and work] when a young man approached me.

"Excuse me," he said, "Do I know you?"

At least that's what I thought he said.

"I'm sorry, no," I responded. This was the only time during this entire interaction where I said something that made sense.
"Damn," he said, shaking his head ruefully. "I can't get to know anybody."

As he walked off, I realized that he said not "Do I know you?" but "Can I know you?" I felt mild embarrassment at this simple misunderstanding, but shook it off. I also marveled at the vague and yet charmingly disarming pickup line.
I returned to my building and entered the closest available elevator. [solution: get some exercise and climb the stairs, lazybones.] And, to my surprise, my gentleman friend was also in my elevator. [solution: find reason to leave the elevator.] It appeared that he was a messenger delivery person.

This is where I turn into a stark raving idiot.

"I'm sorry," I volunteered to the chap. "I thought you said 'Do I know you,' not 'Can I know you?'"

[solution: don't say that.]

"Oh!" He responded. "So, can I know you?"

"I guess so."

[solution: "The answer is still 'no.'"]

I pressed the button for the third floor.

"Oh, is that where you work?" he said.

"Yes." [solution: answer 'No.' Make something up instead of telling him where you spend eight hours a day.]

He began speaking with me at length. However, there were several people standing in the elevator, and I felt rude to stand at my floor with the doors open, making them wait, so I rode up with him. [solution: simply leave the elevator without another word. While sprinting.]

I was wearing a turquoise ring on my left ring finger. "Are you married?" he asked.

"Me?" I squeaked. "Oh, no." [solution: "Yes, I am. And my husband will kick your ass if he knows you're talking to me. Well, it was nice knowing you. Goodbye."]

"Good," he leered. "So, what's your name?"

"Jamie," I responded. [solution: Give him a name that isn't the name of a co-worker. This left the door open to him entering my office, asking for a Jamie, and being presented with one possibly very annoyed Jamie who was not me.]

"Cool, I'm Joe. So, what's your nationality?" he asked.

"Polish," I said. [Solution: Well, this is the truth. But I could have said something much more interesting, like, oh, I don't know. Something better, though.]

"That's cool," he said. "I'm half Polish, half Puerto Rican. So, can I have your number?"

[Solution: "No, you may not. Good day." Or, tell him I was strictly forbidden from conversing with Puerto Ricans.]

"Sure," I said, and tried not to pause as I combined several random numbers together. Actually, I just combined the numbers of my cell, work, and home phones. I could have been more creative with that, too.

"This isn't a fake number, is it?"

"Why, no, it's not. Do you think I'd spend all this time talking to you if it was a fake number?"

[Solution: "Actually, yes it is. You see, I'm a moron. I don't really want to give you my number and I just wasted our time talking to you. But it is indeed a fake number."]

Thankfully, then the ride on the social rollercoaster from hell ended, as he exited to deliver his package.

"I'll give you a call sometime, then?"


[Final possible, yet ignored solution: "Actually, no. I thought you just wanted my phone number. I didn't know you were actually intending on using it."]

Perhaps the burden should be on behalf of these men.

Instead of verbally asking strangers out, they should present a form. "Will you date me, a complete stranger? Check: Yes or no."

Knowing me, though, I'd probably write down the wrong answer, scribble it out until I tore a hole in the paper, and have to construct a fake answer, once again.

[Solution: Save the opposite sex the time. Never go out in public again.]