I’m sick with a feeling that I haven’t genuinely felt in quite a while. The symptoms? Butterflies in the depths of my poor, Frappuccino-filled stomach. A vulnerable and uncontrollable girlish grin, when I’d much rather a simple yet mysterious smirk. Being, at times, at a complete loss for witty banter (when on any other occasion, it would flow from my lips effortlessly). Nope, I’m simply not well. The diagnosis, you ask? I … I … I have a crush. *sneezes, coughs, and chokes on my previous statement.* Ugh! How did this happen to me?!
You’d think the cure would be so simple. A wise woman prescribed me the guts to just say something to him, but I never took those pills. Because somewhere buried behind more recent memories, I’ve been programmed to believe wholeheartedly that it is, in fact, a man’s responsibility to take the first step. Initialize interaction. And so I, very stubbornly, remain ill. The main discrepancy with this pre-conceived notion I carry is that no one ever taught me it was to be this way. I can’t recall ever having heard my mother or grandmother say explicitly, “You must wait for a man to approach you.” Still, I hold fast to this idea and wait patiently, though possibly in vain.
We’ve exchanged eye contact in passing on more than one occasion. Perhaps I smiled and said, “Hello.” Who knows? But as far as I can guess, he doesn’t even know my name, or where I’m in a rush to every other morning when I walk by juggling my Starbucks and smartphone. I’ve never told him. He’s never asked. And it’s possible that he doesn’t care at all. Or maybe he cares a lot, because his eyes always meet mine when I look back over my shoulder. And this guessing game could all be avoided by me simply speaking up and introducing myself. But I won’t do it. Dare I admit I’m afraid? Naw, I won’t say that. I’ll just say I now have more respect for guys who approach girls fearlessly (though I feel it’s a skill somehow coded in their DNA …). It’s not an easy thing to do.
What’s even more ironic is that I don’t support most of the other widely accepted notions regarding gender roles in dating. I don’t believe a man always has to pick up the tab, nor would I throw a fit if my door wasn’t opened and chair pulled out for me every time. No biggie. I’m cool with dressing down (sneakers, puh-lease!), and I don’t mind hitting a bar to watch the game. I don’t even like sports! But these are things on which we can compromise. Taking the first step to get to know each other? I don’t think I can compromise on that.
Is it still taboo for a woman to make the first move? In this day and age, almost anything goes. Considering the ratio of single black women to available, single, black [straight, *coughs again*] men, many would say: “You betta go for yours!” But desperation was never a language I comprehended, let alone spoke fluently. And something about a woman having to assert her presence to a man just always seemed a bit unnecessary to me. Is the odds being against us reason enough for women to let traditions in courting fly? I mean, it’s bad enough that text messaging is now being treated as an acceptable substitute for the age-old telephone conversation. Where does one draw the line?
But then again, I look at the situation from that same wise woman’s perspective. After all, what do I truly have to lose but a couple inviting words and perhaps a pinch of pride? Surely enough, that’s my main deterrent. On the off-chance that my greeting goes over well, there is potentially so much to be gained — a door now unlocked and open for conversation to flow freely from both ends. I guess I just wonder if my having broken the ice will forfeit said “crush” of accountability. I’ll be damned if introducing myself first means I’ll have to plan all outings and call first from here on out. I’m not sure how that all works. I don’t think I’ll be finding out anytime soon, either, because yet another day has passed without a single word murmured. *sighs* I’ll take the plunge one of these days ….
Have you ever broken the ice or asked a guy out first? How did it go? If not, would you?