Sometimes, I’m just not that perceptive.

 “I tried to hit on you last year when we saw each other at the convention,” someone recently told me.

I tried to think back and couldn’t think of a single thing he said to indicate to me that he was interested.  Nothing sprang to mind.  It’s not the first time that’s happened.

I was washing my car one summer’s day at the local car wash.

Don’t I know you?” a man said.

I looked at him – wondering what he was trying to sell him.  “I don’t think so,” I answered.

No, really,” he insisted.  “Your name is Joey, right?”

I looked at him again.  Nothing rang a bell.

You go to UMass Boston, right? I saw you studying in a classroom one day and came in and talked to you.  You were wearing this cute outfit – pink skirt, white blouse – hair all curly. I know that was you.”

Memory bells rang.  I nodded.  That had to have been 6-10 months before.  And now I was dressed in a ratty t-shirt and shorts with my hair in a ponytail.  I couldn’t have looked more different, and yet he recognized me and remembered my name.

He smiled, “I was trying to ask you out that day.”

Whoosh.  That day we talked, I was single.  I had no idea he was doing anything except being friendly – killing time between classes.  Of course, by the time he told me, I was already 4 months in to a relationship with my future ex-husband.  I never saw the guy again.

Even now, as a wiser woman of the world, it’s Whoosh Central around here. Maybe it’s not really my fault.  I think as a whole, we single people are so afraid of rejection that we never just come out and say what we want to until we have tested the waters 27 times.  

For me, sometimes, in addition to the fear of rejection, it’s because I don’t want to hurt someone else or make them uncomfortable.   So I compliment them, and then compliment other people around them.  I try not to be too overt in my attentions. I’m friendly and flirty all the time. This way, it’s not that I’m necessarily hitting on someone – I’m just that way with everyone.

I have a question to ask you, “a friend asked me one time.  “Before you started dating [last boyfriend], if I had asked you out, would you have said yes?”

Whoosh. I tell him yes.  What seemed obvious to me was evidently subtle to him. Too scared of being pushy, my attentions didn’t even register on his Richter scale until it was too late for him to react.

For all my talk and bravado in public and online, I’m scared to death that if I tell someone that I like them, they will run screaming in to the night. It’s one thing if it’s someone on an online dating site.  So very different if it’s someone I met in the real world.  And there’s the rub.

How can I fuss at potential suitors, when I’m just as bad as they are? Why should I be afraid to reach out to someone I know and say, “Hey – I think you are as cute as heck.  Want to grab a drink sometime?”

Whoosh. I’m sitting here now, feeling like I’ve had the wind knocked out of me.   It was time to stop being afraid. Now the wait begins.