Within two minutes I knew. Not interested, not even a little. The conversation continued anyways. He asked questions, I gave short answers. "Thanks." "Oh." "Cool." Why did I give him my number again? Oh yeah, he's cute and he asked. Doesn't take much lately. I was bored. He cut to the chase, the reason he'd dialed my number in the first place. "Do you want to go out some time?" I gave him another short answer. "Yes."
No. I wasn’t giving him a second chance to make a better impression. No, I didn’t think there would be any additional chemistry in person that wasn’t present over the phone. And no, I didn’t want to explore the friendship option either. I wanted to eat. Plain and simple. There was once a time when I was hopeful. Hopeful that the missing spark would find itself somewhere between dinner and a movie. Hopeful that the initial attraction was more than just passing. That hope made me accept many invitations, until that hope died and the only thing I had to show for it was a full belly. I started saying yes not because of hope, but because let's face it, a girl's gotta eat. And if she can eat for free, even better. I figured if I wasn't going to fall in love I could at least get fed.
To set the record straight, I have never sought out a free meal, only willingly obliged requests to spend time over appetizers, a main course, and dessert. Besides, after the number exchange it's less messy to just agree to one outing than explain why the interest vanished in less than 24 hours. It's easier to put on a cute outfit that's not quite sexy and show up. And that's what I did time and time again. I showed up.
It's a routine I became all to familiar with. I always made sure to show up looking just attractive enough to maintain the interest but not further it. Knowing I didn't like them did not stop me from wanting them to like me. My ego wouldn't leave any room for confusion about who would be rejecting whom at the end of the evening. After showing up, the next step was just to get through it. Get through the small talk and the advances both overt and covert. I learned to keep my hands in my pockets to prevent them from being held. Avoiding eye contact was also key. And at the end of every meal, I pulled out my wallet knowing I would be told to put it away. So as not to lead anyone on, I never went out with them again. Besides it's dangerous to tempt fate. Might not escape unscathed the second time around.
Hell even first meals weren't quite free sometimes. My disinterest was mistaken for playing hard to get on more than one occassion. And one particularly horrible incident ended after an hour of playing keep away with an old man named after Elmer Fudd. Not a good time. Even mouth watering food wasn't worth all of that hassle. So why risk it again? Maybe it was boredom, maybe it was my bare cupboards. Who knows! But I did it anyways.
So last week I put the routine back in action and met him at my favorite place. As we waited for our table, I saw that he was just as attractive as I remembered. When he spoke, he was also just as boring. We sat, we ordered, we ate. I kept looking at the clock wondering if I'd make it home in time for All My Children. I divulged nothing personal and became enraptured with my french toast. The bill came, I pulled out my wallet, he told me to put it away. How could I refuse? When it was time to part ways I fidgeted, keeping my distance. Then, managing to escape with only a wave and "Thank you! Bye-bye," I got away with it! Who says there's no such thing as a free lunch?