Perceptions

By Wayne Elise

Version en español de este articulo.

Three Summers ago I was sitting at a coffee shop when I saw a girl walking on the other side of the street who I found immediately attractive. But I hesitated approaching her.

"Go talk to her," said a voice inside me.

I'd like to claim I don't have conversations with myself. But that'd be a lie. "I probably should," I thought back.

"So do it."

'The thing is, I'd have to pack up all my things. I'd have to rush across the street. It'd look awkward."

"It'd be like a movie."

"A horror movie?"

"A romantic comedy. You could be direct. You could be charming. Look at her. There's something compelling about her. She's probably creative. You know how you dig creative girls."

"But I should finish my work here. I'm writing an article about picking up girls."

"Seriously? That's the lamest thing I've ever heard."

"It's too late anyway. There she goes around the corner. I'll talk to her if I see her again."

"Promise?"

"Promise."

"Okay. But I'm still pissed."

"Sorry."

"Buy us a cupcake."

"Fine."

"A big one. Chocolate. I'm depressed."

Two weeks later I'm working with a client on the campus of the nearby university.

I pointed out some Asian girls sunning themselves on the grass. "Let's go talk to those girls. You should go after Asian girls."

"Why Asian girls?" he asked.

"Let's just say that you're very un-Asian and opposites attract."

"It's because I'm short isn't it?"

"What? No. You're not short."

"I'm five five."

"Really? I'd never have guessed. You have a tall personality. Come on. Let's go make some Asian girls happy. They're going to love you."

"Wait. I have to use the restroom."

"Diarrhea?"

"What? No."

"Oh okay. The graduate library there has a nice restroom. Walk in. Go down the stairs. I'll wait here."

No sooner he left, I spot the girl from two weeks ago walking in my direction. My first thought was, oh shit, I am wholly unprepared.

"You promised," said that voice inside me.

"You again. Okay. I know. I'll keep my promise."

"What're you going to say to her?"

"No idea. I'll think of something."

"You should recite poetry. That's what Byron would do."

"Are you serious? That's a stupid idea. Trust me. She's not going to appreciate poetry."

"Sorry. I'm only your collective unconscious. I don't get out much."

"It's okay."

"Try to look busy. Pretend you're talking on your phone."

"My phone's in the car."

"Look like you're out for a run."

"I'm not wearing running clothes."

"Pretend you're stretching against a tree."

"Shit. Okay."

I put my hands against a tree and stretched my leg muscles. I pulled my arms behind my back. I pretended to crack my neck. The girl seemed to notice none of this as she began to walk past.

"Say something to her," said the voice inside me. "Quick."

I stepped in front of her. "Hi there."

She stopped walking and gave me a look that said, do I know you?

I stepped closer to her. "Good to see you. I saw you before… The thing is, you have a nice way and I thought… Um, do you mind if I walk with you?"

The voice inside me was shaking his head. "That was the worst series of pick up lines ever. You call yourself a professional? This is so embarrassing."

She looked around as if there was a hidden camera somewhere. "Uh, okay. I'm just walking back to work."

"Great," I said. "It must be nice to walk to work."

"Yes. It is."

"My name is Wayne."

"Nice to meet you Wayne. I'm xxxxxxxxx."

"So I think it would be fun to get a drink sometime."

"Well, that might be difficult. I have a boyfriend who may not like me getting a drink with a strange man."

"Yeah. He might not. Well, perhaps we can get a drink just as friends."

"As friends, maybe."

"We could sit outside at a cafe and drink a glass of wine and talk about relationships."

We reached the edge of the campus and the corner where traffic began. It was clear this was as far as we would be walking together that day.

I looked at her. She looked at me and seemed to make a decision. She pulled out a pen and wrote her number on a card.

"I can't believe I'm doing this." She handed me the card. "Just as friends."

"Of course. Friendship is good. I'm all about friendship. I've never met a friend I didn't like. Okay, what I just said there makes no sense. In any case, I'll text you tomorrow."

After she walked away the voice in my head returned, "That was the most awkward, painful thing I've ever seen," he said.

"Yes," I said. "I know."

"But I'm proud of you."

"Thanks. How about we get the client, round up some Asian girls and go for cupcakes?"

"You read my mind."

That Summer the girl and I became friends. Her French boyfriend, who she had just began dating a month earlier, was absent while visiting France for the Summer. That left me alone with her to work my magic. We would meet up, drink a glass of wine and I'd try to convince her to sleep with me. But she was an honest woman to the end. She wouldn't cheat on her boyfriend. She described him as very good looking and very jealous.

Eventually she found out what I did for a living. We were sitting outside a cafe on Main street when she brought it up. She set her cabernet sauvignon on the table and screwed her face into a serious expression. "I should have known you were a pick up artist by the confident way you approached me."

That gave me a pause for thought. "Really? Is that how you saw it?"

"Of course. How else?"

The Summer ended and her boyfriend returned from France making it impossible that she and I would be able to spend time together. I got into a relationship with a girl I met at the gym, then a few months later I moved away to New York where I met and fell in love with Erika.

But since that Summer I try to stress to my clients and anyone who'll listen that how you perceive yourself is not the same as how you're perceived. And you get credit for taking action. Boldness has it's own language.

Good luck, Wayne