As I printed a script in the student union this afternoon, I noticed an awk freshman boy leaning out of his chair, ignoring his study group to stare at me. Clearly he was impressed by my aura of senior swagger, because the curly-hair, no-makeup, glasses, baggy-shirt combo I am currently rocking does not emit babe vibes. But it reminded me of another strange incident from my freshman year...
I hate modernist literature.
It is so damn hard to read. Nonlinear, changing narrators, metaphors out the ass. As John Mayer would huskily whisper-sing: "say what you need to say" and not a damn thing more. I get that the World Wars really messed you guys up, and I'm sorry for that, but seriously. Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf? I AM.
But my freshman year of college, I thought it would be a cool idea to take a freshman literary seminar examining how different cities were represented through modernist literature. Doesn't that just sound so... hip? complicated? bullshit? College. It sounded like a "college" class.
So here I sat, in the top level of the student union, cross legged on an overstuffed armchair, trying to force myself to read (and understand, dammit) the first half of St. Petersburg by Andrei Biely. In English, of course. But just like a Chekov play (theaters professors LOVE them some Chekov) the story became extremely difficult to follow because everyone had long, complicated double names with two or three nicknames, depending on who was addressing them.
It was like the Count of Monte Cristo, but with less action.
I am laboriously applying myself to the task at hand. As much as I disliked the subject matter, the class and the professor were AMAZING. The professor remains one of the smartest people I know. She's on the MLA board, for crying out loud. Every wide-eyed high schooler who's ever had to cite a paper or buy an MLA handbook breathes in a collective gasp.
So focused am I on this book (My only contribution to the class discussion at this point would be: Who the hell names a character Apollon Apollonovich Ableukhov?) that I don't entirely notice the person placing something on my desk and walking away.
This is a commonplace thing. People are always handing out mini-fliers for comedy events, cancer-fighting-things, interesting meetings, ect. I once amassed six separate handbills for events over the span of one lunch in the cafeteria. The student union is a popular place to hand out these bills. If the person currently at the table doesn't take it, someone else will come along in 20 minutes and be passionately interested in your cause.
After a long, arduous journey around St. Petersburg (roughly 5 minutes later) I look up at the flyer on my desk, hoping for some distraction. But instead, I saw a plain white 3x5 notecard with a name on it.
Way more interesting than Apollo Anotononin-too-many-damn-syllables.
To this day, I can't really remember the name, and I profusely apologize to you. I know it was two syllables, ending in an -en sound. Nathan? Kevin? I think it was Kevin. Nathan/Kevin, if you're reading this, I'm sorry.
On the front side, Nathan/Kevin was printed in jaggedy boy hand-writing with an arrow to the back. Flipping it over revealed:
"... is a really nice guy who would like to take you to dinner sometime if you'd leave your number #_____________."
Suddenly the overwhelming feeling of someone watching me washed over my being. It was like a screenwriter couldn't decide between a romantic comedy and a stalker slasher film.
"Be cool," I thought. "He's probably waiting for your reaction. Don't act weird."
I acted weird.
I glanced around the rest of the room, holding the notecard. No one made any move of recognition, no head-nod, no hand-wave, nothing. If Nathan/Kevin was still in the room, he made no move to call attention to himself.
And I had nothing to go on.
I had a very generic first name (no last name), so I couldn't facebook stalk. It wasn't like I was in a classroom where I could look him up on the class roll. I had no number or email. I hadn't looked up when Nathan/Kevin placed the card in front of me, because I assumed it was just another handbill solicitor, and like with rabid animals, you don't look them in the eye.
I was really flattered (and single and young and overly romantic) but I was not about to leave my number on a random card in the middle of the student union. If Nathan/Kevin had already left, heart crushed that I hadn't reacted to his immediate presence, the card might not be picked up by Nathan/Kevin the Romantic, but Bob/Ted the Serial Rapist. And I already had enough problems as a freshman without adding "stalked by a psychotic murderer" to the list.
I put the card in my bag and looked around a bit more, winning-smile on my face (hopefully giving off "don't you want to talk to me?" vibes and not "I am a crazy bunny-cooker" vibes). No one approached me, but the creepy feeling of being watched persisted. I got up slowly, packing my books away. I lingered by the stairs. Please, please, follow through with your grand romantic gesture. Talk to me. Do something. I want to go out with you but I have no idea who you are!
Also my bitch roommate would be super jealous.
But alas, Nathan/Kevin never approached me.
I sat in the same area at the same time for the rest of the week, hoping for contact. I had no possible way of discerning him. The weird feeling of being watched never came back, and instead the broke-up-with-my-highschool-boyfriend-to-come-here-and-nobody-likes-me loneliness came back. I kept the notecard for around a year, buried in the bottom of my bookbag, and I always glance around when I'm in a crowd, just in case.
Nathan/Kevin, wherever you are, I would have gone out to dinner with you.
But seriously man, you've got to step your game up.