A boy elbows his way into the circle and is now standing next to me, palms outstretched towards the flames. He has very rosy cheeks. That's really all I can say about him, because that's the only piece of him not covered in synthetic fabric. He's got rosy cheeks and he's tall.
We glance at one another and do the once-over, you know what I'm talking about. Then he turns to Silas, standing on his other side, and begins a loud conversation I'm just certain he wants me to hear. This is good. This is all part of the equation. I drink my beer and wait for my cue, which arrives neatly after about five minuets.
"So!" He booms. "Really been meaning to make it into the back country this winter!"
I spin around. "I'm getting into the back country, and I'm looking for more partners."
The boy grins and widens his eyes in exaggerated shock. "Well, no offense Silas, but I'd rather follow her than you!"
Ha ha, ha ha. A few jokes about Silas being old, about my being young, something about my tights. We all have a good laugh
But really though, do you want to ski? Avalanche certified? Cool. We exchange phone numbers and discuss schedules. Then we have a few hours to stand there and be quick and witty and irreverent. "I hope you don't mind my jokes!" He says. He's so jolly! "I'm always offending people with my jokes!"
I puff up my down-covered chest and say proudly, "Well I'm from the East Coast so you can't offend me!"
And then ha ha, ha ha, we start bouncing jokes back and forth. Really, it's a great time. We're shouting over the chords of a bad cover band, the snow is coming down, new people show up at the fire, introductions all around. We're all feeling very young and delightful, very prime of life. The snow catches in our eyelashes.
Around ten o'clock I call it a night. "After all, lots to do tomorrow!" I tell the protesting crowd, mostly older men, and the boy and I walk to my car. He helps me brush off the foot of new snow that's accumulated on the windshield. Then he gives me a hug, the lingering type. I drive home on I-90 feeling on top! Feeling good! Perfectly executed, I think to myself. I mentally brush my shoulders off.
It really been a good day. I made some new friends- Silas and Ryan and Stefan, and Stefan showed me this secret lodge up there you can stay in for ten bucks a night. I bought an armful of lottery tickets and won an Avalung backpack and a couple of hats and ate some pizza. The whole event thing was a spectacular win. A grand spectacular! But I was most excited about the boy, of course. He seemed so good natured and convivial, and he'd already texted me by the time I got home.
|Boy not pictured. Come one. I wouldn't do that.|
So we start texting, a little back and forth about snow conditions. I'm not interested in snow conditions but I am interested in where this is going, so I play it cool.
I wait for him to invite me skiing, which I'm absolutely positive is going to happen, but it's not happening. It's just banter, and it's going to go on forever.
In Seattle, maybe in any other city but I wouldn't know, you can bounce back and forth with useless texts forever if you're not careful. It's like being stuck in a pinball machine of passivity and vagueness. And if you think a casual 'we should ski sometime' is going to get you out of that pinball machine, you're sorely mistaken. I've learned to keep it quick and specific- suggest a time, suggest an activity, send.
So I give up waiting and I ask: Want to go skiing on Tuesday?
And this is when it all falls apart.
He writes me back something about how good the snow was last Friday. He says there were thirteen inches. Then he writes, thirteen inches is never a bad thing, right?
I'm thinking, is he really this into snow or is this a penis reference? And if it's a penis reference, that's fine, that's totally fine, but how about we make these innuendos in person, say, on a chairlift, say, TUESDAY.
But I can't write that, too aggressive, so I write: Ha ha, yeah.
Then he asks where I'm going on Tuesday, and I say Stevens, but I could do Alepental, and he writes that Alpental is closer, and then he doesn't say anything else.
What would you do if you asked a guy to dinner, and instead of saying yes or no he asks where you're going. So you say, either the Sexton or The Matador, and he said "The Sexton has better fried chicken." And then he doesn't say another thing? No shit the fried chicken is better at the Sexton, I eat there every Wednesday, do you want to fucking come with me or not?!
In the old days, you'd get full on rejected and it was wonderful. When I was in 8th grade I asked Oak Clifford to be my boyfriend, after only four months of gathering courage, and he said no. No is pretty easy to interpret. So I moved on and I set my sights on Ethan Waldo, no problem.
Sometime in the past six or seven years, the customary rejection became just no response at all. It's a lazy but generally straightforward no. You don't hear from him within 24 hours? Move it along.
It's the same in the publishing industry. Used to be you'd receive a rejection letter in the mail. Someone took the time to type out a no thank you, or at least send a copy of a form letter. They were almost a badge of honor; authors would do ironic things like turn them into wall paper or make books out of them.
Not these days. Now you just hear....nothing. Ever. I've written about 15 punchy little magazine pitches in the last six months and submitted them, painstakingly following all the guidelines, each time a quivering little ball of excitement- this is the one, best pitch ever! And then nothing but crickets. Not a word.
It's just how it goes.
But this? These non-response responses? It's a new kind of humiliation, because you've gathered the courage to ask someone on a date, and twenty minutes later you're still texting, trying to figure out whether you're talking about snow or about penises and then you remember- wait, didn't I just ask you out?
(I'm using Vert Fest boy because it's recent and hilarious but he's not the only one, remember Snake Guy?)
So Tuesday comes along and I go skiing, without him, and he sends me a text later that evening. So, did you go skiing?
I'm picturing a cave man. A cave man texting.
I reply yes. He replies something about snow conditions.
This should have been it. I know that. But to be perfectly honest, I gave it one last try. I shouldn't have because the writing was on the wall, and it's embarrassing to admit, but I did. Just in case he was into me, but he was just dumb as a rock.
I asked him to go to Smash Putt for Jeremy's birthday with me. He wrote back: Smash Putt??
I explained that smash putt was like mini golf, but hip.
And that was that. That was the last I ever heard from him.
So that's how this one ended. Not with a bang, not with a whimper, but with an explanation of smash putt.
At least I won an Avalung, so it wasn't a total wash.