Tuesday, February 17, 2004

talking to a stranger at Barnes and Noble

So, I had to take my car into the shop today. It was doing some crazy junk. I put it in the shop at 11:30am but they still hadn't worked on it by 5pm. Frustrating. So the whole day was spend down Waco Drive. I walked from Dunn's to Jason's Deli and had lunch. I finished up some work on sermon material there.

Then I walked back, looked around the Compass Book store, and made my way back to Barnes and Noble. I worked for a while on my sermons, read some in a Thomas Merton book, and read some magazines. All of this took about three hours. I needed to get to work so I asked Jason if he could come and pick me up.

All the while, sitting at Barnes and Noble doing homework, was this girl. The whole time I was there reading, sermonizing and reading some more, she was quietly sitting there in the coffee section doing homework. I couldn't help but notice her. I tried to avoid getting caught looking her way, but I have to admit that she was cute.

So with nothing left to do and with Jason on his way to pick me up, I decided to take the plunge and talk to her. I had zero reasons for doing this, except that this is what I felt compelled to do. This compulsion was probably due to the fact that she had amazingly striking eyes which seemed to call out to me from across the book store.

So I walked over to her table, took off my book bag, pulled out a chair and asked if I could sit down. She was a little startled and weirded out at first. I sat down and asked her if I could just talk with her for a while. I had no agenda. I told her that I had been there for a while and was still waiting on my car to get fixed. She seemed to accept this reason for chatting and stopped her studying.

I began my barrage of questions. What are you studying? What degree? What year at Baylor? Which sorority? Where did you grow up? Brothers and sisters? How do you like college? How are the grades? How is the sorority life? Then we got to the question of men.

I asked her "So do you have a man-slave in your life?" This is my typical way of asking if a girl has a boyfriend. Her face turned red, her head went down and her hand began to tuck her hair behind her ear. She was visibly embarrassed by this question. I meant nothing by it. I didn't want a date. I was just trying to ask about her life.

She told me that she wasn't dating a boy but that there was someone which she was talking to and interested in. She told me that that question made her uncomfortable. As I retreated in my questioning, I apologized for making her uncomfortable. So I continued in my questioning about school and other parts of her life. I added two cents here an there about my own life as well.

She was sweet and cute. Her name was Jenna. I never got to tell her how amazing I thought her eyes were. I never got to ask her if she found a good church in town to go to. These were two things that I was getting around to. But my ride came and Jason walked up to the table. They both politely greeted each other and exchanged names. I thanked her for the talk and wished her luck on her literature exam for which she was studying. I am pretty sure I left the conversation too abruptly.

Jason told me later that she had a funny look on her face when we left. As if she was expecting a better conclusion to the conversation. I generally stink at proper greetings and especially proper "good-byes". I didn't really have time to complete the questioning because I had to get to work. I am sure if I really needed to stay and finish the conversation in a better way that Jason wouldn't have minded. But as it was, I needed to get out the door.

I don't know if I will ever see Jenna again. I am not so sure she would want to talk if I did see her again. I just know that I wasn't going to bother her as she studied. But I decided to anyway. And I am glad that I did. For the 5 minutes (which felt like 20 minutes) that we talked, it was good...at least for me. I hope I didn't freak her out too much.

This was yet another attempt of mine to really live life. It was an attempt to stop avoiding the awkwardness of strangers in order to connect with them on a basic human level. It was an attempt to be able to blog about an actual encounter with a girl rather than to have just another entry about distant glances.


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