I should share an experience from last summer. It's about dating, and about when I finally decided that I would say no to a man.
See, I get so few dates that I never say no. I'm willing to give pretty much anyone a chance, really.
So last summer, I was on the YSA committee and helped to plan activities and such and such (this was on the East Coast). I helped to plan this weekend retreat where we went to a farm house for two days. On the whole, it was a success, but during the two-day retreat, I acquired a sortof stalkerish little guy.
Let's call him Virgil.
So Virgil wasn't what one would call an attractive man, and Virgil wasn't what one would call a mentally balanced man, either. I discovered that whatever room I was in, Virgil was there. When I got tired of socializing, I exused myself and went to the kitchen to wash dishes. Soon, I found Virgil standing in the doorway of the kitchen, watching me wash dishes, and waiting for me to start a conversation. I didn't really start a conversation, and he certainly didn't offer to help me wash dishes, but he did stay in the doorway to watch me the whole time I was cleaning up. Finally, a friend found me and said, "We're going to hop in the swimming pool. You coming?" I told her I wasn't sure. I was lying---of course I wanted to go swimming---but I didn't want to tip Virgil off to my whereabouts. My friend asked Virgil if he was going to come swimming, and he said he wasn't sure.
A few minutes later, as I was swimming in the pool, Virgil strutted on over in his bathing suit and canonballed into the pool, virtually emptying the pool of any water it previously contained.
The next day, it was time to clean up the farmhouse and leave. I took the vacuum and started vacuuming every room. Virgil followed me. He didn't do any cleaning work himself, and he didn't try to make conversation, but he did follow me from room to room, staring at me as I vacuumed.
I was dreading seeing him two days later at the FHE activity, but I successfully avoided him. At the end of the activity, he came up and stood beside me, and I knew that it was with the intention of talking to me for some very important purpose. So I avoided eye contact (I am a coward) and cheerily waved goodbye to him as my friends and I left the activity to go and get some Cold Stone ice cream.
I went with a couple girl friends and one girl friend's brother. He was 19 at the time and just about to go on a mission, and that night was the first time we were really hanging out.
When I was in line at Cold Stone, my phone rang: it was an unidentified number. More curious as to who it was than afraid of who it could be, I answered. It was Virgil.
Virgil: Hi. This is Virgil.
Cicada: Hi, Virgil!
[Very long pause as I wait for him to state the purpose of his call. Is this strange? I thought that it's generally the person who makes the call who is responsible for generating conversation.]
Virgil: That was a lot of food that we had at FHE tonight.
Cicada: Well, yes, it was. A family in the ward had leftovers from a barbeque they had, and they wanted us to eat up the leftovers, so we went ahead and threw a barbeque.
Virgil: Oh. I thought maybe it was leftovers from the retreat.
Cicada: No. Nope. Not leftovers from the retreat.
Virgil: Yeah, that would have been funny if they had been leftovers from the retreat because that means that the retreat had a lot of leftovers.
Cicada: Yes, yes, that would have been funny, but as I said, they weren't leftovers from the retreat.
Virgil: Well, because I was surprised at having a barbeque at FHE right after having the retreat.
Cicada: Yeah. But, you know, like I said, this family needed the food to be eaten so...
[Another very awkward pause.]
[Virgil's still not saying anything.]
[I had no other option but to end the conversation myself.]
Cicada: Well, Virgil, it was nice talking to you, but you see, I'm in line waiting to order ice cream, and there are machines that are making a lot of noise so I can hardly hear anyway, and I'm about to order, so...
Virgil: We'll just talk another time then.
Cicada: Okay. Another time, then. Goodbye, Virgil.
I got my ice cream and sat down with my girl friends and the 19-year-old. I started telling them what had just happened and sought advice for how to politely turn him down when he called to ask me out.
That started the 19-year-old on a tyrade:
19: That's just disgusting. That is just absolutely disgusting. It's girls like you who just make me absolutely sick. You're not even going to give this guy a chance! I can't believe it. I cannot believe it. People like you don't even deserve to date.
Cicada: I'm sorry, but I think that if I know that I have no intention of ever having a future with him, then it's only fair that I turn him down if he asks me a on a date!
19: I just can't believe it. Cannot believe it. Who is this guy, anyway? Who is he? Virgil? Who's Virgil?
We explained who Virgil was.
19: That Virgil? That Virgil? Oh my gosh! Do not go out with him! Oh my goodness! Now I completely understand. I thought we were talking about something totally different! Virgil?? No! Do not go out with Virgil.
At this point, he started laughing at the idea of me going out with Virgil.
Cicada: My problem is actually turning him down. I mean, I can't do it! I can't do it! I've never said no! I went out with a mentally retarded man when I was 18!
Now, a look of pure shock and disgust crossed my 19-year-old's face.
19: Don't ever tell anyone ever again that you did that! Why would you even admit to that?
Twenty minutes later, I was driving home and I got a phone call from an unidentified number. I had already programmed Virgil's number into my phone, so I knew it couldn't be him. I answered, carefully.
"A thirty-year-old mentally retarded man!" shouted the 19-year-old, on the other line. "What were you thinking??"
And basically, that's where the story ends. Virgil somehow picked up on the signals I was sending him and never asked me out. The 19-year-old became my fake boyfriend for the summer (I was, afterall, only four years older than him) and although I promised him that I'd write him while he was on his mission, I never have attended to my fake girlfriendly duties.