Around this time last fall, not long after I moved to Albuquerque, I met a man in a coffee shop. It was one of the more charmed moments I’ve experienced here: he was handsome and wouldn’t stop staring, I scrawled my number on a scrap of gas station receipt.
That afternoon I walked around town feeling a bit fancy about myself. He seemed to have potential. I like attention.
And then, I called my dear friend J–the one who, as you may recall, is a fellow South Brooklynite but who has lived in Albuquerque for several years. Several more than me.
I told her, giddily, about my encounter.
“Isn’t that exciting?” I gushed. “He was totally good-looking and seemed cool!”
“Yeah!” she encouraged. “What’s his name?”
I told her.
“Oh,” she said.
Right. Of course. She knew him. She hadn’t dated him herself–as I initially feared–but she knew a couple of women who had. It hadn’t gone well. It was hard not to notice that the pitch of her voice had dropped considerably since our conversation began. As, as you can imagine, had my mood.
The following day J sent me an email apologizing. She wrote that she felt obligated to tell me because she’s my friend and wants to protect me and can’t not be totally honest, but that it made her feel badly to burst my bubble. She wrote that just because things didn’t work out with him and these other women, that didn’t mean things couldn’t or wouldn’t work out between him and I.
Needless to say, they didn’t. (We went on one lovely date, after which he sent me a sweet text and then never got in touch again. This being the small town of Albuquerque, though, I do run into him periodically at bars and coffee shops where he stares just as he did the first time. Only now instead of feeling flattered and writing down my number, I feel irritated and hate him.)
I was reminded of this last night, when I told a couple of more-local-than-me girlfriends about my current (local) crush. They listened eagerly to my story, and then asked his name. Both of them knew women who had dated him. Both of them dispensed varying degrees of warning.
I mean, I didn’t exactly need them to tell me that this guy should be approached with caution. (Did I mention that I’m working on an essay in which I confess that my behavior with men matches the definition of insanity? At least I’m aware.)
They, and I, may or may not be right. I’m foolish and attracted enough to find out for myself. But still, the routine is demoralizing. And difficult to avoid. As a single person trying to date in a small-ish town, one often wonders if there is anyone around who isn’t undatable by association.
I’ve only been here a year. I’m lucky not to have gotten to the point where every guy in town has dated a friend. (For now, the typical distance seems to be one removed.) But it’s a tricky dance, this, both for me and for the wiser women I know. Because, as J said, you don’t want to keep information from someone–especially someone you care about. But you also don’t want to assume that just because someone’s behaved a certain way in the past, and with a certain person, that’s what they’ll do again.
I mean, most times that assumption is probably a fair one. But I’m not sure there are enough options out there–or rather, around here–to routinely make it.
Instead, I’ll continue to plead insane. Find out for myself. And then do it all over again.