The first time I was hit on by a man—as opposed to a boy or a guy or a dude—was New Year’s Eve, during the day, at a bookstore. I had escaped my college town for the holiday, desperate at the thought of the previous New Year’s, which I spent alone crying in a heap on the floor. I was at the bookstore with my parents, who were sitting in the cafe reading. I was considering buying Jose Saramago’s Blindness, a book which I later bought and read and struggled with. (It’s a strugglesome book, but also a great one.) I don’t think I had yet reached that pivotal point where I learned to tell if someone was interested in me. Usually I mistook banter and lingering glances for curiosity or boredom or maybe even disgust. So when a muscular man in his late twenties asked me for book recommendations, and when he kept the conversation going despite my quietness, I didn’t really have a clue what he was after. He asked what I was doing for New Year’s and I lied and said I was going to a party. He was too, but I suspect he wasn’t fibbing. We talked books and I silently judged him for his bad taste. I had it in my mind to read at least one work by every recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature that year (hence the Saramago) and I probably told him that and probably seemed like a snob. (That goal certainly went unaccomplished.) When he asked me for my phone number I was something like surprised, and even then I probably didn’t get it. I rattled off my number and he called me so that I’d have his number, too. My things were with my parents in the cafe, and thank god my mom didn’t answer the phone.
He called a few times over the next few weeks, and talking on the phone terrifies me, so I never picked up. Anyway, how a muscular, older man could ever be interested in me was totally beyond me. It never fit.
Last weekend, I was lucky enough to be browsing at Powell’s. I set off on a singular mission, looking for Murakami. I found him, thank goodness, and a guy asked me if I’d read Murakami before. Usually I can’t open my mouth to say a word, but given the topic I guess I can talk quite a bit so I yakked his ear off and we chatted about Japan and surrealism and books and Nabokov. I don’t think he really wanted to read Murakami, but he was nice, so I cast N an apologetic look across the store and made sure to say “we” a lot. It’s a little unfortunate, maybe, that someone can’t strike up a conversation at a bookstore without it being about I-think-you’re-cute-and-maybe-we-could-hang-out-sometime, because I’d like to spend lots of my time talking about books with boys and girls and old people and kids and I hated thinking that it was anything but that.
Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is that perhaps my unhappily single friends should spend a little time at the bookstore because dudes there are tryna get it.