Don’t Speak 

I ran into that same man again at the cigar lounge, the one that calls me “Sweetie.” Mind you, it’s been weeks since I first encountered him. I’ve seen him since that first meeting, but this is the first time that he talked to me.
I still have a negative feeling when I see him, so I stay away from him. I focus on my friends, my drink, my cigar. I have zero interest in making this man an ally. So what is the first word out of his mouth as he addresses me? “Sweetie.” Who’s surprised? He says, “Sweetie, where did my friend go? Are you two leaving?”

This time, he had a friend standing with him. I looked him in the eye and I made sure to enunciate as I spoke. “My name is…” 

He rolled his eyes, grabs my hand to shake it, and says, “I’m sorry for calling you sweetie, you’re not sweetie at all, nothing about you is sweetie.” And he is right. Nothing about me is sweetie. For him. 

I don’t give him a reaction, because he isn’t worth it. I think I actually walked away while he was mid-sentence. The other guys tell me he is drunk, but that really isn’t my problem or concern. That isn’t a free pass to act any way you want, or to talk to anyone any way you want. 

I literally cannot stand him. I vented, left (which I was already in the process of doing), and I sincerely hope this man learns to keep his distance from me. 

Ugh. 

How Not to Approach a Woman

I had a strange encounter last week, and I was surprised at how irritated I became.

I frequent local cigar lounges, and I’m most often a visitor at one within my own neighborhood. Can’t beat the proximity. As a woman who enjoys an occasional cigar and a glass of good scotch or bourbon, I have no problem visiting these establishments on my own – I don’t need an entourage to feel comfortable in my own skin. Especially when visiting the bar in my neighborhood, I enjoy being alone, because I’ve created a sense of respite there.

Though I enjoy my alone time, I am a social being, and I can enjoy conversation with almost anyone. Almost. I do find, at times, that being a woman in a cigar lounge is viewed by some as crossing into the inner-sanctum of Man Time. The women present acknowledge each other without issue, most likely because we see strength in numbers. The men turn their heads and observe every instance of femininity in the room. We’re watched, often judged, and then incessantly questioned about our choices. Surely we’ve come to the wrong place, or so they think.

During my encounter, I sat alone at the end of the bar watching Copa America. I was smoking a good cigar and was nursing a glass of scotch. I was texting a couple friends (and possibly posting a picture on Snapchat). The bartenders know me by name, and I’ve settled into a comfortable routine at this establishment.

A man arrived and sat a few seats away, at the corner where he could face my left side, addressing me as “Sweetie” and “Sweetheart.” Clearly, it never occurred to him to actually introduce himself or ascertain what I might like to be called. He asked me if he could borrow my lighter, as he’d forgotten his own. After I slid my torch lighter (freshly full of butane) down the bar to him, he asked me if my lighter even worked. His question caught me off guard, and I simply turned to look at him as I puffed my well-lit cigar.

He scrutinized the lighter and watched me for reactions. He lit his cigar and slid the lighter back to me. “Thank you, Sweetie.” By this time, I was having a visceral reaction to this man. I winced at “Sweetie” and “Sweetheart.” The more he watched me — judged me — the more I felt my eye wanting to twitch. I turned my attention back to my phone.

“So I notice you’re smoking a cigar. And what is that, bourbon or Scotch?”

“Yep. Scotch.” I said. I find that when I don’t like something, I either shut down or get extremely vocal. My preference is to shut down; I don’t want to make a scene. What I wanted to say was, “Why is any of this your concern?”

“How long have you smoked cigars?” He asked suspiciously.

“A few years now.” I didn’t want to engage in conversation, so I responded to a few text messages from friends.

“I see. So a cigar smoker and scotch drinker. What is it you like about cigars anyway?” His eyes narrowed at me, and my irritation grew.

“I just like them, hard to explain. Why do you smoke cigars?” I looked at him, I’m sure exasperation was all over my face, but he ignored my question because he wanted to continue evaluating me. I didn’t bother trying to give him a real answer; I wasn’t actually interested in continuing the conversation.

“Are you texting all of your friends? You sure do seem to like to be on your phone.” He puffed his cigar and watched me.

“I’m texting a few friends, not all. I call it being responsive.” I didn’t bother trying to hide my annoyance.

“So you would rather talk to your friends than talk to me?” What I couldn’t quite recognize is that this man actually thought he was flirting with me, that I should be impressed and grateful for his attention.

I maintained eye contact with my phone, responding to messages as they came in. I sent a text to one of my friends asking them to continue texting me, because I was being harassed by an older man.

I think “harassed” is the right word. I’ve been reduced to pet names, had my equipment insulted, and had my very presence questioned. Surely, I couldn’t be a regular, a real cigar smoker, or have a real appreciation for brown liquor. Surely, I didn’t belong in a cigar lounge.

Before he could ask another question, a couple walked up to greet him. They sat to my left, leaving one seat between us, and provided a slight barrier between myself and this man. The couple greeted me, and I exchanged pleasantries and a smile before returning my attention to my cigar and my phone. They seemed fine.

The man wasn’t finished though. He ranted to his friends about millennials, how they couldn’t hold a decent conversation and all they cared about was their technology. His friends looked at me, understanding the complaints were made about me, and then I had three people watching for my reaction. I gave none, which apparently confused them more, only fueling the man. His male friend asked me if I was okay, and I said yes. His female friend asked me if they were bothering me, and I said no. I’d just had a long day.

Friendly servers and managers walked by, and I greeted them, laughed, and talked freely with them. I could see the man redden, because it was clear I just didn’t have interest in talking to him. Two more of his friends joined him, sitting around the corner of the bar, though these two had some relationship issues going on. The man continued to watch me; I could feel his eyes on me as I enjoyed my cigar and ordered a second drink.

Another friend joined their group, a man I’d seen before. Before my scrutinizer could say anything, the man introduced himself to me, asked my name, said he remembered my face from a few different times in the lounge. We shook hands and smiled, I remembered his name, and he asked me if I minded whether he sat next to me. I told him I didn’t mind, and the man at the corner of the bar fumed while my new friend and I made easy small talk. There was even a bit of light flirting.

The new addition to the bar tried to include me in conversations that his friends were having, so I spoke up when asked (they were talking about O.J.), and he and I continued our own conversation. I didn’t want to invite his friend to begin asking me another barrage of questions.

Perhaps I was being petty, but I made sure to hug my neighbor as I called it a night. I left earlier than I’d planned, but I didn’t like the change in energy when the man came in, and I’d had enough. I spoke to everyone at my end of the bar but the man, and I really didn’t care how rude that made me look.

On my way out, I told a host and a manager (two of my friends) what transpired. Though I certainly could have said something or moved further down the bar, and they both knew the guy to be a jerk, I decided to laugh off an awkward encounter and make a mental note to keep my eye out for him in the future. Thankfully, I haven’t seen him since.

There is a way that you can talk to a woman without demeaning her, questioning her, or making her feel like she shouldn’t have knowledge or experience simply because she is female. Just because you are a man and you ask a question, you are not entitled to a response, regardless of your age or stature. We aren’t here to be your entertainment, to be studied, or to be presumed ignorant because we choose to do something that isn’t innately feminine. You aren’t owed an explanation and we don’t need your approval.

It’s none of your business, I’m not your sweetie, and if we cross paths again, I’ll tell you so. Please don’t kill my vibe.

Good News

I’m one of those “happy by association” kind of people. Even on days when I feel I’ve been completely dragged through the mud, I can find joy in seeing a friend realize triumph.

It’s not that I don’t continue to experience my own circumstances; rather, I see them accomplishing some form of success, and I’m reminded that there really is a light at the end of the tunnel. Life is just a succession of tunnels. Some of them curve, some of them go on for much longer than we can really stand being in confined spaces, and others we pass through so quickly that we don’t even realize we were ever in a dark place. These happy moments experienced by others are like a brief glimmer, or even a skylight, along whatever tunnel I’m traveling through. Answered prayers are fantastic bursts of light.

I have a friend with a new work opportunity, another with a beautiful baby on the way (who is going to be ridiculously stylish), and most areas of my life are pretty good right now. Things aren’t perfect me, but I don’t think I ever expect perfect — that would just be setting up for failure.

My rollercoaster of a dating life is probably one of the tunnels I’ve been traveling lately. It’s been a really long time since I’ve been in anything significant, and that’s been weighing on me. Four years since my last relationship that got anywhere near the “L” word, and everything since has been so obviously temporary.

Even the latest muse. Fun when he’s around, but for the most part he isn’t anywhere to be found. I know his circumstances, and though I enjoy his company, I’m not expecting much. He’s not ready. Highly unlikely that anything serious will develop, so more than anything, I find myself looking out the window and wondering what’s next for me. That I was in a long-term relationship for the length of my 20’s, am I going to spend the whole of my 30’s alone?

I don’t want to force anything, and I don’t want to rush. I actually enjoy my own company, so I’m not looking for someone to fill my entire calendar. I just get tired of waking up alone every morning, coming home to an empty apartment every night. Everyone who checks on me is at least a few hundred miles away, for the most part. I’m not isolated the way I was in New Orleans, but I do recognize the value I put on real friendships, and those aren’t always easy to forge the more “mature” we get.

Even feeling a bit lonely myself, I’ve been over-the-moon happy for my friends. I’ve been praying for the both of them, and I know they’ve been through so much to get to these incredible moments. Through their experiences, they remind me to be humble, to appreciate what I already have, and to exude the positive energy that I want to come into my life. They give me perspective when it escapes me, though they probably have no idea the impact their experiences have had on me.

I will be just fine, no matter what. Even if I end up an old spinster with a million crocheted blankets or a houseful of cats. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel, but I think being present and having the peace of mind to enjoy someone else finding the end of their tunnel can, in turn, keep us moving forward until we find the end of ours.

Valentine’s Day

This post has been sponsored by Amazon and SiteGround, but all opinions expressed here are my own.

Such an interesting day. I get that Valentine’s Day is a manufactured holiday — one that benefits the card, candy, and floral companies — but I am enamored with any day specifically purposed for love.

I’ve never understood the folks who hate Valentine’s Day or the ones who celebrate “Singles Awareness Day.” Even if you don’t have a significant other to celebrate the day with, you have a special someone: you. Self-love is a real thing — a necessary thing — and I’ve never understood the amount of self-loathing that takes place on this day in particular.

Being single on Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean you’re a failure or that you should hide under a rock for the next 24 hours. A little self-love goes a long way. Pamper yourself. Go get a massage, buy yourself your own flowers or chocolate (just don’t eat the whole box). I used to send myself my favorite chocolates on Valentine’s Day as a reminder that it’s not really a big deal. Don’t allow the only way for you to feel special about yourself to be controlled by someone else. You can (and should) do that for yourself.

How do I spend the day? This weekend, I’ve been curling up with some good books, watching movies, I’ve been cooking and organizing the apartment, hosted a dinner, went to the salon, and I’ve enjoyed the peace and quiet. I love long weekends, and I am enjoying making my apartment a home. This doesn’t sound like some adventure-filled weekend, but it has been everything I’ve needed it to be. I’m relaxed, in good spirits, and I’ve removed some of the chaos at home (by cleaning and organizing my storage room). This may not be romantic love, but self-love is abundant.

Recently, I finished a book by Adriana Trigiani, entitled Brava Valentine: A Novel. Though the title is appropriate for this weekend, it’s not actually about Valentine’s Day. Rather, the heroine (Valentine) navigates a trilogy in pursuit of professional success, family business stability, love, and (in my opinion) self-realization. Through her missteps, she learns about what she wants for herself. Though she’s taken great pride in her work, she has an ah-ha moment and discovers that she really does want to be loved. She didn’t trust that honest love or passion were really possible, primarily as a result of familial infidelities.

Through the novel, the beauty of Italian country, good food, and funny quips come through. Brava Valentine is the second book in the trilogy, so I’m excited to read the third installment, The Supreme Macaroni Company: A Novel. As a writer, nothing gets me more amped up to write than reading a good book.

I’ve also spent a lot of time this weekend trying to optimize this site; to make this site really work for me. I’m so glad that I decided to self-host my domain, and that Siteground has been the absolute best choice for me. Though WordPress recommended Bluehost, I thought their service was awful, the attempt at transferring my domain was rough, and that maybe the company doesn’t have enough staff to truly support such a huge WP constituency.

Moving over to Siteground came with more than really responsive service. It also opens up the world of plugins, which you cannot use if you’re hosted on WordPress.com. Opening up the worlds of Adsense, affiliate programs, the editorial calendar, and a ton of options makes this process a little overwhelming but a lot gratifying. Taking 100% onus of the site means that it can be done my way, can make me money, can have whatever content I need. This part of my writing journey is coming together, which frees up more time and focus for my books. Finally.

Web Hosting

Muse Worthy

There have been times when I meet someone and am struck by their charm, personality, and wit. The immediate chemistry that we have. The recognition of that chemistry mirrored in the eyes of my potential counterpart burns an impression into my mind that can take a while to shake. Not that I want to be rid of that impression.

Something about the discovery and experience of this type of chemistry brings about motivation for me. The special significance immediately puts me in a creative headspace — one where I can write for hours. In moments we aren’t together, I find pages pouring out of my fingertips like fresh iced tea on a warm day. It’s refreshing and rewarding because the productivity level is skyrocketing.

The oddity is that the endorphins I may be experiencing don’t completely relate to my characters. My characters don’t start off in some happy place. They’re broken down, being challenged by multiple personal obstacles, not sitting somewhere daydreaming about someone new. They are hurt or grieving or carry within themselves a self-loathing that they must shake to move forward. They try hard to break through the surface, only to be dragged down and submerged again and again.

But maybe this man becomes my muse because it helps me to see the light at the end of the tunnel for my characters. It opens the headspace for me where my characters are introduced to some new potential, new opportunity, new love. Where my characters get to see beyond their circumstances and hope.

I don’t think this muse helps me to see the light at the end of the tunnel for myself, however. I’m too cynical to be thinking that this one must be THE one and start mapping out our life together. And, in the majority of my past relationships, one issue was at the root of it all: timing. Something I have no control over, and something I would never want to manipulate for my own benefit.

Either you’re ready, or you’re not. Thus far, they’ve all fallen into the “not ready” category, which creates a bit of a hole each new muse must try to dig his way out of, because I now go into these situations assuming business as usual. They’re not ready, so why invest too much? I know this isn’t exactly an optimistic outlook, but thus far, I haven’t been wrong.

I’m just tired of living for “some day.” I have been patient, and I go over and above, but if I can see things lagging, I tend to err on the side of moving on. I don’t want to wait for some day, and I don’t need that second presence to create my own happiness.

Whomever my special person is, whether it’s this guy or the next, what I need more than anything is his presence. I don’t need a bunch of gifts or items, and I don’t need him to take responsibility for my happiness. I just need his presence and partnership. Love will find its way when it is right. But his love will complement my own, not be a substitute or replacement for what I already produce.

I don’t believe a partner fills a void; rather, I think the most successful relationships emerge when two whole people come together with mutual affection and respect, a willingness to work toward maintaining and improving together, and a level of support to help each other realize their respective aspirations. That would be my ultimate muse.

He’s out there.

Taking Advantage

I’m no Mother Teresa, but I would say that I am generous with those that I care about.  I genuinely care for the well-being of those around me, and it matters to me that the people I love have what they need to get by.

That being said, I’m not stupid, nor am I a doormat.  My generosity and kindness should not be mistaken for weakness or vulnerability.  Attempts to take advantage or exploit are hardly going unnoticed.  But I think this is the point where people sometimes get a little lost.

Often, when people realize that someone is taking them for granted, they get down on themselves.  Maybe it cracks their confidence, or maybe it makes them feel like a prize idiot.  Damn that.  Don’t let someone make you feel bad for being who you are.  Remember that what you did came from a good place.  There’s no sense in feeling bad for doing something good.

People are taken for granted all the time.  Rather than let what happened defeat you or eat away at your will and drive, let it fuel you.  Use that experience as motivation, and most of all, learn from it.  At the end of the day, if you’re not making the most of your life, you’re giving in to the negative energy that came to steal away your livelihood.

I am a true believer that you get what you put out into the universe.  Call it Karma, call it an eye for an eye, Yin and Yang, call it comeuppance.  I don’t have to do or say anything, try to get even, yell, or even be angry.  I feel sorry for anyone that would take advantage, because it says something about where they are in their life — maybe they’re going through something.  And I forgive.  There’s no use in hanging onto negativity; it’s just a waste of energy that could be put to better use.

I won’t change who I am or how I treat people.  I won’t stop caring, because that’s now how I operate.  But I will keep my distance.

Valentine, Schmalentine

I happen to be one of those people that love Valentine’s Day, regardless of my relationship status.

I’m not one of those “love to be in love, but only when I’m with someone” types, who post embittered “Happy Single Awareness Day” photos when I don’t have someone to see when I come home.

Single Awareness

In all honesty, I love any day that’s focused on love.  I don’t care if I’m single; I’m still loved.

So I had two opportunities not to spend this special day by my lonesome, but I chose to avoid both options.  You might call me crazy, but (at least at this point) I value my time too much to waste it with someone that I’m not feeling.  Feel free to tell me your thoughts when you read both scenarios, but I’m telling you, I’m better off cooking a meal, having a glass of wine, and enjoying the next episode of Scandal.

Scenario 1:

So I met this guy, and so far we’d only gone out for coffee.  There were so many things I found fault with that I thought maybe I was just being picky, but I eventually gave in and had to veto this option.  He was younger than me, and though I don’t typically have a problem with age, his age just showed.  He was needy; he constantly sought my approval about everything, fished for compliments like nobody’s business, but kept trying to assure me that he was mature for his age.  I wasn’t buying it, and I let him know that I didn’t feel he and I were on the same page.

Of course, he balked, so sure that the (several year) age difference couldn’t mean he didn’t know what “to do,” but how could he argue with how I felt?  In all honesty, to me, he didn’t come across like a man.  He came across like a kid.  We’d talk, and he’d go off on long tangents that had nothing to do with anything.  Sometimes, he’d text me random song lyrics he was hearing on the radio.  And his grammar made me cringe.  Ridiculous reason not to date someone, perhaps, but please don’t ever let your reaction start with “And so, I be like…”  Um, what IS that??

Youthful characteristics aside, something about his voice made him unattractive to me.  This sounds incredibly nit-picky, but before I even had the thought myself, he told me that he’d been asked before if he was gay because his voice is rather effeminate.  Um… was I supposed to think differently?  It just sort of highlighted the fact that there was no deep, manly, testosterone-dripping voice on the other end of the line.  As a result, there was just no way anything he said in a flirty manner was read as such.

When he asked if he could take me out for dinner and a movie on Valentine’s Day, I debated it for a while.  Although most of my friends, and even my parents, thought I should go for the free meal and movie (who can pass up Die Hard?), I just couldn’t do it.  The worst part about it was that I could have agreed to the movie if I could skip the dinner — that way we wouldn’t have to talk.  Terrible to say, but the honest truth.  In the end I told him that I thought he was really sweet (read into that what you want), but that I didn’t want to take advantage if I wasn’t really interested.

Scenario 2:

I met this guy a few weeks ago, who only randomly texts me.  Mind you, I’m really not holding out any hope for this guy — he doesn’t live in New Orleans — but he said he would be in town and wanted to see if I was available to go out.

Something about his request made me pause.  He was extremely attractive, definitely a man, a couple years older than me.  But still, I just didn’t feel right.  Something I noticed during all the texting (and absent conversation), was that he really never tried to get to know ANYthing about me.  I mean, really?  I know I don’t look brand new, folks, so he can’t possibly think I’m that gullible.  But he did.

When he mentioned wanting to get together, I told him I wanted to get to know him better first.  He agreed, so I asked him a question about himself.  He didn’t bother to answer the question.  Still hasn’t.  But yesterday, he sent me a text to ask if we were on for tonight.  Uh… what?  So I told him that he hadn’t even bothered to answer my question, and I felt that was indicative of his interest level.  I’m not doing Valentine’s Day or weekend trips if you don’t even want to know who you’re dealing with.  He said he’d been busy, but you know that’s BS when 6 days go by and he still has yet to answer one question.

I’m not the chick that has such little confidence or self-respect that I could go there.

* * *

Even with such terrible prospects, I don’t blame Valentine’s Day.  It’s a day, folks.  It’s what you make of it.  If you’re depressed because you’re single on Valentine’s Day, face it — you’re depressed EVERY day.  Love yourself.  Know that, if today were your last, YOU are enough.  If you don’t think so now, why should anyone else?

Love is out there, but don’t sacrifice who you are to try and find it — you’ll find something else completely.   I believe that to be true.  There’s no use in wallowing — your outlook affects what you attract.  You can enjoy Valentine’s Day whether you’re in a relationship or not, so opt for the one that can actually lift your spirits.

Cheers!

Roses

I’ll Call You

This three word phrase is almost as dreadful as the four word phrase “we need to talk.”  Why do people even utter the words?  We all know what it really means, having decoded the line the first time it was used:

They’re not really going to call.

I guess I always wonder what the point is in lying?  Please don’t worry about sparing my feelings — I’d rather you be up front with me.  If you’re not interested, want to pursue other prospects, the timing is wrong, whatever the case may be… just say it.

And when did this whole “let me spare your feelings” thing start?  When did people stop being straight with each other?  Were people EVER straight with each other?  If you’re not really going to call, and you’re never going to see her again, what is the point in trying to let her down easy?  Why try to gently sever the ties, only to risk her calling you anyway to figure out what happened, why you haven’t called?

In all honesty, I think that you earn so much more respect when you can be up front.  No one’s asking you to be lovey dovey here; all I’m saying is don’t say you’re going to do something if you really aren’t going to.  There’s no good that can come from creating an expectation that you have no intention of meeting.  Just let her know what it is and walk.  She won’t break into a million pieces — women are stronger than you think.

Seriously, I would say it to you…

Grow a pair.

Boxing Butterflies

I still have butterflies when I see him.  I can’t help how I feel; my heart just hasn’t been able to catch up with my mind.  I know at this point that it’s best for me to let go and walk away, but when I see him I just can’t.  Who he is, how he is, what he is… I’m still in love with him.  In spite of obvious flaws, shortcomings, and his own demons.  Truly unconditional — something he wasn’t ready to return or face.  How I feel isn’t logical, productive, or even right anymore.  But it IS.

And, in all honesty, I just can’t stop.  I want to, to save myself some hurt, but I can’t.  In my mind, I know I have to let it go, I know that I’m enough and that I can survive without him.  I just want him.  And when he walks into the room, everything I feel comes rushing back like waves, pulling me with the tide.  How he ended things wasn’t right; I deserved better treatment, no doubt.  But I can’t deny what we had, or how quickly I react when he’s in my presence.  I haven’t accepted the entire picture yet, because bringing everything into complete focus means having to address the mistreatment and the immaturity.

But being around him for over a week on a tropical island like Barbados?  Complete torture.  Seeing his ex constantly in his face, obviously still harboring her own feelings?  Killing me slowly, like the death of 1,000 cuts.  Wondering whether he would succumb to her advances because she’s right there in front of him, and we all knew he could get it if he wanted to?  Hell.  Beautiful, tropical island hell with a big cup of rum punch to fuel the flames.

We were civil.  Most days I felt like he was avoiding me, which I understood.  Guilt can do a number on you, and it has certainly been doing a number on him.  We had a heart to heart one day in an attempt to clear the air, and honestly I think that he expects me to make advances to get him back.  He thinks that I will ask him to come back to me, beg him for a reason, or let him into my bed just for a fleeting moment of reminiscence.  Thankfully, though my heart hasn’t caught up with my head, I can salvage enough reason and self-respect to know that I can’t (and won’t) ask him back or open myself up to more hurt.  I may not be ready to completely let go, but I’m not going to beg someone to be with me.  I don’t want to be with anyone who doesn’t want me.  That’s been my saving grace.

It’s sad, but I wish he would give me a reason to hate him.  Maybe he has, and I overlooked because I feel the way I do.  But hating him would make things so much easier, because I wouldn’t struggle against letting go — I just would.

I have everything I need for closure.  I’m almost there.  It’s akin to packing for a move.  I have the box and the tape all set.  But my heart has to let go of these feelings so that I can pack them away.  I’ll always have some feeling for him, but this box needs to go in the garage and stop cluttering up my house.

Time for a little spring cleaning.

Opposite Sides of the Broom

This isn’t even the first or second time that it’s happened.  I just know I don’t like it.  I don’t like feeling like I’ve done something either consciously or subconsciously to attract such a man.  It feels wrong, I’m not the kind of girl who could ignore the big picture, and it makes me wonder how the outside world perceives me for this to happen so often.

He’s married.

Now you may or may not have the right idea about me, especially after my last post, but let me say this:  I have no interest in ruining a marriage, being a homewrecker, breaking up a family, or catching feelings for someone that has sworn vows to someone else.  I might see a married man and think he’s attractive, sure — I’m a flesh and blood woman.  I’m human.  But I’m not going to take it further than a glance.  There could never be more than that.

Last night, I was hit on by a work acquaintance that I’m still getting to know.  I’m still getting to know everyone at my job… I travel so much for work, people barely know me.

Let me give you some background:  I’m genuinely a warm person.  I smile a lot — so much so that if I’m not smiling people think something is wrong.  I love to laugh, and I love the warmth and friendliness of New Orleans because my personality fits here.  It was lost on many in Los Angeles because you can smile and greet someone there, and they’ll look at you like you’re carrying the plague.

Anyway, I’m warm, I’m smiley, and I care.  I want to know the names of the security officers and the cleaning ladies, I want to be able to ask them about their weekends and their families.  I like building a rapport because I don’t like feeling like I work with and around strangers.  It’s just a part of the fabric of my personality.  I won’t say I’m a social butterfly; rather, I would say I choose to be familiar with those that cross my path on a regular basis.  And familiar doesn’t mean close, necessarily.

Anyway, a work acquaintance joked around with me and some of my other co-workers about being huddled up in the cold (the weather has been weird this week).  Perhaps it was innocent, or maybe there was purpose behind it.  I don’t pay any mind, especially if I see shiny metal on the third finger of a left hand, so I was completely oblivious of any connotation.  I smiled at him the same way I smiled at the woman next to him.

Because of a safety concern, we all exchanged information.  I’m notorious for working late, and when my ground floor office is lit at night, I can’t see anything at all… Even if someone is standing directly outside my windows.  It’s creepy.

About 2 hours after the office closed, I was still working.  It’s not unusual, and often co-workers will check on me or offer me a ride home (I walk to/from work).  I decided to leave, and I walked out with the same work acquaintance, who happened to be right outside.  We chatted for a minute, nothing flirty or anything, and I left to go grab some soup to take home for dinner.

When I got home, he called me.  He joked about random things, and then he said something that raised a warning signal for me.  He said he wanted to find a reason for me to come back to work so that he could see me again.  Mind you, I know he’s married, so I stopped him.  Don’t let the smile fool you, I can be extremely serious and I tend to be very blunt.  I asked him what he was really asking of me, what his intentions were, and the obvious question. Aren’t you married?

I think he was surprised by how direct I was, but it didn’t really phase him.  He said all of these things, that he thought I was cute and funny, and that he wanted to get to know me better.  That one time I patted him on the shoulder, and he had wanted to react to it but didn’t.  That he didn’t see anything wrong with an innocent hug or kiss, and that we should hang out.   He didn’t see anything wrong if things went further than an innocent kiss, but he understood why I might.  He said he wanted to hang out with me before I left for my Christmas vacation; we could have breakfast or take a drive somewhere, hang out by the lake.  Said we could always talk about things if I felt uncomfortable.

Except I was already uncomfortable.

I do believe that people can be friends and be of the opposite sex.  However, you have to set boundaries, and you have to be willing to determine those that can’t stay on their side of the line.  I didn’t want to shut out someone that I’d just met, especially someone that I worked with, but I had to set some ground rules.  Namely, uh, we’re not hanging out, you’re married, and I’m uncomfortable.  We’re cool in the context of work, but that’s all it can be.  Friend zone.  If you’ve ever been a fan of Kevin Hart, this would have been a perfect opportunity to say “Pineapples.”

What he proposed made me feel sullied and cheap — like my friendliness had been taken for granted or skewed into something unbecoming.  I may be missing closeness and affection, but I’ll never be that desperate.  I could never cross the line drawn by the broom he jumped with someone else.

I just don’t have it in me.