My junior year of high school, I took an SAT prep class. I generally liked and excelled at school but I was dreading taking this class. Probably because I wasn’t learning this information to make myself a more well-rounded person. I was learning it to do well on a test. One, very important test.
For a reason I can no longer remember I enrolled in this class after everyone else. So when I walked into the classroom on my first day, everyone had already chosen their seats. I stood at the front, waiting for my teacher to pick an open spot. As we both looked over the projector, I noticed that there was an empty chair next to this thin, dark skinned, pink lipped boy with incredibly long eyelashes.
I remember, standing at the front of the classroom, thinking ‘Ooo, he’s cute. Put me next to him.’
My teacher must have picked up my wavelength because she did just that. I walked to the back of the classroom and sat down with a welcoming smile and a hello. Something about the way he stiffened and sat up in his seat gave me the indication that he was feeling me too. Over the next couple of weeks my SAT boo, who I’ll call Brixton, and I started talking more and more. I’d laugh a little too hard at his dry wit. We’d have extensive conversations about our anxieties with the test, the ridiculousness of the questions and how to solve these difficult math problems. Eventually, under the guise of studying for the SAT he asked me for my number.
I was excited. It had been a minute since someone had had the balls to ask for my number and I actually wanted to give it to them.
He called and he asked how I was doing, what I was doing. And the phone literally went dead as he tried to think of something else to talk about. I tried to ask him questions. He’d respond with one word answers. He complained about SAT stuff again, which would have been fine in class but after school, at 7pm, it just seemed wack. The silence was so uncomfortable, my mom whispered that I should ask him about current events.
She literally said current events.
It was just too late. The sad truth was that outside of our SAT problems, Brixton and I had nothing to talk about. It was a shame really. He was so cute and so smart. But we just didn’t gel.
Years afterward, I’d recall that experience and think ‘Oh, it was just because he was in high school and didn’t exactly have his mack/conversation game on lock yet.’ But I was wrong. There have been several other men who didn’t know how to carry on a conversation either. I just met one this past weekend.
My sister, friend and I were dancing at a coworker’s birthday shindig when this lone guy stood near us, laughing occasionally at our outlandish dance moves and the enthusiasm we possessed in performing some of our faves. Eventually, he asked where we were from. He told us he was from Arkansas and had recently moved here. By this time, since he had been lingering for so long I was trying to figure out which one of us he was interested in talking to. It wasn’t until I went to the bar to get some water that I realized it was me.
He asked for my number and since he had been pleasant instead of predatory, I decided to give it to him. On the way home in a taxi, I texted him to see if I’d heard his name correctly. He told me how he had been waiting to talk to me all night and that was pretty much it. Until the next morning.
He texted me “Hey.”
I asked him how he was doing.
He said he was watching tv.
He asked me how my day was.
I told him it was still going on, that I was at a charity event. And I explained what that was about, in detail.
He said that’s what’s up.
Listen, before you start to think that I’m the type of woman who relies on a man to keep the conversation flowing. I’m not. But there is nothing worse than when someone you don’t know texts you when they’re bored and has no particular conversation in mind or specific questions to ask. Whether they know it or not, what they end up doing is transferring the boredom they were feeling onto you. And that’s just not cool.
A similarly uneventful conversation took place on Monday and then again today.
I was talking to my mom about this guy, telling her how his lack of conversational skills saddened me and that I was contemplating just ignoring him, when she said something that only a person of the previous generation could say. ‘Why don’t you just tell him to pick up the phone and call you?!’
I balked at the thought, thinking immediately of Brixton. If this guy was a boring texter, a phone conversation would be pure agony.
And that’s when my mother, being the wise sage that she is, broke it down for me.
‘Well, the only way you’re going to figure out if he has anything to say is if you talk to him on the phone. And if he’s not saying anything or not saying anything you want to hear then you know to be done.”
So bright, that woman.
I’m a woman of the millennium. I’ll always believe that texting is a great way to communicate. But it’s certainly not the most effective in attempting to get to know someone. Sometimes, if you really want to get to know somebody you might just have to use that antiquated call feature. And if you find that silence is ringing in your ears, you don’t have to “pretend you didn’t see the text,” you can just tell the old fashioned lie about having to go wash your hair.