A Super Happy Fun Time Excerpt from the Romantic Comedy Novel Thank You For Not Wasting My Time:
I waited. But the longer I waited the stronger the feelings got.
I decided that I wanted to communicate. I didn’t want to be angry about this or chalk it up to one more disappointment. Maybe I could get feedback from him, like research, as to what it was that kept him from calling me to set up a time. I started with a new, genuine and lighter intention, dialing his number on my flip phone.
Just before I’d press the last digit though, I’d reconsider: “No, I should let him call me.” Then I’d press END. Then I’d get an adrenalin rush to be brave and get in touch, start again, and get one number away from SEND… and then press END.
My beach bag was clear plastic and it had a yellow strip all around the top. A bee flew onto it and started to hump it. I mean really trying, giving it his all. He would move up and down furiously and then lay on it like a binder clip, legs on both sides, tired. Then he would perch his legs and start again, sure it would be different this time. As if he thought he just wasn’t doing enough. Humping humping humping, resting. Humping humping humping, resting.
I used to run from bees as a kid and now I was sitting next to him, both of us facing the ocean, like, “Bee, I know what you mean.” Not the humping part, but his mistaken pollination being a metaphor to my love life. Trying so hard. Hopeful. Not giving up. Then emotionally exhausted and disappointed, not knowing what in the world kept going wrong.
This time, I had to find out. After a few more rounds of near calling, and heart pounding, finally, I pressed SEND.
It’s ringing. What am I even going to say? I looked to the bee for advice. The bee flew away. “You’re on your own, Kid. I just tried to make it happen with a plastic bag.”
He answered “Hello?” on speakerphone. I already felt like I was doing a lot of work because with speakerphone there’s ambient silence when I talk and volume distance when he does. And forget it if we talk at the same time, you can never know what was missed.
“Hi. It’s Mia.”
“Oh yeah. Hi,” he said as if he forgot.
“You asked me out for today, right?” I asked, “I’m not crazy…”
“I did,” he confirmed.
I asked sincerely, “Are you one of those flaky guys?”
“I’ve just been on the phone working,” he said, cagey. It was Saturday though, and he went on to explain something about a long bike ride he just got back from. “I was going to call you,” he added.
I doubted that and didn’t know what to say next.
“I have more work to do,” he started. He didn’t form any full sentences. Just indecision. His indecision made me feel inferior. As if he was doing me a favor trying to work out seeing me when he asked me out in the first place. I started to feel sad. And frustrated.
I said, “Look. call me when you’re done. If I’m still available, great. If I’m not, I’m not.”
He picked up the receiver from speaker. “The thing is,” he sighed, “I’m not looking for anything right now.”
Like warped speed in my mind I stacked up multiple ways to respond. My ego was sounding an alarm. Quick! Should I be The Cool Girl and tell him I’m not looking for anything right now either? Get defensive and tell him he has no right treating me this way? Should I be understanding of his schedule and not “scare him off” as they say? Be reasonable and discuss the severe pressure of time I’m under? Cry? Yell? Hang up? All of the above?
But it was his honesty that spoke to me. He wasn’t being defensive anymore with arrogance or ignoring. He wasn’t treating me disposably. My heart stabilized and I responded with ultimate authenticity. My tone was sincere. Kind even. “Well, I am looking for something,” I admitted, “So, thank you. Thank you for not wasting my time.”
There was silence. I felt grounded and energized at the same time so I continued without really meaning to. “I’m ready for marriage and children. You seem to know a lot of people, and I think you have a sense of my character, so if you know anyone to set me up with, please keep me in mind.”
I had never said what I wanted out loud like that before, especially to someone I was interested in. The feeling I got from being honest was relief. The clarity was freeing. I wasn’t angry, resentful, bitter or defensive. Just authentic. Vulnerability felt like strength.
Suddenly I was looking at my life through a lens of time. Time didn’t feel like pressure anymore, it felt like a guide.
He said, “Tell me where you are. I can leave now.”