In all this dating self-inquiry that I have been doing for the better part of a year, I usually give myself the..benefit of the doubt, shall we say?
I am too inexperienced to be a flirt, too modest to possibly make the move, and certainly I am incapable of ever making a calculated move when it comes to romance and dating. I’m just not that girl, and I never have been.
I am always affected by what happens around me. I sort of have this tendency to look at my life from an outside perspective and see all these events that happen as being thrust on me rather than something that could be avoided or that I could possibly initiate. Flirtation, the constant running in and out of my life. These are things that happen to me. Including the Bump and Contact.
Bump. And contact. Bump and contact. B&C. I didn’t know what to call it until I sat down and put my fingers on the keyboard. It’s a phrase I’m using to describe something that I just moments ago realized has had an impact on almost every relationship—romantic relationship—that I can recall. It’s a classic pattern that precedes The Boyfriend and comes thereafter as well. I don’t know where I picked it up, really, I just know that most men I’ve been romantically linked to or interested in have followed a great pattern that has been terribly helpful in that I can expect what is to come. After a period of non-communication, I happen (in all honesty it’s almost never intentional!) to see them somewhere (BUMP!) and then there is casual contact…historically it’s been via email, though the modern era of communication has led itself to text messaging. And thus begins the steady interaction again.
The first time I remember this happening was with someone I’ll simply refer to as The First One. In junior high and (very early) high school, before there was The Boyfriend, there was…The First One. He absolutely wasn’t my boyfriend, but he was someone I really cared for. Someone who was first in a lot of ways. Of course, there were periods we’d spend mad at one another..and we wouldn’t talk…and of course I’d angst away in my room before I really even knew was angst was. But then, somehow, on a field trip or at the mall (I specifically remember once at the mall a bump-and-contact went off almost flawlessly) we’d see one another, and sometimes we’d speak, other times we would just make eye contact (you know..Eye Contact.) and then within 12 hours there would be an email. And we’d be on again. The pattern continued for a long time. Once, after I went off to college, I got word that The First One was expecting a child with his then-girlfriend-now-wife. That was weird, I guess, given the fact that he had spent endless evenings AIMing and emailing me about coming to college in the spring; I stopped contacting him or responding to his contact in September. In December, I was home Christmas shopping and distinctly remember loading packages into the car on a snowy afternoon. A truck pulled up next to me, honked the horn, and there was The First One waiving. Soon after, an email of “It was so funny running in to you today!” And there was the contact. Over and over the pattern repeated. In fact, I’m embarrassed to say that I was B&C’d by The First One on Thanksgiving last year. Facebook has really revolutionized the B&C… but the contact of this B&C didn’t go on very long.
The Bump and Contact game has gone on ever since that initial pattern was established with The First One. The Friend and I, of course, had a little game of Bump and Contact that had begun to develop around the first of this year, but the bumps are less frequent, and the contact portion just doesn’t work without that initial bump. The Boyfriend and I have B&C’d this year (more on that later), though the very last bump did NOT result in a contact (or a blog post!).
The contact portion of a Bump and Contact is so lame, really. It almost exclusively follows a similar pattern. You have the bump, you make it back to ‘home base’, be it the office or your house..you give it a little while, maybe a few hours, a day tops. And then you write the email or text. And they all say the same things. “It was great running in to you” or my personal favorite “Sorry I didn’t get a chance to speak with you…” That’s for the Eye Contact encounters. I used to get such satisfaction in getting the contact portion of the B&C, I almost felt smug about it. Like simply seeing me was enough to make someone have to know exactly what I am doing. I’m sorry, did I say “used to”?
Yesterday, while thinking about my post for the day, I took a walk to the university center to grab some lunch. Being summer, it was slow, several things were closed, and choices were limited. So I stood in a forever-and-ever line waiting on a Chick-Fil-A sandwich to come off the grill. My senses are always up in the university center. It’s a classic place to bump into The Boyfriend. And even though it’s only happened a miraculous four times in two years (the other 726 days of the year we successfully pull off the facade that we don’t live in the same zip code and word in the same quadrant on a campus map), I still try to keep my guard up during lunch hours especially.
Because the four Boyfriend bumps have been enough to send me into tailspin for weeks at a time. Mostly because after the bump comes the contact. Emails upon emails, questions upon questions, sewn up wounds torn fresh again. A constant reminder that I am a Bad, Bad Girlfriend. Bump and contact, bump and contact.
But the B&C that went down yesterday afternoon had nothing to do with The Boyfriend. Or The Friend. And it certainly wasn’t The First One. Not a Bachelor, either. Nay, it was a third-party that I have been reticent to include in this blog for a number of reasons..well, actually two reasons. 1) He reads this blog (or used to) and 2) blogging about him would give him way, way more validation and credit in my current state of affairs than I was comfortable with (until now). I don’t really have a nickname for him..and I’m having trouble making one up…So, do you hear that? You’re not getting a nickname. Yet.
So the classic, unanticipated B&C went down right there in line waiting for a chicken sandwich. We spoke, but I was really more interested in whether or not someone was going to swipe my long-awaited and much-anticipated sandwich than getting to the heart of the matter with…him. But we did speak. Which makes the whole B&C thing sort of unclear.
He joined the line, I got my sandwich, and I was on my way. But once I got to my desk, I fired off an email. “It was nice seeing you”. I knew I shouldn’t have done it the minute I sent the email. First and foremost, we aren’t talking for a very specific reason. We both know it’s best that we don’t talk. Because we’re not friends. Well, let me rephrase. He probably wants to be friends. But I am not at that point. And I am a pretty frustrating person to be around when I’m not getting my way…so I can be totally inappropriate and tempting. So he knows to stay away from me. And I know to stay away for my own good too. So the outcome of this B&C could only lead to contact (bad) or no contact (still bad because it opens those freshly healed scars. For both of us). But the email was gone. Simple as that. And the reply? Did not follow form.
There wasn’t a “you too, we should catch up”. There was no “How are you?” The response was absolutely nothing that gave me any reason to reply. No question, no suggestion. Flat. Done.
Maybe earlier, when I called it “giving myself the benefit of the doubt”—maybe that phrase was an inaccuracy, maybe I’m just in denial. Selling myself short for certain. Because as I sat at my desk yesterday, ruminating over the bump-and-contact that just went down as I picked at my lunch, the cold hard truth came rushing to the center of my brain. And, barring a lobotomy, I can’t ignore things that sit right there at the front of my brain.
I am a calculated master of the bump-and-contact. I’ve initiated my fair share of these things. I’m not entirely incapable of trying to lure these men back in. I’m not entirely the victim of these men who come and go.
I come and go too. I bump. I contact. I swear people off and then send these emails, these tiny little phrases of “how are you?” and “Funny to see you around these parts” and “don’t be a stranger!”. I know what I’m doing, more so than I’ll ever admit.
And for what it’s worth? Nicknameless? How are you? It was nice to see you yesterday. And I mean that both honestly and dishonestly.