Warning: This is a long story, and I am long winded. I have the memory of an elephant and moments like these tend to haunt me for years (this story is about 9 years old and I can still see it in my head like it happened yesterday.) Breaking up the story in parts seemed to be the best way to approach not boring anyone.
The Irishman Part 2
Thanksgiving and Christmas Break flew by. I was so busy between my studies, sorority and family to focus on trying to make things “happen” with The Irishman. When school started back up in January, I decided to try and let things come as they would. If The Irishman was going to pay attention to me it would be up to him. I shouldn’t have to “chase” him.
In the Cafeteria he seemed more distant and to himself than before. But from a across the way he would stare at me, and several times my sororities sisters would point it out. I really felt that he may feel the same way but because of past experiences or because I was a “sorority girl” he fought them. On several occasion I would see him in the hallway and he would turn around and walk the opposite direction. I began to give up. This connection or slight flirtation I felt must have been in my mind. And I was obsessing for NO real reason. I began to avoid him just as he was doing to me, but still, my friends would point out how he would watch me cross the room each time I stood up.
February comes, and with it a good friend’s 21st birthday. My friend was from Ireland as well and has one of the best personalities that I know. Barely audible in speech, he made up for it in quick wit. I bought him a 24 pack of Bud light for the occasion; me and the best friend headed over to his dorm room to begin our night of bar hopping. When I got there, 24 pack in arms, I was informed his party was actually being held in The Irishman’s room he shared with The Scotsman. I suddenly felt flushed and annoyed that I would have to be around him. This was NOT like him to host.
We get to the room. He came right up to me and took the case from him. I can still remember the smell of his cologne. He had on some obscure band tee shirt that was worn. The birthday boy was pleased to get the beer. Me and my friend sat on The Irishman’s bed and I couldn’t speak. Everyone else was talking about what they had been up to all week and picking on each other. More people came in and out of the room, and I just sat there nursing my beer, trying to decide what to say. The Irishman sat across from me, and from time to time worked on a puzzle on the floor. (Yes, he wore old man cardigans and constructed puzzles. A hipster before his time).
As the other soccer team members came through they all began talking about what to do for the rest of the evening. Every idea that was thrown out there, The Irishman turned down. He would not being going out. People were digging at him for being such an old man at the age of 25, but he couldn’t help it. There was no way he was going out to waste his money on booze. I continued to sit there, not talking, just taking it all in. My best friend was up and about dancing and acting silly with some of the guys.
Finally it was time to go. I was ready to end my awkwardness and get a move on to the bar. I stood up and suddenly there he was. Right beside me, “Are you going?”
It felt like it took me 5 minutes to answer, “Yes. It’s a birthday party. You go out and celebrate.”
He nodded his head. I still don’t know if this was his cue to try and get me to stay. I look back and think, what if I had said Nah, I’ll just stay here. I was frozen.
Once our eye contact was broken I made my way to the hallway, assured that would be the last time I saw him that evening. We piled out of the dorm, everyone picking who to ride with for the night. And then I hear an Irish mumble from the steps. There he was, gray cardigan and all. He smiled at me and got in another car. I thought my heart was going to jump out of my throat.
The rest of the evening is a blur. I had a horrible time with anxiety when going out with a large group of people. I tended to drink too much, and this evening was no exception. At the bar we all kind of split up into girls and guys. We were in the same room, but the guys were chanting and singing folk songs, playing ski ball while us girls gossiped and took shots. I do remember at one point trying to talk to him, but he seemed shyer than ever.
A few days later a girl from the soccer team let me know he went out because of me. I didn’t even know how to respond. I was so use to keeping my feelings for him to myself that I refused to acknowledge it and passed it off as not a big deal.
I was still didn’t get it. If he went out because of me, why didn’t he talk to me?
To Be Continued…