Monday, October 10, 2016

There Is Nothing Romantic About the Chase (And Other College Tales)

This past weekend, I talked to my youngest brother.  He's in college right now, and I assured him that if he was ever feeling overwhelmed, he might feel better knowing some of my college adventures.

After two years at a local community college, Tara and I moved an hour from home to go to a larger university.  By the time I'd been there for five months, it was old hat, but I was having some unexpected problems.

Namely, the disabled guys on campus.  (I was the only girl who used a wheelchair that I remember, and there were at least two or three of them.)  Being young, and naive, I saw one guy - around my parents' age -  sitting outside of one of the campus buildings one day and decided to say hello.  We chatted a bit and I continued inside for a bite to eat.

Needless to say, that was the wrong thing to do.  From then on, every time I went to that building, that guy was there.  He'd smile and say hi.  I'd say hi.  It was fine, at first.

On Valentine's Day, he approached me while I was eating.  "These are for you," he said, indicating something on his tray.

I glanced down.  A small box of four chocolates.  I was never one to turn down chocolate, but this was starting to feel a little weird.

"Happy Valentine's Day."

[Image is: a bigger version of the box of chocolates I was presented with that day.]


"Um...thank you.  You really didn't have to do that."

I glanced at Tara.

"Tom," she said, trying to lighten the mood.  "Where's my candy?"

"This isn't for you.  It's only for her," he said definitively.  He turned his attention back to me and waited.

"That's really sweet.  Thank you," I said, hoping he would leave.

When he did, I thought that was the end of it.

A week later, when I was alone, he approached me again, with something else:

"This is a picture of me before my accident."

Whoa.

"Yeah...I see that."  I answered, feeling more and more uncomfortable.  This was getting way too deep for me.

He obviously thinks we're more than friends...

"I never show anybody this but I want you to have it."  He pushed the picture toward me.

"Listen...  That's really nice of you, but it's not right for me to have this.  You said it's really important to you.  You need to keep it."

"Oh.  Okay."

A long and awkward silence fell until he filled it again.

"I was wondering...do you wanna go out to eat sometime?  Or we could go see a movie together?"

Oh God...

"I'm actually not looking for a relationship right now."

"Just a movie sometime?  No one goes with me," he said.

"I have a lot going on with school.  I'm sorry, I really can't."

--

That night, as most nights, I stayed up late doing homework and talking to Tara.  At one point, I made some popcorn, which meant I had to move the dish from in front of the microwave.  I set it on my pillow (not a lot of surface space in the dorm...)

Hours later, it was bedtime and I moved the dish back, before launching myself full-force into bed.  Oblivious to the fork that still lay on my pillow, my shoulder landed on its handle, and jackknifed the tines up as I brought my head down to rest on my pillow.  I felt a sharp pain just below my eye.

Perfect.  Tom would not leave me alone and now, I had accidentally stabbed myself in the face with a fork.

What else could go wrong?

--

Well, Tom decided to initiate the chase.

I'd never experienced this phenomenon the way it usually plays out: a guy pursuing a girl who is saying no (because they are convinced that she doesn't know what she wants, and really means yes, I would love to date you.)  I especially had never experienced the chase quite like this:

Tom started cruising up to me as fast as his power chair would take him (a bit like someone speed-walking up to you, it feels very intense.)  I'd say hi.  He'd laugh and block me, as I tried to manually maneuver around him.  "I really have to go," I'd say and attempt to pass him.

He stayed firmly in my path, a smile on his face.

This sounds funny, but if an able-bodied guy did the same thing: followed a girl around campus and refused to let her pass him every time they interacted?  That wouldn't be funny.  That would be stalking.

Needless to say, if you are feeling stressed about school, perhaps these stories will bring a smile to your face.  When you're overloaded with schoolwork, just remember:

At least you aren't being relentlessly pursued by a creepy 40-year-old or accidentally stabbing yourself in the face.

***

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