Dating Blue Eyes
It will always be his crystal clear, light blue eyes that I’ll remember for the rest of my days. Beautiful blue orbs that could’ve put Paul Newman’s to shame, eyes that burned like blue flames in a fire, and I distinctly remember the first time they met mine.
First though, a bit of backstory - growing up in a small, rural town and attending a similarly quaint high school, I never truly dated. There were roughly seventy kids in my graduating class, so all in all, I felt like I grew up with about thirty-five brothers, not one of which I was ever interested in. Now that I was in college, that had all changed with Blue Eyes.
As bright-eyed freshmen we found ourselves taking the same college chemistry course, always within a row or so of one another in the 500+ auditorium, immensely aware of each other’s presence. As I walked back to my dorm after class I would think of how handsome he was - the way his white t-shirt pulled at the corners over his broad back, and the strong structure of his face half-hidden below a white baseball cap that seemed to never leave his head. I had it bad for a boy I didn’t know, a stranger, a fellow chemistry student in passing.
On one particular September morning I found myself waiting for the elevator to take me back up to my dorm room alongside a group of people taking the same course. As I stood there in the flock of freshmen, I felt eyes on me, eyes somewhat veiled by a white baseball cap. I clutched my multi-colored striped binder full of half-comprehended chemistry notes while I looked down at my tennis shoes, pretending not to notice. Though finding an ounce of foreign courage, I quickly pulled my head up and turned to meet his gaze. What I saw next took the breath from my lungs – it was only a second, and maybe more like half of one in all reality, but as I met his stare for that split-second I came into contact with the bluest eyes I’d ever seen. He quickly shifted his eyes to the ground, then spun quickly to take the stairs just beside the elevator. If I had it bad for this boy before, I certainly had it worse now. Much, much worse.
I so strongly wish to say that in the next week’s class I sat down beside him and boldly struck up a conversation. Even more, I wish I could say that he did. Alas, I cannot, because two, insanely shy people typically ever take such radical action. I probably would’ve thrown my hands up in defeat if you’d told me it would be nearly two more years before we went out on our first official date. During those two years of awkward, silent, and brief encounters, we would occasionally see each other in class, at parties, the rec center, and sometimes during sporting events. We ran in similar social circles all through college, each having the faintest hint at something more unspoken between us, but never, ever making any progress.
Though with the help of many friends on both sides of us, we were finally pushed out of our comfort zones. Coming to the realization that there was someone out there even more introverted than myself, I brazenly sent him a Facebook friend request upon the advice of friends. He accepted right away, and a couple days later I had one new message from Blue Eyes asking if I wanted to go out with him to a concert the following Saturday.
To me, it was unfathomable that it was actually going to happen…that Margo and Blue Eyes were finally going to get some time together and alone with one another, separate from our friend group. While I was incredibly nervous, I knew it would work, I knew that it was “meant to be” in only the way that would-be college sweethearts could succeed. After 2 years circling one another yet never connecting, how could it not work?
The morning of our first date I spent obsessing over every square inch of my closet, hoping that the outfit, hair, and make-up choices I’d preemptively made would suffice. I ended up going on a walk with my roommate and her dog several hours before the concert to get some of the nervous static out. After our hike, we grabbed Taco Bell for a mid-afternoon snack at the request of my roommate, and I, made sure to only grab one Crunchwrap Supreme, as I didn’t want to spoil the dinner that was most assuredly forthcoming.
Unlike my habits these days, I was ready long before he drove up to the apartment. I sat on my bed waiting and wondering what the night would bring. Two years of mounting pressure had all lead up to this night, and my hopes were skyscraper high. I jumped at the sound of my phone beeping beside me with Blue Eyes letting me know that he had arrived. I took in a few deep breaths, figuring they’d be my last full ones for a bit, then hurried down the stairs and out the door.
“Hi, there.” I say, as I settle into the passenger seat. Once again realizing with a heavy force that I’d never been on a true first date before. So now what? What comes after “Hi, there.”?
“Hey.” Blue Eyes says as we drive away.
After asking if my directions to the apartment were satisfactory, I noticed the “new car scent” and the lack of dust, trash, or smelly old gym clothes resting in the back seat that usually appear in any guy’s car. The interior was immaculate. “Wow, your car is super clean, and it smells really good. You must take very good care of it!” I can’t help but to be impressed.
“Yeah, I actually had it detailed for today.” Blue Eyes replied, a sweet smirk growing at the corners of his mouth.
Wow…more and more impressed.
There’s silence for a bit as we drive, and I can hardly stand it. Silence and first dates don’t mix well, in my novice opinion. I come up with a few other small-talk type questions such as “How was your day?”, “Are you excited about the concert?”, “Do you like country music?” My heart sinks a little as I realize I'm the only one doing the asking, with Blue Eyes giving short, quiet answers back to my questions. Suddenly, it felt like we were traveling across state lines to get to this concert that in all reality was only 15 minutes away. In yet another brief moment of strength, I look over at him sitting beside me – I can tell he’s nervous, shifty, uncomfortable. Perhaps I need to give him some slack.
We find a lone spot in the parking garage and walk the long road up to the stadium, me asking my mental cue card-type questions most of the way. I felt like I was being incredibly annoying, but I couldn’t help it. I wanted this date to be nothing short of fireworks...to have such a great time we'd end up having a second date tomorrow. And so far that didn't appear to be happening.
Once inside we stand in a lengthy line waiting for our tickets to be scanned. I look around at all of the people waiting just ahead of us. My eyes stop at a group of girls who are taking pictures, laughing, and talking animatedly. I couldn't help but to feel the desire to join their group, as a girl's outing is something I'm entirely more confident with compared to my present situation. After getting our tickets checked, we grab a beer and find our seats. Blue forgoes getting any food and I begin to regret my demure choice of opting for only one stupid, lonely Crunchwrap.
The one great thing I soon realize about concerts is that you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) talk through them. I saw texts rolling in from friends asking how the date was going as the concert played on, and I didn’t respond, one, because that would be rather rude, and two, because I truly didn’t know. The small talk continued during the intermission with Blue Eyes speaking up just a little, asking a few questions on his own. We returned to muteness upon the second half of the concert starting, and I wondered if first dates were always this exhausting.
Once the concert came to an end and the lights came on, Blue Eyes leaned over and asked, “Okay, are you ready to go?”
“Uh, sure.” I replied, a little sad and disheartened we weren’t apparently staying for an encore, if there was one. "Oh well," I thought to myself, "maybe we’re going to grab something to eat next." I could hear the growls coming from my stomach over the noise of the crowd. I was okay with the possibility of dinner and an attempt to save this first date with the hope of a second to follow.
As I stood up and readjusted my outfit, I looked toward the aisle to see if it was clear to pass through then back at my date. But he was gone - Blue Eyes was absent from my left-hand side where he had stood just moments ago. I turned back towards the aisle and then back at the empty chair where my date was supposed to be. Finally, I decided to look up at the rows of strangers above me. Upon my agreement to leave, Blue had ended up leaping over the stadium seats above us like a track star sailing over hurdles instead of using the aisle. I watched in surprise and horror as he climbed the last row of chairs, hoping he wasn't asking me to complete the same obstacle course in high-heeled boots. Once he reached the top of our section, close to five rows up from me, only then did he turn to look back at me.
“Uh, okay then.” I said in an annoyed whisper, looking around as my face grew a deeper shade of red when I noticed the people around me looking, smirking at the painfully uncomfortable occurrence.
Two kind, older gentlemen in cowboy hats must've seen my dismay at the avenue I was about to take, and instinctively held out their hands for me to hold while I too, climbed over the slick plastic seats in boots with absolutely no traction. The aisle to my left taunted me from below as I swung each leg wrapped in tight jeans over the next row of seats until I was back with Blue Eyes. Humiliated, and out of breath.
On the long march back to his car, I made one last effort at small talk concerning how chilly it was for April, then I decided I would let Blue do the rest of the talking. I was spent – mostly mentally and a little physically now, and was curious if he had anything to say. The rest of our walk back was filled with silence and the potential questions he didn’t ask.
As we drove north-bound, I watched the restaurants pass by and I realized with a still-further-sinking heart that Blue was taking me straight home. I thought of asking if he wanted to grab a bite, my treat as a way to say "thank you" for the concert, but then thought better of it. Maybe he was having a bad, uncomfortable, disappointing time too. Perhaps he just wanted to get me out of his car as fast as possible and with nothing short of dropping me off with a rolling stop at the edge of my drive. So, I shut up instead - the drive home much like our walk to the car was yet again silence-filled.
His clean car comes to a stop in front of my apartment, and I look to see if my roommates are still up. I hoped they weren’t. That I would be able to quietly go upstairs, and feign sleep while I dissected mine and Blue Eye’s first (and probably last) date. Maybe I would have better thought out responses to their pending questions the following morning. I instead see silhouettes among the shadows casting off of the television glow. They were up...most assuredly waiting to hear from me.
“Well…” I began, turning to look at him before trailing off. I felt flustered and minorly devastated that the previous two years had resulted in the culmination of whatever the hell this night had turned out to be. If I thought the rest of the date had been awkward, the last five minutes or so were tortuous. “Thank you for taking me to the concert tonight…I, I had a good time.” I lied, barely able to get the words out.
Blue Eyes offered a small nod and a nearly inaudible “Yeah, me too.”
I don’t know what I was expecting - a kiss, a plan for another date, or what exactly, but I was drained. “Okay. Well... I guess I’ll just...be seeing you around then.” I said pointedly, my frustration mixing with hurt, and creating a tone unlike that of a normal Margo's.
It was then that Blue Eyes smiled, and let out a small chuckle. “Oh, I’m sure you’ll be seeing a lot more of me from here on out.” It was one of the only times he’d met my gaze that night.
I paused for a moment, staring back at him. I studied the smile on his face judging if it was sincerity or sarcasm. It appeared to be sincere, though I hadn't a clue as to why; after all, he had appeared nervous yes, but also miserable throughout most of the night. So why then, did he appear to be genuine in his voicing of seeing more of one another? “Oh, okay then. Well, I'll see you soon then. Thanks again.” I say, this time, not hesitating reaching for the door handle and walking inside.
I sighed and paused at the door for a moment upon opening it. This was not the story I wanted to tell my friends. I wanted to walk in giddy, flushed, and overpouring about my first date with my dream guy. Not clueless and downtrodden over an enigma of a man and an odd first date. Upon opening the door, my roommate and her boyfriend, who were up way past their usual hour, were cuddled up on the couch staring in my direction. Before I could shut the door fully behind me, they were asking how the date went with sly smiles on their faces.
“Um, I don’t know.” I said with a smile hoping it masked my true disappointment. "I think it went okay...I think?"
"Oh...okay." They both looked at me smiling, waiting for more. “Well," said my roommate, "we’re really hungry and definitely want to hear more about your date, so, do you want to go to Denny’s with us?”
“Yes! Yes, I really want to go to Denny’s! I am starving!”
On the way, I answered the texts from anxious friends who in turn gave me advice on how to keep things going. Ideas such as texting him telling him again that I had a great time at the concert, or to give it a few days and then reach out, etc. But, as I retold the date to my roommate and her boyfriend over a plate full of breakfast food, her concluding point said it all: "Hmm, that's too bad. We could've used another guy in our group...then we could've gone out together as a foursome!"
The next few weeks involved sharing a miniscule amount of texts back and forth with Blue Eyes, but never anything more. I went to Italy to study abroad for three weeks that summer, reminding Blue with all the subtlety of a train wreck when I would return home. Three weeks later, back from Italy and at my parent's, I still had yet to receive any sort of correspondence from him. I waited another three days before I reached out, and yet again received another conversation that went no where.
Standing in my childhood bedroom, I felt that pesky, full-of-emotion lump stick in my throat as I realized this wasn’t turning out at all like I’d hoped. That two years of cautious looks, multiple parties where we found ourselves together, never talking, simply aware of each other, and one, dead-in-the-water date were the only items that would fill the book of Blue Eyes and Margo...and not a book at all, but a short, short story instead. It hurt, but I knew I wasn't going to force myself and a situation where I appeared not to be wanted, even if he did say that I'd be seeing more of him. I had seen nothing. Zilch. And so, I stopped. I stopped always initiating a conversation and always being the primary communicator, desperately trying to think of a question where I wouldn't get a one-word response. If he truly wanted to spend time with me, then he could certainly put in a little more effort, and so I stopped. Unfortunately, in the end, that’s where we stopped too. We fizzled out like a gargantuan firework that had spent one too many days in a humid roadside fireworks stand. I expected something big, an eruption of sparks and fire, and instead received a lit fuse followed by a puff of smoke.
Nearly ten years have passed since this confusing time. While chatting with a college friend the other day she asked if I remembered Blue Eyes, because someone she'd met in passing reminded her of him. I had to smirk some, and laugh a little. Yes, I remember him. I believe I'll always remember my first real college date, regardless of the absence of spark or fire and strong presence of smoke. And while it certainly didn’t go as planned, I know too that it went exactly the way it was supposed to. That's more than okay with me - I'm happy in life, and am looking forward with crystal clear clarity, with a future vision for myself that shines brighter than the eyes of Blue.