Asked Out: In a Quandary

My sixteenth summer:  I learned a lot in those three months.  I worked for the first time in a retail environment and it was an eye-opening experience. 

There will always be ‘those guys’, and there were definitely a couple who I quickly learned were not of the mettle to mess with.  For the most part I escaped their attentions, and they gradually ceased with their bombardments, but through it I began to learn that my response was everything.  If I sounded the least bit unsure of myself , that indecisiveness proved to be a huge mistake.  Without being rude, I had to shut them down!  Fortunately for us, most worldly guys are just testing the waters to see if you will give them the attention they want, and a few cool, but nice, “Um, no”s give them a 180 the other direction.

But what about the good ones?

Never had a boy liked me before, and in that summer I met a young man at the greenhouse who I thought was… well, really nice.  He was handsome, and friendly.  One day he took down all the baskets that I had been told to take down… without me even asking.  I didn’t know who he was at the time, but I met him a few days later.  I was working in the range when he came up to me with a delicate blue flower in his hand.  “Your name is Phylicia, isn’t it?”  He asked.  “Yes.” I answered, smiling at him curiously.  “This is a Felecia flower… like your name.”  Yes, it was a simple observation, but it was so sweet!  …Right?

He talked to me.  We laughed together.  He met my extended family and endured an hour-long exposition from my great-uncle.  He brought me chocolate.  And he was a gentleman.  But somehow it still struck me as a complete surprise when we walked into each other among the begonias one day…

“Oh, hi Chad,” I beamed (trying to keep the halo of light from stark illumination).  “Hi,” he smiled. “Where are you headed?”  “To water the hydrangeas.”  “Oh.” “Yeah.” “Mm-hm…”  “So where are you going?”  Chad looked at his feet and then at the ceiling.  “Well, I was going to ask you something…”  I felt my stomach tighten — what?  I swallowed my heart and plastered a grin on my splitting face.  “Go ahead.” “Well…” He swallowed too.  I watched him carefully — was his eyebrow twitching? “I was wondering… if I were… sixteen (which he wasn’t)…”  My ears were ringing… I was rehearsing… what do I say, what DO I SAY?!  “… would you date me?”

No.  Anything but that.  NOT THAT QUESTION PLEASE!!!

All the purity talks and studies and answers and questions went out the window of my brain.  I liked him!  So I stood there with a columbine draped over my head and burned the rubber off the wheels of my mind.  “Well, see, I –” I stammered. “I, um, well… I don’t… actually — date.” His blue eyes were blank.  Score zero for comprehension. So a new tack was attempted:  “See, I am not going to go out with a guy until my husband comes someday.  I am waiting till then.”  That sounded right.

Chad blinked and looked at his feet.  Then he looked back at me and wrinkled his nose in confusion.  “So you… arrange marriages?” Now I looked blank.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  So instead, I muttered, “Um… no.”

There had to be a better way.  Now, three years later, I still cringe to think of how I handled that.  Now I know that there is a better answer!  Chances are if you have male friends, coworkers, friends-of-friends or church goers, you are going to be asked out at one time or another.  We’ve talked about the attitude with which to answer them — in complete kindness and respect — but what do you say?!

I can’t elaborate too much because every situation and guy is different.  Yet there are two different genres of answers to give:  the first is the high school answer, the second is the college answer.  The high school answer will contain the fact that you do not date anyone, and, if the boy is a good one, you will be able to turn him down without it being a personal affront.  The college answer depends on the family, but I will give you my two styles within this genre.

First, the Bad Boy Reply.  He comes rappin’ up to you and shoots a “Whassup?” that you can’t even grace with an intelligent conversation.  “Sooo, you doin’ anythin’ anytime soon?”  (This would not be an “um, no” moment).  You Smile Graciously but not Invitingly, tilt your head slightly to the side, and say Pleasantly with an undercurrent of Cool Preoccupation: “I’m sorry, but I am in a committed relationship.”  He may press for a better excuse, under which pressure your Cool Preoccupation becomes Cold Sophistication, which, with a touch of Civilization and slight Acceleration should end Communication as quickly as deemed possible.

Second, the Potential Suitor Reply.  He comes walking up to you and courteously asks, “Do you think — um — that maybe we could…er… possibly… go out sometime?” First, determine that it is not a Hallucination, then show some Appreciation without wedding Anticipation; give a quick Situation Evaluation and check again that it is not Imagination.  Once these steps are complete, do some further Intention Investigation.  Once he has met the Qualifications, give him the Notification that you only go out under your family’ s Verification.  If he is still full of Determination, you should show him some Consideration and relieve his Expectation courteously.

Of course, this leaves plenty of room for flexibility as the need arises.  Just don’t be ambiguous — be clear with what you are answering whether it be yes or no.  You don’t want to leave room for misunderstanding, as in the case of a Bad Boy he may take advantage of that ambiguity and in the case of a Good One he may be confused.  The best thing is to prepare your answer with your parents, for then when you are greeted with you will not be caught muttering “Um… no…”

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Forever’s As Far As I’ll Go

Classes started today, and I was not looking forward to it.  I enjoyed my break far too much to want to get back to studying.  I was excited for one thing though — I do have good classes:  Newswriting and Civil War, two of my favorite subjects.  Tonight I had to head to Newswriting right after drama meet and a short dinner out with a friend.  I ran into the dank depths of the Technology building, not sure what to expect… and dreading what I was sure to be expecting:  The Interview.

Contrary to what many people think about me I greatly dislike interviewing people.  I feel like I am treading on their own ground — like I am trespassing on their time and information.  Perhaps I am scarred by my perceptions of reporters from movies I watched in the past, but whatever the case, I don’t like that kind of confrontation.  But I love a story — and I love to write.  What good am I unless I have something to write about — specifically something people want to hear?  People want to hear news.  Thus, I need to get it… and to get it, I need to get out of my comfort zone.

As I sat in class, however, I got more and more excited.  My teached is the former editor of our local newspaper, a kind and intelligent man who is happy to teach us what it means to be journalists.  He gave us assignment after assignment, and then stopped and looked at the six of us (it’s a small class!).  “For those interested,” he said, “there may be a position open with the college newsletter if you would like to write for it.  You can get out of lab if you choose to do so.  I can’t guarantee your work will be published, but there is a chance.”  You can imagine my reaction — I’m going to get that spot!  He also said that in the spring we might head down to the state capital to meet Lansing’s top journalists, eat lunch with them, and watch a broadcast be filmed.  When I left class, my head was spinning with ideas and opportunity.

Sometimes we have dreams, and as time wears on those dreams that were once exciting become increasingly dull.  Since it takes time for them to develop they tend to get rusty, and after a while we may want to throw them away.  Opportunity seems scarce, and the daily grind of life doesn’t seem to be taking us anywhere.  Yet truly, life is a roadtrip:  when you start out you are excited and filled with anticipation.  As the drive lengthens, you can lose sight of the luxury awaiting you at the end and get caught up in the annoying car games, your brother’s leg sticking in your face and the endless, empty landscape out the window.  It may not seem worth the destination.

Then you see a billboard on the side of the road with a picture of the resort you’re headed to.  It reminds you of the purpose of the trip and excites you all over again — inspiring you and enabling you to bear with the annoyances that were wearing you down.  You have renewed strength and determination to get to where you’re going.

I know what I want to do  — but I have even more ideas now, all spinning in my head like a little tornado.  The great thing is that God is right there.  He provided the opportunity, and He’ll see it to its fulfillment.  With Him, forever is as far as I’ll go.