I kind of noticed that he has been acting a tad bit differently towards me lately. Not that I could really pinpoint the cause right away and deduce that he might like me as more than friends - I am a bit dense when it comes to picking up that vibe from men - but I could sense that he has been a bit extra nice, extra polite and extra accommodating to me during the last couple of weeks.
It could have probably always stayed that way... him silently hoping for more and me never getting a clue and continuing going about my daily business, saying "Hi" to him in our architecture classes and studios and innocently inquiring him about the progress of his latest project. But the darn invention called Facebook Chat let it all out in the open one studious night.
I remember it as if it just happened. I was working on my laptop last Thursday night, preparing for yet another thesis presentation when a Facebook chat message popped up. Despite that Facebook chat has been the staple of this social networking web site for quite a while, I still get starltled every time someone chats me up on there. I don't ever linger on Facebook for very long - just casually sign on, browse my friends' status updates and sign off right after that. On those days that I do forget to sign off, I am usually forced into spontaneous conversations with people I haven't talked to in a number of years and uncomfortable flirtations from friends of friends whom I have never really met more than once or twice. Sometimes it's nice to catch up with a fried or two but I am constantly afraid that someone creepy or irrelevant is going to chat me up any second.
So the friend begins a school-related chat with me, yadda yadda yadda... then suddenly says:
"So enough about school. Tell me what does a woman like you usually do to relax on an evening like this?"
Bless his heart, I should have realized right then and there where this conversation was going. I played dumb though and said, "Oh you know, nothing special. Drinking some wine and watching Cartoon Network."
With every man having a passionate affair with Cartoon Network, it was not surprising that my friend complimented me on my choice of television:
"That's great! Totally makes up for all the shitty shows that most girls like to watch."
Excuse me. I have completely come to terms with the fact that I love watching "The Hills" in spite of how aware I am how vapid and close-minded those girls are and how out of touch with reality their little world is.
Nevertheless, I bit my tongue and probably said something witty and charming which, I suppose, urged him on to take the next step and ask me:
"So this might be a complete shot in the dark but do you wanna grab a drink with me sometime?"
"A drink.. as in a friend-type situation?" I did not know how to say it without making it sound awkward.
"Yeah... I suppose... we can do that too if that's what you would prefer."
How do you say no to a friend without jeopardizing your friendship? Is there a magic formula for politely declining an invitation to a date without looking like a terrible person (read: a bitch)?
"Well, I just got out of this year-long on and off thing with this guy from St. Louis..." I responded. Was it ever an on and off thing with Mr J? I don't know, but for the intents and purposes of this conversation, it sure was at that moment, "I'd totally be up for getting drinks with you as friends though."
Boy, was I glad I had a big ol' glass of Shiraz right by my side at that moment because it came in handy as I took a gulp to shake off the uncomfortable feeling of turning someone down. Bravery, in the age of technology, is not quite the same as it was back in the day when people were forced to ask each other out in person. Yet still, I silently admired my friend for being able to say that he was interested in me. I just wished I could have returned the sentiment.