Lord Byron

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In college, John passed by my English department and waved at me through the glass doors every day after his band practice ended next door. I was a secretary and two years his senior. Problem was, we had never met. Never even been introduced.

The first time it happened, I waved back with a bit of hesitation. I wondered if he was some random guy I met at a busy social night whom I’d just forgotten. Every day as the gestures continued, it became very clear to me that if I had met him before, I would have remembered. Who wouldn’t remember those piecing blue eyes hiding behind a mop of shaggy blond bedhead hair? Every day, I’d wait in anticipation, trying so terribly hard to concentrate on my work but so utterly distracted by the hush of band instruments next door, signaling the end of practice, knowing at any minute he would pass by.

And like clockwork, day in and day out, I’d find myself looking forward to that wave and sweet smile to break up the monotony of my day.

I noticed the change in me happen ever so slightly. Instead of not giving a second thought as to what cardigan went with what skirt, I started taking longer to get ready in the mornings. I wanted to look cuter, more put together.

All for some silly wave by some silly stranger whom I’d never even met?

I’ve wondered if it was some sort of planned method, his way of getting women to take interest before he even made an approach. His innocent waving was starting to irritate me. I’d finally given up hope of a clear introduction. There was no way I was going to approach him!

Then one day when I went to the administration building to drop off some mail, it happened. I remember exactly what I was wearing. Probably made a mental note that outfit worked to my advantage: black pencil skirt hugging my body in all the right places, a simple black v- neck, and black stilettos.

I had a handful of packages in my arms when he came out of the double doors into the foyer wearing a bright orange Reese’s t-shirt. He came in walking backwards, trailing off the conversation he was having with a person in the other room. I recognized that mop of surfer blond hair but didn’t recognize the voice. I clutched the packages tightly trying to silence the pounding in my chest. We’d never been in such close proximity. I’d never heard his voice before. To be honest, I don’t remember what it sounded like at all. All I remember was how we finally met. And what he actually said. And how it nearly made my head spin.

When he turned around to head to the door, I was standing right in front of him. He literally stopped in his tracks and took his time to just stare at me for a few seconds in awe. I mean, who does that? I gave him that confused, are you seriously going to be this obvious expression with a hint of, but I’m intrigued by your forwardness in my smile. Finally he walked up closer with a knowing smile and a gaze like a hunter eying his prey and just said a lingering “Hello.”

But it wasn’t the kind of hello you’d expect from a complete stranger. It wasn’t the kind of hello that made you feel violated either. It was weirdly intimate. The kind of hello you’d get from a guy coming out of the shower in the morning after he’d just spent the night, and you both know you’re not going to make the walk of shame home. You’re going to have breakfast and hang out.

I said hi and walked away a bit shaken and flustered. It was one of those typical instances where a girl meets a boy and falls head over heels just because he paid attention to her. Did I mention that I’m not attracted to blond men? Did I mention that this guy’s teeth were jacked up?

I didn’t have to. It wasn’t the only time I’d fallen for a guy I wasn’t initially attracted to. It wasn’t the first time I’d fallen for a guy who wasn’t my “type.”

I don’t care what anybody says. Confidence is hotter than money, than intelligence, than status, than good looks, than anything. A man who initiates and boldly pursues a woman shows confidence.

I’m convinced, at the heart of it all, every women just wants to feel wanted. When I heard this quote, I knew it rang true:

“The desire of the man is for the woman, but the desire of the woman is for the desire of the man.”

- Madame de Stael

If a man could get that in his core, he would be ahead of the pack of men trembling in fear, wondering, Does she like me?

Does she like me is an irrelevant question and a big, fat waste of time. All it does is psyche a guy out and make him feel insecure, the very opposite of confident.

It needs to be replaced with, How can I get this girl to know I like her?

I told my boss/English Professor of John. He affectionately started to call him Lord Byron, the title quite fitting for a man who surely knew how to woo a love interest.

Lord Byron made it clear he liked me every time we crossed paths. I’d run into him in the hallway; he’d ask me out. I’d run into him on the bus on the way to a field trip, he’d ask me out in front of everybody. He’d approach me at the gym while I was on the stair master: “How about that date?” Even in the middle of doing some heavy lifting, he’d walk away from his dumbells to approach me, wiping the perspiration from his brow. He’d say things like, “Why don’t you just let me take you out once? You know you want me.” He was unabashedly persistent, and I was smitten.

He’d try to get me on a date even if it was to teach me how to play guitar. Little did he know that at that time, I had a thing, a big thing for musicians.

One time I walked into an auditorium, and he was on stage practicing with the band before an evening service. When he turned around and saw me at the door, he stopped what he was doing, stood up and walked to the edge of the stage, pointing his body in my direction, and started singing a love song. Students who had come in early and sat down in the seats turned to see who he was singing to. I nearly went red in the face and had to exit immediately.

I kept declining his offers because at the time I was on this (silly) mission to stay single and focus on my spirituality. Once I even offered to just be friends, and he told me,

“Sorry sweetie, I have enough friends. And God knows, I could never look at you and see you as just a friend.”

It was a compliment and a great way to decline my offer for friendship. Guys don’t realize they don’t have to accept friendship from a romantic interest.

A man does not have to stick around and settle for friendship if he wants more. And Lord Byron’s response is the best way to exit a romantic situation when a woman gives a man the “let’s just be friends” line.

Guys have it too easy these days. I’m starting to think they’re getting too used to women asking them out or making the first move. It causes many men to take a backseat when they find a woman they’re interested in. They take on this passive role, hoping maybe the woman will make a move, thinking it will keep them from getting rejected.

But the problem is, passive men are unattractive.

I want a player on the field, on the court, willing to give it all for the chance of victory, even if he loses miserably. How can I cheer for the bench warmer when he is tucked safely away, kept from the danger of making a bad pass or a bad shot? No risk, no glory.

Genuine, thoughtful, bold, risky, acts of courtship catch me off guard because I hardly see them any more. A man who will go to great lengths to win a woman’s heart? This has almost become an urban legend similar in nature to ideas like the “cured homosexual.” Do they exist? I long for the creativity and the hard work demonstrated by the suitors in the love stories told by my grandmother. Where are the men who are not afraid to put their heart on the line? Where is the poet or the love sick fool? I want him.

I ran into Lord Byron in a sloping hallway one day and could feel his eyes on me as I walked away. I was at the bottom of the slope about to open the door when I turned around. He knew he was caught. But Lord Byron didn’t care. Lord Byron didn’t turn away. Lord Byron met my gaze without apology and owned it: “Yeah, I’m looking at you,” he said point blank, his jacked up smile beaming. And with that familiar wave that started it all, he said goodbye, and my heart melted.

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Byline: Midori Heckman lives in eastside Seattle and writes for the dating column at www.datingadvicefromagirl.com

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