Sometimes I can be the ultimate dork. It makes no sense at all really as I have no issue speaking with people, except in one situation-when a man is speaking to me showing obvious attraction. Then all of the eloquent words, the witty remarks, the deep insights I can easily spew-slip right down the tubes and I sound like a ten year old socially challenged little twit. How can this be me? How can I possibly not immediately know how to respond in this situation when no other situation unnerves me?
I am in love with words. Reading them, writing them and speaking them. I got an A in speech class from a teacher who never gave A's. I won fifth in the state of Illinois on the speech team for a piece I did. I was in every play in high school. I was an MC for a festival. I speak to everyone about everything. I actually can't shut up most of the time even when I should. Yet, throw a handsome man my way who happens to take me off guard and I am suddenly Jerry Lewis stuttering and blurting out idiocy.
It's not like I haven't dated much. It is not like I have no experience to fall back on. I have dated a variety of men from every walk of life, but usually I realize what is happening before it happens and I can avoid my dorkiness showing up because I am somewhat prepared. It's the surprises that send me for a tailspin. Then I am in "dork mania" with my mind racing a mile a minute to say something to make me look less goofy and I instead spill out everything that has raced through my mind-and I make absolutely no sense. To top it all off-I laugh. I don't mean a coy flirty laugh; I am talking about the awful laugh. I am talking about the laugh that builds up inside me that I can never stop and I sound like Ernie from Sesame Street which of course brings on the blushing which is another prize I am unable to control.
Last night, two men came to fix the air conditioning in my apartment. I heard a few shouts, a ladder hit the building. I ran out to the top of the stairs hoping upon hope that it would be the saviors who would deliver me from the fiery pit my apartment had become.
"Please tell me you are here to fix my air!" I shouted down. "I'm dying in here."
One of the men is shielding his eyes from the sun as he walks nearer to the staircase. "How are you handling this heat?" he asks as he pulls his hand away and I can see his handsome face and I am speechless as his gaze then drifts up my body and he smiles.
My inner dork creeped out right then, "By being a b---- . The children are afraid. Save us." I blurted. Oh my God! Shut up, shut up, shut up.
He laughs and comes up the stairs. Staring intently at me he asks, "Where is your husband? Where is your boyfriend?"
"I don't have one. That's why I live here..." and then the awful laugh seeps out while I let him in my apartment. Shut up!
He starts to fire off questions to me about myself and not the air conditioning problems. I answer them without thinking. He asks if I work and where and I explain how I work with seriously mentally ill adults in a group home. He asks how old I am and then says he is ten years older than me. I am laughing the horrid laugh again and tell him he looks so young. (Which he does, and handsome too, and has a sexy lyrical accent)He asks why the cold air duct door is hanging down in the hallway. I tell him it's because I lost the screws when I was changing the filter. He tells me he will be right back.
While he goes outside, I am telling myself to calm the hell down because I am being a total idiot and shaming myself in front of all of the teenagers coming in and out. I feel the heat spreading over my face and it is not because my living room feels like the towering inferno. I am embarrassed by the way he has looked at me, embarrassed by my reaction, embarrassed by my embarrassment.
He comes back with the screws and climbs up on a chair to fix the cold air return door. "You didn't need screws. You need nuts." I of course think of that differently than I think he meant that. His "not screws" are at eye level and I am overcome with giggles.
And there comes the mouse voice squeaking out and me trying at the same time to apologize for not knowing the difference between the two, while I try to hold in the obnoxious Ernie laugh. He is laughing too.
They fix the air temporarily and tell me they will be back the next week because it is a big job. They leave. The man, the handsome man winks at me as he walks out the door.
A few minutes later I go outside to the car to take my daughter to a friend's. Ugh. He is still here packing their truck and watches me walk down the stairs.
"What are you doing later?"
And my most wonderful response, the queen of all dorkiness responses is, "Enjoying the cool air." Along with the obnoxious Ernie laugh. Lord, help me…please. I jump in the car and high tail it out of there.
My youngest daughter says, "Oh man was he flirting with you. What is wrong with you?"
I wish I knew.
There is next week though-maybe I will get it together and figure it out by then.
Monika M. Basile