After dinner with The Lawyer, I was sure that my earlier feelings about his interest were correct.
Conversation had ebbed and flowed naturally and easily. We were old friends and that’s exactly what dinner felt like. I told inappropriate stories about clubbing in the DR. He talked about other friends from high school and what they are doing now.
He walked me back to the Metro, near the medical school, after dinner, but I thought nothing of it. As he turned to walk away, it was I who reached out for a loose, non-hip-touching hug. That’s what friends—platonic friends—do.
This wasn’t a date with Marcus or a first time meeting with a dating website guy. This was someone that I knew, enjoyed the evening with, and wanted to hang out with again. The hug wasn’t forced or romantic. It was just a hug. When The Lawyer texted me a few minutes later, asking that I text him when I got home, I viewed it also a gesture of chivalrous concern and kindness.
In retrospect, there was a lot that could be interpreted romantically, but it wasn't. I was convinced that I had misread him and what he wanted from this situation. Everything that he did during our first meeting was expected and easily explained. After all, I tell my friends to text me when they get home too, and I have friends—male and female—who routinely take pity on an impoverished medical student and refuse to let me pick up the tab.
I had obediently texted The Lawyer when I arrived home on Wednesday night, and our usual pattern of brief, insignificant text messages continued the following day. He had mentioned, during dinner, that he still keeps up with one of our high school friends and speaks to her, “maybe twice a week.” With such a revelation, I was no longer suspicious of his frequent text messaging. After all, if he was talking to a friend whom I knew he had no romantic interest in twice a week, what was a text message to me now and then?
On Friday morning, though, I received the following text message:
Hey, I’m walking to work and I realize that I never told you that, although I was tired and had a long day, I had a really great time Wednesday. If you’re game, I would love to see you again when your schedule has a few hours.
Suddenly, there were questions again. The ambiguity was pronounced. This was not a platonic text message.
In fact, it was the prototypic after-date text. Men who just want to be your friend don’t send text messages with the explicit statements, “I had a great time” and “I would love to see you again.” They just…don’t.
“Just friends” send text messages saying things like, “It was good seeing you! Maybe we’ll hang out again!” or “You looked amazing! Rock your test this week!” They send those messages immediately—the same night, in fact—and end the conversation there. Men who text a full two days after a date, while they are walking work, are thinking about you. They are thinking about you and hoping to see you again.
I knew, before The Lawyer said anything else, that this was a very romantically charged situation. Whatever he had to tell me about what he was trying to do, I was willing to hear. Unfortunately, one thing was true: I don’t date married men. Regardless of whether or not I grew up with you, find your life fascinating, and know with certainty that we share a great deal in common, I cannot and will not date you. That should be a common sense rule of life.
So, I responded coolly and superficially to his mention of a second dinner. The following day, I received the following text message:
Hey. Have car, will drive. You free for Sunday brunch?
This time, I didn’t respond. With The Lawyer off-limits, but clearly interested, I did what most medical students who are tired, stressed, and lacking in self-control would do: I called Marcus and said I'd take him up on the offer to study at his place.
That’s right, internet. Instead of cutting off Marcus, with his overtly stated interest, I started seeing him more. His competition was married and for the moment, that was reason enough.
When I did text message The Lawyer back, I said something vague about having a busy day and needing to make a decision after seeing how much progress I could make studying on Saturday night.
In response to my lack of committal response, he wrote back:
Of course you can let me know later. But you have no idea how thick my skin is, so please know that it does not hurt my feelings if you have to say…
The text message exceeded the character limit and cut off, forcing me to wait for the next installment.
Mentally, I filled in the remainder his response.
“…If you have to say… ‘Sorry, I don’t have time to hang out and I need to study,’” I was sure it would read.
I’ve heard kind promises to be understanding of my schedule 100 times since starting medical school--especially from dates.
Instead, my phone beeped his full statement a few seconds later.
…If you have to say, “Sorry, your situation is too much of a mess for a Sunday brunch."
Crap. There was no question of what the last comment was referring to. He knew exactly what he was doing, and it had absolutely nothing to do with me.
(To Be Continued...)