There is something to be said for consistency. Take me, for example. I've consistently asked out the same girl, once every eight to 14 months, for the past five years. She's consistently rejected me. Some might call this foolish, like Ralph Waldo Emerson when he said that thing about consistency. But you know what? Ralph Waldo Emerson can blow me.
Asking out the same girl over and over again for five years is a little foolish, and a little bit crazy. But sometimes you have to act a little bit foolish, a little bit crazy, if you think it's worth the risk. Another famous quote is that nothing worthwhile is easy. I think Hamilton Holt said that. (It's OK if you had to Wikipedia him, because now you've learned something. See? Worthwhile
So here's the thing with doing something slightly insane, like repeatedly asking someone out who rejects you, year after year -- there's a good way and a bad way to do it. The good way means that although what you're doing is, on its face, sort of 1990s Mickey Rourke, if you're a good sport about it, and you're not actually a lunatic*, it can work out. There's a razor-thin edge between charming and creepy, but allow my half-decade of slow-mo rejection to serve as a guide.
Act One (Sometime During 2005)
So a married buddy needed to buy his wife a birthday present, and I needed someone to drink through brunch with me. We found a small boutique retail store. The woman behind the counter? Was magic
You know these moments.
I found myself amid these racks of Penguin shirts and purple Kangol hats in a fugue state while Magic Retail Girl's register went cha-ching. She glanced over at me and I turned into Han Solo when Vader froze him in carbonite. Once my blood began moving again, I asked her if she wouldn't mind helping us pick out a gift for my friend's wife. This was my first move.
She led my friend around the store while I loomed behind a rack of sundresses, waiting for her to ring us up. She looked at me and said something like, "You don't have anybody to buy for?" I thought, Holy balls! Is she hitting on me?
Then my married friend made a joke about how I hadn't had a girlfriend since "Blossom" was in prime time. Had the Kool-Aid pitcher burst through the wall of the store and showered me in double-double cherry, I'd have been less rattled.
I stumbled out of the shop, awash in failure. This was five years ago. This could have, and some would say should have, been the end of our story. But it wasn't.
Act II -- Groundhog Day
From time to time after that, I'd be on a date and wonder what it would be like if the lady sitting across from me was Magic Retail Girl instead of Girl I Approached Very Late at a Bar and Now Had to Eat Bruschetta With.
A year passed.
Then one day I found myself walking back into her store. She was there. I left immediately and met friends at a nearby bar. Three hours later, I was spending $300 I didn't have on items I didn't need just to talk to her. I flirted. She recited the rigid return policy. I left again, without her number.
The next day, sober and dressed beyond my pay grade, I took the train out to her store determined to ask her out. She wasn't there. I took the train out again the next day, and she was. I walked in, freaked out, left, then drank three beers at a nearby bar. Finally, I was ready.
I pretended like I was in there to return the clothes. She reminded me of the return policy, so I told her I was joking and she was basically like "OK?" Just as I was realizing how badly I played everything, some woman approached with about 900 questions and I kept thinking, You're buying jeans, not enriched uranium! Beat it!
And, after New To Denim finally left, I asked for Magic Retail's number with all the charm of Rick Moranis in "Ghostbusters."
She told me she was seeing someone. So, of course, I handed her my business card! (Who did I think I was, Bud Fox?) She's Magic Retail Girl and she's got a boyfriend, and I'm giving her my contact info like I'm trying to get her in on a sweet deal. I mean, what an unbelievable jackass.
So I left, thinking, It's officially over. I'm never doing that again.
It's Never Over
A year later, I walked by the store. She was in there. She saw me. I waved, went in, and we talked. This time I was determined just to be normal. But I also felt like, well, you never know. We laughed about the awkwardness of my last encounter with her, and I asked how her boyfriend was, and she said he was fine, and I was sad again.
I was like, OK, now this is really the end of this. I'm really never doing that again.
It's Never the End of This
A year later, I got an awesome idea. I went back in with my female friend. The idea was to let Magic Retail know I'm not actually Ed Norton from "Primal Fear" -- I know women who aren't afraid of me. My friend charmed her. We were looking good.
Then, she told me she'd actually broken up with her boyfriend and was single! During my self-imposed store hiatus! During which another guy asked her out, and she said yes and now they were dating.
Eight or nine months after that, I was at a restaurant with three friends, and one commented about the pretty girl up at the bar. Do I need to tell you who it was? Of course you know. Of course I hid behind my menu when the hostess walked her and her boyfriend past our table. Most people would take this as the sign to give up. I thought, Well ...
Now I'm Re-Committed to My Insane Commitment
Fast-forward to this past Saturday. I was drinking beers in my neighborhood. I received a text from that same married buddy who had c*ck-blocked me half a decade ago. It read, "I'm in your store, come in here and ask her out."
I thought, Why the hell not?
I went in. We chatted. Laughed. While she was talking to my friend, she let it slip that she was newly single. She also said that she was broken up about it and wasn't in any position to go out on a date.
I thought, Now, this is surely it.
All these years that I had been consistently, insanely, creepily, foolishly going into her store, assuming it was all just timing, I was simply asking out a girl who wouldn't have gone out with me even if she were single.
I told her I was sorry about her breakup, and made a joke about asking her out next year.
She gave me her number.
Five years of wondering what it would be like to go out with Magic Retail Girl. Five years of rejection. Five years of wondering what it would be like to go out with this woman.
And then her number.
We're not going on a date ... we're just -- she says -- getting together.
[Redacted] Guy is the resident Single Guy writer for Lemondrop. He doesn't get what everybody thought was so creepy about Mark Wahlberg in "Fear." A guy holds up a boombox outside your window and that's romantic, but he carves your name on his chest and William Peterson throws you out a f**king window? How is that fair?
You can send him hate mail and love letters here, and follow him on Twitter.