Blokes are stupid. I can see you nodding your heads. And although their stupidity can come in a wide variety of forms, you'll probably be able to discern a particular type of blokey gormlessness running through this post. I'm starting to think it's the one where a woman is friendly towards a bloke and he just can't help but read something more into it. I'm inclined to think that's what's happening in my world at the moment. Have a glance at what follows and say it aint so.
She works in a section unrelated to mine, so I didn't see much of her to begin with. Just in and out of the lunch room and around the office sometimes. Wondered who she was.
We were in the lift area together and she said hello, so I said:
"Hi, I'm Lad, I've just been here a couple of weeks."
"Oh we've been introduced already. On your first day."
"Oh yes, silly me. Sorry, I met a few people early on and I've forgotten quite a few names."
I waited momentarily for her to help me out and tell me her name but she didn't, so I asked her what it was. Siobhan.
Not long after, one of the other blokes and I were talking about classic albums and how I went on a bit of a spree buying up big-name albums and how I'd bought Physical Graffiti by Led Zeppelin. Siobhan was there and she said it was one of her favourites and proceeded to rattle off other Led Zeppelin titles she was familiar with. Common ground. So we could say hello and talk easily from there on.
Just brief encounters, the occasional hello, smile or nod. Then someone was talking about the TV show The Einstein Factor. I couldn't help myself so I blurted out a little too quickly that I'd been on it. Siobhan asked what my specialist subject had been and when I told her the Nuremberg Trials she was certain she'd seen it. "Wow." she said. Regular readers of this blog will no doubt understand I haven't had attractive women look at me and say wow all that often. Halley's Comet is a more frequent visitor. It was pleasantly disconcerting. She asked me why I'd chosen that topic so I stammered my way through an explanation of why I thought it was interesting and she seemed to think it was fine. Not weird at all.
The day before the AFL Grand Final, we were having a special morning tea and I was running the staff handball competition. As I was setting up, Karen from Siobhan's section told me Siobhan was very keen to do well and that she was the sort who was pretty good at anything she tried her hand at. "You'll have to send her out on a fool's errand just as the competition's about to start, ha ha ha." She thought that was funny and headed back to work. Next thing, the door opens and Siobhan walks in.
"Hi Lad. Karen said you wanted to see me."
"Um, no ... oh wait I think she's misunderstood what I said. She said you were a big chance to win and I said well, send her out on an errand just before the start. As a joke, you know, and she's misinterpreted it as... you know, go and see Lad." I realized it sounded lame as I was saying it, never a good sign, and would instantly convince any woman that I'm a complete idiot. I expected her to roll her eyes and walk out but she smiled and shook her head and leaned over the counter.
"I'm sorry about that, Siobhan. Your time being wasted, I mean."
"Oh that's fine. Do you need a hand?"
"No, no thanks, it's all pretty much ready to go I think ," so I busied myself with the final setting up of the target and score chart. She seemed to want to talk and told me all about how she'd played football herself for a couple of seasons with a womens' team. My turn to go wow. She explained how she loved footy so much she thought why the hell not have a go, an attitude I found admirable. She told me how as her three brothers had never played, it was the only time her dad got to watch one of his offspring chase a kick. There were just the two of us there and with her opening up, almost shyly, I had a funny feeling about it that I couldn't quite put my finger on. Later, I wondered if it hadn't almost had the vibe of like, well, a date, of all things.
Three or four weeks ago a whole crowd of us went out for lunch at a local CBD pub for someone's birthday. I got lost and arrrived a bit late so sat at one end of our table. Siobhan was down the other end on the same side so I couldn't see her through all the heads. Probably just as well. The last thing I'd want to be doing is seeking her out.
A little while into the lunch, I went up to the bar to get another round of drinks for my section. There were a few people ahead of me so I waited and watched the cricket on the big screen.
"Hi Lad." Siobhan had materialized next to me. That's what it seemed like. My peripheral vision is probably shot to the shithouse and I was intent on the First Test from India up on the big TV anyway so it's probably likely she just walked over. We'd chatted for a couple of minutes when the barman nodded in my direction.
She called out her order with mine and I paid so she wouldn't be queue-jumping. She was adamant I was going to be repaid. Next time, I shrugged, meaning there'd be other such lunches and she could buy me a drink then, or forget all about it and I'd never remind her. Siobhan wasn't having any of that and went over to get some change.
"Look, Siobhan, it's no big deal and I don't want a whole heap of coins jangling around in my pocket. Leave it till next time. It's fine, really."
She put the coins down in front of me and said "End of discussion," with a not unpleasant finality and headed back to the office. I did turn to steal a wee glimpse of her as she walked away, something I'd been trying to avoid doing.
Later, I wondered if she'd been keen to pay me back so I wouldn't have anything over her, in case I might later pester her to buy me a drink and believe it entitled me to some kind of proprietary interest in her. Okay, there are a lot of deluded sleazebags around and if she's guarded, good on her.
And then just last week there was a staff meeting. Without any contrivance on anyone's part, Siobhan and I were sitting directly opposite each other. I was listening to one of the blokes, standing behind and to Siobhan's right explaining something when I thought I could glimpse her looking at me. I kept my eyes on the speaker for quite a few seconds and then stole a glance across at her. Still looking at me. I couldn't think what to do because we were looking right at each other so I just smiled at her. Probably more of a lop-sided grin. She smiled back and then cast her eyes down, like she was a bit embarassed at being caught looking at me. Or wondering what the fuck a middle-aged loser is doing smiling at her during a fucking staff meeting. Only one of these is really plausible.
Later that afternoon she again seemed to just appear when she came over to my section to return the pen drive that I'd loaned her earlier.
"Oh, here it is. Sorry I didn't return it earlier, Lad."
"No, that's fine Siobhan, thanks for bringing it over."
She half-turned and then gave me a big smile and said almost breathlessly "Bye. See you soon."
It was like we were a couple of nervous teenagers at a third-form social.
Tomorrow night we're playing for the first time in a little work ensemble group that's just starting up. I was in one of these before at a previous school and they're great fun. I had no idea she played anything but when I sent the expression of interest around the office email she responded with an offer to play guitar and flute. She'll be finger-picking her way through Dear Prudence and Wish You Were Here on her classical guitar while I try to keep up on electric guitar. Another bloke will play acoustic guitar and two women will fill things out with vocals and percussion. Musically, I'm quite looking forward to it.
So that's where we are. Just the facts, ma'am. I'll try to do a deeper analysis of what I really think is happening in my next post. You'll probably do a better analysis in the comments.