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A New Set of Rules

DARRYL: So this is a nice place.

CAITLIN: Yeah, I like the atmosphere.

DARRYL: Not too much argon…

CAITLIN: CO2 balance is just right.

DARRYL: Right?

CAITLIN: You are such a dork. I mean that in the best possible way.

DARRYL: No, I get that. Can I ask you something?

CAITLIN: Sure.

DARRYL: Why’d you ask me out?

CAITLIN: You mean, why did I get you to ask me out?

DARRYL: Semantics.

CAITLIN: Cute guy at a bookstore. What’s not to like?

DARRYL: You’re at that bookstore all the time, though. Was it the selection? It was, wasn’t it? Medieval Persian Romances really get you going, don’t they?

CAITLIN: How do you know I don’t ask out every guy who comes in there?

DARRYL: That sounds exhausting.

CAITLIN: You wanna know what it is?

DARRYL: I think I do, yeah. That’s why I’m bracing myself. I promise that’s the reason.

CAITLIN: You’re dorky. And cute. Kind of a combination. Turnabout’s fair play, though. Why’d you ask me out?

DARRYL: Because you tricked me into it.

CAITLIN: I’m not that good at tricking.

DARRYL: When a beautiful woman wants you to ask her out—

CAITLIN: Oh, I’m beautiful? Is that it? That’s the reason?

DARRYL: Are you really insulted to be called beautiful?

CAITLIN: Just seems kinda shallow.

DARRYL: You’re assuming “beautiful” was the operative word.

CAITLIN: Well, then what was the operative word?

DARRYL: “Wants”. I’m not good at flirting. I’m not good at signals, and I am definitely not good at dating—

CAITLIN: You’re not as bad as you think you are.

DARRYL: My point is, it means a lot to know going into it that… that I have a shot. You know? That I’m not gonna be shot down.

CAITLIN: Why would I shoot you down?

DARRYL: That’s my point, though. You made it very easy.

CAITLIN: Oh, so I’m “easy”, now?

DARRYL: No, come on.

CAITLIN: Isn’t that what you just said?

DARRYL: No, it’s not, actually. I’m not saying you are easy, that would imply you wore an easy mark for a predator—you think I’m a predator?

CAITLIN: That’s not what it—well, yeah, OK.

DARRYL: No, I’m saying you were easy on me. You liked me and you made that clear. I appreciated that. You didn’t play games.

CAITLIN: I still wanted you to make the first move.

DARRYL: And you think I did?

CAITLIN: Well… I don’t know. What counts as a move?

DARRYL: See, that’s what I’m saying.

CAITLIN: So it wasn’t my mind, then? It wasn’t my taste in literature?

DARRYL: Well, see, here’s the thing. Anything that I admired about you, from the shallow really liking your hair and your eyes and your smile and the way you turn on your heel after you put a book on the shelf, to the way you like Fiona Dugnot and keep up on my R.A. Kessler references, all of that, those are things that would have made me like you, but that’s not what you asked. Because none of that would have actually given me the confidence to ask you out. I asked you out ‘cause you wanted me to.

CAITLIN: So… and I don’t like using this term ‘cause I don’t like it, but… you would have let me “friend-zone” you?

DARRYL: Yeah, I don’t like that term, either. I would have let you flirt with me. I don’t think I would’ve wanted to take it past that.

CAITLIN: Guys are supposed to make the first move, though.

DARRYL: Why?

CAITLIN: …

DARRYL: It doesn’t make sense, does it? It puts the pressure in all the wrong places. If you want a guy and you ask him out, what are the chances he’ll think you’re a creep? Hell, what are the chances he’ll even say no?

CAITLIN: If we all started doing it that way, though, how long woudl it take for the standards to flip? How long before guys start thinking of girls as creepy?

DARRYL: Two things: first of all, men are typically—typically, mind you—physically stronger than women, and therefore better able to fight them off. That’s not to say that women can’t be creepy, still, but if we’re playing by the numbers? Second, though, you kinda gotta ask yourself, who stands to lose more by having sex? I mean, on the one hand, there’s the social aspect of stigma against sexually active women, and I’m not saying we’re over that, but I think we can agree that it’s mortifyingly old-fashioned.

CAITLIN: Of course.

DARRYL: But from a purely biological perspective, men just don’t get pregnant. So if women have the agency, if women are the ones making the first move, what’s a guy gonna do? Guys are a lot less likely to say no.

CAITLIN: You realize you’re a guy, right?

DARRYL: Last time I checked. Am I doing that thing again? That thing where I talk my way out of… whatever this could have been?

CAITLIN: Maybe. What did you want this to be?

DARRYL: Kinda hoping to get a second date out of this.

CAITLIN: And then?

DARRYL: Maybe a third?

CAITLIN: And then? What’s your endgame?

DARRYL: True love.

CAITLIN: I don’t know a lot of guys would use that word on a first date.

DARRYL: You asked.

CAITLIN: Still.

DARRYL: Scared you away yet?

CAITLIN: Why would I be scared? I think right there is your answer.

DARRYL: To what?

CAITLIN: Why I asked you out.

DARRYL: I thought I asked you out.

CAITLIN: Semantics. You don’t exactly play by the rules.

DARRYL: You make me sound like such a bad boy.

CAITLIN: Is a second date really all you wanted to get out of this?

DARRYL: The most I’d dared to dream, I’d say.

CAITLIN: Maybe you should aim a little higher.

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About Polypsyches

I write, regardless of medium or genre, but mostly I manage a complex combined Science-Fiction/Fantasy Universe--in other words, I'm building Geek Heaven. With some other stuff on the side. View all posts by Polypsyches

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