This week, on Glee, there was a subplot story line, in which Coach Beiste admits to having feelings for a guy who “doesn’t think of her like that.” They then presented a montage of scenes in which the guy in question is clearly flirting with Coach Beiste or suggesting a date with Coach Beiste and in every instance she is completely oblivious to what’s really going on.
These scenes were comical, to be sure, and of course, as an outside observer, it’s easy to see what’s going on. But I started to think about it. I put myself in Coach Beistes cleats (which wasn’t really that hard to do) and I wondered, “If you’re someone who doesn’t fit the norm of what society thinks a person should be ; if your self-esteem is so low – at least in the area of romance – how likely would you be to be able to recognize the signs?” I’m pretty sure that I’ve had my share of Coach Beiste moments. I’ve been completely oblivious to signs when someone was flirting with me. Add to that, the fact that my Gaydar is shot and I’m in a pretty bad way.
I once wrote a post about lunch with a guy, Kevin was his name – how cute would that be (barf) – who had invited me out to thank me for being such a big help to him in a work related capacity. He worked for the local University of Phoenix campus and I had enabled him to come set up an information table in our building lobby on multiple occasions. To this day, I do not know if that’s all that it was. There’s a realistic possibility that I was on a date and didn’t even know it.
Enter Brendan. You might notice that it’s now November and that means yet another round of emergency drills have come and gone. At some point in the past year, I gained responsibility for the Building Emergency Response Team at an additinoal building. It’s a small group of people. My company has an educational theater group that travels around to schools putting on, well– educational theater.
This October, when I requested volunteers to help observe our emergency drills, a few people from the other building volunteered to help us out. We had a pre-drill briefing at the beginning of that week and Brendan was in attendance. He was the first person in the conference room and he was very attentive. I admit, I thought him a little strange at first as he was completely focused on me and what I was saying, something I’m definitely not used to. He maintained eye contact with me the entire time, something else I’m not used to. He smiled whenever I looked at him or spoke to him. Being from another building, he asked me if I’d show him what we’d be doing the day of the drill; take him on a miniature tour of a floor. He followed and stood close when we talked, again always maintaining eye contact.
The day of the drills he came back to the building and was very friendly. We talked a lot during downtime, and I got a really strong sense of chemistry and connection. I was sure he was interested in me. And while the idea still scares the crap out of me, I was interested in him and willing to see where that could go.
We always have pizza for all the volunteers at the end of the fire drills and as I was collecting the critique sheets and letting people know when and where the food would be, he hesitated and then said he was probably not going to stay. “I have to watch my…” his words trailed off as he gestured to indicate his general torso area, adding “I’m a man on a mission.”
I told him we always have salad too. “You can just have one or two small slices of pizza and then have salad,” I told him. We always have a lot left over and if he didn’t come have some he was just going to leave us with even more after the fact.
He thought on this for a moment and then said, “Well. I was going to skip the gym tonight, but I guess I could go on the treadmill for an hour. And maybe I could take some home to my hubby.”
I did my best to convey no reaction to this revelation and said, “Yeah, you could do that.”
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I’m not interested in getting involved with a married man. But still…
A week later Brendan signed up for a Safety Training class I attended. When he walked into the room where I was already seated, he made eye contact with me and smiled and then walked right past me and sat at the other end of the table. I was disappointed.
The Educational Theater Group is celebrating its 25th anniversary and they had a reception last night. As part of the Facility Management staff that maintains their space, and as the Emergency Response Program coordinator, I was invited to attend the reception. There were lots of good reasons why I should go to the reception, and I’m glad I did, but the truth is, I accepted the invitation with the hope of getting to spend some time with and talk to Brendan. I didn’t see him at all until close to the end of the event and when I did, he was guiding a costumed character around the space. He seemed really happy to see me and gave me a hug and then…
The conversation fell flat. I felt incredibly awkward and had no idea what to say. Before long, they moved on and not long after that, I went home.
And then there’s Ed. Ed is the supervisor/account manager for our Janitorial Service. I meet with him most Thursday mornings to do an inspection. Physically, Ed possesses many qualities I’m attracted to. He also has a very friendly and outgoing personality. I like talking to Ed. I do not like doing Janitorial Inspections. And he knows it. But they’ve been delegated to me and so he and I walk a floor and he makes notes of things he sees that need attention, usually catching more than I do, because I don’t know what to look for in the first place.
While we walk, Ed and I talk about random things that have nothing to do with Janitorial Services, and while I do not feel like I know Ed, I feel like we’re friendly. A month ago, due to multiple conflicts on my schedule, I e-mailed Ed and told him I was going to have to cancel our next few appointments. He e-mailed me back saying, “Not a problem. I know you’re quite disappointed.”
“Completely crestfallen,” I replied.
Ed and I were scheduled to meet for the first time in weeks today, but he called me yesterday to verify that we were still on and then told me that he had a bid walk for a contract to do this morning and asked if it would be okay to push back our inspection. I was fine with it. I’m never disappointed not to have the inspection. Ed said he’d be at my office at 10:30.
By the time my noon meeting rolled around and I hadn’t seen or heard from Ed, I figured it was a safe bet that our inspection was cancelled. When I walked back into the office at 1:30, I was quite surprised to see Ed in John’s office.
One of the things that appeals to me about Ed is that he always wears a suit. No one around here expects him to and he is, apparently, not required to by his employer, but he tells me he prefers to wear suits; and he wears them quite well. When he and John came out of John’s office, I walked over and took hold of Ed’s arm, found his watch under his shirt sleeve and said, “Well, it looks like it still works.”
Today Ed is wearing a textured, light grey suit, a white shirt and a blue and gold striped bow tie; a real bow tie which he tied himself. He looked really good. I had to look at something at K’s desk and he had to finish his discussion with John and then he came over to the counter at K’s desk. I told Ed he was much too late for us to do an inspection and I was about to go get some lunch. He asked me where I was going and said he’d walk with me. I told him I was just going to go across the street and get a sandwich to bring back to my office, and again he said he’d walk with me.
In the elevator, I reached up and moved the edge of his bow tie out of the way to see if it was tied or clipped and he said, “Oh yeah, baby, that’s tied!” He watched four you tube videos over the weekend to learn how to do it. I asked him if he’d been hitting the gym (this was a topic that had come up in previous conversation.) When he said no, he asked why. I said, “You look good. You look fit.” He said, “Yeah. If you’re gonna wear a bow time you have to walk tall!” (So true.) Being of Asian heritage, he is not a tall man, but he hides it well.
Ed walked over to the deli with me, chatted with me while I waited for my sandwich and then walked back to my office with me, for no business reason whatsoever.
Many times I have wondered if he might be gay. Many times I’ve been sure he wasn’t. I know nothing about his personal or romantic life. I may be imagining it all, but sometimes when he leaves me, I think there’s some interest, some possibility. Other times he leaves me and I’m sure it’s all in my head.
Just call me Coach.