I need your help on a possible future column. I have been single for about four months now, and I am consumed with the unanswerable question that haunts all single men: Does she like me? This is what goes through your mind in the immediate aftermath of meeting a woman you have never met before. You can't control it, it just pops in there. A lot of times it doesn't matter whether you like her. Whether she likes you is all that's important. It's a sign that you are single by choice, not genetic deformity.
Even in the instances where the answer to "Does she like me?" DOES matter, figuring it out can stymie the sharpest minds. Women, for lack of a better term, make no freaking sense whatsoever, and they send out signals that contradict and cancel each other out. And, yet, whenever you remember her actions in hindsight, they seem to spell out in capital letters what her intentions were all along. It's like a David Lynch movie you can only see once. Women will complain about having to give birth, that men will never appreciate the pain they go through at the end of a pregnancy. But we do understand. We went through the same pain so we could one day help begin a pregnancy.
Anyway, back to my column ... and this is where the ladies come in ... I am going to give you three romantic story problems, and I want you to tell me whether the girl in the story problem likes the boy. (Dudes, check out the postscript.)
Romantic story problem No. 1
Gary is meeting his roommate's work friends at a bar on a Saturday night. One of the friends is Jill, an attractive girl about Gary's age. Jill strikes up a conversation with Gary, and they hit it off. Not in a major way, but enough where they can talk without any awkward pauses. Jill occasionally drops a flirty remark, and after a few minutes starts touching Gary's arm every now and then. Gary isn't strongly attracted to Jill, but she's pretty cute and friendly. He wonders whether she is flirting with him. Gary and Jill eventually talk to the rest of the group, but they always seem to end up alone again. Jill continues to seemingly flirt with Gary, even grinding on his leg at one point. But Jill does this only because an R. Kelly song comes on and she thinks grinding is funny. As the night wears on, the rest of the crowd goes home and Gary and Jill are alone. Gary continues making flirty retorts to Jill's apparent come-ons. When the bartender says "Last call!", Gary quickly brainstorms various ways to ask her back to his place. But before he gets the chance to say anything, Jill quickly sobers up, gathers up her things, and goes home.
Question: Does Jill like Gary? If so, why did she leave so fast? If not, why was she flirting with Gary all night? Is it possible that she wasn't flirting, that Gary just imagined it all? If so, what in the hell was Jill doing?
Romantic story problem No. 2
Jack meets Joan via an online dating service. After e-mailing back and forth for a few weeks, Jack suggests that they talk on the phone. Joan agrees, and that night they talk for two hours. The next night they talk for another hour and a half. A few days later, they go out on their first date. Only thing is, Jack lives in Green Bay and Joan lives in Wausau (for you non-Wisconsinites, that's about an hour and a half apart), so Jack has to either drive there and back for one night or spend the night at Joan's. Jack offers to drive back that night, but Joan demands that he stay at her place. They go out and have a really good time, but they keep the flirting to a minimum. Jack tries a few times to flirt, but there is no reciprocation. Back at her place, they stay up until 3 a.m. talking. When it's time to go to bed, Joan says Jack can sleep with her in the bed. Jack isn't sure what this means, since they haven't even kissed yet and she hasn't given any sign that she wants to kiss. In bed, Jack rubs Joan's back. Joan seems to like it, but she never turns around. They fall asleep. This same scenario plays out two more times.
Question: Does Joan like Jack? If so, why did she not respond to his advances? If not, why did she keep going out with him and sharing her bed? Is it possible that she wasn't flirting, that Jack just imagined it all? If so, what in the hell was Joan doing?
Romantic story problem No. 3
Chris and Carrie go out on their first date. Over dinner, they have good, not great, conversation. They agree on most things politically, and have a good time mocking the beliefs of the side they don't agree with. But when it comes to music and movies, they couldn't be more different. Chris offends Carrie when he makes a disparaging comment about "American Idol," not knowing that Carrie loves the show and her favorite concert ever was Clay Aiken. Carrie gives Chris a stomach ache when she complains about the time she rented a DVD and had to take it back because it was the letterbox version and she likes full-screen. But they seem to have similar senses of humor, and the conversation never gets overly combative. While having drinks, Chris notices Carrie standing closer to him than before and making flirty comments. He likes the attention, and returns it. Occasionally, he touches her arm and back, but she never acknowledges this or returns it. As the night wears on, their interaction never goes beyond innocuous flirting. Chris notices that Carrie is less responsive in conversation, and her eyes wander whenever Chris talks about his job or any topic for longer than 30 seconds. The bar closes and Chris drives Carrie home. He tries flirting, but Carrie just seems tired. In her driveway, she puts her hand near the handle as soon as the car stops, as if poised to leave. But she doesn't leave. Chris and Carrie chat for 10 minutes. Then there's a pause. Their eyes meet for a moment. Carrie is close but not that close, and her hand is still on the handle. Chris doesn't try to kiss her good night. Finally, she smiles and gets out of the car.
Question: Does Carrie like Chris? If so, why did she seem to lose interest at the end of the night? If not, why did she give him that look at the end of the night? Is it possible that she wasn't flirting, that Chris just imagined it all? If so, what in the hell was Carrie doing?
P.S. If any dudes have their own romantic story problem, please post it and I might steal it and not give you any credit.