I was having a particular bad day, feeling moody and restless, and therefore, not a very patient mother to my children. We sat down to dinner at one of my favorite local restaurants and my girls began to complain about their food.
I would have nothing of it.
I promptly picked up their plates from in front of them and took them to the waitstaff station to discard their food. A waiter stopped me and asked me if something was wrong.
I think I may have snarled when I said, "My kids are complaining and I would like to throw their food away. At this point, they can starve."
Yes. Not one of my prouder moments.
He asked me about the particular complaints and offered to change out their food. When he brought their plates back to our table, he also offered to bring me something else: appetizer? dessert? I declined politely.
Over the course of our meal, he stopped to check on us many times. He made small talk with me. We chatted about other local restaurants and things we enjoy doing. We talked about Facebook and how I was a fan of the restaurant's FB page. I asked him about his hobbies and how he came to work there.
I thought nothing of it. I couldn't imagine at all that this man had interest in me. I was a mess with my children and wore a very distinct frown on my face that day. I can assure you I wasn't sending out a, "Talk to me. I'm very friendly." vibe.
Yet, as the girls and I were leaving the restaurant, he practically ran across the restaurant to open the door for us and say goodbye.
Once we were in the car, Rose spoke up.
"Um.. Mommy? I think that guy really likes you."
Later that evening and still in a mood, I quickly realized that I'd been too friendly with our waiter. I'd apparently given out enough information that the waiter was able to find and send me a friend request on Facebook.
As I thought about my comfort level with talking to this stranger, I decided to talk to Gentleman Jack about it.
Now the Gentleman Jack from a year ago, would have FLIPPED his LID to hear about some guy tracking me down on Facebook or the fact that I was so friendly. This time, after a year of building trust and observing my interactions with others, his response was gentle laughter.
"This is funny to me because you're so surprised," he said. "See? Most of you girls are very cold when it comes to guys. Today, I pulled up at a red light next to a girl I know from my kids' day school. I noticed her and tried to get her attention to say hello. She immediately straightened up, looked forward and refused to turn her head. That's how most women are."
"But you," he continued, "you're ALWAYS friendly. You're always warm and accepting. You just don't realize that when you do that, it gives some guys the wrong impression. Many guys are surprised by it and think you MUST be interested! Meanwhile, you probably thought nothing more of it than 'hey, a new friend!'"
I felt as if I'd unwittingly given off the wrong impression. Then again, not once did I suggest to this waiter that I was in a relationship. He didn't ask. It didn't come up. I didn't feel the need to bring it up because I didn't consider that this interaction was flirtatious.
I began to consider, as I talked to Gentleman Jack, that I should have a ring on my hand so as to detract from the impression that I'm available or interested. No, I am in no rush for marriage but I am committed to my man. Maybe a ring would allow me to be my friendly self and no one would get the wrong idea.
As I thought about it more, and recalled my history of attention-seeking behavior, it really made me scared.
to be continued...