1020 on a Saturday night

This evening, Bwog received a tip that is unusual both for its length (long) and its topic (love).

In it, Robert (not his real name) goes to 1020, meets two girls named Kristine and Kristine (not their real names) and falls in love with one of them. Upon her leaving, he asks her to meet him at Alma at dawn, where he’ll be waiting. She does not show. It is a hard read, no matter which way you approach it. But for the names, which have been changed, the tip is unedited.

Read on for social anxiety, a booth, coconut water, David Foster Wallace, and a very long night.

To: tips@bwog.com
From: robert@gmail.com
Subject: (minor edit, read this one) I need your guys’ help in trying to find the girl I fell in love with (last night at 1020)

Dear Bwog,

I need your guys’ help in trying to find the girl I fell in love with (last night at 1020)

Yes, I’m serious. Yes, I said love. I also know that you laughed at the (last night at 1020) bit in the subject, but I can tell you with all my heart, that doesn’t matter. You can’t control where it happens.

I swear to God, all of this happened.

All I know about her is that her name is Kristine.

If you want to see why you should help me let me tell you the story:

I met her at the start of the night, around let’s say twelve. I think it’s more romantic if we say it was midnight. By some almost alchemical serendipity a booth had completely opened up and no one was filling it, so I pounced. I looked frantically around for someone to ask to sit so I wouldn’t be kicked out. The two people immediately to my left (I was facing the back of the bar) were facing the bar so I said excuse me loudly and they both turned around. I asked them if they’d sit with me to help me keep from losing the booth. They obliged me with what I genuinely think seemed to be a genuine, empathetic obligingness. I have a very acute sense of awareness about this, since I’m always worried that a girl might be thinking I’m creeping and wishing I’d leave. It’s my one real fear apart from like, you know, death etc..

But like I said they both seemed to really want to be sitting there, and we started talking. They noticed I was drinking a coconut water (hard to miss in it’s bright, baby-blue bottle). I told them I wasn’t drinking. I told them that I wasn’t here with friends. I told them I’d come here for the same reason I go to the gym. I came here because I’d been stowed away in my room the other fourteen hours of the day, addicted to the internet like everybody else, and not getting nearly enough sunlight or, of course, actual in-person socialization. That’s why I’d come to 1020. To sit ”around” people for an hour or two. I don’t know why this is considered as weird as it is, but let’s be real, it still is (considered weird). People think people at bars alone are drunkards or else creeps and rapists. It’s not fair to people who just want to people watch for an hour to feel less alone. But anyway, like, I digress.

So like I said I told them the truth , that I was here alone and I really appreciated them helping me save the booth, and they really did seem to smile genuinely at that, and that felt good. We talked about the usual things for a while. The one on the right was named Kristine, and so was the one on the left. This felt somehow serendipitous to me, as I am particularly bad with names. We talked about this, which led to a talk about social conventions and neuroses thereof, which led to a talk about J.D. Salinger and David Foster Wallace for fuck’s sake (sorry). She speaks French.

Pretty soon after that we’d gotten into a conversation about modern celebrity worship and general cultural decay etc. When Kristine (on the right) says of Kristine(on the left), “People always say she looks like Emma Watson.”

Now let me tell you a quick little aside here, because it’s important. When I was about eleven my father brought home a book for me from a business trip to England. He said all the kids there loved it. Within five pages I knew why. Ever since, I’ve been a Potterhead. Not in a like, unhealthy way or anything, I just really love the books. Fastforwarding a bit because this is a long story, I’ve had an imaginary little celebrity crush on Hermione Granger since I was around 12.

So when Kristine (on the right) said that about, I was looking down. When she said it I looked up at Kristine (on the left). Something happened right then that’s never happened in my life before. It was like the way a tiny pebble dropped into perfectly still water will make these beautifully subtle little ripples. It was like that, from her forehead out across her face, and then almost just sort of generally around her facial/headular area, almost like a (yes) an aural glow; A, dare I say it, a halo. It’s just as simple as that. In under half a second she went from being a beautiful girl to the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. I genuinely mean that. For the 18 hours since I last saw her face I have been wracking my brain for a girl whose face I loved more. I haven’t been able to do that. She has this gorgeous, like, alabaster skin that looks as soft/gently-touchable as a bar of soap. I immediately transposed an image of Audrey Hepburn’s face onto Emma Watson’s and created a minds-eye’s average. Kristine’s face was a perfect match.

I realized immediately that something big was happening. It felt like my chest and stomach suddenly got really hot; almost like the seat of a car-cushion warmer when you crank the dial suddenly. I swear to God, I swear, the first thought that floated through my head was Shakespeare 1.4/158 . I’m serious.

When this happened I got a sort of somnolescent jaw-drop face for half a second, then immediately sat back against the cushion at my back, taking a deep breath. Kristine did not see this, but Kristine (on the right) did, and got this weird smile. All I said was “something big just happened inside me just [sic] now.” She gave me this, like, tiniest of smiles that made me believe she understood. For the rest of the night, it seemed like she was encouraging Kristineto dip her toe into feeling the same way. I hoped she would, because since the ripple-in-the-pond thing I hadn’t been able to look at her hair without wanting to touch it badly.

So I tried to play it cool, which I didn’t really manage. Like I did externally, because I only said a tenth of what I felt, but even that tenth was enough to be a little freaky. Engrossing, I know it because they stayed and listened, but still, like, a lot. I could see that face on Kristine’s face for a while.

After a while we went out because they needed to use the A.T.M. and I needed to buy another coconut water. While I was standing in the back of the small little convenience store, trying to find one in the fridges there, I could have sworn I heard overheard a snippet of their conversation up at the front of the room. I know it’s wrong to eves-drop, but I could have sworn I heard them say “more profound and philosophical conversation than…”). I could have sworn I heard it, and I was jubilant because I felt the same way. She was so fucking smart. It made my gut feel very strange.

As we walked back towards the bar Kristine (on the right) mentioned that their friends had arrived. I said great, ”mind if I join you guys?” and was kind of thrown off when they didn’t answer immediately, I admit. I looked at Kristine and could have sworn I saw some kind of vague discomfort flash across the face, at least the side that I could see.

When we got back in, they went to the bar to get their beers and I told them I’d be standing in the back, by the big couch-type-thing. I stood there for a while and watched them get their beers and then walk back toward the pool table and stop there, watching the game. Ok, I thought, they’ll come back over eventually. I noticed that they’d started talking to two guys. They were bother very tall and had thicker arms than me. The one in the grey sweater talking to Kristine was crew-cutted, blonde, and of formidable size. I started to feel nervous, angsty, I admit it. Finally, after I’d say ten minutes, I walked over. The bar was still very crowded and the only way I could get over to them was to go around the crowd via the bathroom-side of the room. I did this and walked up to their group to the Kristines’ backs (the two new guys’ backs facing the pool table). I said “Hey.” and got no response. I said it a little louder and Kristine looked back ever so slightly, making the littlest of contact out the sides of her eyes, and just sort of nodded her head. I felt my stomach plummet and my back stiffen. I immediately turned, suppressing a cringe, and said out loud “I am so embarrassed, I’m going home.” I think that I saw Kristine (on the right) overhear me.

Now a lot of things happened over the next half-hour or so. I’ll try to keep it short, because I know we’re running long. I sat at the other end of the bar with two very kind girls who listened to me tell them the story I’ve just told you. They seemed genuinely moved. So much so that when one of them had to go to the bathroom and I realized I did too, I went back there with her and tried (subtly) to point out Kristine to her, as she’d been dying to know. I finally managed too. I was done before her so I headed back first. She got back about five minutes later and told me that the Kristine’s looked engrossed in conversation, she couldn’t tell what about. I sat with them for a few minutes, moping out loud to their condolences. Then I said “fuck, I really want to go back over there.” I wanted to so badly. But I couldn’t bear the thought of freaking Kristine out by “clinging” or “creeping”, the two most shameful things a man can be. I felt torn.

I finally relented, under their enthusiastic stream of encouragement, and got up to make my way to the back of the bar as best I could, having to navigate a tetris-game of bodies along the bar to get there. I met her near the back, heading the other way (i.e. out), and my heart began to sink. We made eye contact, at which I bowed my head sadly and stood aside to let them by. Kristine(on the right) was leading and as she pulled Kristine past I said “Hey,” and they stopped and she looked back and I just looked her in the eye and said “I’m really glad I met you” and then let her go. I stood there for a minute or so. Then I turned around and looked at her boyfriend-type-guy, the one in the grey sweater. I don’t know what came over me but I looked him straight in the eye and said loudly, just shy of argumentatively, “Listen, man. I’m the guy who just fell in love with your girlfriend over there in that booth. It hurts like fuck that you exist but even so, I’m still happy in a way as long as she’s happy. So what I’m telling you now is, do not fuck that up. She is fucking perfect.” And he looked like he’d got hit on the head sort of and by the time he came to I was already walking the other way.

I sat back down with the girls (the ones in the front). And watched Kristine andKristine (on the right) stand out by the payphones in front of the bar, facing the window, Kristine on the left, and Kristine (on the right) on the right. They were talking animatedly about something. This went on for five minutes or so. After that the two guys passed and joined them. They, too, were talking about something animatedly. This went on for about eight minutes over which I noticed that the two groups, Kristine (on the right) on the right and Kristine on the left, and Kristine’s guy on the left, talking to Kristine with his back turned towards me, and Kristine (on the right)’s guy on the right talking to Kristine (on the right) with his back facing me too.

Got that? So like I said they were drifting apart, the two pairs. And like I said, after about eight minutes the two guys left and the two girls stayed. The two girls talked animatedly for another minute or so, and then started to walk away.

The two girls and I, who had been watching this all unfold through the window, saw Kristine and Kristine (on the right) look back inside for like one second at which I stood up and I could tell they saw me, and I could see that Kristine (on the right) had smiled. I sat back down as they walked away. I hung my head in front of the two girls. Then I said I loved her. I said it, almost muttered it, more to myself than to the two girls. I realized what I said and said it again properly.

Something you should know, I have never said that word. I have never said it because I had never felt it ‘till tonight, like not even to my parents. I know that sounds fucked up, but it’s true and I’ll tell you why. The test that I’ve come up with to judge whether it’s love is to ask yourself whether if the amount you feel, like the feeling you are testing, turned out to be the best it gets, true true love, the top of the pile, cream of the crop 100% pure good-stuff. The rapidly, violently habit-forming kind of druggy love. That is what I think of it as, and I have never felt that, until tonight.

I stood up, grabbed my coat, and told the girls that I was going after her. I ran out the door. Kristine and Kristine (on the right) were about twenty yards away, walking with Kristine on the left and Kristine (on the right) on the right. I asked them to wait up. I jogged up to them. I said “Kristine can I talk to you for a minute.” She said Okay and Kristine (on the right) said they were going to the Heights. I asked if I could walk with them. Kristine dropped back and we walked maybe ten feet behind Kristine (on the right). I think she may have been pretending not to overhear us, as I was saying most of the stuff I’m about to say pretty loud.

I told her that I knew this was a lot, maybe too much to take in. I told her I knew that and felt the same way in my way. But I told her that I also felt like maybe, possibly, was just this infinitesmal little possibility that this really is what we think it is but can’t say out loud because it’s crazy and would sound insane. I told her that if she didn’t believe that, she was being arrogant. I told you we had talked about David Foster Wallace, so I told her to think of fish, and water, and about the fact that the most obvious realities around us, the ones that we automatically believe, are often totally wrong, and even more problematically, hardest to see when they are wrong. I told her that I understood that even though every experience she’d had so far has led her to the conclusion that what I am suggesting is impossible in the “real” world, that no one lives in a romcom, that I’m just being crazy, I told her to think about whether she really was 100%, absolutely certain. I asked her to think about Fish and Water.

By now we’d reached 111th and Broadway on the Duane Reade side and we stopped for a minute because I said that I was going to the steps. They were going to the Heights. I asked her, Kristine, directly if she wanted to go to the steps.Kristine (on the right) looked at her and Kristine said she maybe wanted to go to the steps. Kristine (on the right) said they were going to the Heights. I asked Kristine if she’d come meet me later if I waited. She said maybe. I said I’d wait until sunrise. They walked towards 1020 and I walked to the steps.

When I got there, I took out my ipod, put on the twenty-minute audiobook I have on there called “This is Water” by David Foster Wallace, and spent the next five hours or so contemplatively pacing, or sitting. This became slightly problematic when I needed to pee, as I couldn’t leave the steps in case she came, but fortunately I’d brought along my empty watter-bottle from before so I peed in that twice during the night. As I paced back and forth on the step in front of Alma Mater, I thought about fish, and water, and about how every time I’d asked a girl to take a chance, to try to take a leap of faith across that mental block that the real world is exactly as it seems, every single time, they hadn’t showed. I’d waited on this step or some version a hundred times before. But I’d never waited past when I wanted to stop waiting.

Tonight I did. I waited the whole night, walking twenty-paces back and forth between a sign who’s blank back was turned to me and an empty (believe me, I checked) packet of Marlboro lights laying on the ground. It was twenty steps precisely, I counted many times. I was soon able to walk, turn, walk turn, with my eyes closed, so I would get into this like sort of trance, just walking and thinking about fish and water. Trying with all my heart to believe, genuinely believe, that she was going to show up. Over the course of the night I had a few pleasant distractions. People passing by; two public safety officers, a few bands of ID-less freshman, wanted to know why I was walking back and forth. When I told them I was waiting for a girl they always wanted to know why and so I told them. They all said it was amazing, they all said they were on my side. Something funny happened about halfway through. I mentioned up above that I stayed past wanting to, and that’s true. My hands were numb and I was shivering terribly. But I stayed, not because I wanted to but because I realized that if she did show up (and by this point I’d convinced myself she’d show up right at dawn), I couldn’t bear the thought of disappointing her by being gone.

She never came. Around 6:30 I walked home. This morning was awful. I was very sad, but thankfully I slept all day. This afternoon I thought a lot. I thought about serendipity and hope and delusion, but most of all about work. About how people always say it takes work, doesn’t just happen. So that is why I am crazy enough right now to ask you guys to put this up, so that she might see it.

And make no mistake, I know that this is crazy. I know that what I’m talking about is crazy, and that I’m crazy for going on this manic, pie-in-the-sky romance rave about it. I know that it’s selfish to say this. It’s selfish because to believe in the kind of serendipity I’m talking about, that movies can happen in real-life essentially, is to be deeply self-involved in it’s own tiny little way. But it also is what made me stand out there all night shivering and not feeling my hands while the sky slowly lightened.

So, to the Bwog Staff, is there any way that you could put this up in the hopes that she might see it?

And, to Kristine, I will be sitting on the step in front of Alma at noon on Tuesday. If you see this, and if you change your mind, you’ll know where to find me. And just fair warning, if you do show, we’re doing a dramatic Notebook in the rain style first kiss. I’m not kidding around. Don’t come if you’re not up for that. I’ll be sad but understand if you don’t. Still, I hope you do.

-Robert

TL; DR: Robert goes to 1020 and drinks coconut water because he wants to be around people, inviting two girls, both named Kristine, into an open booth. Falls in love with one Kristine because she knows who DFW is and she looks like Emma Watson. The girls leave to meet their friends, and he sticks around. When they leave, he follows and tells one Kristine he’ll wait at Alma till dawn. Does so. Listens to “This is Water.” Pees into his coconut water bottle. She doesn’t show.

Update: She also didn’t show on Tuesday.