I need blunt, direct advice about a recent crush.
March 19, 2010 2:45 PM   Subscribe

I need blunt, direct advice about a recent brief crush.

Please help me NOT stalk my neighborhood waiter.

Anon because, well, weirdness and there is a good chance I am being a hand-wringing ninny and would rather not have that google-able.

So I read this thread and it got me thinking about a recent interaction I had that is still playing out in my mind. I would like some advice.

Here is the setup:
Me: Mid-30s gay guy. I am great with people and regular dating situations, but when the romantic/attraction stuff becomes chemical (which for me is VERY rare) I lose a lot of judgment.

I recently had three or four interactions with a waiter at my local neighborhood diner.

1. I drop in to get a quick bite, get seated, and notice my rather averagely handsome waiter. Over the course of the next hour I catch him looking at me and smiling. Not a friendly smile, but an "I see you" sideways smirk. We make direct eye contact a number of times across the room.
Ordinarily I am a flirt and can give and get, but as soon as I caught this my chest implodes and I feel like the universe is collapsing. Hyperbole? Yes, but it was chemically immediate and very powerful. I think about leaving my name and number, but then chicken out at the last minute. I was physically shaking.

2. A few days later, I decide to go back in and get seated in his section again. He sees me reading - let's say Bulgarian - and says "WOW, you read Bulgarian?" I told him that I am trying to read it to get used to the phonetics, but don't understand a lot of what I am reading. It turns out that he is Bulgarian and we have a chat about it. He sits at my booth and asks me to read some of it to him. I do, and he says "not bad. Wrong, but not bad." We then go back and forth and I can barely meet his eye. He then goes into the case system for the verbs and uses the way English and Bulgarian say "I love you" as examples. Oh man, I am so gone.

3. I go back two days later. I am not seated in his section, but I notice three of the waitresses are looking at me and giggling. He is with them. I go up front to pay and the cashier/manager smiles at me and yells the waiter's name as I walk away. Waiter comes over and asks how my Bulgarian is going. I tell him that I wasn't trying to read it today, but was working on something else. "Don't worry, we will get you Speaking it soon!" he says, and I leave.

4. Two days later, I go in. At this point I am completely out of my mind. I am not seated in his section, but he is there. I am not sure if he saw me there or not, but he almost had to have. I finish and pay, but before I leave I decide I can't let this drag out. I have to ask him out. NOW. This can't fester. But he is busy. I don't want to bother him with personal stuff with all of the tables he has, so I write a note to him and ask the waitress if she would give it to him. As I hand her the note, I see the cashier/manager walking up to her in my peripheral vision. The note said: "I have come in twice to ask you out, but you are either too busy or I lose my courage. Call me. Name, Phone, Email." and then write my name in English & Bulgarian. I leave.

So this was Friday last week and no call yet. I am pretty sure I am fucked.

Now: I am grown, for the most part rational, and have dealt with this (how happy was I to learn the word limerance!) twice before in my life. It will dissipate soon enough, this lack of sleep and thinking thinking thinking jumping every time the phone rings OMG the email inbox dinged mess.

I understand that I do not have a relationship with this man. In any way, shape or form. We do not owe each other anything.

This time I nipped it in the bud, but there are lingering questions:

-I screwed up and didn't give my little 6th grade note directly to him - should I assume he got it and isn't interested or should I try again directly? If so, when?

-Did I screw up this guy's work environment? Was I out of line? I am representing all of our interactions without embellishment.

-How long should I wait before I go back in as a regular patron? This is my neighborhood restaurant and I don't want to go 8 blocks out of my way every time I want a BLT. For the past week I have been avoiding the place.

I have no intention of stalking this guy and don't want to be the creepy patron who keeps coming in and skeezing everyone out with unwanted advances. I have worked as a waiter myself and know what that is like. On the other hand, whether he got my info or was able to piece together who left it if he did is a big unknown and it is always stupid to assume rejection outright.

Sorry for the length. This hasn't happened in years and I am confused what to do (or not to do). I don't want to waste an opportunity, but I don't want to waste my time either.

Throwaway email: crushymcrusherton@me.com
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (34 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe since you're normally a "regular" at this place, he's been waiting all this time for you to come in so he can ask you out in person. Could be he's wondering what happened to you.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 2:50 PM on March 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Go back when he's there. Ask to talk to him. Say, "I sent you a really silly note because I think you're very attractive/we had chemistry/I like you/your knowledge of Bulgarian is hot, and I'd like to go out on a date. What do you say?"

If he says no, you have your answer, and can be a bit embarassed, and go eat at McDonald's for awhile.

If he says yes, you can have a story to tell your gorgeous Bulgarian grandchildren about how Pappa was a total dork about asking Grampie out.

Good luck!
posted by xingcat at 2:50 PM on March 19, 2010 [19 favorites]

Hold your head up high. You tried and it didn't work out. Go back to the restaurant the next time hunger strikes and order whatever you want and try not to worry about him. You can safely act like you did nothing wrong because you did do nothing wrong.

I think the ladies around him will think you asking him out by note is cute. I highly doubt there's any problem there.

But, did you ever stop to think that he never connected you with the note and that's why he didn't call? Is it possible?

Good luck either way, man.
posted by inturnaround at 2:53 PM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

-Did I screw up this guy's work environment? Was I out of line? I am representing all of our interactions without embellishment.

I don't think so. You didn't mention any of his actions in your note, just that you like him. Especially if the cashier/manager called him out when (because) you were leaving, it seems like they don't disapprove of the situation. I don't think you did anything wrong. It sounds like he likes you. He might not have gotten the note. He might have something else going on, or be flaky.

Why not visit the restaurant again, this time with a friend who is clearly not a date, or stop by for takeout if they do that. That way you're 0% threatening and stalkery. See how he reacts to you, that should be your answer.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:54 PM on March 19, 2010

Go back! Act like a normal patron. Maybe he's been waiting for you to come in and would rather talk in person. Maybe he wants to pretend it never happened. Maybe he never got the note. Who knows?

When you're there, I think it would be fine for you to ask him directly if he got the note, and whether he'd rather you stay away from now on. Respect his wishes, since it's his work environment.
posted by Eshkol at 2:56 PM on March 19, 2010

You're overthinking this too much. As far as the restaurant is concerned, you're a regular paying customer, don't worry about 'skeezing' anyone out.

Just go back and if you see the waiter again, ask him if he got your note, if he didn't, there's your chance, if he did then you'll give him the opportunity to come clean about what he expects. Sounds like he's just as interested too, maybe just as hesitant. ;)

Good luck!
posted by Advocate, I at 2:56 PM on March 19, 2010

I worked service industry jobs in a vacation town but was never hit on by anyone other than middle aged biker chicks with no gaydar. So I know what creepy workplace advances are like, and this isn't it.

Go back, be a regular, make eyes at him from across the room and when you get a chance to talk again, ask if he ever got your note. Can't tell you how it will all work out, but either way the rest will be history!

Good luck. And for the love of god, if something happens don't leave us wondering!
posted by greekphilosophy at 3:00 PM on March 19, 2010 [5 favorites]

2nding what Serene Empress Dork said. He's a waiter, so he's probably pretty outgoing; certainly the interactions you've had with him seem to indicate that. But do you realize how embarrassing it can be to place a call to someone under the circumstances you've got going here? Do you even know his name to a point where you'd recognize it when/if he calls, or would he have to explain that he's the Bulgarian-speaking guy?

By all means -- go back into the restaurant, eat your meal, and continue the flirting you've been doing with him. You'll get the chance, for sure, to screw your courage up to the sticking point and ask him out face-to-face and all proper-like.
posted by DrGail at 3:03 PM on March 19, 2010

Despite all the angst you're feeling, I find this whole exchange so cute and lovely. "I love you" in English and Bulgarian?! OMG. I'm blushing already. :D

Ok. So you left the note last Friday and nothing. It's quite possible that he didn't get the note. I'd say go in within the next few days as you normally would to get some food. When you get a chance, just ask him, "Hey, did you get my note?" If yes, say, "Would you like to go out sometime?" If he says no, it's not the end of the world. If he says yes :) you know what to do. If he didn't get your note, say, "Oh, I left a note saying to call me so I could ask you out. So, would you like to go out sometime?" See? Easy.

As an anecdote, I once left a note at the restaurant where an acquaintance worked. I wasn't interested in her or anything, just saying hi since I was in the neighbourhood. I didn't hear from her, and it was a while before I bumped into her again. When I asked her if she got my note, she said, "Oh! That was you!" I think she said that maybe her co-worker lost it and when the co-worker tried to describe me, my acquaintance couldn't place me. So there you go.
posted by foxjacket at 3:53 PM on March 19, 2010

Yeah, he may not have gotten the note. Go back to get some food and ask him as soon as you can, it'll be easier. I like Solon and Thanks' suggestion of bringing a friend too.

Good luck!
posted by lmm at 4:06 PM on March 19, 2010

reading this almost makes me wish i was an averagely handsome male waiter. go back. go go go! if he says no, it's still going down in his history book as one of the coolest come-ons he ever got. and maybe he'll at least comp your meal : )
posted by msconduct at 4:17 PM on March 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

What if he put your note in his pocket, and it went through the wash before he remembered it was there? Aren't you hungry for a B.L.T. right now?
posted by Houstonian at 4:21 PM on March 19, 2010 [7 favorites]

I know you really like this guy and it sounds like he thought you were cute too, but then it just didn't work out. Do your best not to think about it and I wouldn't visit the restaurant again.
posted by melangell at 4:25 PM on March 19, 2010

I think you have little to lose by giving it one last shot. You'll keep wondering if you don't.

Aren't you hungry for a B.L.T. right now?

Or maybe a grilled cheese sandwich?
posted by grouse at 4:29 PM on March 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

Get thee to the diner!
posted by ocherdraco at 4:50 PM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

follow-up from the OP
Wow. This was not the response I was expecting at all. Only one nay and a couple of maybes? I know better than to think I should make my life choices based on the advice of internet strangers, but wow. OK, I guess I will go back. I have work to do tonight, and Friday nights are far too busy anyway. I will walk by and see if he is working Saturday and go for late lunch if he is. I will see if I can get a friend to go with me. Do I ask in front of my friend (who will almost certainly be a straight woman)?

I have to say that I am worried about being too aggressive - we shall see. Hopefully my nervousness will read as cute and not weird. I am also concerned about the restaurant's management being cold to someone hitting on the staff, but I am a big boy, so I guess I can deal.

I kept telling myself not to read too much into it and that maybe I was being too presumptuous, but OK. OK, I will go back.

I'll update again tomorrow when I get back.
posted by jessamyn at 5:29 PM on March 19, 2010

please go back.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 6:13 PM on March 19, 2010

Maybe this is lame, but I tend to play with my cards close to my chest. If the opportunity to talk to him comes up, I'd just smile and say something like, "I don't know if you got my note or not..." and trail off just long enough to gauge his reaction.

If he seems uncomfortable, you end with, "... I hope it wasn't out of line and that we are still cool regardless." If he seems interested that you brought it up, whether he got the note or not, then ask him out!
posted by juliplease at 7:04 PM on March 19, 2010

Just remember to smile. I'd think of it as being friendly and open to possibility rather than being aggressive :)

Your friend could also assist. "Hey Handsome Waiter", you might say, "my friend here and I were thinking of heading to Acme Bar & Grill for drinks later. Would you like to join us?"
posted by lmm at 7:33 PM on March 19, 2010

I think you should go back to see him, too, but I'd also like to add: I also get that panic/anxiety/obsessive stuff when I'm attracted to someone, and I know that it can seem like you have some kind of "I'm a crazy person!" aura around you that everyone around you can see, but the reality is that it's bigger in your own head. The feeling is so intense that you're sure it's super obvious. Kinda like having a big throbbing zit that you're sure can be seen from space, but other people really don't notice it that much.
posted by cottonswab at 8:59 PM on March 19, 2010

You know, you could try talking to him directly without all the games. If a guy asked about me and I wasn't interested, I would still be flattered by his attention. And, if a guy asked about me and I was interested, well.... hey!

We get ourselves into so much trouble because we are scared to talk to one another.
posted by SPrintF at 9:18 PM on March 19, 2010 [4 favorites]

I say go back without the friend, with the Bulgarian book.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:02 PM on March 19, 2010

> What if he put your note in his pocket, and it went through the wash before he remembered it was there?

Oh yes. On an average night as a waiter, he probably handles like 116 small slips of paper. If he just once mixed up his pockets, he could've easily tossed your note in the trash by accident. Restaurants are chaotic!
posted by salvia at 10:51 PM on March 19, 2010

OK. You want blunt and direct? I will give you blunt and direct: Go back and ask him if he got your note, full stop.

If he says "Oh. Um, yeah . . . I, man, dude, but. . . I'm sorry, but that's not happening," then you grin and say "Oh, man. Can't fault a dude for asking, it's totally cool." and then if you do anything ELSE, it's creepy. But just making sure that this communique has been received? Not even close to breaching the Creepster Line. And I say this as a woman who has been aggressively and unwelcomely hit on after being friendly in the name of customer service, multiple times. This is so, so, SO very different.
posted by KathrynT at 12:17 AM on March 20, 2010

follow-up from the OP
So I went for a late lunch today around 2 p.m. and he wasn't there. But the girl I gave the note to was. I didn't expect her to remember me, so I said nothing - though I was tempted to ask if she gave the note. I will go back tomorrow to see what happens. I am trying to avoid thinking things like "I wonder why the same girls aren't smiling today, etc." As soon as he is there when I am I will do it. I will try again early Sunday or late. Stay tuned.
posted by jessamyn at 5:18 PM on March 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

final follow-up
"Chaka Khan said it 'ain't nothin' but a maybe'.
Well, now it ain't nothin' but a "no".

I went in tonight, got seated, and noticed he was there. He caught my eye once, waved, smiled, and then proceeded to stay out of my view.

I ate and then paid, but decided to ask. Luckily he was at the counter alone doing his checks. I sat on the stool and here is how it went:

"I don't want to bother you at work, but I was in here a week ago and left you a note - I was wondering if you got it?"
"I received no note." (quizzical look)
"Well, you were busy that night but I left my name and information for you - I was wondering if you would like to go out sometime?"
"Oh, I am afraid I am occupied, but thank-you."
"No problem, Have a good night!"

And that's it, babies. Sorry it wasn't more exciting. I walked home feeling slightly strange that there wasn't some overwhelming feeling of rejection or powerlessness. The knot in the pit of my stomach vanished and everything was fine. FINE! I still can't believe it. I am so glad I went back.

Lesson: Say what you have to say when you have to say it. Don't waste time. Your ulcer will thank you.

I have to say that this thread helped me more than you guys could possibly imagine.
It felt like I had a chorus behind me chanting: "DO IT DO IT DO IT!" and in a way I guess I did.

So I am tearing up a little bit right now, but not because of the polite, soft, but direct rejection I got. I am tearing up because you guys exist and really helped me out. I am not sure if you realize how much you helped me, but more than you could guess.

posted by jessamyn at 7:59 PM on March 21, 2010 [23 favorites]

Nicely handled, by both of you.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:47 AM on March 22, 2010

I know it isn't the "congratulations" you were hoping for, but another type is in order: you put yourself out there, you took a risk, and that's a battle you won today! Congratulations.
posted by greekphilosophy at 12:38 PM on March 22, 2010

High five.
posted by kestrel251 at 2:01 PM on March 22, 2010

yeah for YOU! sorry it didn't turn out to be the love of your life, but damn! that is one fine story and one classy act. kudos!
posted by msconduct at 6:22 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well done! Too bad he wasn't available, but you did it exactly right.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:08 AM on March 23, 2010

Definitely congratulations. You handled it well, and found how weirdly satisfying it can be to receive a kind no. Better luck next time!
posted by Eshkol at 9:04 AM on March 23, 2010

You're a rock star!!!
posted by TG_Plackenfatz at 9:47 AM on March 23, 2010

Sorry it didn't work out exactly the way you wanted, but, dude: you've got balls of steel. The next guy will looooooooooooove you.
posted by venividivici at 9:57 AM on March 23, 2010

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