Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Rejection List

As a thought experiment, I decided to compile a list of every woman I’ve ever asked out who has turned me down.  My buddies Trev and Eric were incredulous that I would do this yet what the hell, I like record-keeping.  Blame it on my interest in sports statistics; I would love it if there was somehow a database where you could search for stats from your life.  “How many times have I driven down this street?  How much money have I ever spent at McDonald’s in my life?  How many times have I worn this pair of boxer shorts?”

So as best as I can remember, I’ve unsuccessfully asked out 13 different women in my life.  Don’t worry — I’m not actually going to list their names or anything, I’m not a total madman.  Now, the number of unsuccessful ASKS is actually higher than the number of women since two of them I asked out twice.  The first was a girl in high school who I recall asking out in Grade 11 and then again in OAC/Grade 13, with her declining both times.  (I guess I figured two years would’ve changed her mind?  Apparently not.)  The second was a girl in university who I asked out to dinner twice, the second time because the first was phrased in a “hey, wanna grab a bite?” kind of way so I wasn’t sure if she thought it was just a casual invite rather than asking her out on a proper date.  Either way, no dice.

A few caveats to the list of 13….

* I’m only counting women I’ve actually asked out in person or knew in person and then asked out via Facebook or e-mail, not women I’ve asked out via online dating websites.  This is because a) I have no way of recalling that number and b) I don’t really ‘ask out’ many women online.  My initial messages to them usually end with some variation of “if you’re interested in chatting, let me know!” or something blandly casual.  As you might expect, this milquetoast opening usually doesn’t lead anywhere.

* the list doesn’t include women I’ve asked out on so-called casual invites that I was approaching as dates but they weren’t.  (Or maybe they were and just lost interest five minutes in, who knows.)  There have been a few occasions in my life when I’ve been interested in women but too shy to actually ask them out, so instead I see if they want to hang out or go to a movie or something with a casual, platonic, not-a-date vibe.  My logic here is that after a night of pleasant companionship with me, she’ll suddenly think “hey, this Mark guy is cool, I’m suddenly hugely attracted to him!”  This strategy, by the way, has never once worked.  The way it usually works is I “ask her out,” she says yes and I’m all excited until about 10 minutes into the outing when I suddenly realize “oh wait, she isn’t seeing this as a date whatsoever, dammit.”  In a way, this platonic ask-out is kind of a defence mechanism for me — obviously I like these women beyond just physical attraction and want to spend time with them anyway, so I might as well at least enjoy their company without the pressure of a date, especially if I don’t think they’re interested in me romantically.  I unfortunately know from personal experience (a few of those 13 names!) that it’s sometimes awkward to revert back to friendly hanging out after your failed attempt to ask them out is just lingering around like a 500-pound gorilla in the room.

So yeah, 13 times!  At least 13, as there could be a few more that I’m forgetting.  (For one of the women, I remember asking her out but I’m completely blanking on her actual name.  If you were the girl in my first-year English class who used to walk with me to philosophy class afterwards, help!  Who are you?)  I doubt I’ve suppressed the memory of any due to heartbreak, as on the plus side, all the rejections were at least done politely.  It’s not like I had hurt feelings or anything. 

I also acted like a gentleman and took the rejections with aplomb.  Now, my friend Dave has been spinning a lie for over 20 years now about one such rejection, so let’s get the record straight.  It was the last day of grade school and I finally got the nerve to ask out (arguably) the prettiest girl in school.  Let’s call her Yolanda.  I hung behind after class to ask Yolanda when it was just the two of us next to the hallway coat rack, and while quite visually surprised, she was nonetheless classy in declining my offer.  Ok, them’s the breaks.  So, since school was over, I went home via my usual route of running up the hill to my house, which overlooked the school and was conveniently just two minutes away on foot.

Now, to hear Dave tell it, my “run up the hill” was actually a run of shame.  Over time, Dave’s version of this story has evolved to include such theatrical elements as me immediately starting to cry as soon as Yolanda said no, then sprinting away while exaggeratedly wiping away the years in mid-run.  This account of the story is complete hogwash.  If you ever encounter Dave and he brings this up, you can rest assured that it’s all a giant lie.  If you need confirmation, just e-mail Yolanda.Incognito at and she’ll tell you the whole thing.

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