If The Eyes Don’t Have It

September 16, 2003 at 4:47 pm | Posted in Emotions | Leave a comment

Wednesday night. It’s right in the middle of an awful week of rushed errands and stressing deadlines, but I steal some time off to hang around a club in some out-of-the-way corner of the city to some sentimental music and good old beer.

But the booze and sounds are not my main motivation for coming here. Against my better judgment I was convinced that it would be to my advantage to hang around the same place where chances are, I could bump into this guy I had taken a liking to. I had to coax my friend Princess to go with me since we’d earlier agreed we’d just have coffee someplace else and bum around (and maybe watch cute guys pass by). But two hours after going here, Princess and I are sitting on the pavement and she was breaking some bad news to me.

Princess tells me that with a simple, yet voluminous gesture, the guy made it clear that he wasn’t interested in me. Of course, the guy is no complete stranger. In fact, we work together. In fact, here in this bar, we’re in the same table. In fact, it was a common friend who even told me I should be here so I could be with this guy.

I had gone to the bathroom and as I made my way back to our table, I said hi to people I knew along the way and got caught up in conversations. In a span of no more than five minutes, the friend who said I should be here had tried to sit the guy next to my chair. Princess says the guy contemptuously rolled his eyes and went back to chitchat with our other friends. Apparently annoyed, Princess tells me; of what, she wasn’t sure. I guess I’m just too transparent sometimes. My presence was a giveaway and the fact that most of the people in our table knew that I liked him was probably an unsavory context in which the gesture was made.

But knowingly or otherwise, the guy made the gesture right in front of someone I trust. When I got back to the table, Princess asked me to go out with her and that’s how we ended up sitting on the pavement talking about this.

As Princes recounts the incident that happened while I was gone, I felt somehow relieved. When words fail you, your eyes won’t, even if you want them to. For a writer who has trouble with words, sometimes signs are all I have to hang on to. And that sign was as categorical as you could get, I guess.

But I’ve been humbled far too many times to take this one sitting down. Without blinking an eye I asked Princess to take off with me and go somewhere else. With as much grace as I could, I excused myself from our friends and was out of there no sooner than I had resolved that I would never hang around anywhere just to get someone to notice me. And by leaving I hoped I had made that clear. Or you could say I was just chicken shit as usual.

In any case, what Princess told me was no shock. This was the same guy I had asked to go out on a movie with me. The same guy who tells me, all in one breath that he can’t go to a movie with me because he’s busy, he has a meeting and that he has no money. (Thought balloon: One lousy excuse is good enough for me, dude.) So despite her worry, I tell Princess that I’m okay and that I’ll be fine. It’s nothing that a good lay won’t cure in a day or two. And I laugh.

But what I said couldn’t have been farther from the truth. People always say that the eyes have it. That it only takes one look, and you can understand everything you need to understand about another person. Don’t worry about walls. Your eyes will see through them. Stop looking for the signs. The eyes will give them. Spare your words. The eyes will tell all. Just look for that look, and you’ll do fine.

For months I had given him the eye. I looked at him in a way I didn’t look at other people. I had this longing, inviting look in my eye every time he walked through the door. I watched him walk, I followed his every step with my eyes; I stared at him while he sat in front of me. My eyes had all the answers to whatever questions might have crossed his mind.

I guess I should have known better, since his eyes certainly never gave any indication that they were looking in the same direction my own pair was. And that’s really sad, because you can bullshit your way into someone’s pants with catchy lines, or you can let your hands do the talking. But a person’s eyes — they’re something else.

Which makes me think: when we fall for someone, how do we know we haven’t lost sight of the things that really matter?

I began to think that maybe I got so wrapped up in my own feelings that somehow, I had become blinded. My eyes wanted to see what wasn’t there, all the time ignoring how the other person felt, which was nothing. So out the window my self-respect flew that night at the club. All things considered in hindsight, it was a long time coming. But of course, nobody breaks more bones than those who refuse to see.

So with a few kind words brought about by a most unkind gesture, I gathered my wits about me and concluded that it is time to open my eyes and move on. From that night on, there were to be no more yearning and pining.

The following morning I went back to work and while I did not see him, I went on with my business as if the revelations of the previous night had had no effect on me. Which is not to say that I was in denial. Far from it. When the pain of rejection is too much to handle you can lash out in anger, be indifferent or proceed with a new attitude. I choose to take a different tack; after all I will have to deal with him again soon since he’s just a few doors down the hall. My new attitude consists of going about the way I treat him. But this time, there will be no more clouds obfuscating my view, and no more dreamy looks thrown his way.

And it feels good to not get bogged down by the pettiness of pain. When things are clear and you don’t have to keep second-guessing and wondering, you get a sense of clarity about why you don’t end up with someone you like. I can see clearly now, and that’s what really matters. I can look up and know that the clouds are not in my eyes anymore. Surely that means things can only get better.


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