“You’re really pretty,” he said, as I stood there on an escalator back from the food court, with burrito-breath, wearing a polyester blend uniform and my hair stained with grey stripes from the overuse of dry hair shampoo and a laziness to blend it in properly.
I liked to think it made me look cool and edgy; a bit like Anna from Frozen when, in reality, it just made me look like I had Cruella de Vil’s coat on top of my head. I had done my makeup quickly whilst driving; with one hand on the steering wheel, and the other brushing foundation (probably) spotted with dog hair, crushed up toast crumbs and the 10368363737 different types of germs that come with losing the lid for your foundation and leaving the pot open in the cup holder of your car, onto my face.
Meanwhile, in contrast to my haphazard attempt of looking like a functional human that can be in a workplace, he was wearing all black and a denim jacket and with the effortless confidence that a nose ring adds to every guy, he looked like he could be in a Kanye music video.
“Uh, thank you,” I replied, looking up from my Facebook feed of all the people that seem to have their lives more together than I do.
In the 30-second conversation that followed, we managed to cover our respective names, our favourite books, and the fact that I’m 21 yet I look like I’m 17 (I’m guessing the fact that I had my hair in pigtails that day probably didn’t help).
I then went back to my work, and he went back to his work. Until 20 minutes later, when he came into my work and asked the question:
“Can I have your number?”
I wrote it on a green post-it note, and handed it to him, then walked away to serve a customer. Five minutes later, I trapped one of my coworkers in the back room, as I had a minor meltdown.
“This couldn’t be for real,” I told my coworker, who just really wanted to get away from me, “this has to be a joke, right? Right?”
My coworker didn’t reply.
“Maybe it’s a dare from his friends to get as many phone numbers as possible,” I continued, ranting. “Or, you know how he works for one of this charity places in shopping centres that try and get people to donate when they walk past. Maybe he only wants my phone number to sign me up for a lifetime of donating goats to third world countries.”
“Maybe,” my coworker replied, shrugging. “Or, maybe - just maybe - he just wanted your number so he could call you?”
I looked at her like she was out of her mind. “Or, maybe, he’s part of a cult and he’s being charismatic to try to get my number to try and get me to drink the Kool-Aid?”
“You’re overthinking this,” she told me.
And, in that instant, I realised just how insecure I am.
In reality, all he wanted was to sleep with me (as evidenced by his second text to me, where is the romance people), but it really got me thinking. Before that day, I had never thought of myself as insecure. Smart? Yes. Pretty? Yes. Funny? Yes. Highly anxious? 100 per cent yes.
‘Insecure’ had never made the list of adjectives that I would use to describe myself. But suddenly, I couldn’t believe that such an attractive guy would want my number purely to see me again. I was convinced that there had to be a catch; that I was the ugly girl in those cliche high school teen movies where the hot guy asks the ugly girl out just to humiliate her.
It wasn’t a great realisation, but it was an important one; one that I need to work on, and you can’t work on things that you don’t realise exist.
‘Insecure’ has now been added to the list of adjectives that describe me, and one day I hope that word will no longer be on the list - but, for now, I thank the really, really, REALLY attractive guy that asked me out for making me realise more about myself.
Oh, and no, I won’t donate to your charity. Thanks for asking, though.