1) To many who know me, I am renowned for loving words and using some pretty obscure ones. Yay!
2) To a fairly small number, I am also known for being positively oblivious to male attention. . . . Yay?
Allow me to unite the two characteristics in one tale:
Once upon a time, I worked in a fairly prestigious department store's lingerie department, specializing in fitting women for bras. During the post-holiday-rush of January, I began talking to a man whose daughter my coworker was helping. It was dead; I had nothing more pressing to do. Somehow, we started talking about dictionaries. For some, this would appear a strange conversation, but remember point #1. Eventually, I shared my views on the hierarchy of English dictionaries (unabridged OED, Webster's 2nd International (out of print), Webster's 3rd International). He asked me to write down my suggestions, and I used my business card to do so, adding a few extras.
I am a nerd. I am aware of this.
Time passed, and I thought no more of that day. Then, one Saturday in April, I came back from my lunch break to find a call holding for me. "Hello, Valonna, this is Mike X. You might not remember me, but I was in your store a while back with my daughter." Okay . . . "Your card's been following me around . . ." It grew legs and walked? " . . . and I wanted to ask you a few questions about these suggestions."
"Okay, how can I help you?"
I won't bore you with the details of how I waxed poetic on Samuel Johnson's definition of "bustle," but I do remember thinking, This guy sure is interested in dictionary comparisons. We finished, and he was very grateful for my time, saying, "Well, thanks for taking time out of your day at work, and I'm not at work, but I understand, and thank you. . . ."
After hanging up, I went to talk to my coworker about how cool it was that someone called me back to ask advice about dictionaries, recounted the whole conversation. She smiled. "What I like about you is how sweet you are." Eh? I was just sharing information. It's what I do.
I told that story several times over, to some of my best girlfriends. Then, when I told my roommate, she burst into laughter and said, "Valonna, he was interested in you!" Huh, what? But he was talking about dictionaries. She told me not all men are direct, told me to ask any of my guy friends what they thought of this scenario. So a few days later, I was hanging with one of my best buddies, and before I even got to the halfway point in my story, his face said it all. But just in case I was still lost, he summed it up with one embarrassing observation, "I know of only one other person who's more naive than you." Yay . . . ?
My mom's told me multiple times that I am my father's daughter, referring to the fact that he was never aware women ever looked at him with any interest. Oblivious as can be, I am his female counterpart. And I really can't see how it's beneficial except to keep the ego in check. But I can say it came in handy: a few of my friends were talking about how one of them had been hit on while riding MUNI, and one person asked, "What about you? Do men try to pick you up on the bus?"
"Well, funny you should ask. I can't answer that question, but I do have a funny story."