The other night, my father, brother, and myself attended the premiere of the excellent movie World War Z. It was a good choice, because the theater was pretty dead due to the NBA Finals (seriously), and we had all read the book and are major zombie fans. We had to see it. That movie by the way, was fantastic. But what almost stands out completely in my mind is the free milk I received. Which is fairly ridiculous, considering that the movie was the big deal. All the same”¦
You see, at concessions time, I decided I wanted one of the brownies being flaunted under my nose. And what goes great with a brownie? Milk. Most movie theaters do not sell milk, but this place had a little Starbucks next to the concessions. As a long time lover of milk, I had no qualms about asking for a cup of milk.
So, I went to the concessions stand and requested the brownie from this nice guy who then offered to heat up the brownie, and add whipped cream. It was around here that I pondered aloud to my father about getting milk, so before I could even formulate the request he had assured me that I would get milk. It took a minute or two, but I soon realized I would not be paying for the milk. I looked at my father. He looked at me. He smirked. My facial muscles were at a loss.
At the risk of sounding conceited, I remain fairly certain this guy was flirting with me. He had the signs of the boys who have flirted with me in the past, such as that goofy smile and a slight eagerness in doing what I asked. It helps to see my dad clearly thought that this guy was flirting too. And there was no problem with all of this – I was getting free milk, a heated brownie, and all of this to complement my long-anticipated movie viewing. However”¦
Sitting with my brownie and milk in the theater, I was growing”¦ I am still unsure. Embarrassed? Appreciative? Irritated? Flattered? It did not help that my dad was cracking up. It really did not help when my brother, having missed the whole situation at the concessions, realized that I got milk and wanted some himself. So he was sent (without me, because I did not want to appear asking for favors) on his own to get some. And came back, embarrassed, because he was told by another manager, “We don’t serve milk.”
This probably is what messed me up more. I have been flirted with before. But (call me sheltered, because I am, thanks parents) this rarely happened with random guys I did not know. I have had guy friends who really just wanted to date me (or something), but not much else. So it could be this is the case of “Calm down, be happy with the compliment, move on.” But. My biggest problem with any situation similar to this one or any others, as I fumed to my father in the car, was that guys who did stuff like this probably expected something from me, to reciprocate. Maybe not always in a way I would not prefer, but something. And when I do not, because I am not interested, or – more often than not – am completely oblivious until the last moment, they are going to think I am a rat or something. A fact I hate, since it’s just not fair that I am disliked for not wanting to respond to a guy’s advances.
When it comes to dealing with guys being interested and me not, I love to fall back on my Calculus teacher from senior year: “It’s not your problem.” And it’s not! Unless they make it my problem, in which case I’ll handle it, I don’t have to care that they like me. This was reiterated to me by my father: “Accept it as a gift, because he felt like being nice, probably thought as manager he had a little leeway, and so he used it. You never owe anyone anything. Just accept it as a gift, and move on.”
The reason I struggle with both tokens of advice however, is because I know how I am viewed by others. I like guys, and I like being their friends. Prior to puberty, most of the time running around with a pack of guys was not a problem. Now though, I have a lot of guy friends and I have been told by several of them that they are interested. I make it clear I am not – and we stay friends. But then they become willing to buy me lunch if we hang out (which quickly stops happening, since I know with a profession of liking me comes excessive flirting that I prefer to not deal with), or do me favors for when I need them. Suddenly, everything is tainted. Part of that I think actually comes from what I fear may be slut-shaming. I worry that other girls will see me with these boys, or girls who know me and them and shake their heads. I know I still do it to myself, and have to work to not think the same of other girls – I was taught as a child to “never hang out with a group of guys, because it looks like they’re sharing you.”
The best solution in the end is to not care, to not consider it a problem of mine, and to accept the benefits that come my way unasked for, because boys are big boys and can handle it if I do not reciprocate. Gosh, that is what I want in the end, is it not? Boys who go for what they want kindly, and do not make a big deal if they do not succeed. Meanwhile, girls should not be looking me up and down in disgust for having their attention.
But the thing is, some boys are not big boys, and are none too happy when I do not reciprocate, as I have learned in the past. The “friendzone” concept is a big issue still, and I have a feeling, will be for a long time. And other girls, well, there’s always going to be some who judge until we get the those pamphlets on how to treat your fellow human being out to every home. All of these mean that one day I may run into a situation where my appreciative but non-reciprocating acceptance policy will not bode well. And that worries me. Today, it was free milk from what seemed to be a nice guy. But tomorrow”¦
The fact that I could not just accept the milk with a nice smile and a thank-you leads me to believe I am not entirely unreasonable for seeing this as a big deal. Still, it is entirely possible that I am blowing it all out of proportion (goodness, the guy just gave me some free milk and a smile!). Please, tell me what y’all think. I would love some thoughts.