The Mile-Sigh Club


As I type these words, I’m thirty-thousand-something miles aloft in the air, somewhere over middle America, en route to Florida for a family gathering that I suspect will confirm one of my long-held theories about my family’s dynamics. (That will be a different post, if it’s a post at all.)

But the point is, unless there’s a remarkable coincidence going on in this metal tube in which I’m currently constrained—and I wouldn’t consider it impossible by any means—I am a thousand miles and counting from anyone I’ve dated for the first time in months.

My friends—or, honestly, anyone who’s a) ever resided in Seattle and b) had more than three conversations with me—have all heard plenty about my Extras Theory, which states that there are only 200 actual people in Seattle, and everyone else is background noise. The story behind its genesis is long-winded and nearly seven years old; the most recent evidence for it isn’t even a week old.


This summer, I developed what I referred to as a “Social Media Crush” on a woman whom I’d never even met. Oh, I’d come close—the whole reason I became aware of her existence was that she was supposed to meet up with a mutual friend and myself at a concert; she never showed, but a Twitter conversation ensued. Over the next year and a half, there were a good number of times when we were in the same place at the same time, but never aware of it until afterwards. By this summer, Instagram photos were being hearted, tweets were being favorited, and so on. A few incidents of witty banter ensued over the interwebs. She was cute, she was witty, she had fantastic music. So, fuck it, I asked her out to the ballgame, comparing my attempt to woo her to the way the local team performed on the diamond: “Tentatively, awkwardly, and regrettably, in public.”

At the game, I helped her fulfill her (apparent) long-time dream of meeting the Mariner Moose. We bused back to our neighborhood together, kissed at the crosswalk where we went our separate ways, and she texted me about what a good time she’d had before I’d even made it home.

The next day, I followed up, and she was clearly significantly less interested than she had been the previous evening.


One Monday afternoon in October of last year, I had a coffee date scheduled with a gal whom I’d met on OkCupid. It turned out she lived about a mile due north of me, so I let her pick the coffee shop; she chose a place towards the north end of Broadway, a commercial strip in the neighborhood, which I rarely frequent for no reason in particular. Of course, I couldn’t make it the duration of the 20-minute walk without running into an ex—the ex, the one who inspired a tweet I’ve yet to ever send about the semantic difference between “the one who got away” and “the one, who got away.”

We didn’t speak. We don’t speak.

Despite this encounter, this passing on the sidewalk, the coffee date went reasonably well. Or so I was told; the gal expressed an eagerness to see me again, which was never matched by her actions. We never hung out again. But we saw each other again.


Since our single date, I crossed paths with the Social Media Crush a couple times at a music festival, but, aside from a single attempt I made to send hi, no interactions ensued.

Three weeks ago, after a board game night with some friends, one of those friends and I wound up at an iconic local bar for one (okay, maybe two) last drink(s). As we settled into the booth, I looked across the room, and spotted the Social Media Crush in a booth with a handful of her friends. I saw her, I thought she saw me, and I perceived this as an unspoken agreement to continue unspeaking. After a while, she left; a little while later, I left as well, and when I arrived home, I typed a snarky yet easily-relatable tweet about the state of my dating life, which she immediately favorited.

A brief exchange ensued, during which several things came to light:

  1. She was not aware that said tweet was a reference to her.
  2. Furthermore, she was not aware that I had been at the same bar as her.
  3. I should have said hi.
  4. Joking that I hadn’t had enough whiskey to say hi seemed funny.

Of course, 4 seemed regrettable in the morning, so the whole exchange was deleted. And that was that, or so I thought.


Back in May, I went to the aforementioned iconic local bar for a date with a recently dis-engaged girl. We had a couple of drinks, and then, due to the increasingly dense Friday night crowd, decided to adjourn elsewhere. I had been paying for my drinks in cash, but she had a tab, so we made our way to the bar for her to close out. As we waited, the gal next to her said something, I made a joke, and the gal turned to look at me.

And it was the gal from the previous October.

I felt confident about this, but not 100%, so I said nothing. As we waited, the line grew longer, and I told my date that I was going to duck outside to get out of the way. She agreed to meet me there, and when she did, she noted that the gal next to her had mentioned our date, months earlier. My date said the gal had vouched that I seemed like a cool guy, which I immediately undercut by pointing out that there had only been one date, and it was her decision there.

I went out with the dis-engaged gal three more times after that night before losing interest. And that was the end of it. Except, as you might be able to guess, it really wasn’t.


Last Tuesday, after our weekly game night, some friends and I decided to adjourn to a nearby bar that more suits my aesthetic. Over the two-block walk, I regaled them with the tale of the encounter with the Social Media Crush two weeks prior, ending the story just as we arrived at the bar and began to place our orders. As I awaited my turn, I looked to my right, back towards the door. And there, in the window booth, was the Social Media Crush.

Once upon a time, this sort of scenario would have made my brain explode. These days, it merely made me tell my friends where to look. One of those friends made the obvious inquiry about how I would handle the situation, to which I responded that, given what she’d said two weeks earlier, I pretty much had to go say hi.

Which I did. We chatted for a few minutes before I went back to my friends, and, amazingly, it didn’t feel awkward at all. But maybe, just maybe, I’d had enough whiskey that time.


On Halloween, I had a haircut scheduled between my volunteer gig in the morning and my friend’s girlfriend’s party that night. Less than halfway into my mile-long walk downtown, a woman in cat-inspired makeup walking about ten feet in front of me turned, smiled, and said “Hey,” in that way that implied she knew me.

“Hey?” I answered, unsure who this woman was.

“It’s been a while, huh? What, three or four months?”

My brain started racing through the possibilities before I realized who this was: The dis-engaged girl I’d dated briefly back in May. Awkwardly, we were walking the same direction, and my brain was so overwhelmed by the awkwardness that I couldn’t think of a way to extricate myself from the conversation until I was nearly at my destination.

Once I realized who she was and the direction she was going, I asked if she still worked at the cheese shop she had been at. She said it was actually her last week; the next week, she’d be starting as a cheese steward at a QFC.

Remember the ex? The one I’d run into a year earlier on the street, en route to the coffee date with the gal who I’d run into on my first date with the dis-engaged girl who I was talking to at this moment? She was a QFC cheese steward.

Because, of course.


I’m still aloft at this moment, getting further away from all these women and closer to the Atlanta airport, where I’ll face the tough decision between Chick-Fil-A or Popeye’s for dinner. Twice on this flight, a flight attendant has asked me what I’d like to drink. Twice, I’ve told them I wanted a Coke Zero. Twice, they’ve said they’d bring me one. And I’ve yet to have any soda.

That might sound like a complaint, but it’s a trivial one in the grand scheme of things. For the next week, I’ll be trading avoiding former dates for avoiding Florida Man. For the next week, there’s absolutely no chance of running into anyone I don’t want to see, or who doesn’t want to see me. I’ll be safely outside of the mile radius from the ScottCave that seems to be my danger zone.

But then I’ll be home again, and it will once again stop being a question of if, and become the twin questions of “When?” and “Who?”

I hate flying, but the way the ground has treated me lately, I wouldn’t mind being in this tube a little longer.


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