So I’m walking to work today from the train station and it starts to rain. Of course I forgot my umbrella. So I put one hand over my eyes so that my mascara wont come dripping down my cheeks like Courtney Love. I’m walking along, by the side of the highway, muttering “whatever” to the raindrops accepting the fact that I’m going to look like Swamp Thing by the time I get to the office. Suddenly the raindrops stop. “Huh?” I look up and there’s an umbrella covering me. Apparently chivalry is not dead; this knight in shining armour, clean shaven with a gleaming smile in a clean tucked in white shirt has suddenly covered me with his big umbrella. I’m like “uh…hey, thanks”. I eye him suspiciously but he looks like a nice “up-standing” member of society. And it really was pouring down. I kept my distance but truthfully, when a guy does something old fashioned like offer you his umbrella during a rain storm, you almost want to believe there’s no hidden agenda. He’s being polite. Keeping a formal distance and I’m thinking to myself “maybe he’s not a complete creep.” In any case the rain is likely to stop any second. And its possible he’s just being a good Samaritan. I shouldn’t tell him to bugger off just yet.
So I quicken my pace and attempt to ignore him- but he’s not giving up- and he’s yammering on like a nervous kid, talking about his sister who’s in advertising and how he’s a manager for a telephone sales company and how he’s also an event manager and he’s just bumbling on an on, chasing me with this massive umbrella. Then with a sudden grin he extends his right hand in an attempt to shake mine and says the fateful words I have heard so many many many times before,“So? Can I make a FRIENDSHIP with you?” Ugh. I do not shake his hand. Goodness only knows what he’s been doing with it. This guy wants to make something and its definitely not a “friendship.” I mutter impatiently, “uh…” and I show him my wedding finger, “I’m married.” He’s asks “to who?” to which I rather sardonically retort, “to my husband.” And get this- he says with vocal inflection, “WHERE” is “HE?” I raise an eyebrow, thinking to myself “Nice one. Serves you right for hitching a ride under some random umbrella. Now ditch this guy before he tries to convince you to check into a sleazy motel on the pretext of introducing you to his “other sister,” the one who does circus tricks naked.
For a moment there I thought that I was experiencing some anachronistic gallantry. But I have to hand it to the guy; it took guts to use a line that’s been used more often than a shanghai masseuse- and using an umbrella as a prop. Nice touch. And you know, I have nothing against creativity. There’s a whole artform attached to good pick up lines. How about my classic favorite, “If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?” The ever tasteful, “Baby if you were a booger I’d have picked you first,” and “Fuck me if I’m wrong, but haven’t we met before?” I think I’d actually pay for some guy’s drink just to listen to a string of these classics. But if I hear the “be my friend?” line one more time…I’m going to…well, there’s no doubting I’m going to hear it again. Old is gold. And so is the creepy technique of disguising a come-on in a chivalrous gesture with pretences at brotherly sentiment.
He can tell I’m trying to get away from him so he says he only asked me to be his “friend” because he could be in some way “useful” in managing some kind of random P.R. event for me or something. He’s really casting about in desperation at this point, looking for something clever to say, having realized his “be my friend” line has failed. A light bulb flashes above his head. A stroke of genius. “Are you on orkut?” he asks me, with a worryingly excitable gleam in his eye, “ You can make lots of FRIENDS there.” The rain has stopped and his unfoldable umbrella wilts back to its usual size. I am beginning to walk away. He whines suddenly, “But don’t you want to make a friendship?” I’m feeling kind of sorry for him actually. “No.” I half smile, “ But thanks for the umbrella.” I walk off making a mental note to buy a new umbrella and possibly a rain jacket with the words “I’m not on orkut and I don’t want to be your friend.” printed on it.