This is the story of my obsession with a woman I worked with for many years. I'll call her "Yasmine."
The first time I ever saw Yasmine was in the summer of 1995, after I moved to a busier part of the trading floor. I had been in this busier part for a few days when I started to notice a Latina woman who seemingly never smiled but still looked beautiful to me. She wore a green and white traders jacket and spent most of her day going up and down the ten steps to enter and exit this monstrous traders pit called the index. After watching from afar, I realized that she was not a trader, but rather an assistant to one of the traders inside the index. I don't know what we were talking about the first time I spoke to her, but I distinctly remember being so magnetically attracted to her that I kept scooting towards her in my chair as we spoke and she kept backing up on her feet, until eventually I had her cornered, as if I was about to pounce on her. And I didn't even realize I was doing this.
She wasn't one of those angry, non-smiling people, which I have been accused of being many times. Rather, she seemed to be very shy, which is one of my weaknesses. I can't get enough of a shy, humble woman, I guess partially because it makes me feel like she would be more receptive to the presence in her life of a good man and partially because my mom was shy and reserved. Whatever the case may be, I could not take my eyes off her. She never wore makeup, another weakness of mine, and she carried herself in a way that made it seem like she was just working as hard as she could and couldn't be bothered with anything that would get in her way. But that contrasted with her manner of speaking to me once I got up the balls to talk to her. Then she turned into that shy, introverted girl, never making direct eye contact with me for more than a second in all the many conversations we had. I could tell there was something in her past that made her wary of anyone's advances. She didn't seem to have many friends, male or female, and the few men that spoke to her would warn me not to charge too hard after her because she didn't seem to be interested in that kind of thing at all.
Never one to listen to others, I pursued Yasmine as hard as I could. Now, I'm introverted myself, so it's not like I was making improper advances or telling her how great I could sex her in bed, but I asked her out many, many times, while I was still with my high school girlfriend, while I was dating a different co-worker who knew how I felt about Yasmine, through every other crush I had on anyone in or outside of work, for about seven years. We never went out. That's a lot of rejection to take to keep going after the same woman, you may say. That's the thing. She NEVER rejected me. She would accept whatever date proposal I had, a movie, Chinese dinner, whatever I came up with, she said yes. Then when the day of the date came, she would nervously smile and apologize and tell me that something came up and she wouldn't be able to join me. Did she not know what she was doing to me? Did she not know that a big piece of my heart belonged to her, just because of the way she treated me, always acting like it was the happiest part of her day when she would see me, and that I was aching to give her all of me?
Oh, she knew, alright. I told her so to her face. I wrote her poems and cut the paper out in a heart shape and presented them to her. I bought her a bell--yes, a little ceramic bell--for Christmas one year, because that's exactly what she asked for. I bought her flowers on Valentine's Day after Valentine's Day. I devoted so much of my energy to her that I wasn't pursuing any other potential dates for most of the seven years that I knew her. Her responses to these gifts were the same: a kiss on the cheek, a big hug, expressions of gratitude, repeated assurances that she thought of me as a great friend and that we would one day be able to go out together, no excuses. But as for romance? Well, Yasmine kept telling me that she did not have any desire for that. She was divorced before she ever met me, and she used that as a crutch to tell me that she didn't want her heart scarred any more than it already had been. This only made me want her more, of course. She seemed to be saying that I had a shot with her once she got over her heartbreak; she had so many opportunities to tell me straight up that she didn't want to date me, that she saw me as only a friend. But she liked the attention. One time I told this girl Aiden, who was a broker at a station that I had just been moved to, the whole Yasmine story, and how I was trying to leave Yasmine alone for good because the neverending chase was taking its toll, but that she was coming after me now that I was trying to ignore her. Aiden didn't want to believe that anyone was coming after me for any reason, and I wouldn't have believed it either. Then I went on a 15-minute morning break, and apparently Yasmine was coming to see me but arrived just when I left for my break and stayed there the whole time waiting for me to return just to chat with me for a few minutes. When she left, Aiden just looked at me with wide eyes and said, "She's been here since you left." I said, "I told you so."
There was one time that we went out socially, but I wouldn't call it a date. It was more like a security guard accompanying the rock star on her trip to the ballpark. Yasmine came up with Saturday tickets to a Cubs-Sox game at Wrigley Field back in 2000, and while she was a Sox fan from childhood, she rarely went to games, and was scared to attend this particular one alone because of the charged-up atmosphere of the rivalry. So after admittedly calling every other friend she knew and being turned down because they all had plans, she called 411 and got my phone number (I had given her pieces of paper with my number on them about 748 times before, but because she really didn't give a fuck, she had lost them all) and asked me to come with. I said yes even though my ankle was sore because I had rolled it, but this was Yasmine and I wasn't about to miss a chance to go out with Yasmine. Hobbling the entire way, I met her at a corner about two blocks from my house, where we hugged, then we took a bus from there to Wrigley, which was about eight blocks from my house. It was a great day, the Sox won (yay!), and I spent the whole game with my arm around Yasmine, enjoying the afternoon and praying that there would be more to come after the game. Of course, there wasn't. I asked her to lunch after, and she said she had to get back home to help her mother with something, so we got on the train and rode about five minutes to my stop. She stayed on and went back home. The worst part? After all the chatting and bonding during the game, I thought we were close enough for me to lean in for a hug or a kiss on the cheek when I got off the train. I got absolutely nothing but air.
Basically, she wouldn't admit it, but Yasmine had no intention of ever dating me but couldn't tell me so because no one had pursued her like I had and she loved the feeling of being wanted. And I wasn't bright enough to admit to myself that we would never get together. I loved her. I had convinced myself that she had every attribute that I wanted in a woman, ignoring the attribute of being frigid and icy that no man would want in a woman because that keeps anything from ever developing. I was so head over heels for her that I wouldn't listen to anyone who told me that she was trouble.
I might still have been rubbing her shoulders and hugging her and kissing her on the cheek and believing that there was a future with her if not for her being let go by the firm that she was working for a couple of years ago. Around that same time she had gently chastised me for kissing her on the cheek while she was on her cell phone with her "boyfriend." So I had been leaving her alone, again, which never lasted long. She had e-mailed me after that incident telling me that she was thinking about marrying whoever this person was, and my calm, mature, supportive response was to tell her he would never love her like I did. She didn't respond well to that. Shortly after that, she was laid off. Since we weren't talking, I didn't know until I happened to notice after many weeks that I hadn't seen her on the trading floor lately and asked around. I had been wondering how she was doing and what would have happened had she ever given me a shot at her. Would I have ever decided to try internet dating, and would I have ever met the women that have hurt me so much in the last year that I had to spend a week in a psych ward last summer? Would I have avoided all the torture I've gone through, or would it have been an extension of the torture that I went through pursuing her?
Well, to my total shock, Yasmine waved at me several weeks ago as I stood in line at the bookstore across the street from my college. She looked the same, plus about 30 to 40 pounds, understandable since she had an infant daughter, her "Mini-Me" as she described her. She still had dry, cracked lips that I yearned to moisturize with my mouth. She still made something inside me heat up with desire when she spoke in that shy, indirect way. She still had big cheeks that expanded when she smiled. She still seemed like she couldn't hurt a fly. But she hurt me, over and over again, whether she knew it or not. And as a result, that love I had for her is no longer there, even though my lust for her still is. She still told me that we will get together for dinner or coffee sometime. She still accepted my phone number from me. The only difference is, this time she gave me her number back. Before, I would have killed to receive that back from her, just because it would have showed that she had some intention of returning the consideration I always gave her.
Now? Her number's in the garbage. If she ever calls me, fine. If we ever go out for coffee sometime, fine. But I know that we'll never be an item. And I know that if I could have showed her my love and how deep it ran for her, she would have appreciated it forever. But after all these many years, that window of opportunity is closed. And it's her loss.