Pro-tip: Don’t ask too early

November 14, 2018 — by Jeffrey Xu

Preparing to ask a girl to formal. 


“Hatred,” she texted me, changing our Messenger chat emoji to an angry face.  

“LOL,” I responded, enjoying these midday text conversations more and more. I had been meaning to ask her something — a dance or a movie or a study date; it just never seemed like the right time.

Palms sweaty, I contemplated my next move. I had known her since freshman year, but we had barely talked enough back then to even be considered acquaintances. Fast forward a couple years, and with every playful insult I could feel that our non-romantic friendship was blossoming.

Was that enough for me to ask her to Winter Formal? I wasn’t sure. It was only early September. Was this a good time? Screw it, I decided. What did I have to lose?

“Winter formal?” I texted back.

Confused, she asked me to clarify what I meant. I could sense that our conversation, which originated with my lightheartedly making fun of her height, was about to take a very serious turn.

“I mean, since we hate each other so much, we might as well go to winter formal together, right?” I offered, still trying to continue the joke.

“Haha, very funny,” she replied. And then silence. Did she think I was joking? Perhaps this was the downside of making our entire conversation a big meme.

“So can I get an answer?” I asked, trying to add a little more urgency behind my question to convey my sincerity.

As the three dots appeared on screen, indicating that she was typing, the suspense grew. I could hardly handle it. My heart was pounding in my chest, so loud that I could not even hear my own mother calling me upstairs for lunch. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally received a response.

“Oh, so you weren’t joking,” she replied.

And? What was her verdict? It was as if my future hinged upon her next words. And I suppose in many ways, the future did indeed hang in the balance.

“Ummm I’ll respond in a couple months.”

What now? A couple months? That seemed like an awfully long time for a simple response to a straightforward question. But, in her defense, I suppose it was a pretty weighty decision. In retrospect, perhaps asking in September about a dance in December was too proactive.

Deference beats rejection, I comfortingly told myself. It would be easier on my feelings … or so I hoped.

I was assured that time would tell. Yet, for an entire month, it was impossible to decrypt my potential date’s intentions.  

The good news for me: After a month and a few days, she said yes. So now, all I have to worry about is her not changing her mind and pray that she actually shows up to the dance.

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