Requested by Bill

THE TIME I WENT ON A DATE WITH A GUY AND DIDN'T KNOW IT WAS A DATE FOR YEARS.

Okay, it's story time everyone. Some names have been changed to protect identities (because I have a paranoid fear he'll somehow find this and read this and be embarrassed or angry).
  1. So we're going to call this guy John, as in John Doe.
  2. When I started college, I was in this special program at my school.
    Long story short, I got a huge scholarship for it. They only took tenish students, so it was hard to get into.
  3. John joined the program partway through.
    We were all fresh out of high school, so we were all 18-19 (I was 19 myself). John was a little older because he was going back to school, about 22.
  4. I don't know why, but John didn't become fast friends with us.
    We were all mostly friends (I was at least), and I like to think we were welcoming to him. Maybe the age difference was a big deal, I don't know. He was quiet and kept to himself.
  5. One day after class, John and I were walking out of class together, which was in and of itself a surprise.
    And even more surprising, we were actually conversing.
  6. We were talking about the book we were reading in class, and John said something like this (I don't remember verbatim):
    "It's sometimes hard for me to sit through the discussions because I feel like people are just saying what they think the professor wants to hear, but I like listening to you. You actually have original ideas, and it's always interesting to hear what you think."
  7. Now I was about bowled over.
    I realized then that John was trying to befriend me.
  8. Us walking out of class together became a regular thing.
    And we would talk about a lot of things, like movies, TV shows, etc, not just the class topics.
  9. And one of the things we discussed was music, which is what really cemented our bond.
    I really have John to thank for my taste in music because he exposed me to a lot of artists and bands I hadn't heard of. Similarly, I did the same for him.
  10. We were both avid music lovers, and soon John invited me to his place to listen to some stuff he liked.
    He lived close to campus, and I often had long breaks, so I would go to his place a lot.
  11. "A lot" soon became "everyday"
    John and I became very close, and he still wasn't really friends with anyone else in the program. Everyone honestly thought it was super weird because I guess they didn't think I was the type of person he'd bond with, which was borderline insulting. They thought it was weird too how often I went to his house, but I liked John, so fuck them.
  12. I must digress a bit for a moment.
    In the program was a girl named we'll say Jane. She was my best friend honestly. We met in the program and hit it off, and I considered her my best friend until that all went to hell. More on that later.
  13. One day John and I were discussing people in the program.
    Yes, we were talking smack about them because sometimes it's nice to vent, and John really needed to.
  14. John then mentioned Jane.
    He knew we were close, and he asked me if she was single. To his fortune, she had just broken up with her boyfriend.
  15. Now Jane had always been sort of intrigued by John and was much more open-minded about him and our friendship than the others were.
    So I asked Jane if she wanted to go out with him sometime. I was something of a matchmaker in my younger days (seriously, I made business cards once, mostly as a joke. Mostly).
  16. She agreed, and eventually John and Jane became a couple.
    So now let's continue with the main part of the story.
  17. John and I really liked this one band.
    They were going to be playing somewhere nearby soon, and John asked me if I wanted to go. I agreed.
  18. Then John said he'd take care of the tickets.
    And then when I tried to pay him, he wouldn't take my money. He said it was his treat, which I thought was very nice of him.
  19. He also wouldn't let me give him any gas money, and he bought me dinner too.
    Me being the young naïve teenager that I was didn't think anything of this. I'm sure you can see where this is going.
  20. So anyway, the concert was awesome.
    We both bought band t-shirts, which will be relevant later, as will the fact that I was not with him when he purchased his.
  21. During the concert, John saw some people he knew (I don't remember how he knew them), and he started acting really weird.
    He got really, well, I guess tense is the right word, and kind of twitchy. He seemed uncomfortable to say the least until they went to a different part of the venue.
  22. We had a great time, and we really liked the opening band.
    Another thing that will be relevant later.
  23. On the way home, we were in great moods and talked a lot.
    And then when I drove home from his place, where my car was, I remember listening to "Clouds" by The Submarines (which is a love song...I don't know if that means anything), and I kept thinking about how happy I was. I honestly think this is around the last time I was truly content with my life. Like not this night in particular, just this time of my life.
  24. So John and I were closer than ever, and it seemed like he and Jane were really hitting it off too.
    The key word here is "seemed."
  25. The next school day after the concert, John gave me his t-shirt because he "accidentally" got the wrong size.
    I was quite a bit smaller than him; he was very muscular in the chest. Everyone still thought it was weird that we were so close.
  26. John and I discussed going to other concerts together, and he also mentioned taking a trip to Chicago together sometime.
    Which is about 9 hours away from where we lived. He offered to drive and said we could share a hotel room. Again, I was young and naïve and thought, Oh, that's a good way to save money.
  27. Eventually, John asked me if I wanted to go to another concert for a band we didn't really know because the opening act was the same openers from the previous concert, who we had loved.
    I agreed, and he then informed me he had already purchased the tickets before he'd even asked me.
  28. But then something suddenly came up.
    I can't for the life of me remember what it was, but I couldn't go anymore. I felt badly, especially since he had the tickets already, but again, he'd bought the tickets before even asking me.
  29. I told John to ask Jane.
    And then I told Jane about it. She didn't know the band, but she said she would go.
  30. As it turned out, John went to the concert alone and never asked Jane.
    And shortly thereafter, he and Jane broke up, ending their brief courtship. John was the initiator.
  31. Neither Jane nor I understood what had happened.
    Though Jane then admitted she felt like his heart had never been in the relationship.
  32. Another thing I didn't understand was John's newfound coldness toward me.
    He became very standoffish, like he was with everyone else, and he stopped inviting me over.
  33. Seriously, it was like night and day how he was with me.
    There was no transitional period where we grew apart. He dumped Jane and basically didn't want anything to do with me anymore.
  34. I knew he was mad about the concert, but I didn't feel like I had done anything wrong.
    He didn't even ask before buying the tickets, and Jane said she would go. He didn't have to go alone.
  35. It really bothered me for a long time because I really liked John, and I didn't understand what had happened.
    I lost a friend overnight, and I was sad.
  36. At the end of the semester, John transferred schools, and I never saw him again.
    To this day, I still haven't, though we had one more interaction afterwards.
  37. I realized that I wasn't good at perceiving my relationships when Jane disappeared.
    Again, she was my best friend, but then one day she said she was skipping a class we shared. It was a Friday, and I never saw her again.
  38. My professor informed me she had dropped the class, and she wasn't responding to any of my calls, texts, or IMs.
    These were the days of AOL instant messenger.
  39. I genuinely didn't even know if she was alive until several MONTHS later.
    Another person in our program mentioned she had seen her at a party, so at least I knew she was alive.
  40. To this day, I've never seen or spoken to Jane since.
    I wonder a lot what I did to ruin things. Between her and John and my ex (someone else in the program I was secretly dating) just abandoning me, I was a wreck.
  41. I tend to romanticize my 19th and 20th years of life, but a lot of bad shit happened.
    Besides the situations with John and Jane and my EXTREMELY ill-advised relationship with that other person in the program, my eating disorder was also at its peak, and most of my remaining high school friends stopped talking to me after I got in a fight with one of them for how she was treating me on a trip we all took; everyone chose her side over mine.
  42. Naturally I began to wonder if it was something I was doing.
    Something like this happens enough, you have to start to wonder if you're doing something wrong. And these haven't been the only times. I actually lead a very solitary existence these days.
  43. About six months to a year after Jane disappeared, John out of nowhere messaged me.
    And to my absolute shock, he apologized. He admitted that he was going through a lot of things and that how he acted wasn't due to anything I had done wrong.
  44. It was difficult for me to believe him though after everything else that had happened.
    I asked him if he ever really cared about me or if it was just an act to get to Jane. He admitted he never really felt connected to Jane and that he was trying to force something, but he balked at answering the first question. He seemed very conflicted about what to say.
  45. I started to think I maybe didn't want to know.
    Maybe he never really cared about me, or maybe he did, but I wasn't sure which answer I wanted.
  46. So I told him he didn't need to answer that.
    And he didn't. But he did ask me if I knew how he could reach Jane. I explained what had transpired between us, but I gave him her screen name and cell phone number (he had deleted it from his phone). He said he needed to apologize to her.
  47. I assume he contacted Jane.
    Shortly thereafter, she logged onto instant messenger for the first time since her disappearance, and then they both logged off at the same time. I didn't try to talk to her.
  48. I mentioned maybe hanging out again to John.
    He was noncommittal, and then he stopped answering my texts and messages anyway, so I stopped trying.
  49. A couple of years after that, ANOTHER friend from the program saw him.
    She told me about it, and she shockingly informed me that he was on a date...with a guy.
  50. I was surprised, to say the least.
    My friend was sure it was a date by how they were interacting.
  51. I was still figuring some things out about myself.
    I wasn't a naïve little boy anymore; I knew how the world worked now. But I think I still had a blind spot when it came to this situation.
  52. After I figured out those aforementioned things, I was thinking about John, and I had this sudden epiphany.
    Like seriously, it about knocked me out. All at once, this realization came to me.
  53. I can't say for sure, but I'm at least 90% positive that our fateful concert adventure was a date.
    He paid for everything. He acted shifty when he ran into people (who might not have known about him yet). He gave me his band t-shirt. He talked about doing this again and taking a trip together. He bought tickets to another concert and only wanted to go with me, not his girlfriend at the time.
  54. Again, I can't be sure, but it just all seems like it had been a date.
    And when I had to back out of the second concert, I think he felt like I was blowing him off. But honestly I had not even the slightest inkling that we had been on a date at the time. I didn't know how he felt, and I guess I still don't, but this is the most plausible explanation for what happened between us.
  55. I don't know for sure why John didn't want to hang out after he apologized or why he stopped talking to me so shortly thereafter.
    And I was (and am) still confused about a lot of other things. Maybe he thinks I led him on. Maybe he hadn't even known he liked me at the time. Maybe I was just a painful reminder of something he had lost, something intangible but deeply important. I wish I could have told him it was just as important to me and that I had lost it too.
  56. There is one thing I have a strong suspicion about.
    I think there were ulterior motives to his relationship with Jane. Maybe he was using it to stay close to me or find out more about me, or maybe he was trying to make me jealous. Or maybe he knew how much I liked fixing up people and was just trying to make me happy the only way he knew how. I don't know. Incidentally, I haven't match made since, and this is why.
  57. I still think about John a lot. I miss him.
    There are so many things I wish. I wish I'd recognized what was probably happening between us sooner, back when it would have made a difference. I wish I hadn't backed out of the concert too. So often I wonder what would have happened to us if I had somehow made it work so that I could go. I think we would both be happy now. Maybe he is, I don't know. I wish I didn't have to wonder.
  58. And I don't understand something else.
    This is because of John, because of Jane, because of my ex from the program and the one who told me Jane was still alive and the one who told me about John. This is because of my high school friends and literally every friend but one (at least in real life friends) since, as well many of my online friends too.
  59. I don't understand how I'm so easy to throw away.
    It's always been like this. I feel like I'm so insignificant, like I'm not really important to anyone. I'm nobody's first choice, and I think there have been exactly two times in my life where I WAS. This is one of them. Both times I ruined it.
  60. I was really angry at Jane too for a very long time.
    But now I just miss her. I felt like a more interesting person with her, but maybe that was the problem. Maybe I wasn't interesting enough. Maybe I brought her down while she raised me up. I don't know that either.
  61. Even now, I still think about John a lot.
    And it's still difficult for me to listen to many of the bands he introduced me to, most especially the one we saw in concert. They all make me think of him and miss him even more.
  62. John made me feel like the best version of myself.
    I miss feeling like that. There are only two other people who've made me feel this way, and I destroyed that too.
  63. I could try to reach out to John.
    I found him on Facebook, but he didn't accept my friend request, so I'm taking that as a sign that he doesn't want to be friends.
  64. I feel like John and I will always have so much untapped potential.
    I'll never know what would have happened, but I know I'll always wonder.
  65. This list was meant to be humorous, I swear.
    But it turned out to be depressing. Sorry about that.
  66. So that's it. That's the end of my tale.
    That's the story of the time I went on a date with a guy and didn't realize it for years until it was too late. But you know, I think it's the story of something else too.