Every Wednesday morning and every Friday morning you have a chance to talk to her. About 8 to 10 opportunities go by.You have spotted her and now you can’t unspot her. Like that first time cocaine tickles your nostrils and covers your throat in this tasty metallic iciness. She’s put the hook in you and she hasn’t got a clue.

Once you move in, but you end up having a conversation with the colleague – she used to attend your Dutch class, but now she is too busy working on her PHD – sitting next to her. She smiles at you, but there seems to be no comfortable bridge to go from talking to her colleage to striking up a conversation with her. So just a smile it is. And a smile is the birth of hope.

On the 8th of March you work yourself up into a state not unlike the mindset soldiers in World War I must have had when they finally climbed out of the trenches and raced into no man’s land. This is almost certainly going to get you mangled, wounded, torn, but you are going to do it anyway. Because to live with the thought you were a skulking coward will be infinitely worse. Scenarios of ever more frightful escalations occupy your mind. What if she rushes to her supervisor? What if you end up as the subject of a vicious #metoo campaign on Instagram? To give a woman a box full of chocolates, vouchers for outings, and a long love letter is not exactly the same as raping her, but these days the lines have blurred. A wrong look at the wrong moment and you can be publicly brandishes a deranged pervert.

One of her colleagues says: ‘The worst that can happens is that you won’t talk to each other. But you’re not talking to each other now either, so the worst that can happen is that things stay as they are.’

So there you go. It’s international women’s day. You are in Slovakia. It’s not so out of the ordinary to give women a gift here on this occasion. Even if she is a total stranger. Even if you are giving her more romantic stuff than 99 percent of all boyfriends are giving their wives on this days. Especially the love letter and the personalized vouchers make this into a curiously old-fashioned gesture. This doesn’t count as flirting. This is old school 19th century courtship.

With your heart a couple months closer to its last beat you hand her the box. Like a guerilla warrior you jump out of nowhere and hand her the gift box. Wrapped with a blue string. It’s so full of stuff that she will overlook half of it. It will only drop out, accidentally, in the evening when she’s about to store it in a closet. She seems genuinely flattered. If not elated. What a gentleman thing to do, she says. Every word hits you with a delay. It’s hard to catch exactly what she is saying. In broken Slovak you mumble something about how you hope she will enjoy it.

Then nothing happens.

You assume that it was just too crazy what you did. All seduction manuals advice you to never ever pull such a stunt. These misogynist guidebooks teach you to not invest in a woman until she’s slept with you. You wonder if the writers of these books have ever been in love.

Still, you must admit. They got it right. This is too much. You are not the prize. You have shown too mucb neediness. You have expressed how you want her, without her having to prove she is worthy of your attention. These pick up assholes are right.

Four days later you get an sms. She thinks you are not reading your Whatsapp messages.

What is Whatsapp?

It turns out that at some point you installed an app on your phone. You have never used it. You have forgotten it’s there. She wrote you there the day you gave her the box.

She is overwhelmed, but she likes it.



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