Lana – the mere of mention of her name brings back memories that will simultaneously make want to smile and cringe. Luckily it’s more of the former than the the latter.
Trying to define when I actually “met” Lana is a little difficult. HOWEVER:
It would’ve been my first or second week at the law firm. I was sitting waiting for something at the Registrar General’s Office, one of the many places I went to everyday, and while I was waiting I was observing the people around me, as you often do when something is new to you.
And there she was Lana did the same job as me but for a different law firm and Lana had figured out a faster way to do her job – she wore roller blades.
There I was waiting for something, my eyes wandering, and I checked Lana out.
Unfortunately, I was apparently not being very subtle about checking Lana out, because her friend Jess spotted me, and after giving me a look which I can only describe as translating to “Take a picture, it’ll last longer.” She walked right up to Lana and proceeded to tell her that I’d been checking her out.
As luck would have it the documents I was waiting for appeared in front of me and I grabbed them and headed out the door.
Months went by. Years even. We knew each other by association, occasionally talking every now and then but nothing of great length.
Until the week that a girl at my law firm handed in her resignation.
I wanted the job. I really wanted the job. Sure, it would mean remaining at the law firm, but with change I could live with that. My job was boring me and finding ways to keep myself amused was becoming harder. But if I took the new position that had opened up – I would no longer be the bottom of the barrel. I would no longer be a glorified delivery boy. I would be a …… conveyancing clerk.
May not sound exciting, but to a delivery boy it was just the break I was hoping for.
I knew I had to act fast, so grabbing a resume my sister had helped me revise, I typed a letter to my boss requesting the position.
I didn’t get the job. They told me they were looking for someone more experienced in the position. Which in a way made sense, after all I was just a delivery boy.
Three days later I was opening the mail with the office manager when she mentioned they were interviewing someone that afternoon for the position, and that from what she’d heard that whoever it was probably going to get it.
I walked into the revenue office, as was a usual stop when on my morning rounds, to find Lana who proceeded to tell me that she had a job interview at my law firm that afternoon.
At first I was angry at my office for handing the job to someone who I knew had equal experience to myself, but eventually it passed. It didn’t even sting when Lana took much enjoyment out of the fact that while at the moment we were equals, in a just a few weeks she would be my superior.
After she got her job there though, she never felt like my superior. That’s not to say I didn’t respect her, or did what she asked me to do, it’s just that she felt like a friend as well as a co-worker. It was nice having someone in the office I could talk to everyday as a friend. Someone who I found out had sleeping patterns, and who found herself in complicated situations due to the slip of the tongue, much like myself.
In time I began to notice that every day on the drive in I would look forward to talking to her and it was after a particularly bad day at work I realised just how much I’d fallen for her.
I won’t go into details about my bad day. Just that I’d screwed up rather badly in both work and my personal life and the only person I wanted to see at the end of the day was her.
Realistically there’s no real excuse for not confessing my feelings while she still worked there. You could argue the she was almost my boss, but if I had told her how I felt I wouldn’t have been fired. Basically I spent the entire time trying to “read signals” as my female friends put it. The only real signal I got in the entire “signal theory” was a complete load of crap.
A few months later Lana got a higher paying job at another law firm and went for that. While we exchanged the occasional phone call and text message after that day, we sort of fell out of contact for a while.
My family dog, Lentil, lived at my sister’s house. Sometimes I would go over to her place to take him for a walk. I was walking him one day when to my surprise I bumped into Lana. Having not seen each other in a while we walked and talked. And talked. And talked.
The more we spoke, the more I realised how much I cared about her.
We walked to her place, still talking, telling each everything about our lives. I let Lentil run free in her backyard, and we continued talking at her house. Eventually sitting down on the couch, she flicked on the tv to see if anything interesting was on. As I sat back against the couch watching it, she relaxed and cuddled up against me.
It was a nice feeling. It had been a long time since I felt the closeness that I did with her. We watched tv, her housemates came in and we talked with them, and laughed and joked.
Hours later, when it was well into the night. I retrieved my dog from the backyard and said goodbye to Lana at her front door. Then in the moment I leaned forward towards her and she leaned towards me and we kissed, a beautiful romantic kiss.
Then I walked Lentil back to my sister’s house. As I walked through the night, everything looked the same. The street lights, the people, the passing cars. But it wasn’t the same. In just one night, everything had changed.
My eyes suddenly opened. I looked around. I was in my bed. This came as a shock cause the last solid memory in my mind was walking back from Lana’s house. How the hell had I gotten home?
While trying to process why the hell I couldn’t remember dropping off Lentil at Rachel’s house and driving home, I realised it was extremely sunny outside.
Way more sunny than it should be before work. My eyes darted to my alarm clock which informed it was 10am. It was a Friday morning.
Then in a sudden moment of clarity, two things suddenly became painfully apparent.
The first was I was now two hours late for work. Which was really bad, phenomenally bad, because my office had giving me warnings about my punctuality in the past.
The second, and most important, was that everything involving Lana that had happened the previous evening had all been in my head. I’d dreamt the entire thing
I called up work and told them I was sick and wouldn’t be able to make it in. I figured that was better than doing the one thing they had specifically told me not to do, then I leaned against my bedroom wall and sat there trying to decipher whether the events of last night had in fact been a dream.
The thing here is, as crazy as it may sound, but it been so real that I genuinely wasn’t certain, and I admit that, yes, part of that is because I wanted it to be real. But it felt so real!
The fact that I had the entire day to think about it probably didn’t help. I eventually texted my sister asking if I took Lentil for a walk yesterday. Hours later she responded, but I already knew the answer.
I hadn’t. The entire bizarrely realistic affair had been a product of my imagination.
It gave me a lot to think about. Obviously I still wasn’t over Lana, but I knew the lack of contact I’d had with her since she changed jobs sort of implied what her response would be. One could almost take this as a sign not to ask her out.
Though a little voice inside my head kept telling me Rejection isn’t as painful as regret. If you don’t ask her out soon you’re always going to wonder what could have been.
The more I thought about it, the truer I realised it was. After all, even if she did turn me down, there was a fairly good chance the universe wouldn’t end, and if she didn’t, well it would have all been worth it. Something which I still stand by today.
I’m not proud of how much of a gutless wonder I ended up being when I asked Lana out. True, it does takes a lot of guts to ask someone out in the first place, but it takes considerably less the way I eventually did.
It was a Wednesday. I’d spent the entire day telling myself I was going to ask her out that night and as a result I had spent the entire day growing more and more nervous as the moment drew closer.
The reason for deciding on a specific day was because I knew that at the height of nervousness, I knew I wouldn’t back out cause I didn’t want to have to live through another day of getting this nervous.
My plan was simple, call her up and ask her out.
Sounds easy enough in theory, but it’s not. That moment you start dialling, the nerves become almost overwhelming, and a part of you will seriously be wanting to hang up on the phone.
The bad part about this story is,I let my guard down and let my nerves get the better of me. As soon as I heard her phone ringing I panicked and hung up.
And if you think that was the most gutless thing I did that night, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Since mobile phones became popular, many people have argued that the Caller ID that comes with them as been the bane of our existence. Now, a smart man in my situation would have turned off his Caller ID before calling so if his cowardice got the better of him and he bailed, the girl he was calling would be none the wiser.
I, however, thought I could outwit my nerves. I figured if I left my Caller ID on, I would be less likely to hang up because she would know I called. Apparently I gave myself a little too much credit.
So when I displayed true gutlessness and hung up the phone before she answered, she tried calling me back to see why I had phoned.
The phone ringing sounded like it was taunting me. I should have answered. I should have answered and then asked her out. As you can tell, I didn’t, and I still cringe about how badly I handled this situation. Trust me, it’s about to get worse.
A few minutes later I remembered I had fretted about asking her out all day. I had to do it, or I was just putting myself through these nerves for another day.
I picked up the phone……. and sent her a text.
“Sorry, can’t answer, driving.”
That was all the message said. It was a lie, and now I felt like an idiot for bailing completely. I was living proof that regret was more painful than rejection. I had to ask her out. I had to call her back, and ask her out.
“Actually, I’m not driving, it’s just easier for me to say that I am.”
I eventually sent her. She was fairly confused by now, and she responded with:
“What’s with all the random calls and messages?”
Finally I showed some courage, but I still don’t see it as such. Realistically, this was the perfect opportunity to call her up and explain. THAT might have saved the situation. But once again, I didn’t.
“Well, I was going to ask you out, and then I sort of bailed, and then you caught me out and I tried to cover my tracks.”
Ten minutes passed, but it felt like an eternity. Finally she responded.
“You’re such a random kid, and I have a boyfriend.”
Like I said before, no matter how nicely the rejection is delivered, it always sucks when you first receive it.
I know, if she had a boyfriend, that it didn’t matter how I asked her out, it was going to be a rejection.
Still though, if there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s never let you nerves get the better of you, and never ask a girl out via a text message.
The one good thing that did come from it all was that never again did I ever wimp out at the last minute. Every time I asked a girl out after that, I always went through with it.
I never really spoke to Lana after that day. Months later I sent her a message inviting her to my housewarming party and received no response, then about a year later I mailed an invitation to her office for the Party For No Reason.
I don’t blame her for not responding. Now I was just in an awkward situation. At the time of the writing of this book it had been almost a year since I’d sent her the invite, meaning it had been about a year since she’d last heard from me.
Which meant that this was going to be yet slightly awkward conversation. At least I had guts now.
My first attempt to contact Lana landed me with both good and bad results simultaneously. I’d erased her number from my phone shortly after my housewarming, in an attempt to get over her.
This left me with only the name of the law firm she’d gone to after she worked with me, which is where I’d sent the invite for the Party For No Reason.
This of course meant calling during work hours, and Jason finally got to listen in when I made initial contact with one of the crushes. This had a surprisingly courage inducing effect – I knew I wouldn’t bail on the entire thing if I had an audience.
So I took my lunch break well before I knew anyone at a law firm would, went to the an empty desk in the office that was far away from anyone in hearing range, except for Jase who had followed me, and called what I thought was Lana’s place of employment.
I was wrong
A receptionist answered the phone.
“Hi, may I please speak to Lana?” I enquired.
“She no longer works here,” She told me. “Is this a conveyancing matter?”
I should have expected this – after all it had been two years since I’d last spoken to the girl. It stood to reason there was at least some chance she’d changed jobs since then. Then, an idea struck me.
“Sorry, it’s a personal matter, this was just the only contact details I had for her. You wouldn’t happen to know if she went to another law firm do you?”
It was a fair question. When an employee moves to another law firm, nine times out of ten the law firm they’re leaving knows which one they’re going to.
“No idea, sorry.” Apparently the receptionist didn’t. Damn.
I thanked her for her time and hung up the phone. For all intensive purposes, it seemed like a dead end. That was the only solid lead I had on locating her, I’d checked the electoral roll earlier when I’d contacted Camille, but the only address there was obviously her parents address as it seemed two other people with the same surname lived there.
Since Lana had moved out of home during the time in which we worked together I knew if I went down that route I’d have to go through her parents. Call me crazy, but I didn’t exactly think her parents were going to like the idea of my book.
I didn’t want to lie, I’d managed to get by without doing that so far, and I didn’t want to start now. After all – I was now organizing a YEAR SIX REUNION because it was the only way to tell the truth.
Realistically, what I needed was a Plan B.
As luck would have it, Plan B would come from Jamie. The very girl who set this whole book in motion. I’d been telling her about my woes in contacting Lana when she told me one place I hadn’t tried contacting Lana through yet: Myspace.
For those of you that don’t know, Myspace, in 2007 it was still alive but was well on it’s death knell with facebook overtaking it, was a popular social networking site where user’s can easily design their own personal pages, acquire friends and send messages to each other. That is about the most basic description of Myspace that I can come up with, and since the entire thing died a quiet death shortly after finishing this book, it’s really not worth elaborating further.
It was popular with people ranging from their teens to late twenties and it was exactly the type of thing Lana would like.
As soon as I got back to my desk that afternoon I searched Lana’s full name in Myspace and, low and behold, her Myspace page appeared. This was brilliant. Now I just had to come up with something to say.
That evening I typed a Myspace message the best I could and after numerous re-writes I was eventually pleased with my final product. I hit send.
Now, Myspace has two nifty little features worth mentioning at this point.
The first is that when you send a private message it remains in your Outbox for 14 days where, more importantly, it gives you a status update as to whether the person you sent it to has read it or not.
The second is that everybody’s personal page displays the last time that particular user logged in.
So for two weeks every chance I got I would check my Outbox and her Myspace page to see whether she’d read my message or not.
Typically, Lana didn’t log into her account until about three weeks later, and my knowledge as to whether she’d actually read my message, or whether it had just disappeared under a steady flow of spam emails, was non-existent.
So I waited a few week to see whether she was going to eventually respond.
Another week or two passed. Still no response. I could argue at this point that I assumed she’d read my myspace message and just didn’t want any involvement whatsoever, but part of me was just too stubborn to let it go. After all – there was still a chance she hadn’t read the myspace message at all.
The chance was small, but I was determined to be an optimist.
Now came the part where I had to try and convince Lana’s parents to give me her contact details. I still didn’t think they would appreciate the whole book idea. I decided there was really one choice here: I was going to have to lie.
There is something I don’t like to admit, my friends, housemates and co-workers have constantly made fun of the fact that people often mistake me for a female on the phone. Don’t ask me why – it’s not like I’ve got a high pitched voice or anything. It gets irritating, especially when I have to work on the phone. For once though, I thought it could work in my favour.
The problem even with lying to Lana’s parents was that I had to come up with a convincing enough lie. The reunion seemed to be the smart route to go down, but the problem was Lana had gone to an all-girls high school. Which is exactly where people mistakenly thinking I sound female on the phone sometimes came in handy.
I dialled her parents house, her mother picked up the phone.
“Hi, is Lana there, please?” I asked. I should mention now, I attempted in no way to disguise my voice.
“Uh, who’s calling first?” Her mother asked sternly. Well, this was going swimmingly, I’d only asked to talk to her and her mother already sounded vaguely annoyed.
“Sorry, I’m Rachel Smith I went to high school with her, I’m just trying to gauge reactions for a five year reunion,” I told her in the most polite, laid back way possible.
“Sorry, she’s not here,” Her mother said, the stern tone still ringing in her voice. It was time to go for it.
“You wouldn’t happen to be have a mobile number or an email address I could contact her with, would you?”
Lana’s mother responded to this question by pausing for a moment, and then hanging up the phone. I guess I don’t always sound feminine when I’m on the phone.
More irritatingly, there was STILL no sound proof Lana even knew about the book.
Since any more phone calls were out of the question, my original plan of posting a copy of what I’d written so far, and a letter addressed to Lana to her parents house seemed to be my only option.
After her mother’s reaction to my initial phone call, I had my doubts as to whether she would take kindly to my calling a second time with the truth. If she recognised my voice, which there was a fairly high chance she would, I was a dead man.
Really, there was only one thing left to do: send a copy of what I’d written so far to her parents house – addressed to Lana herself – and pray that they passed it on. I typed up the letter, printed out what was written, and…………. waited.
I honestly wasn’t waiting because I was afraid of the outcome. While I did have my suspicions that her parent’s reaction to the concept of the book wouldn’t be in my favour, I was highly confident that her mother wouldn’t make the connection between the bizarre phone conversation and the bizarre letter.
I held off sending the letter, more due to laziness more than anything else. I only get a thirty minute lunch break, and both days I had the opportunity to post the letter I wasn’t in the mood to blow away my break standing in line at the post office.
Surprisingly – Facebook came to the rescue again. After contacting Danielle I now had an occasional habit of searching the names of girls I still had to contact for the book to see if they were there – after all, with Emily I’d had next to no leads whatsoever and Facebook had been my saving grace.
So it was a complete surprise one Friday night when I discovered Lana had signed up to Facebook and had an account there for messaging.
I breathed a sigh of relief – FINALLY a way to contact Lana without going through her parents, and since the account was new, and facebook was less susceptible to spam, there was fairly good chance she was going to get my message.
So that night, I bravely sent her a message telling her about the book, and also apologising in case she had actually read my myspace message and was just ignoring it to get me off her case.
Funnily enough, when I hadn’t received a response a couple of days later, I resolved myself to the inevitable: she didn’t want to be involved, and was ignoring me in the hopes I’d go away.
Which is okay, because the entire thing does sound crazy, after all, if some guy asked you out would you really wanting him to call you up two years later and ask for an interview for his book?
You can imagine my surprise when, two weeks later, I received a response from Lana at about 1am in the morning.
Lana’s sleep patterns are like mine, I remembered that, it was one of the many things I’d liked about her. So when I wandered back into my room about 1:30am in the morning and sat down in front my computer, I was stunned to see an email telling me:
Lana sent you a new message on Facebook…
My hand flew to the mouse and clicked on the link. It had to be positive, right? There’s no reason for her to respond after this long of her own accord for it to be entirely negative.
Well, Abigail did….
It was not entirely negative, it gave me enough hope for a dance of joy. It read:
1:07am, October 12th
send me what you have written i love to read it first and yes it sounds weird
I could barely contain my excitement. I could taste victory, in spite of the obvious hesitation. I had to win her over. It would take every bit of cool, charm and wit I had in me. I hit REPLY and typed up my response:
1:37am, October 12th
Have you got an email address I can send it to? (It’s a bit long to paste in a facebook message is all)
See what I mean? It was full of cool, charm and wit, how could she resist such a fun loving suggestion?
Apparently, quite easily:
11:01am, October 14th
just paste a little bit if its not to strange i might do it
Okay, so she was a little hesitant. Oh fine, she was fairly hesitant. I had to scan the through what I’d written and find the funniest and most light hearted chapter and paste as much of it in as I could. With this done, I sat back and waited.
Three weeks later, I’d pretty much decided that Lana was not going to take part. But I knew I couldn’t just DECIDE that, I had to make certain she said she didn’t want to take part.
So I sent her another facebook message.
2:42pm, Oct 28th
Let me guess, too strange?
As you can see I wanted to communicate that I thought she didn’t want to take part, and that I was okay with that. Also, I figured the way I’d written the message gave the impression how laid back I was. This may have had some effect as I actually got a response.
3:11pm, Oct 30th
nah just thinking about it
Stop. Read that again. “Nah, just thinking about it!” This was great. Why? Well I had given her the perfect opportunity to say No, I lined up a situation where a “No” would be a perfectly acceptable response, and she was still thinking about it. Which meant there was STILL an opportunity for a “Yes.”
In actual fact, there wasn’t.
A month passed after Lana’s message. Luckily in this time I had the Year Six Reunion to focus on (We’ll get to that next chapter). Not willing to admit defeat, I made one last attempt to try to get an interview with her. It went like this:
6:12pm, Nov 28th
Hey, it’d be awesome if you could let me know either way whether you want to be interviewed or not.
Either yes or no is cool. (I mean, obviously Yes would be preferred, but No is fine too). thanks.
See? Calm, cool, collected. I admit that at this point it kinda seems like begging for a response, any sort of a response. Positive or negative, it had come to the point where a negative response wouldn’t even bug me, even if it was akin to Abigail’s response.
Three weeks later, the fact that Lana hadn’t responded had become amusing to me. Surely by now it would be easier just to have shot me down three months ago, right?
At least she managed make a new record in the book for the longest time it took to get a response. When three weeks had gone by since my last message, I figured, since I had no longer had anything to lose, that it wouldn’t hurt to send another facebook message.
8:41pm, Dec 18th
Totally a “No” isn’t it?
Honestly, I was surprised when this actually got me a response. Maybe I should’ve tried the direct approach three months ago. (Or even two years ago, when I asked her out.)
12:59pm Dec 20th
Like I said earlier, I was fully prepared for this. In fact I’d had three months to prepare for this response. So the fact that it was a negative one didn’t bother me in the slightest. It wasn’t like I didn’t have anything to do in the time in which I waited for a response, I mean of course there was my day job, but let’s not forget the Year Six Reunion. That was a tale in itself.