Confessions of a Ballerunner

Essays on Sports, Arts, Culture, and Life

Message on a napkin

This was the message on the napkin that I found appended to my car windshield when I returned from a glorious afternoon of cross-country skiing (‘classic’ style, not ‘skate’ – for the record) in Gatineau Park. I hadn’t noticed it until I was just about to drive off, and when I did, I scowled thinking it was some sort of parking ticket. I opened it and began reading…

Hi, this is an odd note, but I noticed you were skate skiing alone. If you ever would like someone to join you please call me and maybe we could chat first or have a coffee. If this seems too strange or you are uncomfortable no problem – just toss this tissue! Thanks [name & phone number removed]

The first thing I thought after reading the message was, this couldn’t have been intended for me. (Exhibit A – I was skiing classic style that day.) Then, in my characteristic hyperanalytical self, I began deconstructing the message… Was he some creepy guy trying to prey on vulnerable women? (Afterall, he would only have known which vehicle was mine if he had been watching me as I hastily got my gear on in the parking lot before hitting the trails… Maybe he was still around somewhere watching me from a safe distance… No, thankfully, the parking area was largely deserted.) OK, maybe he was just some harmless older guy – a retiree – looking for love anywhere he could find it. (Still kind of creepy.) Or maybe, (glass half-full, for once), just maybe he was this ruggedly handsome, competitive, Eastern European elite skier, who had been down for the Loppet and was captivated by my uncommon beauty (Yeah, that’s totally it!?… More likely he was looking for his Lindsey Vonn!)

In any case, I was hypoglycemic and cold, so got into my car and drove back through the windy roads out of the Park (but not before stopping in at the local dépanneur and boulangerie to refuel with chocolate milk and a chocolate chip cookie, respectively), radio turned to Cross-Country Check-Up (Yes, I am a CBC geek – first step is admitting it). All the while, though, I am engaged in a separate internal debate about the merits and potential risks of contacting this mysterious napkin author. Aside from the potential creepiness of the character behind the missive, the concept was rather original and bold, and certainly a refreshing approach to appeal to the attention of a woman. (Most men these days – or at least most of the ones I have met – leave the ‘pursuing’ to women, sadly. Call me old-fashioned, traditional, an affront to feminism, or whatever, but personally, I prefer to be the pursued, the courted and not the reverse – but, and here’s the catch, only when the guy is someone I’m actually attracted to. Yeah, I know, don’t we all wish it could be that easy!?..)

After a few more hours of my excessively rational inner risk-manager squaring off against my more romantic, adventurous, curious self, I decide to take a calculated risk and send “Napkin Man” (this name makes me think of Jude Law in that scene with Cameron Diaz and his characters’ daughters in The Holiday – a must-see-again-and-again film, if you are a woman. Classic chick-flick! :-)) a text without revealing my name. Still dubious about both his skiing skills (if he was any kind of regular xc-skier, he’d absolutely know the difference between “classic” and “skate” skiing) and whether I was the intended recipient, I decided to quiz him on what I was wearing…

Within minutes, I received a text reply confirming all but the correct color of my ski hat (green vs blue). (OK, now what?..) I then decided to ask him his age – realizing, of course, he could lie. He replied and said he was 49, (ok, probably being truthful) and that he couldn’t tell exactly how much “significantly younger” I was. He further added that he had skied to a look-out point in the Park that I realized was only slightly further than the spot I had used as my turn-around point. (Strange, had we crossed paths somewhere?) When I replied, I indicated that he was a bit older than the age range of men I was hoping to meet. However, I thanked him for noticing me and for reaching out in the bold and creative way in which he did. I also expressed how I wished more men would take a similar risk in attempting to [directly] connect with women [as opposed to wasting a lot of time e-chatting on internet dating sites, or by simply waiting and letting the woman take the lead – which is so frustrating]. I ended my text by wishing him luck and happy skiing. (I flipped my phone closed and sat back, thinking, good for me for taking a risk. See, that wasn’t such a bad experience afterall…) A few minutes later, another text… It was Napkin Man again… (What now?) This next message left me a bit confused. It seemed to suggest that he was just struck by the fact that I was out skiing alone and that he was ONLY looking for a ski partner. (OK, I guess that’s possible. Or, maybe he was trying to get me to reconsider meeting up with him by appearing non-threatening… But, if skiing with a buddy was the sole intent, why go to all this trouble to find one? The region is full of athletes and sports clubs with no shortage of opportunities to find a work-out partner through more conventional channels…) For some reason, Napkin Man also felt the need to include a mention of the fact he drove a (luxury) vehicle. [I can’t say I’ve ever been one to be wooed by guys bragging about their fancy cars – even though I do appreciate a nice vehicle – so this was not helping his cause and was confusing the tenuous ‘just want to ski with you’ proposal even more.]  I contemplated sending another message, but my risk manager self overrode me. I figured if this guy was a bit of a creep or stalker, the last thing I should be doing was to continue engaging him. I closed the phone and hoped he’d get the message. (He did.)

Is there a point I want to make about this story? Even though Napkin Man didn’t turn out to be this hot, Eastern-European Olympic ski athlete who was totally enamoured by my beauty and skiing prowess (And yes, I could easily see how this could happen!?… ;-)), it made for an interesting end to an otherwise grueling afternoon of a double-bill of running and skiing, and ultimately, was a nice (needed) little boost for my ego. It also felt strangely empowering to have taken a risk and contacted the guy. Sort of like finding out how the story ends to a real, live Missed Connections post – that Sophie Blackall so beautifully and imaginatively illustrates in her popular blog and book – instead of letting it disappear into the ether, a potential missed opportunity for love or romance, or regret for the path not taken…

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2 thoughts on “Message on a napkin

  1. Love this post. Really well written and interesting. Thanks.

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