In a desperate attempt to find ways to occupy my day other than playing Skyrim and gorging on M&Ms, I decided to go to the library before my 5:30 class. Having been to the library several times this semester already, I was familiar with the layout: the first two floors are “group study” floors where students are free to make noise, but the top two floors are clearly labeled “quiet” floors where even whispering is discouraged. For that reason, I assumed I would be able to study in peace on the third floor. I plopped down at an empty table large enough to comfortably seat six.
While I am currently single, I am not actively seeking male companionship at this time, especially at the Northeastern library while reading a PowerPoint entitled “Language of Special Education.” I would like to clarify, however, that I am not dead; if I happened to make eye contact with a honey walking by or sitting at a table near me, my posture would slightly improve and instead of squinting at the computer screen, I would find myself smoldering.
That being said, I was not expecting him when he first approached me. I had been watching him from the other table for just a few minutes, giving him side-glances about as sexy and subtle as a drunken cougar. From the corner of my eye, I could see him stand up and approach my table.
“Excuse me,” he whispered in a deep, raspy voice.
“Yes! Yes…hello,” I responded in a much squeakier one, violently ripping out both of my headbuds.
“Are you using this leg rest?” he asked, pointing to a fabric-covered cube my legs were currently resting on.
“Not at all. Feel free to take it!” I responded a little too quickly and a little too eagerly, dropping both of my legs to the ground. He whisked the cube away as swiftly as he had approached me and returned back to his table without so much as a “thank you.” I chalked it up to him playing hard to get and resumed both my homework and stare-assault.
I was actively writing in the spiral notebook before me while listening to whichever artist was playing on the Adele Pandora station. Just a few moments passed before I was approached again, this time by a much larger, louder man. To attract my attention, he waved his hand in front of my face.
“Is anyone sitting here?” he asked in a dramatically loud whisper. Removing one headphone from my ear, I responded in a socially acceptable whisper.
“No, go for it,” I said before replacing my headphone. He decided to plop down in an obnoxious manner in the seat directly in front of me. Not breaking eye contact, he waited for me to begin physically taking notes again before sticking his hand back in my face.
“My name is Brad,” he gaily announced. Slowly removing one headphone, I extended my hand and introduced myself. Again, I replaced the bud and tried to resume my work.
“So what are you studying?” he asked, eyes blaring into my soul. I slowly and deliberately made a point to put down my pen and remove my headphone in order to hear him.
“What?” I asked.
“What are you studying?” he repeated with both hands folded on the empty table in front of him.
“I’m studying education,” I politely retorted before going back to my tasks.
“What are you doing now?” he questioned, still not having produced any work of his own that would obligate him to be in the library in the first place.
“I…I’m taking notes…” I said quizzically, as any human staring as intently as he was would be able to make that connection. I tried to listen to music again, but he cut me off.
“I’m studying [something involving science or engineering]! I’m a graduate student,” he proudly announced. I nodded my head and attempted to resume my studies. It was almost as if he were deliberately waiting for me to start working again before continuing his line of questioning.
“What year are you?”
“What?” I curtly asked after having dramatically removed a headphone.
“What year are you?”
“I’m actually a grad student, too,” I whispered, prompting both of his eyes to grow.
“Really? I haven’t met any other grad students yet! It’s so nice to be with another grad student,” he smiled, still staring.
At this point, the only thing I wanted to do was escape as quickly as possible. However, I don’t like for people to think ill of me—I didn’t want to come off as rude, but I also really didn’t want to be there anymore. I had two and a half more hours until my class and I desperately needed the tables and wifi from the library, so I decided I would stay there for a bit longer. In an attempt to shut down the conversation and gear my attention back towards my homework, I opted to speak unprompted.
“Yeah, I’ve got my first class tonight and I really need to work on these notes.”
“Oh when is your class? I have class at 6:30!”
“It’s at 5:30,” I said, turning my head to the computer screen and violently placing my pen to the paper.
I will admit that I have a tendency to overreact to certain situations and draw quick conclusions, sometimes with no evidence—for example, I stopped keeping count of the number of drug deals I was positive I had witnessed on the subway that morning. I was concerned that this boy was going to proposition me in some way, which would not go over well for me seeing as how I am about as good at rejecting men as I am at flirting with them.
After a beat, I could hear him muttering another question.
“What?” I asked, annoyed.
“Do you have plans for this weekend?” Oh, jeez, my internal monologue was screaming.
“Oh, yeah,” I started. “I have all kinds of plans this weekend. I’m doing something on Friday, and then I have plans for Saturday, and I have something that I’m also doing on Sunday…some plans…” It’s also important to note here that I am a terrible liar.
“Oh, ok,” he responded. “I don’t want to sound creepy…but where in the city do you live?” he asked in an incredibly creepy way.
“I’m over in Cambridge,” I answered, not offering any sort identifier as to which part of Cambridge I lived in.
“I love Cambridge! I live over in [somewhere in Boston].” To this, I nodded my head and went back to work, thankful that it appeared as though this guy was finally bringing out something to work on. For fear that he may ask me to elaborate on either my made-up plans or my specific living location, I decided I would leave in five minutes. I contemplated the excuse I would give to him if he asked why I was so hastily running out of the library. It was important that I created the excuse ahead of time, as if I were put on the spot, I feared I would respond with something like, “Oh my cat is…dirty.”
I feel it’s important to note that I am not a vain person—anyone who knows me knows that well. I do not walk around assuming that all men immediately want to date me, nor do I assume that all men who spark conversations with me want to do so as well.
Brad was a different story.
After feeling the familiar burn of his gaze for another uncomfortable sixty seconds, I saw him pull out his phone. Not thinking anything of it initially, I continued my work. Then, with the subtlety of a pageant mom wielding a video camera, he stood his phone on the table and angled it upwards to take a picture of me.
It was all over for me at that point. I swiftly packed up my bag, throwing pens in without even putting their caps on, and started to walk away. When he asked me where I was going, my excuse was something along the lines of, “I have to…go.”
Practically running out of the library, I spent the next fifteen minutes trying to find a location on campus that was both secluded and equipped with wifi, certain that I would not have to deal with Brad again.
That night, I really did have class at 5:30, but our teacher let us out thirty minutes early. Being new to both Boston and Northeastern, I had no friends on campus. Due to that fact, I was sufficiently taken off guard when I heard someone shout “KATE!” from across the quad.
Literally, not a single person possibly could have identified me by name, let alone in the dark of night. From behind. I stopped in the middle of the quad and turned to see where the noise had come from. Walking towards me, waving as violently as if he were trying to drunkenly hail a taxi, was none other than the boy from the library.
“Kate! It’s me—Brandon!”
“Hey…there,” I responded, still understandably shocked. “How was your class?”
“It was good!”
“Great. Well I have to go catch the T,” I said, swiftly darting down whichever street was to my left.
“Oh, you’re going that way?” I heard him say as I ran down the dark alley.
It took two weeks for me to return to the library.