I imagine if I told you I got someone’s number the other day, you’d picture me walking up to a guy I found attractive and asking for it. And then, trying to reconcile that image with the essence of who I am, you’d think some more and ask if by “getting someone’s number” I really mean that I dropped my phone in the toilet again, so hard this time that I ruined the SIM card and had to switch to someone’s old digits. (Good guess, but neither of the above is how I pick up guys, as I prefer the method of hoisting them up by the waist.) And then you’d say I must’ve found a random person’s phone, that you know I didn’t really get someone’s number because at this point you can see through my cheap clickbait ploys and this blog’s plot “twists” are getting old.
To which I’d say, points for preempting criticism by flaming yourself first, and PSYCH. I really did get someone’s number. Ten digits, written in blue pen on a napkin and everything. Except… well, you’ll see.
I don’t know why this is such a monumental occasion—probably because it’s not—because it’s not like my number is a hot commodity. I give it out pretty freely. (Er, besides that one time a stranger did ask me for my number and out of sheer panic I told him I didn’t have a phone. Am still working on erasing that moment from existence.)
People Who Have My Number
- Mom, disproportionately.
- My friends
- My enemies
- People I’ve emailed.
- People who ask.
- The company that tries every other week to sell me furnaces and occasionally throws in a free dryer vent to sweeten the deal, which I have to admit makes the opportunity harder and harder to pass up each time.
The list of people whose numbers I’ve gotten was the same, just in reverse, up until recently, in a moment that was at once infinitely more fulfilling and more pathetic than just getting some guy’s number.
Wednesday, I was participating in the second round of a pitch competition for startups trying to enter an accelerator program and ultimately vie for funding. My team and I were scheduled into the 12:15-3:00 PM block, most of which we spent lounging around in the glass-paneled waiting area and taking photos of ourselves with a teammate’s iPhone X like the awful millennials we are.
We were ushered into a small office space, where we tried not to trip over the table of seven judges (something I’ve definitely had trouble with before.) The situation normally would have been intimidating, but because a) the judges were in short roll-y chairs, b) they kept raiding the pantry for Cheeto Puffs during the break, and c) they roared with laughter when my teammate explicitly defined “old people” as “those over 25,” we felt relatively relaxed throughout the presentation.
Q&A was unexpected but manageable, as we had a strong point person who fielded their questions well. I’d expected much more scrutiny of our tangibles, but the judges were more interested in discussing our concept, only asking about specifics at the last minute.
We left the room feeling satisfied with the presentation and were about to reenter the waiting area for our possessions when a woman rushed out and stopped us.
Woman: How much do you need?
Me: Uh, we were told not to give a specific ask because we’re primarily seeking mentorship and guidance through the accelerator—
Woman: How much funding do you think you’ll need?
Taken aback, I regurgitated our cost projection over five years from the presentation because I didn’t want to come up with a stupid number and I wanted to gauge her reaction to the entire sum.
She didn’t even blink an eye.
Woman: Okay, I—
Woman: *glances back into the room* I’ll speak to you later.
And then she walked back in, shutting the door. We stood outside for a beat.
Teammate: Well, I guess we’re staying.
We hung around in the waiting area for another hour, but she didn’t emerge. We’d all missed our classes at this point and had some time to go before the pitches would end. One of my teammates had the brilliant idea to track her down on break, and we ambushed the room facilitator in the hallway. After a minute, she returned with the woman from before.
The woman brandished a creaseless white napkin and presented it to me.
Woman: Here. Call me.
She disappeared back into the room.
. . .
Later, when my roommate asked about how the pitch went, I told her about getting the number on the napkin.
Me: And so… yeah.
Roommate: She thought you were cute!
Me: No! Why couldn’t she have given us her email, now I actually have to have a conver—
I registered the joke. And sulked, as I do when people are funnier than I am, which is most of the time, explaining why my resting face looks so pissed and I guess also why I never get people’s numbers and thus why this whole situation was so much weirder than it needed to be.
I called the number Friday afternoon. No reply, presumably because she’s playing hard to get. Stay tuned for the romantic tension, hopefully more of the will they than the won’t they variety.
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