Sunday, 18 July 2010

Sexy Eyes

When I joined the dating website I told myself that, of course, this didn't mean that I would completely neglect the possibility of finding romance offline. I didn't intend to put all of my eggs in one basket (read: let myself not bother making any effort to meet women in any other way.) However, that is kind of what happened. At the time I was temporarily working as a croupier in a casino for a few weeks while waiting for my "proper graduate job" to start. This temporary job involved night shifts, mostly at weekends, which put me somewhat out of sync with most of the people in my city. I was also short on money. I wasn't really going out or meeting people or being very sociable.

Well, I was meeting one group of people: the other croupiers working at the casino. Some of whom were women. One of whom I've never forgotten since.

As croupiers we each ran a gaming table - roulette, blackjack, poker... surrounded by eager (or pessimistic but compulsive) gamblers but not interacting with other staff members. We would only meet our colleagues during our occasional 15-minute breaks. Therefore it took some time to meet other staff as a new employee, but I think it was on my second or third night that I met her. I was trying to be the most outgoing version of myself, introducing myself to new people and making new acquaintances. As she turned to respond to my greeting, our eyes met.

Oh My God. She had the most amazingly captivating eyes I had ever seen. I can't even recall what words I said next but I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't make much sense. I remember thinking to myself: "This woman's eyes are too beautiful for me to look into and think straight at the same time." But then thinking straight was over-rated compared with looking into her eyes and feeling my brain turn to mush.

For the rest of that night I made an effort to chat with her as much as possible whenever our 15-minute breaks happened to coincide. I thought we were getting on well so I was disappointed when fate dictated that she be away on holiday shortly after that, for a period of time which would take out half of my sentence in this stop-gap job.

When she returned from holiday I wasn't sure whether she would remember the new staff member she'd briefly met, but to my delight I received a "Hello" and a warm smile and another devastating flicker of electrifying eye contact. Our chatting continued when our breaks allowed - I worked out that I only had about a one-in-four chance of our breaks overlapping but luck seemed to be with me more times than not.

My time at the casino was fast coming to an end and I resolved to ask her out on a date during my last night working there. She was working that night too - I'd checked the rotas beforehand - but suddenly I wasn't getting the luck with our break schedules. The night wore on and I waited for my chance. We got a simultaneous break but she was busy chatting with other people and frustratingly I was lacking the courage to interrupt and try to grab a moment alone with her.

As the break ended people started filing out of the staff room, with her at the back of the group. I had a split-second opportunity to speak to her alone before she went out onto the casino floor. Say something, brain. Say "Can I speak with you a sec?" Say "Will you go out with me?" Say "It's not all work, work, work!" Say "Wait..." Just say something...

I bottled it. I saw my chance hovering in front of me requiring an instant reaction and I let it slip away.

In that last stint working on a gaming table I'm disappointed to say that I tried to talk myself out of the notion that asking her out had been a good plan. I still didn't know her all that well. I couldn't tell whether she was interested in me. Soon I would be working during weekday office hours and she'd presumably still be working weekend nights. None of these were good arguments against asking for a date, but I was trying to make myself feel better about the decision that my reluctant and shy side had taken in blatant disregard of the plan drawn up by my adventurous and enterprising side.

I walked away from the casino that night free from night shifts and the resulting alienation from the majority of the population, but with a heavy heart. I kept thinking about the biggest regrets being the things that one didn't do. As a former staff member I was banned from entering the casino as a customer. I didn't have any contact details for her. Possibly I could have tried phoning the casino to ask to speak with her, or even waiting outside before the start of the night shift to try to talk with her when she arrived for work, but I hadn't got to know her all that well and I didn't want to seem like a stalker. I didn't come up with a way to create a second chance to be brave, and as a result I never saw her again.

If I were to see Sexy Eyes again one day, I would say: I do still regret not asking you out, whatever your answer might have been. I'm not sure whether I can truthfully say "You have the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen" to anyone else since I met you. I hope that your dream which you shared with me on one of our 2am breaks has come true for you.

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