My car battery had just died. It was raining.

You were whistling as you came loping down the sidewalk. Loudly. I turned onto the street just ahead of you and you gained on me and then passed me quickly.

You hit the door of Caffe Ladro on 15th and gestured me in ahead of you.

You were wearing basketball shorts, a paint-splattered t-shirt, and had paint in your beard. And a big, easy smile.

Me: So what are you painting?

You: A wall.

Me: How’d it go?

You: Good! I finished.

Me: Congratulations! That’s a good feeling.

You: …I actually finished a year ago.

Me: ….

You: I just really like this t-shirt.

Me: *stares at the paint in your beard* It’s a good t-shirt.

You: *follows me to the coffee lids* So do you paint?

Me: No. I mean, I’ve painted a wall or two in my day. But I try to avoid it.

You: Me too! I haven’t painted in a year. The wall still looks great though.

[Later, my brother-in-law: You should have said you paint with words!]

I sat down with my coffee, willing you to follow me. You looked after me for a moment, then left.

A year ago, I was baffled. How do you go from a few exchanges to asking for someone’s number? Especially at 11:30 on a Sunday morning?

It’s a sincere question. No one’s in that frame of mind at 11:30 on a Sunday morning in their local coffeeshop. I had about 3 minutes from the start of the interaction to the end. Thirty seconds to make a move once it’s clear you can’t keep stirring cream into your coffee forever. Introduce yourself. Decide to sit down. Follow her to the table. Stand there until it’s clear you’re just standing there. Follow him out the door. Ask a question unrelated to paint. Ask if it’s toothpaste in his beard. Oh god, don’t ask that.

It seems somewhat insurmountable. But I often think that. How do you go from meeting someone to asking them out? For that matter, how does anyone ever go from talking to someone to walking down a sidewalk with him or her to kissing?

It’s baffling. It’s a jump. It isn’t a step forward, or even a break into a jog. It’s a sudden level jump, and sometimes it takes a mushroom or a star or an extra life. I don’t play video games. Can you tell?

But people do it, all the time. Today, I’d do something. I would stand awkwardly at the lids until neither of us could justify it any longer. I would get up from where I was sitting at the table and follow him out the door. I would ask him for his number. Tinder keeps you in the game. I’m in practice. I’m also a little bit fearless right now.

He was cute. I wish I liked Caffe Ladro’s pastries more. I’d go back more often.

Grade: I still think about you. You looked so happy, whistling your way down the sidewalk. If you read this, call me.

Help me out, Internet!