I am a social girl. If I'm not out and about a fair amount I get bored. My Significant Other is a social guy, but because of differing degrees of liking the sauce (as in, I do, he doesn't) I tend to fly solo a lot. Heck, even when we're out at the same place we're not attached at the hip. After three years, I still dig looking up mid-conversation at a party, bar, crime scene, whatever, and smiling or leering at him inappropriately, then going back to our respective conversations.
There's a pesky side effect of painting the town red with only one brush though. I'll chat with an interesting dude and walk away thinking "Nice guy...Oooh, I wonder if there's any Cheerios left at the house!" End of story. And most guys walk away from me doing the same. "Nice girl....Oooh, I wonder if there's any porn on HBO tonight!" They either know that I have a Significant Other of hulking mass, or they're not interested in anything but my knock-knock joke repertoire and ability to knot cherry stems with my tongue. But lately I'm finding that even if I've mentioned my S.O. in conversation, there is a breed of guy who seems to think it's well-advised to seek a follow-up audience.
Take the guy I was chatting with Friday night. He's a musician and plays the saxophone, which I do as well. So I asked where he played and said something to the effect of, "Oh, my boyfriend and I love live music so we'd love to see you play some time." I gave him my card. Today there was a phone message from him. So now I'm second guessing, on one hand thinking, 'OK, people need to make friends and some folks still actually use a phone to communicate, so this is totally normal. Plus, I told him to call about any shows. And he was a really cool guy so he might make for an interesting friend some day.' But then I'm thinking, 'Is this guy really choosing to ignore that I mentioned several times having a boyfriend and is he looking for a date?' A couple weeks earlier a similar scenario ensued after a cocktail networking thing in which I'd given my card out to some people in attendance, and a guy contacted me about having drinks. My best friends in the world are three guys I've known for six to 10 years. I can go out with them alone--drinking, gambling, the occasional strip club--and it's not a big deal, because I know they're above board. I'll never know with someone I've just met though if they appear intent on ignoring the fact that the S.O. exists.
[Editor's note: I should interrupt myself here. Having grown up surrounded by pretty brunettes and blondes, I am more than a tad on the "eh" side about my self-image. Let's face it, the American private school system is not one where a coil-curled redhead with a dry sense of humor gets a lot of attention from the boys and emerges thinking she's the cat's meow. When a friend or the S.O. elbows me in the side and alleges that I'm getting hit on, I am loathe to do anything but blush and make an awkward non sequitur about a New Yorker article on urban beet farming that I've just read. So this isn't me pouting my lips, jutting one hip and twirling my hair while saying "Wahh, poor me, I'm so cute I just don't know what to do."]
[One more editor's note: I find it almost impossible to do the bitchy female thing and look around the room or appear bored when a guy is talking to me. I try to be friendly and engaging because I'm genuinely interested in talking to new people if they've got something to offer conversationally. I give out my business card. I realize that this can appear from the other side of the beer bottle to be opening a door.]
Here's my question: When and how do you interject into a conversation that you're taken? More than I worry about leading some guy on, I worry about the alternative. About the guy who strikes up a conversation with me just to be nice and then I blurt out "I have a boyfriend," and he's all, "Good for you chucklehead, I'm married. Would you or your ego like a refill on that champagne?" Is it preferable to just get it out of the way right up front with some conversational cue and then move on with the discussion? Or do you wait until they call, email, etc., and explain? Or do you just ignore those follow-ups all together?
And please dear God, don't anybody suggest fake engagement ring.