The wonder years

12/21/2009 4:19 PM

04/27/2011 10:39 AM

I have a code – a rule I live by that demands I follow it to ensure success.

I’m not allowed to wonder.

I’m not allowed to have that gut-spinning moment when I’m in my 60s, locked in whatever life I’m living, and say to myself, What would have happened if I just asked her out? What if I told that waitress I thought she was pretty? What if I had driven five hours to tell her how I felt? Why didn’t I just go back and freaking kiss her?

Those things are usually done by Colin Firth or Hugh Grant in a very forgettable romantic comedy, and nine times out of 10 everything ends happily with a top 40 song playing over the credits. Life, however, isn’t like that.

But maybe it could be.

When it comes to romance, I’ve established the No Wondering Rule. If there’s a girl I just can’t get out of my head, then I’m obligated by my code to do something about it – whether it’s innocently complimenting a girl on her hair (something more guys need to get the hang of: genuine compliments without flirting), or driving several hundred miles to ask a girl out that I’ve only met once. Yep, I really did that.

But it’s not always grand, several-hundred-mile kinds of gestures. Sometimes it’s smaller. For instance, the code once forced me to own up to my crush on a local singer. (Hey, you’d fall in love with her, too, if you heard her cover “Tiny Dancer.”) And although a mutual friend forbade me to ask her out, I did look her dead in the eye and tell her she was very pretty. (The genuine, non-flirty approach. I’m telling you – master that. It’s good stuff.)

While this newfound way of life has also lead me into an online dating fiasco, numerous rejections and more awkward moments then I dare admit to, I have had success. I have gotten dates and numbers from random, gorgeous women in situations that most guys back out of or simply don’t initiate. Naturally though, the biggest perk is that I don’t wonder what could have happened. And that’s worth every rejection, embarrassment and awkward moment.

The bottom line is: It all comes down to what you’re willing to risk. Sure, getting shot down or looking like an idiot sucks, but that’s what it takes to find someone. Accept it. You know it’s worth it. If Hugh Grant can do it, anyone can.

And I’m not just talking to the guys. Ladies, while I’m not giving you permission to stalk that guy you’ve spent way too much time thinking about, don’t waste your time over-analyzing what might happen. Make it happen.

Oh, and that girl I drove several hundred miles just to ask out? Turns out she has a boyfriend. But at least I won’t be spending the rest of my life wondering.

Ryan Austin is a screenwriter and regular contributor to You can follow his dating adventures at

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