When “Not Really” is Really Not a Good Answer

For me, the lasting memory of Toronto’s famous landmark CN Tower is not the sky pod, the famous glass floor, or dining experience at 360 Restaurant. Especially I didn’t do the latter. It is the moment with the official when I was about to leave the tower.

“Go straight that way, turn left.” The guy behind the computer screen in photo souvenir section showed the way to the elevator to exit the building.

Seconds after thanking him, he suddenly called me back. “Excuse me, were you born in the end of the year, somewhere in October or November?”

What an odd question in the end of the visit. “That was close. It’s November.”

CN tower’s glass floor

“So you are…. hmmm……Scorpio?”

“Scorpio. How do you know that?”

He chuckled. “I’m into zodiac. I learn the way people carry themselves according to their zodiac. Where do you come from?”

“Jakarta, Indonesia.”

Coincidentally, he has several Indonesian friends and would like to visit the country one day. I was flattered that he preliminary noticed my nationality because he thinks that Indonesians are generally warm and friendly in nature.

CN tower’s fresco and the glass floor

It was my last day to fantasize as an undercover police like Joe Pistone as Donnie Brasco. I didn’t know I’m that predictable.

“I’m Jayson, by the way.” He offered me a handshake, leading to a disclosure about himself. The 29 year-old guy, voluntarily admitted he’s still single, is a Canadian citizen who originally comes from The Philippines. He shared a glimpse of his struggle for a more decent job for a better living – that his current job is something temporary – and an equal treatment in a country that is not his, something that locals take for granted and never understand completely.

I could put myself in his shoes. I tried to do the same thing in The Netherlands after graduation, but it didn’t work out.

I accidentally saw his photo editing works in Photoshop program, depicting human figures walking on the tower’s rooftop, some flying like a bird, that reminds me of a graphic design major in my past. There were rows of photograph (of unknown people) souvenirs placed on the wall behind him sold for overwhelmingly $20 per sheet. No wonder why they don’t sell that much, about 23 sheets max in busy periods, 1 or none in quiet periods.

Then, we talked just about everything that came from our head. Design software, photography lessons, his photography side job, camera filters (that I initially called lenses until he corrected it into filters), college life and so on. His Caucasian colleague interrupted him with work-related questions sometimes, but it didn’t stop us continuing the ongoing conversation.

“What time are you going home?” He asked.

Did I hear it right? “Well, I don’t know. May be at 6….or 8…..I don’t know. I’m going to my cousin’s place and meet up in Don Mills.”

I wasn’t lying. My cousin invited me to watch a movie at his home theater he’s so proud of. My niece purposely skipped her fitness routine on that day just to join me. So I wouldn’t let them down by cancelling the appointment.

“Really? I live there, too.” He replied.

CN tower’s souvenir shop on xmas

Later on, it came the most shocking question from a tourist attraction’s official. “Are you single?”

“Not really.” I responded.

We had some small talk for several minutes before a couple of visitors came to him asking about photo souvenirs. I decided to leave as they had a longer conversation and felt bad interrupting him working. So I told him goodbye. He looked at me for a second, nodded and headed back to the customers he was serving.

When I crossed the bridge heading to Rogers Centre, my mind suddenly ran a flashback scene in the tower. Everything went so smoothly before he surprisingly asked my marital status. I got a feeling that his excitement about me gradually went off after the 2 words coming from my mouth: “not really”.

bridge to rogers centre

Gosh! He asked me, “Are you single?” Nonetheless, I heard it otherwise, “Are you in a relationship?”. My honest answer should be, “Yes (I’m single).”

Regardless of the question, “not really” is really not a good answer, especially when it comes to marital status. Not really single, not really in a relationship, not really married? I mean, what are you trying to say? What was I trying to say? It’s a simply yes and no question. Why make it so complicated?

I remember giving him my email address in the middle of our conversation. But silly me, I didn’t ask his. Until now, no friend request on Facebook and “hello how are you” thing from him in my inbox. I believe I broke a good man’s heart. I made him ashamed and lose his face. He forgets me. He lost my address. Or else.

downtown toronto & toronto island

My Facebook search results showed over 100 Jaysons from The Philippines and nothing matches his profile. Anyways, many facebookers don’t use real names in their profile.

My sensitive imagination is running wild, interpreting our nice chitchat as a great chemistry between 2 strangers. Somehow, I wish I had the opportunity to reconnect the chemistry, although not necessarily for a relationship. May be it could start with, “Where were we?”

Get real, we are on our own. I guess, it was just about a guy who needed someone who listens to his thoughts. And I was nothing more than a random pick of the day.

if you find a moose instead of a grizzly bear, that means you’re in canada!

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