Sweater Guy

Call him what you may, it might be Sweater Guy, Mr. Alaska, or perhaps even loverboy unless you ever figure out his name. And thus begins the story of an emotional disaster evening with me, yours truly.

I arrived at the Viking Line Cinderella cruise terminal bound for Mariehamn in Finland for what is well known as a rite of passage for Swedes; a massive party boat. My colleagues organised an event and it was visible from the beginning of the bus ride to Stockholm, that they were drinking heavily and would be for the whole time. I abstained until at least dinner time.

So we got to the terminal and waited for awhile socialising and then finally got onto the boat. We dropped our stuff into our cabins and we proceeded to a pub on the ship to sip a few down. We found a window area and everyone else engaged in getting drinks except me. We engaged in lovely chatting and people came and went as we remained.

One of the remained ones was a gentleman of a youngish nature who was hovering the island around us. We dubbed him Sweater Guy because it was obvious he was looking at us and trying to figure out if we spoke English. I couldn’t help but notice his attractiveness, but I resolved in chit chatting about him. A friend, Christina, and I decided to put bets on if he was British, American, or Swedish. He kind of looked like all of them combined but was a mix. I voted British, Christina voted American.

And so as our evening progressed, so did Sweater Guy for what seemed like an hour or so. We moved around a bit, she got up for a few drinks and the people in our group rotated to going up on the top deck for sunshine. It was too cold for me to consider it as I had no jacket. During this time we noticed this other guy drinking by himself in the same place, but instead he was staring at us in a less discrete way. We pondered what his intentions were, but secretly longed for Sweater Guy to return.

And return he did, and the moment our eyes laid on him we both giggled to each other like little schoolgirls. A new selection of friends had rotated to the bar, and we enlisted them to try to figure him out. Unsuccessful we were, and while I was finally feeling like I should get a drink, I was hesitant. Christina chastised me, because I was afraid and I didn’t know what I wanted to drink, but eventually I built up the courage to go and purchase a Happy Days which might have been the most delicious drink I had ever tasted, only 70:- later.

It was as I was turning away from the bar that I bumped into Sweater Guy and quickly said a quick “ursäkta” and scurried back to my spot at the window. After finally tasting the delicious cocktail that the bartender whipped up for me, I lulled into a more serene emotion, until suddenly we noticed Sweater  on the move. It was not only him going away, but he was coming right towards us. He bent over towards us and asked us if he “could crash in on our party” to which we all said cheerfully sure.

I winked to Christina and we both mouthed American. She was right, and I was wrong. It would not be the first time. He was all smiles, and described himself as an Alaskan visiting Sweden from his home in France where he’s an aviation engineer. The more I learned, the more I smile on the inside. Handsome, friendly, brainy, good smile, and an adorable laugh. We chit chatted and he kept leaning in and flirting. At first, I was thinking he’s flirting with Christina or our other friend Karin, but then I heard Christina in my ear telling me that he’s flirting with me. I shook my head at her and told her “you’re imagining things” cue terrible self esteem.

Time passed and we were enjoying a nice conversation about what he’s been doing in Stockholm and if he’s on the cruise alone or with friends and such. Time went by, and from prior I had decided that I needed to go back to my cabin to prepare for dinner. I estimated 1 hour to shower and get into what I wanted to, and make myself pretty. I wanted to make a good impression and not be lowlife like some others. I looked at my phone, and realised that not only did I not have 1 hour left until dinner, but less than 30 minutes. Time really did fly.

And so at this point Karin motioned to me to invite him to dinner, and she casually asked him which buffet he was going to, and he was a half hour after us, but she said to just come along and eat with us at 20:30 instead. We all smiled and he was super American and all “cool, thanks so much” and I bid him farewell to go get changed.

I literally ran back to my cabin, threw off my clothes, wet my hair, and began preparations. All must be perfect, I thought. I must make a good impression, I must be perfect. Tragedy struck when I realise I forgot my tie back at my apartment, but I figured that it would work without. Grey skin tight trousers, deep purple dress shirt, nice shoes; it looked above average. Concealer thrown on, powder done, mascara set, and for the first time in a long time I elected not to use glitter. A bit of lip gloss and I could hear Sarah in the hallway saying “We are going to be late, let’s go!!” and I off I went.

Passing people in the hallways, I noticed people staring at me. I was clearly too put together for this boat, but I didn’t care. We arrived to the buffet area and the first reaction from Brian was “Whoah, your lips are so red” to which I replied with some sassy remark about being a vampire. We proceeded to go to dinner, and the buffet lines were so long. I showered my plate with goods and then as I was fetching bread, I spotted him. Sweater Guy had transformed into Collard Shirt and Jeans with Dress Shoes guy.

It crossed my mind that my going to get changed somehow influenced him, and there was a moment of warmth that filled my heart. I found myself being drawn to him more and more. His smile, his laugh, the way he moved, just all these things that gave me positive feelings. Whenever he got up to get a drink, I would get stares from everyone around me inquiring who was he and winking at me. One went so far as to suggest that I make a move, and of course I scoffed thinking that it’s not likely.

Conversation was fun, light, engaging, personal, and since he was sitting right next to me I could even feel his aura and energy. As I kept drinking wine, I kept getting more and more sceptical and doubtful of what was going on. Others confirmed, there was flirting, and that his attention was on me. Eventually the dining staff kicked us out, as we downed our last bits of coffee, deserts and wine.

And so began the task of finding what to do. It was only 22:00 so it was quite early, and after wandering around for a bit we resolved on finding a karaoke bar to sit and listen to some Swedish pop songs and have a drink. And so comes the first time I’ve ever had a drink bought for me. I didn’t know how to react, I just was so embarrassed.

We sat down and recounted the examples of the Swedish music we were listening to, and people started to disperse from our group. A couple were left, along with Sweater Guy, and then karaoke started so the music got pretty rough. We decided on finishing up our drinks and going forward on to dancing somewhere. As we were making our way to the Entré Lounge, a phone call needed to be made and then we joined together and danced.

Truth be told, he couldn’t dance very well. As Jessica Andersson sang some covers of popular songs, we danced towards the middle and back of the floor and at one point I was so surprised on lack of rhythm that I asked him if he knew how to dance. He said not really, so I told him I’d show him. I grabbed his hips, and started to help him to feel the beat and move them with the beat. He did not protest, and I could feel a bit more that he was understanding that dancing was more than shuffling the feet. I returned to dancing up a storm.

We took a break to go to the bathroom, and as we were leaving the toilet, I pulled him aside and asked him an important question that had been lingering in my mind. I didn’t know if it was the right time, and didn’t really know what the answer was going to be, but I had felt and had been told that the entire evening he was flirting with me. He was following me, he was sticking to me, when I went away for a second he found my other friends and kept asking for me. He kept buying drinks for me, so I had to know. I stopped him and asked him, “Are you into guys?” and he looked at me, smiled a little bit, and after 30 seconds of the question hanging, said “No” and laughed. I retorted, “Then are you into Alex?” and he replied “Who is Alex?” and I told him she was the girl he was sitting across from at dinner. He said no.

I grabbed his hand, clearly carefree of everything, and dragged him to dance some more. I felt his hand squeeze mine, equally. We danced up a storm, and he bought me another drink, and by this time I was pretty wild. My hair was let down, I was doing backwards bends and snaps, my hands were on the floor, and my whole body was involved in dancing. I am quite sure that onlookers were getting a show filled with WTF entertainment. Drag queens would be screaming YAAAAAS QUEEN, etc.

We took a break, and he bought me another drink and it was at this moment that I thought that I was past my limit. He bought me at least 4 drinks, and I had 4 glasses of wine at dinner so I was pretty much well past my limit. He was trying to get me drunk, I felt it. I saw my friends lounging at the bar and said hello, and they asked me how things were going and told them I didn’t have a chance but I was still giving it my all. Sweater Guy promptly rejoined me with a new cider.

We stood together, drinking it and I started an intense conversation with him about doing what feels right. I think in retrospect, I was trying to justify following your heart and suggesting to him that he’s been a tease and clearly is into me so he should make a move. He was concentrated on me intensely like I had a spell on him. My friend Victor says the same, that when he listens to me he’s mesmerised by the way I tell things and have a great charismatic influence when orating. I played on this and he was agreeing, totally engaged.

I felt my balance giving way so I relocated to a large pillar near the bar, having finished my cider. I wrapped my arms around the pillar and held on for dear life, because I couldn’t stand up straight. I was dizzy, but I was keeping control of it. He came closer, leaned in and we continued our conversation in a more playful manner. I felt him flirting, after all he was leaning into me, whispering into my ear, all the while I was batting my eyelashes desperately trying to keep his attention. Doesn’t take much, I suppose.

We returned to dancing, and I kept showing him how to dance and helping him along. He eventually got tired and I just danced to him and for myself. Suddenly the lights went on and the bar was closing, but we decided to go up to the top deck to get some fresh air. We went, and the sun was rising and all the party boats were in the sea anchored and I showed him. It felt like such a romantic moment, with the wind flowing in our hair, together, and that’s when it started to hit me.

The tsunami strength, force of nature emotions started crashing down around the neighbouring village and it occurred to me that I had been flirting with a straight guy the entire night. I simply didn’t accept him saying he wasn’t interested in guys, I mean, he flirted, he followed me, he was being near to me, so it contradicted what he said. It also took him a long time to respond, so I just doubted. I was just upset, getting teary eyed, turning away from him, thinking and feeling embarrassing thoughts like what was I doing? I knew better, I just was so hopeful. I felt stupid, embarrassed, and mostly rejected. We had been together nearly for 12 hours non-stop, I was just so confused.

He started yawning and we went inside where a group of my friends were laying on the floor with the afterparty. Sweater Guy was standing at the railing yawning every few seconds, and I went up to ask him if he was tired. He said he was super tired, and I suggested maybe he should go to bed. He agreed and we went down to the 2nd floor. Why I followed him, I can not really understand, because I was basically walking to the depths of doom. But we passed some harassing Swedish guys and got to the 2nd floor deck where his cabin was. We got to his door, and we both leaned on it staring at each other.

I asked him if he had a good time, and it was at this moment that I realised I had been on a date for the last 12 hours. If it looks like a date, quacks like a date, it’s a date. I was in denial because we never called it a date, but that’s what it was. My attention was tunnel visioned on him and as the night progressed I got more and more attached. He told me he had an amazingly fun time and thanked me for being with him. He hugged me, I was stunned. He said “We should meet up tomorrow” and I laughed at him. Lack of self esteem enter stage left. I said, “Yeah right, it’s nice of you to offer but I’ve heard that before.” He smiled and persisted, then asked me for my number.

I was stunned. An attractive guy was asking me for my number, and even though he said he wasn’t into guys, he was asking for my number. I jumped at it. I grabbed my phone, which had been dead for 8 hours (duh) and then he grabbed his. I entered my details into his phone, then sent a sms from his phone to mine with my Facebook details. He said “Awesome” and hugged me again. I stood there, looking at him and the awkward feeling of something unspoken filled the air. Everything in my existence was holding me back from jumping at him and kissing him. My mind was screaming, “All I want to do is cuddle with you” and I could feel the flow of energy.

His aura suddenly changed from blue to green almost instantly, and I panicked. It was at this point I know I couldn’t say it. He hugged me again. I was psychically begging him to invite me in. He didn’t, and so I did the only respectable thing I could; I told him “I need to tell you that I think you’re awesome and I really like you. I don’t get the opportunity to meet people and form connections like this, so I just want to thank you so much for the time we’ve had. I need you to know that I’ve had no intentions of untoward behaviour or malice, I just really like you.” He hugged me, and as I was moving away from the hug I felt a tear in my eye start to form, and I wished him a good night and sweet dreams. In retrospect I realised that I made the right decision not pushing any harder than I did; I mean he said he wasn’t into guys even though his actions said otherwise so if I did try something it would just make me a douchebag, no? I walked down the hallway, and turned around twice to see him go into the room and close the door. I said out loud, “What the fuck are you doing?”

I went back up to the 12th floor where my friends were still waiting, and I sat down next to Christopher. He asked me how I was, and I just broke down. I started to cry and explained to him how I was feeling. How I felt so helpless and embarrassed, and rejected. He comforted me, and didn’t understand how that could have happened, he was convinced that Sweater Guy was into me. Christopher was perplexed because as I cried I was trying to counteract the negative as much as possible and the bodily reaction was smiling. So I was smile-crying. I was feeling so pitiful.

Eventually some douchebag guys came to hit on our friend, and then I figured it was time to go to bed. I stumbled down the stairs, climbed into my bunk and fell asleep, feeling pathetic for myself. I barely slept, and woke up at 10:00 having slept at 05:00 or so (to the best of my recollection). I checked my phone, and realised that when I sent the sms from Sweater Guy‘s phone he was on Airplane mode, so the message probably sat in his outbox and won’t send. I never got it, so I was right.

Eventually I woke up with my cabin mate and I took a shower. I got cleaned up and felt like death. We ventured out into the world and met up with Chris. I asked him if he was hungry, he said yes but we agreed that food would result in immediate throwing up so we elected to find a place to sit down and chill. We did, and small talk about Mothers Day ensued. I took out my wet hair and tried to take apart the mess of a hair that remained on my elastic, and just as I was about to think pitifully of myself, guess who showed up: Sweater Guy. He sat down and we small chatted for awhile.

Christopher left to go shopping and left us alone. I felt so awkward, I felt so pathetic, I felt so humiliated. I continued conversation and eventually he said he was going to shop and he left. I returned to my cabin and struggled, eventually was sick, and then disembarked to meet my bus. I never saw him again.

The Aftermath

My initial message never sent, and a few days later I go his phone number from a friend who got it for me. She said he wanted me to have it, so she gladly passed it on. I sent him a message on Whatsapp and he read it, and didn’t reply. In the week that followed, I chatted to people to get a grasp on what happened, and toiled in my own misery and confusion, and continued to obsess over him. It’s at this point that I reveal that Sweater Guy, aka Alaska, is actually named Tyler. I left this to the end, since at this point whatever was going on, no longer is, so I figure it’s safe.

I spent some time on the internet doing some sleuthing, and I discovered his full name, origins, social media accounts, and the most important key piece of information that might explain why things panned out the way they did: he married in 2013, and his wife is gorgeous. I’m not at all surprised, but I continue to be conflicted. I feel like I need explanations and closure, but won’t ever get it. Thus the following questions remain:

  • Why would someone self professed at not being interested in men, follow a man around all night and flirt with him?
  • Why would someone who was married not wear a ring, or say something about the spouse when asked about interest?
  • Why would someone ask for my phone number if they weren’t interested in me, and then never reply to messages?

In a feeble attempt at finding answers, I drew some tarot cards (it’s been awhile) and I started to cry:

As you can see, and if anyone wants to provide a different explanation, I’m fucked.

  1. The Fool * How ironic and appropriate, no?
  2. The Emperor
  3. The Hanged Man (Reversed) * No kidding, no solution
  4. Three of Wands
  5. Nine of Cups (Reversed) * It hurts
  6. Page of Swords * Struggle everywhere
  7. Knight of Swords
  8. Seven of Wands (Reversed)
  9. Nine of Pentacles (Reversed)
  10. Seven of Pentacles * Bluh

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