COOL SPRINGS, TN—During a weekend house party characterized as "okay," paint-store employee Peter Elsing, 24, mustered up just enough interest to hit on Theresa Scobel, a sort of good-looking Vanderbilt graduate student, Elsing said Monday.
"Theresa was…cute," Elsing said. "She could've been in better shape. Not saying I couldn't either, of course. She definitely had a cute face. I've seen worse."
The party, held Saturday night at the apartment of Elsing's longtime friend Warren Croft, was subdued, with fewer than 20 attendees. Elsing said boredom and a shortage of eligible female guests inspired him to speak to the tall, curly-haired Scobel.
According to Elsing, of the seven women present, five came with dates. The only two unattached females were Scobel and her friend, whom Elsing identified as "Kate or Kim or something."
"I guess the Kim girl had worked with Warren once, but she didn't know anyone else at the party, so she talked Theresa into coming with her," Elsing said. "To be honest, I would've been just as likely to hit on Kim, but she kept going outside to smoke or plug the meter or something."
Added Elsing: "Look, it was either talk to Theresa or hang out on the sofa and eat Baked Tostitos with Warren's weird friend Phillip [Barger]."
Elsing said his conversation with Scobel was "civil," but also punctuated by awkward silences and nervous laughter.
"Halfway through my conversation with Theresa, my urge to hit on her ebbed a little," Elsing said. "But I went on anyway. Force of habit, I guess."
During their conversation, Elsing learned that Scobel earned her undergraduate major in Latin American studies at the University of Delaware, can speak fluent Spanish and Portuguese, recently returned from a three-week Mayan art and culture study-seminar in the Yucatan Peninsula, and has nothing whatsoever in common with him.
"I asked her why she was interested in Latin American stuff," Elsing said. "I can't exactly remember what she said—something about being part Latin. She seemed really smart. I would've been totally intimidated by her, if she'd been gorgeous."
About 20 minutes into the halting exchange, Elsing embarked on a tentative flirt, and told Scobel that the gray top she was wearing was "nice."
"She thanked me and told me that my eyes were very intense," Elsing said. "That was kind of cool. But I was also like, whoa, that was a pretty big leap she made—from clothes to body parts. It's not like I pointed out a physical feature of hers. Hopefully, I haven't released the floodgates here."
In spite of the pair's lack of chemistry, Elsing requested Scobel's phone number and suggested that they meet for coffee some time in the coming weeks.
"I thought about inviting her to go to Club 505 after the party, but I figured that would be too forward, like I was trying to liquor her up," Elsing said. "Besides, I was getting tired. Really, I just wanted to get home."
Elsing said he gave Scobel credit for inspiring him to remain at the party longer than he would have otherwise.
"I still can't decide whether I'll call her," Elsing said. "Maybe I should give her a chance. She seemed all right. Not overtly weird. She was nice, I guess. I don't know. We'll see. It might be fun. Or not. Maybe."
Party host Croft said he saw Elsing and Scobel talking.
"I noticed Peter hanging out with Kaitlin's friend Theresa at the party," Croft said. "It sorta looked like maybe they were getting along. That'd be cool if they hooked up. She wasn't really my type—a little too plain. But she seemed cool enough, I guess."
As for Scobel, she said she is ambivalent about receiving a phone call from Elsing.
"Peter was nice, but I wish I hadn't given him my number," she said. "I just did it because…I don't know. I honestly didn't mean to send him mixed signals. I just made that remark about his eyes to get him to relax a little."