In conjunction with my wildly popular “First Date” posts – well, as “wildly popular” as this blog ever gets, really – I suppose I’ll delve into the continuing saga of my ineffectual love-life. Is this topic popular perhaps because so many people can relate to it; or because I’m so miserable at it that it makes everyone else realize, “Wow. My life really isn’t as bad as I thought?” Either way, here I go!
As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts – which you should read and comment on, by the way – I’m experiencing a metamorphosis of sorts. It’s a very odd “coming of age” moment for me, except that I think I’m “youthanizing” instead of aging. (Not for the first time would I like to euthanize myself.) Part of all this creativity I’m unleashing helter-skelter upon the unsuspecting world at large is impulsive and naive. Why? Because I’ve committed to stop censoring myself so much and allow inspiration to flow unfettered and basically unchecked – at least for a time.
The problem with this however, is that while I may dream of being Wonder Woman, I’m really just an aging Velma (of Scooby-doo fame), still trying to crime-solve my way out of the pimped-out mystery-mobile. Did you ever notice how Velma was always the brains of the operation, but never had a boyfriend? Although she often seemed to have unrequited crushes on a variety of handsome male figures. Jinkies! I AM Velma!
Yesterday, for the first time in about sixteen years – since I promised myself that I’d never do this again sixteen years ago – I expressed my interest to a man. Now I remember why I promised myself I’d never do that again. While he did indeed give me a soft rejection – bless him, because he’s just that kind of a guy – the fact remains that my self-esteem is about knee-high to a grasshopper right now. Truly, I have no trouble choosing the “good guys.” I’m an excellent judge of character – usually. It’s just that they apparently have no interest in me. And really, why would they?
We can talk about how many fish there are in the sea ‘til the manatees come home, but it doesn’t matter how many there are if none of them are interested in the bait. Really, I don’t need a thousand. I only want one. Just one. Is it too much to ask? Apparently, it is. Guys at my age are like parking spaces. All the good ones are taken and the rest are handicapped.
Most of the dates I’ve experienced have been of the notoriously “blind” variety. I really think that people who know and love me think to themselves, “She’s really a great person. Too bad she’s single. And I know this other fellow who’s also a great person. Too bad he’s single.” So they set up the two really great single people in hopes of making a fabulous pair. (Also, I think there’s this unspoken rule about matchmakers getting extra points in heaven. I’m not sure about it, but I’ve always suspected something of the sort.)
My friends’ intentions are nothing but absolutely honorable and in my best interests. And really, thank goodness for blind dates because had it not been for those I’d have precious little in the way of dating experience to rely on. It’s just that no blind date has ever made it to second base. As a matter of fact, most of them have struck out or been cancelled on account of rain, sleet, snow, torrential floods of insecurity, or lack of interest.
One oh-so-memorable blind date I will never forget consisted of dinner and a movie. So unique and creative to begin with, I don’t know why I had any expectations. I say it was memorable, but now that I think about it, I can’t remember anything about the guy – his name or what he looked like: only the experience. I think I’ve tried to move this failed dating episode into the M.C. Escher vault, never to be accessed again. He was obviously nervous and a bit awed by my profession. (Which bugs me.) So I tried to put him – and myself – at ease by being funny. That’s what I do. This only works, however, if the person whom you are with understands the concept of “humor.” He didn’t. But I kept trying either for lack of a better option or out of absolute boredom.
When we went to the theater to decide on a movie, he asked me what I wanted to see. My humor at this point was turning a bit dark and sarcastic. Looking at the board I said, “Hey! Power Rangers would be a real trip! Practically an intellectually stimulating free-for-all!” I said this very tongue-in-cheek, hoping he’d respond with some kind of witty comeback of his own. But alas, not only did I overestimate his banter-meter; but before I could say more, or take it back, or stop him, he was up at the window buying the tickets. I was completely nonplussed. He turned around, tickets in hand.
“Really,” I said, dropping all pretenses, “We should see something else.”
“No, no! If you want to see this, then this is the movie we should see.”
“I was joking,” I replied, exasperated, but trying to remain polite.
“Behind every joke is a kernel of truth,” he said. “Let’s go in and see this.”
Ladies and gentlemen, you have just entered “The Twilight Zone.” This isn’t weird at all. I’m half expecting the walls of the theater to flip around, revealing that we are really in a huge mansion with barred windows and doors; and all the other women in the place to gather ‘round and pull off their faces to reveal that they are really – dun-dun-dun! – machines underneath!
We watched “Power Rangers: The Movie.” All NINETY agonizing minutes of it. This is an experience I would not wish upon my worst enemy. (Well, maybe my worst enemy.) No sane adult should be exposed to that kind of puerile swill. The only upside to this choice was that I took notes the whole time about the best way to karate-kick him in the groin if the walls actually did flip around and the people surrounding us (What people? The theatre was empty) actually did turn out to be androids.
Fortunately, this was unnecessary. He took me home and I remember saying, “Thanks! This was definitely memorable,” with not so much as a parting handshake. I had to go shower off the cretinous Power Ranger debris before it infected my pores. He must have felt the same way because there was not a “Power Rangers Dinner and a Date: The Sequel.” No doubt, he thought I was just as weird as I thought he was insipid.
One of the best dates I ever went on was my first date. This picks up where my prior post leaves off. (See My First Date – Slice 2.) That handsome young man who came to ask me out actually only dressed up for that one purpose: to ask me out on a future date later that week. Can you believe this? All men everywhere within the sound of my voice, take note: Chivalry is not dead. As a matter of fact, for all the women’s lib that is in the world – I admit that I am one of them – if you take the time to show a woman how special she is, she will melt like Swiss milk chocolate in your sweaty palm.
I just have to say right here what a sucker I am for a kiss on my hand. Just a few weeks ago I met up with an old friend. And when I say “old,” I mean not only a long-standing friend, but also considerably older than me, happily married to his wife with kids, the whole shebang. There is absolutely nothing romantic about our relationship whatsoever. We are friends and colleagues. But when he saw me for the first time in a couple of years, he took my hand and gently kissed it.
Oh,… my… holy… heavens. What is it about that? Ladies? Am I the only one who gets weak-in-the-knees when a man kisses my hand? Holy schnikies! Thank goodness he was just a friend, or I might have fallen in love right then and there. As it was, I made some kind of comment like, “Ever the consummate gentleman,” and we chatted a bit, catching up.
Back to the first date. The Man was also a poor student, just like me. So it was nothing fancy. But did I care? Heck, no! We dined on campus and went to the central social hall to play pool. I had never played billiards before, so he showed me how it was done. Remember that I am an absolute nerd and have not the first inkling about the in’s-n-out’s of proper flirting. I didn’t know it’s a good idea to lose, at least a little, so I beat the pants off of him… twice.
And this is how I knew I’d be forever lost to The Man: All through our easy banter at the pool table and even when I beat him (of course, he may have let me win – that thought has occurred to me) – he smiled and seemed truly unruffled by the outcome of the game. His enjoyment was being with me and drinking in my company. It didn’t matter what we were doing or who was winning… because we were both winning.
As I recall, we ended up talking late into the night until they kicked us out. This was the first of many nights of the same. As the school year progressed, even kicking us out wasn’t enough to keep us apart. When we weren’t allowed to be together inside any buildings – remember the strict “Honor Code” I mentioned in “They Never Ask Me to Speak Again” – we did what students affectionately refer to as “thermal dating.” On campus, there are these huge grates every now and then on the sidewalk that pump out masses of heat from the internal air conditioning system. We’d go sit on one of those until one of us mentioned the looming test we had to study for, or the paper that was due, or sometimes that the sun was rising and we needed to get back to the dorm to get ready to make it in time for our first class.
I need to mention here for any young’uns reading this that we were a good boy and girl. We kept the Honor Code and our morals completely intact: Scout’s honor. My grades suffered quite a bit that year I dated The Man. But they eventually recovered, and I wouldn’t trade one single sublime moment of it for anything.
And that pretty much sums up my love life. Oh, I’ve had other dates: mostly blind,… halt, maimed, or otherwise limping along by comparison. I might even share some of those in a future article. But it’s mighty difficult for anyone to live up to the legacy of The Man. He was truly one-of-a-kind.
Ever the optimist though, I’m still holding out hope. It’s kind of like a wilted lettuce-leaf now, but I’ll keep holding it ‘til it turns all soggy and I have to toss it to the trash.