Over on the blog, I have a category called "Table for One," which usually, though not always, serves as a place for me to whine about the perceived barrenness of a life devoid of romance that is, when I'm not whining about it here. (I even got a compilation CD out of it, which I suppose proves that adversity breeds at least some sort of creativity.)
But if my own complaints strike me as whining, the plaintive wails of people I see as more deserving than I their numbers are somewhere between lots and legion are another matter entirely. This one, part sorrowful, part sarcastic, was almost enough to break my heart all by itself.
At least, she's seen what seemed to be possibilities:
I once waited nearly three years for a guy I liked (and was under the impression the feeling was returned to a degree) to do something, and I finally, very plainly, told him of my interest. One year would be getting old, much less three.
And a mere two months later, he screwed his courage to the sticking-place, or something, and sent her off to Friend City:
Friendship. The great Kiss of Death. Obviously I can't tell the difference between a guy interested in me and a guy ... with indigestion?
I've had crushes go on for even longer than that, but I've never been hopeful enough to invest all that energy and time. Then again, I'm in my middle fifties: the Grandfather Biological Clock ticks slowly, if at all, and it's not like the pendulum is doing anything interesting.
It's hard to break the habit that a person becomes, and find out that the habit was only yours, and that you had never even made it in. It's embarrassing to realize you took risks for nothing (for a really introverted, shy person to say "I had a nice time and I like talking to you and doing things with you" is killer-difficult you have no idea).
I once claimed to envy the woman in the Doobie Brothers' "What a Fool Believes": "They meet in a restaurant, years later. To him, she was the one happy experience of his life; to her, he was just someone to kill time. I don't really want to be her, particularly, but I live in constant fear of turning into him."
And when no other reason suggests itself, there's always self-abasement:
I want to take a torch to the beauty magazines and celebrity magazines at the checkout stand because it makes me feel so awful to see those women and I feel hatred for my appearance. I'm very angry about it. I convince myself that that is it, The Reason: I'm ugly. Big nose. Stupid glasses. Double chin. I have lists of the things I think are wrong with how I look. I graduated from college summa cum laude, worked hard to get my private pilot's certificate, have a decent sense of humor, play four musical instruments, have varied interests, lots of great life experiences, like to write and draw, my family loves me, and I can't stand a thing about myself. What kind of shitty world is it that would do that to a person because of extra weight and zits? You don't get to 35 with the experiences I've had growing up and in school and in college and in life without deciding stupid things like that about yourself. I wish I was tougher, and that the connection between what I know to be true and what I feel was firm and strong, but it isn't.
I could have said most of that. Well, not the summa cum laude part, obviously, but this mindset has been hanging around in the back of my head ever since I first started crushing on people I couldn't possibly have, and that goes back nearly half a century.
But giving up the pursuit? That's not happening either:
Human nature is such that we all go after what we want. Whether we admit it or not, it's true. We pursue what we want career, money, gadgets we pursue what we want. What you devote your time to is what you want right now. It is. It really sucks to realize that, for someone else, I'm not what's wanted. I'm not "special enough" or something. Yet again, this is happening. For the umpteenth time. I can't want something more than it wants me back, because that becomes a one-sided exhausting pursuit by me. I make my interest obvious, and I make it safe for someone to approach me, and that's probably the problem. I've made myself common. Fall-back. A "she'll be there when I get around to her" kind of person.
Oh, geez, there goes Michael McDonald. "No wise man has the power to reason away / What seems to be is always better than nothing." When I was a kid, we mocked that phrase: "Nothing is better than happiness, and, well, a ham sandwich is better than nothing." Looks like cold cuts again.
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Copyright © 2009 by Charles G. Hill