February would be annoying enough were it just the tail end of the Dead of Winter. But no, we have to set the perfectly horrible Valentine's Day right in the midst of it, which means, given retail lead times, that candy hearts and such now show up in stores on the 26th of freaking December. By the time the day itself actually gets here, we're all thoroughly sick of it. Of course, those of us with perennially-empty dance cards start getting sick of it the preceding March, if not earlier.

On the other hand, if you believe that frustration and inspiration run more or less parallel to one another, you might think that I might have had something worthwhile to say on the subject of romance. With that in mind, let's comb through the archives.

[O]nce a decent interval has passed (and the definition of "decent" is nothing if not fluid these days), and assuming she even wants to go through our culture's daffy courtship rituals again, it's inevitable that someone will look upon her and say, "This is the one for me." That someone, however, is almost certainly someone else. (5/1/98)

Oh, there were the occasional crushes here and there, but they never amounted to anything. More to the point, I knew they would never amount to anything; I had always figured that, except as a theoretical consideration worthy of occasional study, this male/female stuff was irrelevant to my existence. (4/19/99)

[W]omen as a group are indeed a complete mystery. But I believe, for some reason unknown, and in spite of an almost total lack of supporting evidence, that each and every one of them has a clearly-defined path to her heart, and when this road is not taken, it's more often than not because (1) we simply don't know where the hell to find it, or (2) it's not in her best interest to point it out. Sometimes both. (10/19/02)

I did time in pre-AOL chat rooms in the Eighties, and even then, the dating/mating ritual was seventy to eighty percent artifice, and most of the balance actual fraud. And back then, only the best and the brightest (well, and me) would be willing to spend a week's pay every month to observe this phenomenon. (1/16/03)

What I'd really like to do is to proclaim that Biology Is Destiny, that I've done my part already by passing on the family DNA to the next generation, and that I don't have to think about such things anymore. If I could say that with a straight face — but never mind, it's not going to happen. What is going to happen is that I will continue to encounter, on a not-especially-regular basis, women I can only dream about, and then not dream about them. (12/20/03)

I have never quite believed that there was exactly one person for everyone: the symmetry is beautiful, but the evidence is lacking. I try to encourage my friends who are still looking, lest they become downhearted and frustrated. (Been there, done that too.) But I think there's a definite limit, and not an especially high one at that, to how much you can affect the outcome; the factors that set a relationship in motion, more often than not, are random. (I'm not ruling out divine intervention, but assuming it exists, it is sufficiently unpredictable to meet my definition of randomness.) (3/6/04)

You might infer from that last bit that there have not been many women in my life, and indeed there have not, but they have been a fairly diverse lot, from sizes 2 to 22½, heights from 4'9" to 5'9", and don't even ask me to recall cup sizes. About the only thing they had in common was that at some point they thought I was acceptable, which is miraculous enough. (1/18/05)

[S]elf-indulgence, at least in my case, does not equal hedonism, at least not yet. For one thing, I can't afford to be a hedonist: it requires financial commitments beyond my present capacity. More to the point, I wouldn't be a very good hedonist: I would never be able to persuade myself that I deserve what I'm getting. (This might reflect the not-inconsiderable influence of Jack Benny, who, accepting a prize of some sort, said "I don't deserve this award, but then I have arthritis and I don't deserve that either.") (11/6/05)

Stendhal, at least, was cognizant of the fact that the emotions tend to travel as a pack: "The pleasures of love," he wrote, "are always in proportion to our fears." But the path of crystallization deals initially with the process of perception: as minor, even major, imperfections become irrelevant to the lover, the desire for reciprocation increases. Fear first manifests itself when one's feelings are not returned; when fear and hope are intermixed, the romantic attraction is intensified. And the fear doesn't always go away when the feelings are returned: this is where thoughts of abandonment kick in. (12/26/06)

[W]omen, almost unanimously, demand men with a "sense of humor," which undoubtedly explains all the girlfriends Gilbert Gottfried has stolen away from Eric Bana. (5/16/07)

Exhibition of the Traditional Manly Virtues these days is considered at best declassé, at worst a manifestation of Oppression by the Evil Patriarchy; males of the species, anxious to attract females but perforce unable to act like men in this environment, choose instead to act like peacocks and other creatures lower on the food chain, hoping that might work. (3/21/09)

I have no idea how well this template business works in the opposite direction. I do know this, though: if I've run the analysis, and the target appears to be at least 50.1 percent of what I'm looking for, the heart is rolled into position, ready for its new assignment. And when nothing happens, as nothing always does, it's dragged back into the shadows, left to accumulate another layer of dust. (1/24/10)

[T]here are lots of factors contributing to having "trouble meeting people" other than lack of desirability. Scheduling is one: if I work my fingers to the bone, and I do, it's hardly surprising that I don't meet any bony-fingers fans. And while I'm not overly shy — instead of clamming up in the canonical fashion, I speak up and promptly piss away 30 IQ points — I've known people who might well be perfectly charming but who couldn't break the ice if you spotted them two flamethrowers and a pickax. It's easier to dismiss them as "losers," I suppose. (10/24/10)

Not bad, I suppose, though perhaps not necessarily superior to any collection of random quotes about any of the other umpteen dozen topics that get discussed around here. Although I have to suppose that if I actually did end up with the occasional date, any discussion of same would perforce be Off Limits — which means that from the reader's point of view, it's just as well that I don't.

The Vent

  1 February 2011

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