Sunday, January 31, 2010

Notes from an Urban Cave Dweller. Part 4.

No Hurry, No Worry.....Notes from 2010.

I am a woman. I am thirty years old. I am single.

This does not terrify me.

We live in a world where the above truth about my life makes me sound like either a liar or in denial about my life. I would venture to guess that those close to me would know that I am simply being honest, but very few anonymous readers would accept me on my word. There is, after all, an urgency in our culture, in almost every culture, to pair off, to be mated, to marry and further populate the world so that our tiny spawns can grow up and repeat our path. I get it. It’s the bare bones of society, it’s the path we all must take.

Yet here I am. Single and thirty and not suicidal. What is wrong with me.

` Here’s the thing. I am not in any hurry. I look around at all the people I know who are in varying degrees of romantic entwinements and I see their triumphs and their failures for what they are: life on planet earth. But I look past the day to day and see deeply into the souls of my closest friends’ relationships and, well…..judging by the level of true commitment, honesty, self-awareness, and presence of love I see, I am convinced that being single ain’t so bad.

One of the biggest problems with conforming to the social “norm” of a committed relationship is that most people settle for someone (or some situation) that is actually not the right one. But even if one or both members of the couple recognize the deficiencies, so often they are ignored and a so-so relationship binds these people together strictly because of a fear of being alone. What’s so bad about being alone? There are actually lots of positive aspects of being single, aspects that lead to the individual claiming his or her space as an individual and thus when the “right” relationship comes along, there is no doubt that what that person is bringing to the table is the best offering possible.

I have theory about relationships that I have dubbed the “Same Page Theory.” With this theory, I would propose that relationships, ranging from casual acquaintances through arduous romances, only work when all of the members involved are on the figurative same page. In other words, it works when everyone is getting exactly what they want out of the situation -- things are jelled. The minute that the couple is not on the same page is when things fall apart. For example, let’s say Ali and Pete meet at a party, hit it off and start dating. Things are fun, casual, they’re lovin’ life. But then something shifts after a few weeks of dating -- Pete realizes he is starting to fall for Ali. Now, if Ali feels the same way, the same page momentum carries over even as the relationship escalates. But if Ali doesn’t feel the same way, drama ensues. What should she do? She likes Pete and they have fun, but she’s just-gotten-out-of-a-bad-relationship-not-really-looking-for-something-serious-sorta-not-sure-she-sees-herself-with-Pete-plus-there’s-this-cute-guy-at-work…. You get the idea. In this generic scenario, Ali will either choose to stay with Pete even though they don’t share the same perspective on their relationship or she will choose to end it and start from scratch on the single scene. My guess is she would opt to stay with Pete, especially if the sex is good, even if her heart’s not really in it. Better to have someone, even the wrong one, then no one, right? The Same Page Theory would advise Ali to ditch Pete and move on. Which, I suppose also means if Ali was my friend, I would tell her to ditch Pete and move on. Why does everyone just settle? It’s nothing short of depressing.

OK, OK, I can already see the, “But, Sarah…” objections here. Like, “But, Sarah, how do you know for sure you’re not on the same page?” I suppose you know when you know. It depends on how willing you are to examine your relationship openly and honestly with your own internal eye. Ask yourself -- are you happy? Is your partner? If the answer to either query is any graying degree of no… Do something about it.

Sometimes I think people are afraid to be happy -- specifically, happy with themselves. A lot of people don’t either really know themselves or like what they see in the mirror. They need that social validation, that Facebook status listing them linked to whomever, in order to feel OK about life. Facebook alone has jettisoned the public stigma on being listed as “single” into a whole new stratosphere. I always laugh when one of my friends alters his or her status from “single” to it saying nothing at all. Pop up on the newsfeed -- Jenny is no longer single! Woo hoo! Let twenty people comment on it. What dummies, nothing has changed! Jenny just doesn’t choose to identify herself as “single” anymore. She’s now “none of your goddamn business.” Right on.

In another instance, I had some friends who started dating and their Facebook pages listed them as “In a Relationship” but didn’t specify the partner. Even though they have a massive shared social network of people who knew exactly what was happening between them, when they opted to add their partner’s names to their Facebook status a few months later, each of them wound up with a dozen congratulatory comments. Um, yeah, these people have actually been together for months and you comment-posters all know it. Why are you acting like it’s big news because now it‘s on Facebook?

There is such a need to make your business public, which is great when you’re stringing up successes. But when things turn messy, you’ve now set yourself to have to explain it to your now-captive audience. Genius plan.

Case in point: I have a friend whose boyfriend cheats on her constantly. We’re talking public affairs that all of our friends know about and this girl spends her time bemoaning how much he drinks. Seriously? THAT’S your problem with your relationship? Not the fact that he can’t be faithful to you for five minutes? Apparently, a strong sense of denial can blockade even the smartest, most worthy people from seeing the truth as plain truth. And what about respect? Love and respect go hand in hand and so goes the greatest strength in a relationship. Without love and respect, there’s disregard for the humanity and social dignity associated with the convention. If someone is cheating on you, he (or she) does not respect you, so how can that person love you?

So why does this girl stay with this guy? Why do so many people cheat?

I’ve been cheated on, we all have, and it’s the worst feeling. Cries of “Why aren’t I enough for you?” fill our lungs and either crash into the cave of a snapped shut mouth or spew out into the air in a frenzy of self doubt. Either way, the response is usually a wide-eyed expression, a sense of panic far greater than anything else. The fucker’s been busted and since cheating is an act that breaks trust, it is unforgivable and unexplainable. It is never an accident. It is never without calculation. A cheater knows what he or she is doing. And that’s fucked up. If you’re unhappy in your relationship or if there is someone else who has caught your eye, dissolve your union and then pursue whoever you choose. There is, actually, no law that says you MUST be in a relationship and if you’re in a place that is begging for sexual freedom, be free. Either that or quell your animal instincts and remain true to your commitment. Cheating is cowardly and depreciates your moral worth.

I would rather be single than bound to a cheater.

There are those with a more liberal sense of what a committed relationship is, and I can respect such variances on the norm when it’s a shared ideology between the partners. Once again -- things work when everyone is on the same page.

I have been in love and there is nothing greater than the feeling of completion it instills. Love provides warmth and security and an intimate community. Love makes everything attainable. Love lifts you. Love shows you why you are here on this planet, why this place, why now, why it all exists. Love is invincible and courageous and beautiful and stunning.

Love is also fluid and dynamic and thus in a constant state of flux that cannot be controlled, that should not be controlled, that will not be controlled. Love is nature and nature lives by natural selection. Sometimes that means it ends. Sometimes that means it changes. Sometimes that means it will fade and then return. You have to be willing to listen to nature to achieve balance and happiness. You have to know that choice is the right one for you.

I am single and I am thirty and that is that. Maybe tomorrow that will change. Maybe next week or next year. Maybe it will change for me several times over the next week or year. I know myself well enough to trust that the right thing will present itself to me in a timely manner. I know that love is the greatest thing we can share with the people in our lives and I will be on the lookout for what will not only complete the innate desire to find a true romance for myself but that will also complete my lucky man. I’m not in any hurry for the stars to align. I’m not in any hurry.

Notes from an Urban Cave Dweller. Part 3.

MONSTERS...Notes from 2006.

Sarita: plus, that kind of shit gives me stuff to write about. lol.

leighd: exacltly, you can always get back at them by bringing them to life as a weak and pitiful character in one of your stories...

Sarita: could happen. that's the danger of befriending a writer

leighd: and the greater danger of offending that friend :>

Back in August 2003, he had no idea. Then again, neither did I. We had scratched each other’s surface and liked the scent we exuded, liked the way we fit together, in a metaphoric sort of way. But we were clueless. Him more than me, me more than him, what difference could that possibly make? But when he was joking about the danger of offending me, his writer friend, he didn’t know that at that very moment, I was printing out multiple copies of a poem I’d written about him and was sending out to the greater void known the World of Literary Magazines and he, years later, has no clue that very poem has been published more than once.

You don’t have to “offend the writer” to become a weak, gutless construction in her work. He should know that. But he doesn’t.

Actually, moments before he made his joke, a joke that makes me laugh on a daily basis, we’d been talking about the pros and cons about finding out what people say behind your back. He’d just told me about how his roommate, a classmate of mine, had so enjoyed a sneak-peak down my shirt, god bless the v-neck, I always say, while he gave me some free Starbucks coffee, the greatest perk a barrista can offer to his friends and neighbors. “You know we’re speaking in confidence here, right?” he’d asked, as if I was going to march to Central Square and demand his roommate explain his gross maleness, thus exposing the fact that his friend revealed their man-to-man confidence and embarrassing the hell out of a sullen poet. Confidence, yes, that I understood. I knew how to keep a secret. Not that one, mind you: I told everyone I could about my free coffee, wink wink, but other secrets... Well, there were things on the horizon. Things that would rise and fall like unforgiving, pleasure cruise waves, things that would eventually strand me here, alone and forced to admit that we are both monsters.

I met Leigh in an unlikely place: his home. It was a Thursday in March 2003 and we were doing what we’d come to do: read poetry and get sloshed. His roommate Max had been hosting our group of writers, mainly Emerson College MFA candidates, for about a month and every week was like this. Six, eight, twelve, fourteen writers lounging in the Walden Compound, as Leigh addressed their Porter Square home, listening to each other read our own work and the work of others. I was invited as a “friend of a friend” for the initial gathering and had enjoyed the atmosphere, the comraderie of poets and writers, the flowing conversation, the bottomless glasses of wine. Max, our host, I knew remotely; we’d shared one class together and had vaguely gotten along. Melissa was our tangent point, his friend and mine, and she had asked me to check the scene out with her. Tonight was maybe our fifth consecutive gathering, and the group was good-sized. Six fellow Emersonians plus two quasi-outsiders, Leigh and my own roommate Kelly. Leigh worked at MIT, while Kelly spent her days at Boston’s Children’s Museum. It was the first night that either of them had joined us, Kelly out of sheer curiosity and Leigh because the hockey season was over, thus he was home. They had picked a good night to start. There was something in the air, a vibe of mischief and revelry that would propell us late into the night.

When I was about a quarter drunk as I would get that night, one of the women in the group pulled out thick edition of collected Borges and began thumbing through it to find a particular story. I was getting antsy, wanted to move on to someone else while she looked, wanted to pull out my collected Garbiel Garcia Marquez short stories and read my favorite one, when I heard Leigh, sitting in a chair to my right, say, “Read the story about that drowned man who lands on the beach and the people bring him to their city and claim him as their own... What’s that story? Isn’t that Borges?”

Holy shit. He had my attention.

Because, no, it was not Borges. It was Garcia Marquez. It was the story I had been planning on reading. As I whipped my book out, I corrected him on the author, and produced the story: “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World: A Tale for Children.” Read it and weep, kids. So, drunk as I was, I made it my turn and bumbled my way through one of the funniest short stories ever written.

That night, Kelly and I stayed at the Walden Compound until well after two in the morning. Everyone else had to catch the T and had bolted by a little after midnight. But Kelly and I lived a mile or so down the road in Union Square and had to walk, regardless, so when Leigh said we couldn’t leave until the wine was gone, we shrugged and went along with it. There we were: an odd foursome -- Max and me, two classmates who barely knew each other, Kelly and Leigh, our roommates -- all of us drunk, Max now getting stoned, talking about god-knows-what while we slosh through bottles of wine and second-hand bong hits. Something seemed so right about the whole scenario, even though nothing should have seemed right. There was an odd chemistry that night that could only partially be blamed on the mixology happening in our bloodstreams. Max and me on the couch, Leigh and Kelly in chairs, a semi-circle of girl-boy-girl-boy roommate happiness. I remember looking at Max and thinking what the hell am I still doing here?

Then Leigh would fill up my glass and, even though I didn’t have an answer, I didn’t need one anymore.

Somewhere in our transient conversation, Leigh started smoking cigars and so Max put down his bong and joined him. Right in the middle of someone talking, Max stared right at me and said, “Sarah, you’d look damn sexy smoking a cigar. Do you want one? It could be your thang.” Yeah, right. The next Gertrude Stein. Fits of giggles for the house, put it on my tab, thanks. We were all just intoxicated and happy, but when the wine was gone, we had to leave. Not that they didn’t try and stop us, no. While all 6’5” of Max slouched against the doorframe in their outer hallway, all 5’6” of Leigh crouched down to try on my shoes. We probably wore the same size. “These are so cool!” he said as he waved one of the black leather Josef Seibel’s in the air. “Dude, I need to put that on,” I said and he said, “Oh. Oh, yeah.” They offered us their couch. They offered to call a cab. They were perfect gentlemen. It was a perfect night, and Kelly and I walked home drunk and happy.

The next day, I got an email from Melissa saying, “So, what about Leigh? You two seemed to hit it off...” And I guess that we had, although, to this day, I couldn’t say if that first night was a result of Leigh’s attraction to me or Kelly or both. It doesn’t really matter. All I know is that I walked around with a big smile on my face all day, happy to have been in the company of some cool guys who treated us like people. I was as attracted as hell to Leigh, but I couldn’t for the life of me conjure his face in my mind. Blame it on the alcohol, blame it on their dim house lighting, blame it on a stubborn consciousness, but I couldn’t have told a sketch artist what he looked like. I promised myself that the next time I saw him, I’d remember.

And saw him again I did. Off and on for the next few weeks, we combated as the flirter and the flirtee, drinking together, reading together, playing the role of the babe and the asshole boyfriend in our friend’s screenplay, emailing, planning, being coy as hell. It was all fun and ridiculous until he turned serious on me, pouring his heart out to me about struggles with his ex-girlfriend.

His ex live in girlfriend. Of six years. Martha.

I’d never heard a word about her and then, like discovering which socket that light switch corresponds to, there was a new hue in the room. A new brightness, but this one was harsh, flourescent, showed off every clogged pore. The ex. What a drag.

There’s a lot of history between Leigh and me in the year we were involved, but the moment where things went wrong came a short month after we started dating and Martha became part of the undercurrent. I never met her or any of the other women Leigh involved himself with while he was in my life, but I know for a fact that Martha continued to plagued every romantic relationship Leigh pursued in that time.

That woman has power.

My romantic interest in him tapered the more I heard about Martha’s daily woes and annoying habits, but I remained friends with him, even though he was less than straightforward with me about the other women in his life -- women besides Martha, that is.

This story really only becomes interesting when Lindsay stumbles into the picture. I don’t know where Leigh met her or how long he’d been seeing her before I found out about her existence. All I know is it happened during a particular month where he and I simply failed to find time to spend together. We hadn’t exactly stopped seeing each other, and we certainly weren’t particularly involved, but I felt like we were trying to have a go at some sort of real relationship. Well, that’s how I felt, but Leigh felt like fucking around with a school teacher and he also felt like not telling me about it. I found out during a Red Sox playoff game versus the Yankees, a Game 7 situation, no less, and my source was a mutual friend who was backed up by Max. Here we all are. Drunk in a bar, making small talk about Leigh and some girl. I didn’t say anything then. I actually didn’t say anything until two weeks later when Leigh finally told me himself about what had apparently been going on for some time. He’d met Lindsay. How nice.

I should have packed it in right then. This guy clearly had baggage of all kinds and was not worth my time, but here’s the thing about Leigh... He’s charismatic. He’s addictive. He remained in my life.

What our relationship became, I’m not really sure. We more or less talked all the time and saw each other every so often. I continued to hear about Martha at every turn, but Lindsay? She might as well have been a figment of our collective imagination.

So imagine my surprise when the spring finally errupted on Boston and I got a message from Leigh’s wack-o girlfriend. I had sent him a text message -- him and four other people, I might add -- about a homeless man dressed as the Cat in the Hat on the Common who told me that the Bruins were going to win their playoff game 2-1. I thought it was funny -- I wanted to tell some people. Less than a minute later, I got a text response from Leigh’s phone -- but it wasn’t from Leigh. It said:

Please stop texting my boyfriend. He is busy going down on me.

Lindsay apparently didn’t see the humor in the Cat in the Hat.

I waited until the next day and called Leigh at the office to find out what the hell his girlfriend was talking about -- how she could send me such a territorial, lewd message -- and Leigh laughed in an unnatural way and said, “I think she was kidding.”

Men can be cute sometimes, can’t they?

I should probably also mention that I never -- to this day -- met Lindsay, but I do know she had great insecurities about Leigh’s relationship with Martha (he told me so), and she apparently had some sort of insecurity about me. I don’t know what Leigh told her about me -- lord knows he never said much to me about her. Whatever it was, she felt strongly enough to spit right in my face, unprovoked.

Though, that’s not how Leigh saw it.

We got into a pretty intense screaming argument -- well, really, it was me screaming -- wherein I dropped enough F-bombs to destroy one of those small European countries and he told me I was out of line. Not for saying fuck, no, Leigh didn’t care about that. He cared that I was trash-talking his sweetie.

Was he kidding? He had to be kidding. Where’s the hidden camera?

I was stunned by the entire ordeal. I mean, what had I done to Lindsey to justify such an attack? And what would ever make Leigh say that I was the one who was causing trouble?

I won’t pretend that I didn’t want Leigh back then. I did. I wanted him back and I wanted him bad. I flirted with him, I made suggestive comments, I put myself out there. But only with words. I hardly ever saw the guy.

Shit. I told you. He’s a little Napoleon, no kidding.

Well after that screaming match and a few bumpy conversations about me wanting to talk to him face to face and him ducking for cover, capped by a scathing email where he essentially equated me with the keeper of hellfire, I didn’t see him or talk to him for almost a year. And when we did find ourselves on the same guest list, he tried to nonchalantly say hello, but all I wanted to do was sit in a corner with as many people as possible who weren’t Leigh and get rip roaring drunk. Which is what happened.

“Look, there’s your ex. He’s like a dwarf or a troll.” From the lips of one of my drinking buddies. “Let me tell you a story,” I said. Let me tell you a story.

It doesn’t have a happy ending. It doesn’t have an ending at all. It hangs in the air like an unfinished sentence, bold in its belief that, underneath it all, we are not good people. We are just people alive with passionate friction. We’re both cruel and manufactured.

We are monsters.

Notes from an Urban Cave Dweller. Part 2.

WINGMAN....Notes from 2005.

I am a terrible wingman.

I blame it on my best friend Corey. She’s a worse wingman than me and I really learn best by example. She’s a bad example, so I am a failure as a result. Now, this is a troublesome area to fail in because a bad wingman is the equivalent of a lame or just plain bad friend. The job of the wingman, afterall, is to help his or her friend score and the wingman must do anything necessary to help ensure his friend’s success. A good wingman is accommodating, patient, and nearly invisible. A good wingman stays out of the spotlight and attracts very little attention to the fact that he’s present. He’s nice to the friend or friends of his buddy’s object of desire and he dutifully takes as many for the team as humanly possible before the mission is complete.

I am not good at blending in to the group. I blame it on astrology. After all, I was born on the Day of the Entertainer -- seriously, June 7, look it up -- so being in the middle of the action is not only the place I’m most comfortable, it’s the place destined for me by the stars. There are very few rooms that I can’t work, very few men I can’t charm. It’s in my nature -- it’s an attractive nature. I like to be the funny one, the one who pushes the audience to participate or accept the consequences of a Gemini attack. I will say outrageous things. I will touch faces, throw arms around bodies, stand nose-to-nose with anyone.

This makes me a bad wingman.

Once when I was an undergraduate at Kent State, a dorm-friend Natane begged her trusty friends Hollie and yours truly to go to a bar so she could casually, nonchalantly, run into a boy she’d met online. Natane was always meeting a guy online. “Please, I really like him,” she said. “But I don’t want to go by myself.” So agree we did and the bar turned out to be something like a golf course pub and the boy -- I think his name was Jason -- found us pretty easily for a guy who’d never met us.

Back in college, I was kind of overweight -- maybe fifteen, twenty pounds plump, and had a reputation for being more of every guy’s trust-worthy sister than object of desire. This particular night, though, was my first time out as an official wingman and, well, my own power frightens me sometimes. As the four of us crowded in a booth, Hollie and I on one side, Natane and Jason on the other, no one was talking but Jason and me, and even though Jason had specifically wanted to meet and spend time with Natane, the only woman at the table he offered to buy a drink for was me.


I think I turned some horrible shade of red and stuttered a no thanks as Natane sharply kicked me in the shin. Well, excuse me for being a good conversationalist. As far as I know, none of us ever saw Jason again after that night.

From that point on, though, I became strangely aware of how good I was at being the pivotal member of any given social setting. I was my group’s go-to girl when the good times were slumping.

But let me get back to why this is all Corey’s fault. Corey is my best friend and I love her more than anyone else that I know, but she pisses me off when it comes to my relationships with men. Mainly it’s because she’s like me -- she likes being the eye candy, the one with anonymous drinks being set before her, compliments of some dude across the bar. She wants the guys to like her first and best and when they don’t, well, fuck you very much. She’ll insist that we leave, move on to greener pastures, even if the people she’s with are having a good time, making love connections or not.

It might also be important to note here that Corey has always been in a relationship. When she and I were randomly assigned to be roommates at Kent State, she had just gotten together with her boss’s son Mike and, for better or worse, she’s married to him now. And before Mike, there were other juvenile relationships, long term or otherwise, so the girl doesn’t know what it’s like so much as to be picked second, let alone not at all.

I know what it’s like to be picked second or not at all and it’s pretty demoralizing. So when you have a best friend, who is so much fun to be around but who has trouble stepping back and letting you catch a guy’s eye, well... It’s some kind of evil education that teaches you how not to be a good wingman and instead how to be sultry and invading and the prize. Really, those aren’t bad things to learn, but when you’re supposed to be helping a friend hook up, falling all over yourself to stay in the spotlight can be counterproductive, to say the least.

More or less, I learned not to consider The Hunt for Mr. Right when Corey and I were out together. If we got hit on, fine. If not, fine. She still got to go home to Mike every night, anyway, so it was pretty win-win, and since she and I always have a fabulous time out, it was fairly win-win for me, too. I’d go out on the prowl with my other girlfriends, my single girlfriends, and see what kind of water we could squeeze out of rocks.

Part of the problem, though, is I’m not good at asking for back up. I am too independent for my own good and I make flashy, impulsive decisions when it comes to men. Plus, I spent years out with Corey and I knew that asking her to be my wingman was like asking her to compete for the same guy’s attention. Not a genius plan, you know? I like to be the one the guy’s focused on. I don’t want there to be any confusion about whose number he should be jotting down.

Makes you wonder, really, how dudes do it. If two attractive women start talking to you, where does your mind go? Do you decide you like one more than the other and does it occur to you that choosing one over the other right away might eliminate your chances with either? Do you drag one of your buddies into the conversation to feel out who has a better connection with which chick? Do you wonder when your date’s going to return from the bathroom, or do you immediately wonder if these two women would consent to a little sexual indiscretion?

Well, I, for one, don’t want to get bogged down in the details. I want to be the only one up for the part. So I tend to fly solo and crash and burn -- crash and burn, that is, if my intent is to form a lasting bond of any sort. Recently, I was at a friend’s party where I participated in some down and dirty dancing with any variety of fellow guests and I maybe remember three of their names. My roommate was also at the party and could give me detailed accounts of some of these men’s lives, past and present, because she’d had old fashioned conversation with them.


I hadn’t been there to meet someone. I had been there to drink and dance and have a good time, which is exactly what I’d done. Some nights are like that. If I made every social event about finding my soul mate, the pages of my memoir might read like a Lifetime movie. Plus, I had another mission at this party -- just call me Goose.

The Tom Cruise to my Anthony Edwards is Whitney. We used to work together and now we just terrorize dance floors all over Boston. I officially accepted my title as her wingman a few months prior to the before-mentioned party when she fell flat on her face for a bassist named Tom. He was rockin’ out on the stage, we were panting on the dance floor, she liked him, he came over and made nice to the both of us, and she introduced herself. I just stood there and grinned like an idiot. Don’t get me wrong -- I was OK with Whit making a love connection instead of me. Tom’s a swell guy, but he’s not my type. The long and short of it is that Whit and Tom started dating and things seemed to be going pretty well for them...

Until the night of the party in question. It was Whit’s party, her birthday party no less, and Tom was a no-show. We’d seen him just the night before at one of his gigs and he’d repeatedly mentioned the party and asked what he could bring. He said he’d be the first one there, drink in hand, but as the time crept past midnight, to one, to two, still no bassist babe. Whit was a bit more than miffed about his absence, with good reason, so as her wingman, I fielded questions and distracted people from hounding her about her man’s absence. I stood outside in the cold with her while she called him at one a.m. and I told her the message she left him was calm and collected. And for the next two weeks, until they finally spoke person-to-person, I analyzed and overanalyzed every moment of Whitney and Tom’s relationship. She would call me and we would go over every excruciating detail, step by step. I didn’t really have any answers for her, but we all know that’s beyond irrelevent.

A good wingman is also a good listener. I’m a better listener than I am a wingman, but that has to count for something..

There’s something honorable about being a wingman, something righteous, almost, about putting the needs of your friend above and beyond anything you want or need. I would do anything for a friend, anything. So I’m trying to forget all those bad years of training I got from Corey. I’m turning over a new leaf and pinning on my flight badge. I am going to try. Which is more than I can say for most men.

Notes from an Urban Cave Dweller. Part 1.

Girls and Boys: Notes on the Subject from 2005

So what’s this dating I keep hearing everyone talk about?

I’m a twenty-six year old single white female with a master’s degree who lives in the heart of Red Sox Nation. I don’t smoke, don’t do drugs, don’t drink until I fall down -- usually. I have a charming disposition, go to the gym at least four days a week, and rarely eat red meat. I believe in god, though not religion, and I never call in sick. I’ve never gotten a speeding ticket, never spent a night in jail, never bailed on a friend in need. I am a natural blonde.

But I repeat: what is this dating?

I’m sitting here thinking really really hard. I’m also looking at the calendar and trying to remember the last time I went on a date. Now I’m trying to decide what constitutes as a “date” and I’m hoping the definition is as liberal as Boston because otherwise...

I am a midwestern girl on her fourth New England winter and I’ve gotten used to the severity.

And I really don’t get this dating thing.

I’m convinced I’m doing something wrong. I know men like me and I know I like men, but something always gets lost when I try to make the leap from being a man’s “some girl I know” to “some girl I know.” Usually, I end up in an angry or bitter dispute over either demanding too much or not enough and I’m back to sleeping alone and spending hours drinking with any gal pal I have so we can highlight every miniscule moment I ever spent with the guy. It’s pathetic. It’s the life of the single people in Boston. I mean, for a place with so many young people, la vie amor is about as likely to flourish as a thawed Ted Williams.

So maybe this all sounds a bit bitter. Well, it is bitter. I moved to this city for graduate school and I achieved my goal of completing my masters, but I’d be foolish to sit here and say that was all I hoped to achieve in my East Coast shuffle. I was leaving love of the confusing sort behind in the midwest. I was going to have me a real bonafide love affair and then I was going to move to the West Coast and do it again.

Well. It’s not that I’ve had zero success here in this windy city. It’s not that I haven’t been shown a good time by members of the grittier sex. It’s really more that none of these men have stuck around long enough to suggest we go steady, let alone mumble an “I love you,” and I’m an idealistic girl. I want more than a phone call every two weeks. I want more than a stack of excuses and when those excuses are followed by apologies, I don’t want them to be flat. And, god damn it, I want to be the only lady on the radar for once in my life.

I’m asking for too much and I realize that, gentlemen.

But it’s not just me. I’m surrounded by single ladies with the same complaints, the same terrible date stories, the same loser dudes doing the same loser things. If I had a dime for every time I heard the phrase, “Well, he said he would call...”

Uh huh.

Not too long ago, a few of my friends and I indulged in the infamous He’s Just Not That Into You book to see what sort of advice Greg and Liz could provide. All I can say is for a book that seems to advocate women’s empowerment, it made us all feel like total losers. Because the kind of man Greg says we deserve does not exist. I do not know one person who has a man (or a woman, for that matter) who always calls when he says he will, never makes his work a priority over his woman, and does all the things he says he’s going to do when he said he would do them. Yet, strangely, I know people in successful relationships -- my roommate just interrupted my tirade to announce her sister got engaged -- so what does Greg know? No man can be the super hero that he says we ladies deserve, and, frankly, we ladies shouldn’t expect such heroism. Relationships are two-way streets, and to play that cliche like a three-string bass, even in a one-traffic light town, driving conditions can still suck. Greg’s solution to the slightest sign of less-than-100% is the dude isn’t into you. While that may not always be wrong, it certainly isn’t always right, either.

My friends and I were curious enough about Greg’s theories -- particularly his harsh stance on the word “busy” and how said word was the “relationship weapon of mass destruction” -- to try and test them out a little. We stopped being the ones who made the first move, who called all the time, who needed these losers. But the bottom line was, we’re not robots. We’re passionate women who know what we want and it was really hard to sit back and wait for some dude to make the move we wanted to make ourselves. Greg says a man who doesn’t make the first move is either not interested (thus the reason he has not asked you out) or lazy. I think men are generally pretty stupid when it comes to relationships and it is always the woman’s job to drop some sort of hint. Ask me out, you idiot. After about two weeks of following Greg’s advice, though, as a sociological experiment of sorts, all I can say successfully is my phone lay silent and my nights out were with the ladies.

So I decided to shake things up a bit and ask our target audience: a man. But not just any man. I asked my old college buddy Chad. Now, it is important to note here that I, at one time, had a mad hot fever for dear old Chad and I had thunk he’d felt the same about me, but despite the fact that we saw each other nearly every day and spent hours discussing relationships and futures, he opted to have sex with one of his neighbors instead of me. That was all years ago, though, and I cried my tears over it already. Chad and I are still strangely close friends and he’s often someone I look to for relationship advice, as crazy as that might seem. It only seems crazy because you don’t know him. He’s a romantic at heart and he believes in love. He also manages to tell me every time I speak with him that he really messed up when it came to me, so that doesn’t hurt my inclination to forgive and forget. Trust me, Chad’s the sort of dude you want on your side because he’s straightforward and clear-focused. If you give him the information, he always comes back with a reliable take on the situation. So I came to him with Greg’s words of wisdom and Chad shot them all down, kamikaze style. A soundbite:

See that book is about playing the game, it's not a game, love is not a game but something that happens through fate, not because of what you say or do, the person meant for you will love you for who you are, what you do, the habits you have, the life you live someone who just doesn't stand through all that, but agrees with doing so because that is what everything in his body tells him to do.

See why I loved him, ladies? And the scariest part about it is Chad means it. He’s not feeding me a line, whether you believe that or not. He’s also not “trying to get back with me,” as my best friend insisted when I told her about the conversation. What he’s doing is giving me and the rest of the ladies who have the fortune of hearing his take some hope for mankind -- womankind is already set.

What about Greg’s theories? Chad set out to debunk all of those, repeating that love isn’t a game, people aren’t as black and white as the pages of Greg’s book. Sometimes busy people are really busy, Chad says. It might be an excuse, but that doesn’t make it untrue.

Truth be told, none of this has helped me at all. I’m still a single white female with a masters degree flying solo in Red Sox Nation. I’m still the catch uncaught. I still fall for the guys who never call you back. I still spend more time helping my friends succeed in their love lives than I spend proactively helping myself. And sex? Ha, I barely remember what it’s like to be kissed. Despite all the odds, despite all the impossibilites this facet of life generates, I am not giving up, exactly. No, I’m getting to the bottom of it -- once, and most importantly, for all.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Twins (poem)

You are flanked by two Geminis,
two women who equal four,
and they are your watchdogs,
your guardian angels, your beating
heart. They are high priestesses,
one dark and one light, one soft
and one hard, four hands, four feet,
four sets of eyes. They love you
and keep you safe from the world
you construct. You see them and know --
there is only one way out alive.
They will lead you there.