“If you close the door the night could last forever”
It’s okay to do nice things, Blair explained. She had made a reservation for the afternoon at a winery operating on a working beef farm. Anything pretentious would be tempered by a kind of rustic authenticity. They’ll have cows, she told me.
Although it can be managed, it’s impossible to entirely diminish feelings of hesitancy in a struggle that I can only assume is similar to the misnomer of the recovering drug addict– the same wishful thinking involved- that one can ever, successfully, erase the footprint- bust the ghost… thoughts wander; compulsions linger restlessly. There is no recovery for true addiction.
Dana wouldn’t let me fuck her before she went on dates. Losers she’d meet from pay-to-play dating apps- ones that supposedly offered a more serious assortment of romantic candidates. The kind she’d want to bring home to mom, assuming mom were still alive. Maybe, more accurately, the kind she’d introduce to her children- on a day trip to Adventureland, where he’d spend big money on artisan ice-cream and carnival games skewed against the player.
Big smiles while riding bumper boats. This could be something real- like they advertise on TV, where aging singles find their second chance; the one that counts, as insinuated by complex smiles on the faces of couples in their forties, sipping cocoa in cozy, female-owned coffee shops; discussing life after marriage.
“These weeds have grown where the sun once shown…”
It used to bother me thinkingI didn’t exist outside of how others perceived me. The moments I spent alone, while significant to me, felt shapeless- as if what’s experienced in solitude existed on a plane between dream and fiction. The inner world can only be represented in close approximation- and that representation is all that exists; you are who others perceive you to be. No one is interested in you beyond the value of your public face.
“If you’re gonna scream, scream with me. Moments like these never last.”
I ended up with the plaid button-down because I needed a nice shirt to wear on dates– I was single again and recently set up a new OkCupid profile. I had found success on that platform in the past, although it felt like a thousand lifetimes ago when I was dating the daughter of a colleague in my English department while screwing her best friend on the side. All through the magic of online dating, but stay in a lecherous, testosterone sapping relationship long enough and all you’ve learned gets lost to time- too many Diet Cokes in BPA laden plastic cups at Friday’s, too much time spent in front of network television, an unwilling prisoner of your girlfriend’s viewing habits. Why are women obsessed with TV? Modern relationships should carry a warning label.
Women like preppy men, a friend’s girlfriend had told me. Read their profiles and find something you have in common. “Mutual interests.” Perhaps your values will coalesce. Women in their thirties are different, she said- you can’t talk to them like everything is just sex. They want a caring, intelligent man. They’re over their asshole phase.
Like buying bitcoin for pennies, the peak time to meet a girl on the Internet came and went before you ever knew what you were losing. Before anyone would have thought to use a term like early adopter– a time so raw that it couldn’t have been confined to language. Before they called it the “wild west.” A time without shape or form.
Forget selfies, rewind past digital cameras- when scanners were still emerging technology, the most pressing question after “ASL” became finding out what she looked like. The description of her body would ignite the imagination. You’d never have guessed that this primitive fumbling would yield more honesty than digital pictures, twenty years later.
I knew I was in over my head when I heard Kristen’s voice. She spoke with the easy confidence of beauty. I always came out of left field. The outsider art of trying to get laid. A puncher’s chance, but give me enough time and I’ll land a clean left hook. There was a crazy charm to this and Kristen picked up on it. She didn’t know what to make of me, but she knew I was unlike anyone she’d ever met. I spoke with the easy confidence of insanity.
“Some wine, some wine, she’ll never decline some wine. She sees her ship is sinking so she’s drinking all the time.”
Things just didn’t go as planned, she told me, her face stained with tears. I knew she was talking about me- I was never part of the plan. She was naked and crying- something that would’ve turned me on but I wanted to be there for her. It just wasn’t in your cards, baby. I thought this was comforting. Confront reality like a stoic- always have a love of fate. The stars brought us together, baby- your life crushed by divorce, my eternal adolescence- if that isn’t a love story, what is?
She swore she didn’t drink at work, but she called this her downward spiral, so I always wondered. She’d get nervous when it was closing time at the liquor store and she was running out of wine. By three in the morning, she’d tell me she loved me.
Men are universally able to separate all female acquaintances into two categories: women we want to fuck, and the rest.
The more of a beta-doofus you are the more likely it is that you want to fuck everyone you know, but for any man with a shred of dignity there will typically be a line drawn between potential fucks and “the rest.”
A female not being on our literal “to do” list doesn’t mean we want them to fall off the face of the planet or die in a fire, and it certainly doesn’t mean we wouldn’t lend a hand if they were falling off a cliff- it quite literally means that we don’t want to have sex with them. And it is this distinguishing detail that opens up the rather new, from a generational standpoint, possibility of becoming just friends with a woman.
“None of these girls want to be your girlfriend…”
It’s twenty years later and I still remember the uncomfortable feeling my Dad’s blunt assessment produced.