Backwards

Originally written (but never previously posted) on:

January 11, 2012

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a journal, even though I’ve had a number of topics culled from real life worth blogging about in the last few months. Drivers who honk at me from behind because I’m not cutting off the guy who’s trying to turn in front of me. My walking into a park restroom to find two guys forgoing the privacy of a stall to change into their athletic clothes while in the open (awkward). Missing my self-imposed deadline to finish writing a novel before Christmas because it’s ballooned to the length of four novels and needs to be split. The joys of losing three weeks’ pay during the most expensive season of the year, every year, because I work in education, something that has less time devoted to it than common vacation-free stupidity. And, of course, discussing my favorite books or movies of the year in an effort to convert anyone reading this to my side. You know, just a few of the topics I’ve missed writing about because I was too busy devoting my time to things that didn’t matter (computer games), and looking back I regret that.

Kinda makes you wonder what’s snapped me out of that dry trend, right?

Truthfully, I don’t see this turning into a real blog. Real blogs spend time investigating an issue. They ask the question: why are those junky cars in back of the college upside down? Oh, because that’s part of the firefighter training facility. Why is that water fountain marked with a sign that warns potential thirsty people not to drink from it? What’s unsafe about that water fountain, but is perfectly safe about every other water fountain within a hundred-foot radius of it? Did somebody spike the pipes there? Is it too close to the firefighter training facility where that gas tanker nuzzled up to the roof of that junky car on its side is possibly leaking into the underground water table? Is it just to make those warehouse guys in the back of the building hate their job? Am I only concerned about this because the Property Records Office wanted me to walk all the way across campus, not to return my lockdown key, but to confirm that I still had it? A real blog might attempt to speculate on these questions until it returns a viable answer. For now, I don’t think I care to do that. For now, I just want voice a concern that has suddenly become clear to me after having stealthily given me a number of headaches over the years.

The human race is a backward one. We want answers before we ask the questions. We want flat bellies before we bother to exercise. We expect money whether we work for it or not. It’s kinda crazy. If I’m waiting at a turnabout for the driver with the right of way to finish clearing the circle, is it too much to ask of the driver behind me to lay off his dang horn? If something in government already works fine, is there some reason why Senator X feels compelled to break it and then sink the economy with his new plan to fix it? If I want to finish fixing my novel before the 23rd to make a contest on time, do I really need to be wasting my time writing blogs? I’m beginning to suspect that we, as a human race, are approaching our decisions with ignorance. We think, therefore we are correct.

I’m not one to complain about this. I was once infamous for my tendency to fall asleep after drinking coffee. I think I’ve tricked my body enough in the last seven years to recognize that caffeine is supposed to wake me up. But it still doesn’t understand that five-mile walks in the park are supposed to encourage the same outcome. Nor does it understand that thirty minutes of cardio at the gym three days a week is supposed to trim a pound or two off my weight, not add three back. My body and I are still working on the things it’s supposed to do versus the things that it does do. It’s kind of an idiot, but I’m patient.

Women are still an enigma to me, and are the leading cause of most of my blogs, including this one. In most situations, a single lady who is available should be more readily accessible through texts, e-mails, or phone calls to a man than are the several married female friends he knows. I mean, I think that’s how things are supposed to work. If I were to conduct an impromptu Man on the Street interview right now in some crowded city, asking the question, “As a single man, who do you have better connections with, the single ladies you’re interested in, or the married ones who are forever platonic toward you?” I would assume that the common answer would lean toward the single ladies. Isn’t that the ideal response? Isn’t that the ideal truth? For some reason, whether through irony or cruelty, that’s never the case with me. And I know that “never” is too extreme of a word to use in any case, but I’m pretty sure that “never” is pretty accurate here. Perhaps that bears opening a window into my life.

When that show The Office was still in its prime, my married male friend wasn’t the one who called me every Thursday and insisted that I come over to watch it with him and his wife; his wife was the one who generally invited me over. Sure, he was happy to have me over to watch the show with them. But it was never through his insistence that I actually went over there. If I told him I didn’t want to come over this week, he’d usually say okay and that would be that. If I told her I didn’t want to come over this week, she’d try to bribe me with a pizza or a soft drink or something until I said, “Fine, I’ll be over soon.” As irony or cruelty would have it, in that same era when I would get these weekly invites to hang out with my married friends, usually through the wife’s suggestion (and that didn’t include the other occasional days in the week when the three of us would go to a movie or to Applebee’s—some weeks, not all weeks), I was waiting several to many weeks for the single lady I was interested in at the time to respond to my last three or more e-mails that I had sent her. Back then, I knew something was off about that dynamic. But I realized I couldn’t change it. At the time, I chalked up the single woman’s increasing lack of response to disinterest on her part. I didn’t want to believe that was the case, but the signs were evident. I kept writing anyway because I was in denial. I thought there was hope, therefore I was correct. In the meantime, I would hang out with my married friends, week after week, almost consistently by the wife’s invitation, wondering why in the world the single girl I was interested in wanted nothing to do with me. But now, when history repeats itself again and again, I have to start questioning whether I’m delusional, or part of a society that has missed an important ingredient in the recipe for a sensible life.

Ever since those Thursday nights when The Office was still hot on NBC’s lineup and people were still wondering if Jim would ever break through the thick shell around Pam’s heart, things had finally died down, the players in my life had gradually shifted, and I now have a new series of married friends that I hang out with on occasion. But the dynamic between the two social groups hasn’t shifted. The married female friends in my life are still quick as ever to respond to funny texts or questions I might have, and in some cases invite me on a group outing. And the single ones still take forever to even say hello. The married ones are generally speedy to help me with a problem. The single ones…well, I’m still waiting to hear back from them. In 2011, I started devoting special attention to a new single lady, the first to really catch my attention in about five years. Most of my married female friends have since spent time listening to me defending this girl even when it was clear that something in my connection with her was gradually failing. I, of course, didn’t want to believe that anything was failing—that the current situation was just the way things were supposed to work for us. The breakdown, of course, comes down to communication and expectation, and a clash that both have with the current season in her life. I still believe that frequent contact is imperative for the growth of any relationship, friendship or otherwise, and when that comes under threat, so does the relationship. This lady of interest had explained to me a couple of months ago that it isn’t normal for her to chat on a regular basis with a man she’s not committed to (as in preparing for marriage—I know this sounds a lot like disinterest, but this was happening even when she admitted to enjoying messages from me). When a single woman is the only person who tells me that (and I don’t think this is the first time I’ve heard this from a single woman), I realize something is off, and I become utterly confused by the logic. I’d expect this kind of statement from the married ones. Yet, none of them feel the conversational distance is even necessary. Is it because they’ve already established their emotional ties? I’m really confused by this. I actually want to be okay with her statement because I want to be okay with her viewpoint. And I know she has said this in context of committing to her singleness (another detail that isn’t this blog’s business). (The background story is too complicated for a blog, so I’ll just say that against modern logic, I’ve been supportive of her decision to keep a certain distance, even if it doesn’t actually make a lot of sense to me, and even if it secretly pains me.) This has not been easy, though. After going nearly a month without a phone call (in spite of my requests for a response), I realize my frustration has nothing to do with her lengthy breaks from communication, even when it’s obviously eroding the possibility for growth and even more obviously a repeat of my painful past that I’m certain is leading to disappointment if things continue as they are, but from the simple fact that my married (and notably emotionally off-limits) female friends are, on average, responsive within four hours or less. I feel like that’s kinda backwards. Aren’t the single ladies supposed to be the more readily available ladies?

So…. May I ask a simple question? Is this really my life? And is it supposed to be this way? This is the very reason why I’m tired of meeting new people; inevitably I’m just gonna have to start over again and again, remember a new name, discover a new face, again and again, get my hopes up, again and again, and then accept yet another reason why I’m not allowed to draw close to the single one who matters the world to me, again, again, and yet again, and I have no more interest in doing that. Many times I’ve prayed to God to give me a heart for singleness if He’s just gonna keep throwing me in the path of wonderful women who will ultimately break my heart. It’s not my boyhood dream to run face-first into so many dead ends. This is the kind of pain that offers no gain. It’s really just soft cruelty.

As I stated a moment ago, I don’t really need to explore this issue in-depth any further. It’s just something that has crossed my mind again, and I felt like writing it down. I don’t expect it to be the key to my resolve. Early tomorrow morning I’m supposed to visit the college dental school to sit in a chair for an hour and a half while dental students poke around in my mouth trying to figure out what state my teeth are in. I expect that in that hour and a half, they’ll reach the conclusion that my four-year absence from the dentist will render me in need of a new cleaning, and possibly an X-ray. At that point they will schedule me to come back at another time for the actual cleaning, which I’m told can take about four hours at the school. And this is good because when I tried to get my teeth cleaned at the school last month, the person responding to my card didn’t leave a message on the first call, nor did she answer my calls any of the times I tried to get back to them to schedule an appointment. The only reason I got in now was because I came across a dental student in the computer lab on my first day back at school for the new semester (on a Friday) and told him in my most formal and polite way, “Hey, get me an appointment, dude. Sheesh.” I got the call right after the weekend ended to come in Thursday morning bright and early. I filled out my first request for a cleaning in early November. But that’s why I don’t really have time to invest in this question further tonight. I should be asleep now. But I’m not because only normal people go to bed early enough to get adequate sleep. Nope, I’ve got to do things the nonsensical way because I am human, dangit!

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