I took command yesterday and told Jabbers that we’re going on a date. Remember that we’ve never actually met face to face yet, so this might be considered a first date. (Although a five-hour phone call counts as a date in my book!) I’m nervous. I don’t know why, because at the very worst I can see us becoming friends if nothing else. The good news is that she is more nervous than I am, so that breeds some confidence in me. (Jabbers reads this page, so I’m probably going to regret saying that.)
Anyway, I’m nervous. Did I say that already? I slept for about two hours last night because my brain would not stop talking to me. (Since the date is tomorrow night, I’m hoping my brain will be too tired to talk tonight and let me sleep.) What did my brain talk about? All my previous dates, girlfriends, and the mistakes I made with each of them. How do I make my brain stop talking to me? I write down what it says.
As an interesting side note, I’d like to say that I never formulate what to write about in advance. In high school, English teachers would always ask for outlines and first drafts and such, and I absolutely hated that step. It’s easier for me to sit down and let my brain (or maybe my heart?) write down what it’s thinking while the rest of me takes a nap. When the brain (heart?) stops writing, I wake up and read what I wrote. It’s sort of like being possessed, but more like watching a movie from the first person perspective about someone writing. Anyway, back to the point, which is writing down what my brain talks about. (Jabbers, you’re about to get a crash course in all the sociopaths and sweethearts that have walked this road before you. Now you can feel like you’re cheating.)
In 1992, my best friend KoonDog (though he would not earn this nickname officially for another three years) and his girlfriend introduced me to her sister. How cliche is that? The sister was an incredibly sweet girl. The downside was that I was an incredibly dirty guy. My mind was in the gutter, and my mouth reflected that far too often. Whenever I was around her, I would feel guilty with almost every joke I cracked. (And I crack a lot of jokes.) A friend of mine described her as “too Ivory Soap-ish.” (99.9 ure, for those who don’t remember those commercials.) After four months of dating, and a first kiss I will never forget, I walked away. I told her that I didn’t feel like I could be myself around her, and it made me uncomfortable. I was an idiot. This girl knew who I was, and accepted me for it, and I turned my back on her. She ended up engaged about seven months later, to the next guy who came along.
In 1993, Koondog’s girlfriend set me up with one of her friends. It wasn’t so much as a date as going down to the lake to drink wine coolers (Oh, what fond memories of the days before I became an alcohol snob.) I was shy. I freely admit it. I sat next to this girl on the sailboat with my arms crossed in a defensive posture for about two hours. After those two hours, I felt her hand creep up and close around mine, while my arms were still crossed. By the end of the night, she had accepted an invitation to accompany me to the prom. (And she had no qualms at all with me stating that I would wear my black Converse All-Stars with my tux. It made for some great pictures, let me tell you.) She and I were together for the better part of two years, and I realized that it was time to take the next step in the relationship. I was also terrified of the idea of engagement and marriage for one reason, and only one reason: I had hardly any experience with other women.
Even then, I knew that I wanted to be a faithful partner. So, after what I considered to be much thought, I told her I wanted to see other people. I told her that I didn’t want to marry her and then end up getting curious twenty years later. I told her that I wanted to find out what all I was taking for granted in her. What she heard was “I’ve met someone else.” So within two months of this break-up, she was in another relationship and engaged within six months.
At the end of 1994, I was pretty big into Internet games, and chatting with folks from all over the world while we played together. (Get your minds out of the gutter, people! In 1994 the Internet was still pretty wholesome and clean.) One of these people I chatted with, and played with regularly, become a closer friend, and we decided we’d get together and meet sometime. She drove up one weekend and that was all it took. Six months later, she’s moving into a rental house with me and KoonDog (who was now single again). I’d like to take the high road and say I respected her for her mind, that she had a great personality, and other noble things. I’d like to say those things, but the truth is that she was incredible in bed. The worst part about this was that she knew it, and she used this as leverage. We fought constantly, and after about four months, she moved out. She was married within a year, but at least it was to the second guy to come along after me, not the first.
In 1995, I was still playing on the Internet, and one of my other friends was in a very bad situation in New York. She needed to get out, and Koondog and I could use the extra money saved on rent to buy more useless crap. So I offered her the spare room. She moved in, found her way into my room within three months, and stayed for just under three years. We came to realize that we were more like brother and sister during this time, and the idea of a relationship just became a little creepy. She ended up moving to Colorado to live with her folks, and was married within a year.
By this time, the running joke amongst my friends was that I prepare women for marriage. I was like the trial run. Personally, I like to think that I crushed these women so beyond repair that when they rebounded, they latched on to the next guy with a death grip because they knew they could never have the best again. Leave me to my delusions, please.
So it was 1998, and I had sent four women off to marriage. I decided that relationships just weren’t for me, so I figured I’d play the field for awhile. I set myself up with some rules, such as never playing more than one girl at a time, and set myself loose downtown. This was about the lowest year of my life in terms of my relationships. I would find a girl, see her a few times, get her to my place (or me to her place) and then back out at the Moment of Truth. What in the hell was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I sleep with these girls?
By 2000, I’d just given up. I’d accepted that I’d be alone forever, and got over it. (Or I told myself I’d gotten over it. I was actually pretty damn bitter about it.) Figuring that this one aspect of my life was handled, I decided to focus on others. So I bought a house, renewed and strengthened some old friendships that I’d let slip, and pretty much forgot about how much I liked being in a relationship.
In 2002, there was a girl who called to hang out with KoonDog (who moved in with me for a short while while he house-shopped) and he wasn’t in. I knew the girl, so I said that I’d hang out with her if she just wanted to go out with some company. We went out, had a blast, and made plans to do it again. For an entire year, we hung out almost constantly, playing pool, playing putt-putt, catching movies. At the end of the year, she moved back to live with her folks in Savannah. She invited me down for a weekend during the Christmas season, and I gladly accepted. When I was packing my bags to come back home from that trip, I realized that I’d been falling for this girl.
To give a little bit of background, I am pretty used to being TFZ’ed by girls. (TFZ = The Friend Zone. To be TFZ’ed is to be put into this zone and never considered as Relationship MAterial again.) I’m a friendly guy. I have the Teddybear Physique(tm). And I’m very protective of women. This makes me into somewhat of a Big Brother figure to many of my female friends. Anyway, I had spent a year solidifying my place in The Friend Zoen with this girl because I had no other designs in mind, and now I wanted to take it up a notch. Talk about irony.
In January of 2003, she came up to spend a weekend with some friends, and we got together for a movie. Being the guy that I am, I just blurted out, “Are we dating?” She gave a tremendous sigh of relief, and said that we were. It lasted another ten months, and then we drifted apart.
Now, I keep in contact with most of my ex-girlfriends. (This has been the source of a few arguments with women I was dating.) My opinion on the matter is that there was at least something about them that made us friends. Why throw that away just because the relationship part didn’t work? Why do I bring this point up? Because it leads into the next part.
Last December was the big 3-0 for me, birthday-wise, and I was none too happy about it. 25 was the first tough birthday for me, but 30 was one that I was not looking forward to at all. I told everyone I didn’t want a party, and I didn’t want to talk about it, and pretty much played the role of grump to a tee. One of my ex-girlfriends picked up on this, and offered to come visit. It happened to be the one who was amazing in bed, and she was in the middle of her second divorce. I was depressed. I was grumpy. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. I gave in. It was a fun weekend. She went back to her life, and my outlook on my life was improved. I was 30, but I still had it. (Whatever the hell “it” is.) For three months, she pursued me, wanting to see me again, blah blah blah… and I take no pride in saying I gave in… again. I knew that there was no future with this girl, and she was using me. But I was using her back, so it was all good, right?
Anyway, I finally came to my senses in the spring, and we stopped seeing each other. I haven’t spoken to her since, and I feel pretty good about that.
Other than the details of various short-term dating spurts that didn’t reach the “newsworthy” status, that brings us up to date. Here I am, coming up on 31 and confident that I don’t need someone else to make my life complete. Just because I don’t need someone, though, doesn’t mean I don’t want someone to share my life with. If I find her, great. If I don’t, I’ll have to share my life with my friends (who are very dear to me) and I will be content with that.
So tomorrow night I’m going on this date with no expectations, and no pressure on myself to be someone I’m not. And guess what? I’m no longer nervous about it. This brain-vomit style of writing really works. Thanks for listening.