Mom, just give me a Pepsi please
All I want is a Pepsi, and she wouldn’t give it to me
All I wanted was a Pepsi, just one Pepsi, and she wouldn’t give it to me.
Just a Pepsi.
– Suicidal Tendencies, “Insitutionalized”
The Free Times today had an article about dating after 30, by Ron Aiken. It echoed pretty much everything I’ve ever asked in my posts about where one can meet people in this age range, what’s wrong with the online dating scene, etc. But it really didn’t’ give any answers I wanted. Some of the people interviewed suggested various things, such as joining some social groups. The social groups proposal got me thinking, and not in a positive manner. I don’t like people, in general. Let me give you an example of Stuckey walking into a bar.
I walk in, and my first action is to find a spot to sit, preferably in a corner and facing the entrance. I make my way to that spot, or the closest spot to it, while choosing a path that will keep the most amount of people the furthest distance from my person as possible. I sit down and begin to watch people. If anyone walks within three feet of my table, I will probably lean away from them. (If I have friends with me, they will probably laugh about my “bubble” being violated.) I will not maintain eye contact with anyone for longer than three seconds.
So let’s analyze this. Why would I sit in a corner, facing the door? I’ve done this for so many years that I don’t even think about it any more. My friends have joked about it being the hit-man seat. Always watching the door, with my back protected, ready to throw the table on its side and use it for a shield if I spot a would-be assassin coming in. All jokes aside, it’s not far from the truth. I don’t enjoy having people behind me. It makes me nervous. I’m not expecting an assassin, but it’s certainly an uncomfortable situation for me. I can’t explain it any further than that.
Why would I avoid everyone while walking? Why cringe when someone comes within my bubble? Why flinch if someone happens to touch me incidentally? I don’t have the answers. It makes me feel the same way that putting suntan lotion, or any lotion for that matter, on my skin does. Believe me, it’s a feeling that makes me want to vomit sometimes. (Don’t ask about the lotion. I have no idea why and, frankly, I don’t want to explore it.)
Eye contact? I’ve had a lot of people tell me that I have a very intense stare, and that it can be a little intimidating coming from a guy built like an NFL lineman. Maybe it’s an unconscious decision to glance away so that I don’t mistakenly intimidate someone. Maybe it’s that I believe that the eyes are the window to the soul, and I don’t want to let anyone see what lies beneath my skin. I really don’t have the answer to this, either.
So I guess I’m pretty fucked up. What do I do about it? I’ve forced myself to attend to a few social situations, where I’m required to meet strangers, even talk with them. MJ’s housewarming party was one of these exercises. I’d met MJ before, and she’s cool, but I knew there would be a lot of people there I didn’t know. Whether or not I came across as scared of them, I couldn’t say. The truth, though, is that I had a lot of fun.
When I go to a bar lately, which isn’t often these past few months, I will sometimes make myself take the path of greatest resistance. I will squeeze between people on my way to the bathroom, sometimes even putting my hand on a shoulder or back and saying “Excuse me” as I pass. I might play it off well, but the inside of my brain is going nuts and screaming at me, “The path of LEAST resistance, you idiot! Be an electron!” (Yes, even my internal monologue makes geek jokes.) This is something that has not become any easier over time, and I wonder if it ever will.
Eye contact is something I haven’t tried to work on. According to a girl who said some very sweet things to me, I really should work on this, because my eyes are what’s going to get me into some girl’s pants. (I think she’d already decided to let me into her pants at that point, so I don’t know whether it was my eyes or not.) I don’t know if I can really work on this until I figure out why I break eye contact so easily, and I don’t know how to find that answer.
The thing about all of this that really bothers me is that I’m not like this with my friends. The number of friends allowed in my bubble is very small, and grows very slowly. And while it takes a serious time investment for someone to get into my bubble, it’s very rare that someone leaves it. So what does it mean that I would rather have a small network of friends that I would gladly lay down my life for over a large group of acquaintances that I may not know very well?
Why is it that anytime I look for answers, I only find more questions?