Being a “Momma’s Boy” and why that sucks

Sigmund Freud and practitioners of classical psychology may love this post. “Tell me about your parents,” after all, is one of the cliche phrases of psychology. Yet this is not a post where I complain about how I was raised or about the flaws of my parents. No, today I am going to try to spell out a part of the double edged sword that is our sexist culture. The crux of it is by undervaluing women and their roles in our society at large, we also undervalue those who choose to honor or tend to them, or even those who fill roles which society has “traditionally” designated to them. Easy examples are those who scoff at men who work as nurses or secretaries; in fact, terms such as “male nurse” or “administrative assistant” seemed to have arisen to cover this up. Yet there is one phrase which has always followed me like a shadow, which seems to get larger the older I get.

That phrase is “Momma’s boy”.

Some might call this a “double standard”. According to most American social roles, daughters are expected to be close to their parents – their fathers especially. This pans out as statistically, daughters are more likely to be the primary caretakers of elderly relatives in their family, even in families in which there are brothers or other men who could pick up that slack. Yet a man who chooses to carry out a similar role – form a close bond to his mother – is often made the butt of jokes or derided. Many a sitcom has used this dynamic as fodder, and many a film has used this as either comedy or the basis for a psychopath – Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” being an easy example. However, I would not use this difference as the basis for some rant about how “men are the ones who are oppressed”. No, the fact of the matter is that this attitude persists because the roles of mothers and daughters in our society are undervalued. Therefore, those men who fill it seem even worse.

I grew up in a single parent household; my father was a deadbeat who fled at the quickest opportunity and to this day owes tens of thousands in back child support. Such a fact of life seems (unfortunately) common in some ethnic backgrounds, but apparently it is rare for white men in New York, at least of my generation. I was raised by a single mom who never remarried and did her damnedest to raise me as best she could. We were poor, but due to the times and her skills I was aware of this but didn’t seem to suffer for it until junior high when those socioeconomic gaps became obvious between my peers and I. As I have grown up, my mother’s health has declined. Simply by only having one parent and being close to her already pegs me under the “Momma’s boy” stereotype, but so does my role as caretaker. Without getting into specifics, my mom has multiple long term and chronic illnesses which are slowly but surely destroying her body. She is under sixty years old, but from how she feels she may as well be in her seventies or eighties. As independent as she is or was or wants to be, she relies on me for many things (errands, financial support) and I have done my best to fill that role for her. She took care of me as a child, and I am trying to follow suit as an adult. Unfortunately, that’s not easy as I unfortunately have been unable to escape poverty, either – despite a college degree.

American society, at least the bit of it I have experienced in New York, is a very masculine, profit oriented, domination obsessed place. In countries like Japan or India, or even much of Asia, tending to one’s parents in old age is a commonly accepted fact of life. Nobody bats an eye at adults who do such things (even still living under one roof with them), and in fact one who didn’t would be seen as shallow or selfish, or at least odd. In America, however, we are obsessed with being consumers and I think family ties are a part of this. By and large, Americans (especially men) are expected to sever ties as early as possible, live alone, leave their parents to age and fend for themselves or be tended to by others (sisters, perhaps) or be dumped in nursing homes. Perhaps this is a model which works in upper or middle class families, but it isn’t so feasible for those who are poor or working class. And as women seem to be quietly accepted as the ground forces of these roles, men who find themselves in these roles seem to be such a rarity that they’re often seen as being wimps, or immature, or pathetic – even by other women. I try not to judge women for absorbing negative aspects of the culture and social messages they’re bombarded with every day, even those which go against logic or their best interests, but I still notice them.

It starts young, and is obvious when you look at clear examples. How many superhero origins are all about avenging fathers, or giving fathers majority status in origin stories where a hero’s parents died? Sure, Bruce Wayne lost both his parents in that alley, but his father Thomas always has more to do beforehand, more to say, and derives more angst in Batman than Martha. While Peter Parker still lives, loves, and protects his aunt (and adoptive mom) May, it’s the death of Ben (his uncle and adoptive father) and his iconic motto which motivates him. Bruce Banner’s at times been defined by an early relationship of abuse from his father. Even though both of Superman’s parents died when Krypton exploded and both chose to send him to Earth, it’s his father Jor-El who gets more to do and more post-death interaction. And who’s the biggest hero who, at least historically, had a key role with a mother? Wonder Woman, a heroine who’s struggled to appear in film or TV and has been mangled no end of times by DC Comics. The Ninja Turtles live and are trained by master Splinter, female Transformers are few and far between, and so on. While not to diminish the role fathers play in life, it seems that as far back as the early heroes of boys, the role of motherhood seems to be diminished. All Martha Wayne is is a set of pearls. May Parker is usually just there to nag about sweaters. Lara only talks to Superman when no footage of Marlon Brando is available. Tang Shen never gets to survive or even have much to do in any retelling of TMNT. And despite how common single mother households are in America, there seem to be very few of them that exist in media, and those that do usually are not played positively.

I am not saying I have no will of my own or that mother and I agree about everything, or are exactly alike. I’d argue she is far tougher and has survived far more abuse than I ever have. It is though her that I learned right and wrong, that I saw the horrors that life can inflict upon women and girls for no other reason than their gender, and where I learned, or so I thought, a respect for women. And as frustrating as it can be sometimes to have her rely on me so much, it is a role I would not shirk and did not during a brief period when I was financially better off. When given half the chance, I would not abandon her like the rest of our family has. I would not trust a roommate or anyone else with her well being. And even during some of the worst years of helping her tend to grandma until the end, I would not have run away if given the chance. It simply isn’t the right or honorable thing to do. My mother was the only parent I got and while she isn’t perfect, I’ve chosen to stand with her for as long as I have to. I have tried my best to honor and love her, to protect her like she once protected me.

Unfortunately, this is not considered macho or attractive for men in New York society for the reasons I stated above. I’ve had employers roll their eyes at hints of this in interviews, even for jobs WITHIN THE HELPING PROFESSION. I have been looked down upon by both friends and associates for being a “momma’s boy”. What is even worse is how I seem to embody all of the stereotypes of a “momma’s boy” or not having “a father to show me how to be a man” by me not being confident or assertive or dominating. I am seen as less than a man because I do not live alone and have to take care of my only parent. And this means less money to spend on myself, which is most of what a man’s entire value as a human being is derived (the other segments being looks and aggressiveness). I am very aware that much of my life’s frustrations and my own personal lack of self worth are due in part to the sexist core of our society; unfortunately simply knowing that isn’t enough to overcome it or make it go away.

In my journey to explain why I am the Dateless Man, let’s recap what I have revealed. I am a virgin, I am poor, I am not athletic, tall, attractive, charismatic, affluent, experienced, socially adept, and above all I live with and try to honor my mother. Maybe I don’t need to proceed any further. All of these details spell nothing more than the exact opposite of what women are expected to find attractive and desirable in a long or short term lover. I wish I lived in a world where all of the values and things I learned about morality as a child were actually appreciated, rewarded, respected, or honored in the real world, but they are not. Media pays lip service to it but in the end it’s all about the rat race, about getting as much as you can for as little effort as possible and damning anyone in y0ur way. I live in a world where a man is expected to be assertive, aggressive, macho and a money maker, and instead I’m a wimpy caretaker. No woman I have ever desired has ever been interested in me, and none ever will. Despite my mother’s best efforts in rearing me, my life has been a frustrating, underachieving experience which I regret with every passing day, and which due to her conditions comes closer to the day when she will be gone, long before I am ever ready for her to be.

Being a “Momma’s boy” or taking care of your family should be marks of pride, not shame, not something to have to keep to one’s vest. In fact, that term shouldn’t even exist in our culture. Simply being good human beings should be the norm. Imagine how much sweeter life would be for everyone if it was.

When even your fantasies are boring

When your life has given you precious few romantic opportunities with women – as mine has – then the realm of the imagination tends to be the only outlet. As no end of cartoons, films, or TV shows will state, the imagination is a powerful thing. After all, it’s the power behind fiction itself, both as an author and a reader. Our fantasies, or lack thereof, can sometimes effect how we act outside in the world.

As a little boy growing up in “Reagan’s America”, initial fantasies were easily power fantasies. I can’t speak for how young girls interpret the messages around them, as I’ve never been one. But in the 1980’s, most narratives for men and boys seemed pretty clear. Be a hero, get the girl; and believe me, that narrative starts young. As you get older and hormones kick in, naturally, this fantasy grows more detailed.

However, the difficult thing about being physically inexperienced past a certain age is that your imagination cannot go anywhere where it is never been. So while I can easily imagine what it is like to hug or kiss or hold hands or so on, anything beyond that is within the realm of the gods. Eventually we all realize we’re not superheroes and that real life is different, and our fantasies shift towards something more realistic.

Most male fantasies are usually about domination. Defeating an enemy, winning a game, rising above someone else (or everyone else), and so on. I think a lot of mainstream fantasies involving sex tend to be the same. Missionary position, with the man on top, dominating. At least, that is how the media seems to portray it. Yet as I got older, none of my own personal fantasies seemed to involve that. Instead, the things which seemed to hit my sweet spot were far more mundane. Instead of imagining how nice it would be to be naked with a woman, I was wondering what it was like to share a sunset with her, or to talk while watching the stars at night. During some lonely nights when I was in college, when I was feeling particularly depressed and repulsive, I would imagine what it would be like to lay with a woman I fancied. Not sex. Not even foreplay. Just…laying there. Maybe hugging at most.

It wasn’t until I was a little older that I realized I was thinking about “cuddling”. That the sort of stuff I was having fantasies about was the sort of stuff women say they like in magazines or letter columns but not in real life. “Walks on the beach,” is a cliche for a reason. That isn’t to say that I am beyond physical attraction or making a crude joke with the guys now and again, or even a mild fetish. But as I get older, these things almost seem like a cover, like a mask I have to wear to at least appear normal to average guys I am around, or friends with. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized what was at the core of it; I was sensitive, in a world where men are expected not to be. I’m passive, in a world where men are expected to be aggressive. Yet my fantasies don’t involve being dominated by a woman with a whip or anything; that sort of thing doesn’t appeal to me, either. Even now, as I type this, while I won’t deny being beyond physical pang, in the end I am not even after sex as a physical act unto itself. I think I am after love, or the lack of it. I think I fantasize more about companionship more than sex.

It happens constantly. It will be a nice night out, a moderate temperature, and the sky will be clear enough to watch stars. And a part of my subconscious will think something to the effect of, “A shame I have never had a girlfriend; this would be a nice night to stargaze with her.” And then I catch myself and shake my head at my own lack of masculinity. “Even my fantasies are lame,” I think not long after, and move on.

The rest of my friends have all cottoned on to how to get things done. By and large they have better jobs and better relationships. Most of them are engaged or with long term girlfriends, and those that aren’t don’t seem to be more horny than lonely. They’re not cads or monsters but I do think they objectify women more than I do; they’ve gone to strip clubs or hired strippers for parties on occasion. They don’t mistreat the women they’re with (even if I haven’t spent much time with them and their lovers since high school and college when we hung out more), but there always seems to be this wall between them and their lovers where they stand up for themselves or are more assertive. I’ve seen perfectly happy couples within my social circle get into arguments that I never would; if I was with a woman as beautiful as some of them were, I’d rarely waste energy on some pointless argument. I wouldn’t be obsessed with getting drunk whenever I wasn’t working or sleeping. I’d be focused on her. I imagine that I’ve taken things to another extreme; I may not objectify women but I either put them on some mental pedestal or remain in awe or anxiety over them, feelings from grade school that have never gone away. And maybe that is why my fantasies remain those of a younger age. Why I fantasize about how nice it would be to spend time with a woman or cuddle, instead of mounting and dominating like men my age are supposed to be doing. Even in the media I consume, while I don’t seek out or like romance movies or most romantic comedies, I do enjoy a good romantic subplot in the geeky media I do consume. I can “ship”, and then become embarrassed that I care that much, even to myself.

It could also be due to poverty. I don’t earn much money so cuddling, walks on the beach or stargazing are pretty much things that can be done for free. Drinking, bar hopping, club going or so on costs money, especially in New York. And if there is a place where women don’t focus as much on what a man earns in terms of attraction as much as men focus on her chest or rear end, it isn’t here. New York is full of strong, independent, career oriented women, and none of them want a moment’s time with someone who is a step below them in the social status, at least unless he is ravishingly handsome or some sort of gifted artist. When you’re neither, and even within your own mind you’re notĀ  dominant, you may as well be invisible to them. And maybe that’s a good thing; they’re far too busy and harrowed by a sexist culture to bother with me.

Hell, the goal of men in America is supposed to become rich. To be dominant over all around you, king of the heap. While I would like to earn more and land something better, I don’t want to rich. I just want to be comfortable enough not to worry about myself or my mother, and to have someone to be comfortable with. Yet I don’t want to just marry the first woman I date, because I want a choice to choose her over others not to be one made out of desperation or laziness, but a true choice. I think the problem is my fantasies are akin to what a woman of the 1950’s might have imagined, and the problem is that I am a man in 2014, and those things just don’t work anymore.

I don’t remember all of the dreams I have, but what I do indicates that I dream about women frequently. In most of my own dreams, I don’t “get” them. And if I am having a dream in which I am hugging or kissing a woman, the moment I become aware of what is happening, I know it is a dream because it’s something I never experienced – and then it ends. I’m not even the hero of my own dreams. I know myself too well. I always buckle and fold under pressure, break under competition. Nothing I am is good enough, and that is a very lonely place to be.

Maybe one day something will change, and either my fantasies will become more domineering or perverse, or I’ll just become truly asexual and lose all desire or wants for companionship. But that’s not this year. In a world where the ideal man is akin to a wolf or a stallion, I’m more of a turtle, and not even a mutant ninja one either. Behind my sense of humor, I’m just vanilla and boring, and that’s likely part of why I never succeeded with women or attracted any that I was attracted to as well. Whatever men are expected to be, I don’t fulfill it on any level beyond body hair and physical equipment – not even in my fantasies. I remain simply…the Dateless Man.

Yes, saying “Hello” was harder – the high school adventures, Part 3

It’s time for another embarrassing venture back into the previous adventures of the Dateless Man. By this point we’re mostly through with my high school years, even if not quite through my teenage years. After all, technically one is a teenager until you hit 20, which was an awkward year for me. Then again, haven’t all of them been? Moving along, although I didn’t have many dates in high school, I did certainly attempt to draw the attention of women at the time. “But, wait a minute!” one of the dozen or so people following this blog (thanks, by the way!) would ask. “You’ve said a million times how you were so shy you could hardly talk to women in previous posts!” My response would be that I certainly did anything possible to avoid doing that. There is a difference between trying to draw attention from women and talking to them. Unfortunately, I wasn’t an athlete so I couldn’t simply draw a crowd with sports or some athletic achievement. While I did do some weight training in high school, I was on the low end of mediocre and I didn’t have the discipline to continue. No, I often employed some other desperate attempts to draw attention to myself in some situations. Virtually all of them were dangerous and a few backfired on me. But at the time, they seemed easier than simply trying to introduce myself. Looking back…boy, did I take some risks.

I can’t even explain the logic behind some of my stunts. I think I imagined that I would so impress the target of my desires with some crazy stunt that they’d be the ones who’d offer an icebreaker and it would go from there. I can only imagine that it was due to my belief that I had to be a macho man to impress women enough that they would notice me, due to what I saw all around me in the media and in life. Since I wasn’t in any way assertive or macho or charismatic or handsome or charming, I kept trying to think of other methods. Sure, there were artists or musicians, but I could neither draw or play an instrument.

So, this won’t be one long recount of a date or situation or a specific lady from my past, but a few vignettes in one go.

The first I’d call “Car Dodging”. That is, I’d venture into the street during traffic and dodge a car before I was hit. It was reckless and stupid, for both myself and the hapless drivers I was pissing off. I usually only did it if there happened to be a young lady on the sidewalk that had struck my fancy. I think I first came up with it at the end of junior high and did it a few times in high school. Now, I don’t mean venturing onto the freeway; I mean one or two lane streets in a residential neighborhood. In reality I could gauge speed and distance well enough that I moved well in time and rarely risked things getting closer than a few yards. I believe I only sparked a reaction from one girl once, and it was naturally something along the lines of, “You’re crazy”. Which, I’d agree. Fortunately I stopped doing it before anyone got hurt or anyone’s insurance went up.

I distinct recall another time when I was about 16-17 years old. It wasn’t at school but it was at an arcade type place which was a 45 minute bus ride from my house. I’d go there fairly often once I’d discovered it, as it was a larger and more fancy place than an arcade which was closer to my home. It not only had a laser-tag arena as well as sign ups for paint ball, but a second floor with a ton of arcade machines and batting cages and a lower floor which had bumper cars, some sort of climbing cage thing for kids and refreshments. One of my friends who is into wrestling showed me where the place was when we went out to get a signature and from there I was hooked. It closed years ago and I believe is a factory or warehouse now, which is a shame. At any rate, one of the various amusements on the first floor was a “high striker” or “strength tester”. Whack the target with a hammer, make the light go up a pole and if it hits the bell, that’s the top prize. Now, can you imagine how well this went for me? Oblivious to my own fate, at one time I was resting after a long day and some young ladies were around the area, so I figured there was only one course of action – perform a feat of strength in their vicinity and hope they noticed! Yeah, teenage me was a bit of a moron.

Anyway, I paid for my whack and of course being a macho man I picked the largest and heaviest of the three hammers offered. By now the girls were nearby and I made sure to exchange a look at them before I gave it my mightiest. It was, naturally, a heavier hammer than I ever expected. But I gave it a mighty swing, with all of my might…

Missed the target by a few inches, and nailed my foot pretty good. I forget if the women even noticed or laughed at me, but I certainly felt quite humiliated. From the look on the guy selling tickets, I certainly made his day. I did manage to hit the target on my second try, but whatever might I had was stifled by pain. The light went maybe an inch or two up the pole (meaning my strength was somewhere between a mouse and a vole). A few of my toes were swollen for a week or two after that. Perhaps that was nature’s way of warning me that attempting feats of strength or daring in the vicinity of women my age was no way to strike an impression, and that I should either get over my shyness or just accept my fate as a lonely loser.

Unfortunately I didn’t listen to such hints until near the end of high school when I was 17-18. I was at a public park not far from the shopping mall area where I spent a lot of my youth and was once again in the vicinity of some young ladies. Sitting on a bench behind a short fence which overlooked a green area with trees, naturally I set out to climb atop the fence and jump over it. That part was no big deal, and nothing I hadn’t done before. What made this time different was there was a glass bottle where I was going to land; I had the brilliant idea to land on it, smash it, and somehow attract attention with my feat of…landing manhood? I honestly don’t know what I was thinking, but it turned out my ankle had more give than the bottle. There was a horrible CRUNCH noise, but it wasn’t glass. I was in incredible pain and I could hardly move my ankle for the rest of the day. In fact, it was about an hour before I could manage to limp out of the park. I had it x-rayed as I feared I’d broken something; thankfully it was just a sprain. It wasn’t the first time I’d twisted my ankle but it was the most severe; it was a full month before my ankle was 100% again.

Fortunately, that time the lesson stuck. I never attempted such stupid feats to attract female attention again. It also probably helped that not long after I was in college, which providedĀ  a completely different social setting for me to fail at. But, before then, there’s one final high school adventure to recount, and it’ll be a doozy.

Analysis Paralysis

Not a term I came up with myself, but one from an advice column which I do think sums up one of my major issues. I spend so much time trying to examine every angle of something that I end up not making a move at all. It applies to various things, but especially with women, it is the kiss of death. Despite advances in gender norms since the 1950’s or even the 1980’s, men are still expected to make the first move in any attempt to date. For those with natural confidence or charisma, or even with inflated egos or senses of entitlement, this is a no brainer. For those of us without these things, though, it’s a killer.

I can’t speak for everyone, only for myself and my own experiences. I have never excelled at being spontaneous, at least beyond making jokes or banter. When it comes to asking someone out or even trying to start a conversation with a woman I fancy, it becomes almost impossible to do. I have become so conditioned to knowing I have no chance with women that the urge to attempt to talk to one in some social setting that I don’t know usually dies very quickly. I glance at her, and maybe even look at her quickly, making sure that she doesn’t notice me or make eye contact with me at all. It’s almost an art unto itself, taking a quick look at someone and then making sure to look away before they can glance back. Since I am no longer in school and my job only allows me opportunities to meet new women very rarely, it is easy to go for days or weeks without any opportunities.

Another modern obstacle is technology. Nearly everyone has ear buds in their ears listening to music on their iPod or iPhone or MP3 player or so on. Many times when people are commuting they are playing a game or watching something on these devices. It’s rude to interrupt, and furthermore, they likely won’t hear you until you yell or they notice someone trying to talk to them. If first impressions are everything, then that’s a terrible way to start. Such a hurdle did not exist in the 90’s and even early 2000’s, at least to such a vast degree. Plenty of people still listened to their walkman when commuting. I could never manage it; I always like having my senses about me at all times, and cutting off sound makes me too paranoid when outside.

But when an opportunity does arise, what do I do? Nothing. I try to think of the best way to break the ice. Often that means trying to come up with an acceptable opening line. I am not talking about cheesy pick up lines (I have nowhere near the confidence or arrogance to try them), I am just talking about anything beyond a “Hello”. And even that is a huge thing for me. This is New York; strangers don’t just say “hello” to each other on the street or during a commute unless there is a reason. In fact, that’s usually how one knows whether a panhandler is about to ask for money or one is about to be mugged. So usually another line has to come as quickly as possible, at best a statement about the shared environment. Small talk, essentially. Attempting such things with women is difficult enough for someone such as me, but then trying to steer them anywhere is an equally impossible talk. Eventually the train ride ends, the bus stops, or some circumstance ends the encounter. Naturally, that would be the time to “ask for her digits”, which is something I’ve never done and feel anxious even thinking of. Then she’d know I like her, and despite being years removed from school I am very fearful of letting that be known, especially to those I desire. It doesn’t make sense – how can I attempt to meet someone I like and give them a chance to like me back while not letting them know I like them – but it is what it is.

Why is this a problem? One thing is the title for this post, “analysis paralysis”. I spend so long trying to think of the best opening line and attempting to gauge reactions ahead of time and come up with counterpoints, that the opportunity passes. Having never been good at being spontaneous, I try to approach it from the opposite track, planning and trying to compute the most logical and probable course of action. Unfortunately, this usually takes too long and I never come up with some line or approach I approve of. And that’s because the analyzing is just a symptom of my lack of confidence, experience, and courage (to be frank). And then it is easy for that to cycle back on me. I’m too much of a loser to come up with a line. I’m not smart enough to figure it out, even though everyone else does. I’m too much of a coward to put myself out there. Why would she ever go out with me? And so on, as a vicious circle.

Earlier this year (around March or April) I was coming home from work and some of my coworkers were in the station with me. We’d just moved to our new location now and I was still a but unused to the commute or traveling home with coworkers. Three of them (all men) were only a few yards from me. They’re young, in their late teens and early 20’s and full of confidence and cockiness. I watched one of them approach a young lady who was listening to her iPod also waiting for the train without any hesitation. The initial awkwardness of having to repeat himself to be heard over the buds so a conversation could begin didn’t phase him. He was smiling and in control as he asks her name, whether she goes to school nearby (as our workplace is not far from several colleges) and so on. Although I am not a great judge of body language and socializing I got the sense that the young lady wasn’t terribly interested, but was too nice to let that be known. And my coworker was very zealous and confident, either missing these cues or ignoring them as he tried unsuccessfully to get her phone number. Yet even that didn’t phase him; he went back to chatting with his buddies afterward as if it was no big deal. Despite being far less experienced than me at the job or probably most of life, in this area he may as well have been a Jedi master in comparison.

Such feats are common, but to me it feels like magic. How can it be so easy? How come he’s not phased? It feels like instinct to him, yet for me it’d be impossible. I’d never have the confidence to try that, especially given the reaction from the lady in question. In addition to my own anxieties, fears, and lack of charisma, I don’t deliberately like causing discomfort to others. It sounds cheesy and false, but I do genuinely try to imagine what it would be like for a woman talking to me at random as I stumbled through an attempt at conversation. I imagine them as annoyed, irritated, even angered at being bothered by some schmoe like me as they go about their routine. It doesn’t help that I am overly aware, probably too aware, of my own faults. I know in the end I am not handsome, or charming, or tall, or buff, or have any money to spare, or my own place to live in. I offer nothing to any potential partner. Why even waste the time to try? And so I don’t.

I am aware that not everyone is simply confident. Plenty of people are arrogant, and arrogance is a form of overcompensation for a flaw either deliberately or not. Many people are in denial of their issues as well. Lord knows I have met or seen plenty of dysfunctional men (i.e. alcoholics) who thought they were a gift to womankind. Yet I seem to lack even that. I once made a laundry list of all my faults in high school, and did so without overlapping any. I almost wish I could be ignorant about myself, or lie to myself to talk myself up into doing something. Pretend as if I am a ladies’ man, that I am awesome, that all I need is opportunity and a chance and I can make anything happen. But not even I buy that, and you can’t easily sell something to someone else if you yourself don’t buy it. There is a fear of rejection, of course, but honestly at this point it’s expected. While every failure with women resonates with me despite my pessimism, in the end it’s the outcome I expect, I am the most used to. It is ironic that I am so paralyzed by trying to chat a woman up, because I’d actually be the most speechless if things actually went well. “My number? Of course, I’d love to run into you again.” I’d honestly have no clue how to react. I’d assume I was being punk’d, or she needed someone’s kidney.

Another summer has come and gone, same as the ones before. Yet every year I strive to examine why I fail, why certain things are so tough besides things like depression or inexperience, hoping that one year I will find an answer and everything will click, like with an equation. Unfortunately, life seems to work better for those more daring and charming than I, or even those more lucky. I wonder if there is some formula I haven’t figured out yet, even if in the end it’s nothing so exotic.

Perhaps I would fit in best on a planet full of psychics. At least I’d hope my thoughts and feelings would come off as less awkward and anxious as most of my attempts at words. Oh, well.