Dateless-Man versus College: It was my Mojo that needed First Aid

Welcome back to my continuing exploration of my past adventures in the realm of love and dating, which is sporadically interrupted by various thoughts, lectures, and recent developments. Where we last left off, it was the turn of the century and I had gone to college, which was a local community college. There were no frats and less of a social college scene than you’d imagine. There were clubs, but they mostly served to make your applications for other colleges look better with extracurricular activities. There were occasionally parties held, but they were often small and held by various clubs. I remember one Halloween party I went to where I knew little about the club hosting it beyond a date, time, and room number on a poster in one of the hallways. By the time I got there, I realized that I was of a different ethnicity than the entire rest of the party members, who were all speaking in their native tongue. I actually won the party’s costume contest (and won a boombox, which I didn’t need and thus sold for $20 at a local electronics shop) but things got awkward when I unmasked afterward. I still had fun, but it was hardly the best party I’d attended.

At any rate, I eventually picked a major, which for that school was considered “mental health and human services”. I would eventually transfer to a larger four year college where it became “social work”, but the community college called it “mental health and human services”. The last bit boggled me; as if to signify that it wasn’t veterinary science. I was attending school full time for a while and due to various schedule blips I sometimes had gaps when I was planning my classes for some semesters. This meant I could take some extra courses, and one semester I chose “First Aid”, which was a 2 credit course held for 2 hours (I believe once a week). The class was held in the phys ed building, which was fine as during this time I was trying to take advantage of the school’s weight training room on occasion. I estimate I was between 19-20 years old at the time.

Many classes which were of my major or not in more popular fields (such as liberal arts, nursing, or business) tended to be smaller and more intimate. This one was no exception; I believe there were barely more than about 15 students in the entire class. The text for the course was a fairly inexpensive soft book with the end goal being preparing the student for certification under the Red Cross – which required passing a final exam as well as mastering all of the various techniques as well as sending $10 by check or money order to a designated address. Naturally, most of the women I would become attracted to during this time of my life were fellow students from class, and this case was no exception. I’ll dub her Viola. She was a soft spoken women with short black hair and tan skin; I believe she was either Middle Eastern or Hispanic, but like many people (including myself) her background likely included many lands. She was very intelligent (and majoring in nursing) but seemed a bit shy, which I certainly could relate to. I’d noticed her on the first day of class and over time wound up talking to her. By this time I’d theorized that since many of my classes were small and often involved talking about oneself at some point, instead of immediately making a move I would try to learn as much about the object of my desires over time before making such a risk.

Now, it’s easy to just assume I did such a thing because of my own lack of initiative or boldness. And that’d be true, to a point. But I also didn’t want to bring undue irritation to someone else. I could imagine what it was like to be a young woman in a class just trying to go about life and suddenly someone else is hitting on her. If she has a boyfriend, husband, or just isn’t interested, she has to go through the effort of blowing me off and then share a class with me for another few months. And having these concerns for any target of my desire was atop of the usual litany of faults within myself that I knew I had, and usually tried to hide. At the time, though, as pessimistic and cynical as I thought I was, I still was much more hopeful for a better change in the future than I am now. After all, I was still young with high school being recent; I still considered myself a “young” adult.

I remember lessons regarding rescue breathing and CPR, and then wrapping bandages around wounds or forming clings with gauze got more interesting because it forced us to get out of our seats and interact more personally on or around a mat. One of the classes involving slings and bandages involved having to practice on the arm of a “partner”, and by now Viola and I had been paired up for such things because we sat near each other. At one point one of us screwed up a little on the sling/wrappings (I forget whether it was she or I) and the teacher remarked, “Hey, are you two tying each other up or what?” We chuckled and I tried not to blush or show any hint of my desires. I usually did my best to try to get in some words or quips with Viola when I could during class or set up, and she seemed to respond well. My other usual tactic at that time was to use the “can I walk you to your next class/to the bus stop” line as an excuse to try to continue talking to a woman after class. Yet throughout the entire semester Viola seemed to dart out of class immediately and I never got a chance to ask.

Regardless of how well we seemed to get along during brief interactions in class, I never took that to jump to any conclusions regarding interest or odds of successfully asking her out. As I have said in August, I don’t assume that any sort of positive or friendly action on the part of a woman I interact with to be a sign of romantic desire (or the potential of it). I’ve noticed in interacting with guys as well as observing them online and in “real life”, that many of them seem to interpret nearly ANY positive interaction with a woman as a sign of their desire. Heck, many men seem to see themselves as such a “gift” towards women that a woman’s very existence seems to be a sign of such desire (i.e. catcalls). It’s how I am now and it’s how I’ve been since as long as I can remember in that I simply see friendly interaction as friendly interaction. A woman would probably have to be extremely blunt or obvious in her flirtations in order to get through to me or have me assume that the odds of me succeeding in asking her out were favorable. Maybe. Perhaps I saw dating as I saw schooling; just make enough observations, studying, and note taking and I could “pass” it. It’s yet to work. By the time I learn enough that I think my odds are viable, the moment passes or something comes up. I look for any excuse or reason why I don’t have a chance.

At any rate, Viola’s rapid, ninja style exits from every class fed into my own doubts about whether our interactions were anything more than just friendly classmate banter as well as about my appeal to women in general. While I am slow to assume any positive interaction with a woman betrays romantic interest or potential, my ability to assume any woman already has a boyfriend/is married or is disinterested is instant and immediate. This case was no exception, and before long the semester was almost over. One day I decided to try to leave rapidly as well and see if I could catch up to her. Much like the intro to college post, I assumed she was perhaps being picked up by a boyfriend. As it would turn out, she was meeting up with a friend (another woman) who seemed to break from a class nearby, and they’d walk together. Naturally, I had no intention to interrupt or impose myself upon such a situation. I wondered that had I not assumed she’d had a boyfriend from her rapid exits if I’d actually had the stones to try to ask her out or something, and by this point it was too late; if memory serves the class ended two weeks later.

Incidentally, I sent in my $10 money order and to this day never got that Red Cross certification. It was only valid for a year, I just hate that I threw cash into a black hole.

I look back at my other major interactions with women in college and this was really the only one where either competition or a very long term relationship weren’t revealed. I can’t easily say whether there were any signals that I missed, I was just too chicken and neurotic, or if all it was was friendliness and it was wise not to throw a monkey wrench into it by assuming too much. I suppose it can be easy to see by previous adventures how previous attempts to reveal how I felt about someone as a kid were used against me, but on the other hand I suppose by college I should have “manned up” and not been so sensitive about such things, or cared as much about making a situation awkward for somebody else. I suppose this may be a mountain out of a molehill, making a lot out of a woman I used to chat up in one class, but she really was quite friendly and nice, and regardless of how things turned out I never forgot her completely.

Unfortunately, not all of my romantic ploys at this community college ended as simply. The next one had other forces at play, and it’s outcome likely impacted me for the rest of my time at college, and maybe even to this day in some minor ways. It should make for a more interesting read, though, with other “characters” at play. I don’t regret this one as much as I did the “Millennium House Party” from the end of high school, but it was one of the first major protracted interactions I had with a lady classmate in college which wasn’t simply me pining from afar and never saying a word. If I had to remember and list how many female classmates I had where I simply would admire them from afar but either find out they had a boyfriend via class discussion and/or never even say much of anything to them, I’d be here all year!

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Dateless-Man versus College – an Introduction

Eventually, the 90’s ended and so did high school. College was a chance for a clean slate, in both my GPA and the social scene. I was a poor student in high school, not because I couldn’t learn but that for various reasons I had simply lost interest in school. In fact, my guidance counselor pretty much bluffed me by threatening expulsion based on my lack of credits if I didn’t enroll in the school’s GED program, which happened to be ending the summer after I turned eighteen. I aced the exam and was soon on my way to my nearest community college. Suffice it to say, my expectations of college were far different than what I actually faced. Unlike no end of films from the 1980’s and 1990’s, there were no fraternities or sororities on or off campus. The college had clubs, but most of them essentially served to offer extracurricular credits in various majors and didn’t really exist for much recreation. By and large, the campus had little of its’ own “social scene” as most students seemed to come and go.

The first years of college were awkward for me. Not only was I getting used to attending daily classes as a regular student once again, but I was making the transition from being a teenager into being a young adult. Age twenty, in particular, was a difficult year for me, and felt like a crossroads. Naturally, things such as virginity were not something you wanted to broadcast in college, and the pressures regarding both it and dating in general were at a fever pitch as those hormones from puberty were still very fresh. It didn’t help that all of my friends from high school attended different colleges once they graduated. In truth, most of the friends I’ve ever gotten I got by all but stumbling into them or meeting friends of friends. By college, I’d grown so used to my clique that it was now even harder to branch out than before. I was also getting older and like most people aged 18-20, I’d thought I had everything figured out.

These were the years I was desperate for advice, but I also didn’t want to broadcast the fact that I needed it. All of my friends by now had had at least two or three relationships under their belt and had sex many times. My closest chums knew of my inexperience, but it was not something I liked to broadcast. So, I turned to that black cauldron for efforts at advice – the Internet. My access to it got easier in college due to their facilities, and the Internet as a thing was also evolving by leaps and bounds by the turn of the century. Things such as message boards and blogs were still new things, and I was getting adjusted to them. I would search for advice columns and by and large this led me to two places; the Playboy Adviser and the forums at About.com involving dating. I wrote a lot of long emails (under different emails) for the former and basically ranted about my own loser status on the latter. I got plenty of advice, but none of it seemed to stick or seem like something which was within my abilities.

These years were probably near the peak of my depression regarding my failures with the opposite sex. I seemed to see women everywhere with whom I never had the guts to chat up or talk to, and interaction with it seemed so much easier for my friends and peers. I would obsess about my lack of game and my own failures – believe it or not, in a manner which is far worse than I do now. I was in the middle of the five states of mourning the death of my love life. In high school I was in denial. By college I’d skipped past anger and would criss cross between bargaining and depression. I used to lament about how unfair it all seemed, about how it seemed so easy for everyone else but me, that I was the lowest form of life on campus. After a while of this routine on About.com a few posters finally pegged me as a sad sack. Even one reply from the Playboy Adviser to one of my more depressing letters recommended therapy. Yes, the historic soft core porn magazine’s online adviser was telling me I needed a shrink. Fun times.

There were some direct adventures with women during college, but not for quite a while. Instead there were some “never were’s” as my approach to learn as much about a woman in order to plan an approach (which I never did) or to make sure she wasn’t already dating someone usually kept me at a distance. I remember I had one teacher for a freshman orientation class which was 1 credit, 1 day a week who would have been in her mid twenties and was probably the first teacher in my life I had a crush on. I used to see her once a semester for assistance picking classes (as she also doubled as a guidance counselor), even to the point of stalling on picking a major for a year or so, just to have an excuse to hang around her. There was another lady from another class who was a ravishing red head with full, pouting lips who immediately captured my attention for that semester. We never spoke in class but she was so ravishing that I often felt smaller within her presence. Fortunately, before I even attempted to embarrass myself, I saw her being picked up by a beefy guy in a car after class one day, being driven off campus. I assumed it was her boyfriend and gave up. Naturally, the Playboy Adviser suggested I should have made a stab anyway, but what’d they know? Even if by some fluke that wasn’t a beau, I had no way to compete. I felt it best not to waste time trying.

It was about at this time that an added wrinkle came up which only added to the pressure of wanting to date anyone in class. I feared that a rejection would drive up tensions within that class as now not only would the entire class know I’d tried and failed to ask out a classmate, but now that classmate and I would have awkwardness between us for the rest of the class. Since I was barely going to classes in high school, that never occurred to me (even if I still never wanted it getting “out” that I liked any particular person). Now that I was making efforts to be a good student, I didn’t want to hinder it with drama.

As college would go on, despite my best efforts I did have some more chance encounters with women as I made my most valiant, but ultimately fruitless, attempt to overcome my own anxiety and get out into the field of dating. Those are tales for another day; this was just an introduction into the madcap era.

The loneliest time of the year

Usually, I consider the period of time between October and March to be the period where I get the most lonely and depressed. Now there’s a word I haven’t used too often on this blog too often – depressed. It has crossed my mind that I have been suffering from “depression” for a very long time. I did major in social work with a minor in sociology (with many psychology courses) in college, so I am more than aware of it. That naturally is involved in more than my inability to connect to women romantically, but it’s a part of it all the same. It’s not unusual for people, even those who aren’t depressed so often, to feel more “blue” around fall-winter-sprint; every year some trite news program will cite a study and truck out some “rented expert” talking about it. They say it has something to do with the loss of sunlight and seasonal shifts and whatnot. I imagine for some, it could be the immediate influx of Christmas music on the radio. I of course have my own reasons for this extra blueness around this time of year. Most of it stems from being lonely.

October is not only the month for Halloween, but the month for the New York Comic Con, held every year in the Javits Center since about 2006. The end result is the same, in that both events seem to drive home the fact that one reason I’m alone and loveless has nothing to do with my hobbies. Simply being a geek or a nerd isn’t a valid excuse. Geeky, nerdy things are far more mainstream now than they were in the late 90’s or even during the early 2000’s. After all, Tumblr didn’t exist until 2007. And every year, while I make the trip out and have fun, I am only reminded of the countless other people from across NY and the east coast who managed to find love for themselves despite being fans of comics, video games, or anime. They’re all dressed up as their favorite characters having a blast, and it looks like a blast. Yet somehow that’s a shell I can’t crack. It could be due to not having as large a social media presence, or it could also do with being over 30 (and not chasing after people half my age like some creeps do).

Halloween is similar, only to a larger scale. That used to be my favorite holiday, at least until I was no longer a child and could no longer go trick-or-treating. After that (around junior high and definitely by high school), the name of the game is either parties or bars/clubs. Those aren’t my scenes at all, even on normal days. And much like at the conventions, most of who you see are couples enjoying the time out, dressed in far out outfits and having a ball with each other. It’s a celebration of horror, of the extreme and unique, when everyone is normal for at least one day of the year no matter how freaky deaky they are. Except for me. Even on a night of monsters, I don’t fit in. I’ve tried, and I actually like the whole dressing in costume thing. It allows me to try to pretend, at least for one night a year, I am somebody else than the person I am. To be able to hide myself from the prying eyes of the world in the guise of somebody else. And that’s all I have ever wanted to be – somebody, anybody else. Unfortunately, like with any disguise, eventually it has to end, and underneath whatever mask or outfit I am in, I know who I am underneath. I’m no more charismatic, charming or confident in a costume than I am outside of one. And maybe that’s a good thing; the last thing I’d want is to let somebody down or fool anyone into thinking I was more than I am.

November is Thanksgiving, a time to be thankful. That can be hard when life seems to be a struggle all the time and it seems to get worse, or at least little better, every year. I try to have perspective and enjoy what I have when I can. After all, I’m not a starving person in Cambodia. Although if I was, I could at least look forward to a quicker death. But it does get hard to remain thankful when everywhere around us, the sell is on. Black Friday seems to be a month now, and Christmas in December is all about buying and buying. I almost feel like relating to the Grinch about it all, with all the false cheer and come on’s atop of what was supposed to be a joyous and moral holiday. I could all but block that out if not for what really gets me down – New Year’s Eve. It’s the day where I contemplate how another year has gone by and I still have the same old problems, and another year is coming to batter me some more. I don’t see another year as a year of opportunity, but another year I have to endure. Instead of being handed a glass of bitter wine at some friend’s party I barely want to attend, I’d rather be handed a handgun with a single bullet, or a cyanide pill. But instead I put on a brave smile and endure all of the fake well wishes of a better year as I watch all of my friends embrace significant others, or enjoy the well earned rewards of more successful lives. It’s the same pomp and circumstance, meaning nothing, every single year that I can remember.

And then afterward comes the march to Valentine’s Day, which may as well be renamed “Sucks If You’re Single Day”. The cards, the roses, the hearts, spread all over the place like confetti on the soul. I never need any outside reminder of how much of a failure and a loser I am, but here that day is, rubbing it in my face on a corporate, industry wide level. I imagine it is worse for people who have been widowed, of course, to be reminded of happier times with someone who is no longer there. Not long after this is my birthday, the end of the half year of glumness. I turn a year older, one tic at a time, facing many of the same problems from the year before, and the year before, and the year before.

My 30th birthday was very hard to face. The end of one’s 20’s is a major step towards morality I suppose, but to be that and still a virgin in NY society was a very tough cross to bare. Male virginity may be considered standard in high school, cute in college. But beyond 30, you’ve entered the territory of the circus freak or freeway monster. If you haven’t learned or earned whatever tricks, social graces, skills or charms needed to woo someone else by then, you’re never going to. Ever since that birthday I have made a sincere effort to close the door on my romantic life. To consider that chapter of my life over and focus on other things, such as my job prospects or career, or even hobbies. Yet closing that door permanently is very hard. It goes beyond physical pangs of lust; I have that but I have control over myself. It’s the longing from somewhere inside that I can’t easily control or shut off. I do my damnedest to, but it remains with me, like some wound that won’t heal. I wish I could tear this desire from me and leave it on the road somewhere, but I can’t. It’s ironic, that so many pieces of fiction like “ROBOCOP” or some other man-machine type stories involve someone striving to gain or regain human emotions, when I’d like nothing more than to stop having them. Fleeting moments of pleasure or joy are not worth the hours, days, years of misery that come afterward. It’s never worth it, and I’d like to be done with it all. But, we can’t just remove emotions like we do disc drives, so with me they remain whether I like it or not.

Don’t get me wrong; spring and summer get pretty lonely too. But it’s this stretch of time where I feel more blue than usual. Whether it is because of having my dateless status rubbed in my face by various hobbies to being proven to be a freak among freaks or an overdose of sickly sweet “cheer” or facing the end of a year, this period is my least favorite of the year.

What’s my most favorite time of year? That’s easy…the times when I’m asleep!