Dateless-Man versus College: My Minor was in Bad Timing

A month can fly by so quickly sometimes, can’t it? I normally post more frequently than once a month, but certain factors have come into play. One of them was simply being too busy to sit at a keyboard and write about this topic for a while. Another is the knowledge that I am coming towards the end of my past chronicles regarding contact with the opposite sex. Including this one, there are only four left. I have said more than once on this blog that this entire exercise on my part is an attempt by me to get down in text all of my experiences with women which I’ve never told anyone to get them out of my mind, before walking away from this chapter of my life entirely – or at least making my most valiant attempt to do so. Perhaps a subconscious part of me doesn’t want that chapter to end. It’s a natural human response (perhaps intertwined with some biological animal ones); it’s not easy to accept to oneself that this area of my life has proven to be just as impossible as nearly any other fantasy I’ve had, and to let it go forever (much as I’ve let go of things like being a superhero or a robot or similar fantasies from youth). But end it must; the frustration from this area of my life is a weight which I no longer want to bare, and once it is gone, I hope to maximize what is left of the rest of my life. Happiness is overrated; merely being content will do. Dreams are for children; adults have to make do with what they have in reality.

But, enough with the prologue. This is my 6th adventure from college, and also my last. Between adjusting to college life as well as working part time, it took me over six years to obtain a four year degree (Bachelor’s). I began college as a teenager who thought he was no longer a kid and left it as an adult in my mid 20’s who thought life would only get better afterward. In other words, despite my own maturity, experiences, frustrations, and resentments, I was still too naive. My major was in social work but I took a variety of other courses both to fulfill my major’s requirements and also to learn; many of them were psychology and/or sociology courses (with one of them literally being “social psychology”). In addition to my desire to make a profession of helping people (or trying to), perhaps I thought I would better fit in with people once I understood them. In reality, it may have made me more of an outsider, like an alien trying to understand humanity with books or classes but still not being one of them. At any rate, one of the last sociology courses I took actually turned out to essentially be assisting two professors with Masters’ Degrees complete what was (probably) their thesis and/or research assignment; they made it sound loftier than that, but that is what it was. Much like many of my courses in my major, the class size was smaller than average (under 25 students) and most of my fellow students were women. One woman immediately caught my fancy; a natural red-head with fair skin, a lot of freckles and an overall friendly and positive disposition. It’s time for another alias, and it seems that many of the women I have met in my life have names that begin with “S”. Scarlett will do.

I forget if I arrived in class first and took my seat beside hers by happenstance or choice, or if she arrived after and sat next to me for similar reasons. In fact, she may have sat a row behind me on our first class and I or she moved closer for the next ones. As we learned more about the class, we learned that it would involve more time outside of the actual classroom and more time studying the subject of our study – which was an iconic mode of public transportation that that section of New York was known for. We were to study the history of it as well as get data on demographics, ridership totals, and even conduct a “walking interview” with a rider going over their opinions and memories of it as they commuted. Considering it was technically a class I didn’t exactly “need” to graduate, it was a considerable bit of work to conduct in theory. While I had some interest in the course, I’d be less than honest if I didn’t admit that 80% of why I stuck it out was being infatuated with Scarlett. Only this time, something was different than in many of my previous adventures and incidents with women leading up until this point.

As I said, Scarlett was very friendly and had a warm demeanor. We began to talk to each other in class and sometimes afterward as I walked her to her bus afterward. One reason for her friendliness was that she had moved to New York from another state (from the Midwest if memory serves); New Yorkers are somewhat notorious for being rude, isolated, and unfriendly, and as a native I can attest that by and large this is true. She was highly intelligent and also majoring in psychology and sociology. She even shared my interest in comic books in general (and Marvel Comics) in particular; while such a thing is pretty common in the post-2008 era, it was far more rare beforehand in my travels. And yes, she was physically very cute and very much my type, but it was more than a physical attraction the more I talked with her and interacted with her. There seemed to be an ease to how we would converse, with the more we did so, the more in common we seemed to have. While I haven’t a clue as to the signs of attraction or affection from women, I read up on them enough that I knew that one sign that someone at least is feeling at ease with someone is that they’ll find an excuse to touch them; not sexually, just touching. A pat on the arm, a bump of the shoulder, that sort of thing. At one point during one of our many class sessions outdoors at the station of the public resource we were studying, she touched my thigh with her hand amid her conversation with me. That had never happened to me before, ever. It’s never happened since. I don’t know what chemistry is like between two people, and I wouldn’t recognize it if it happened, but I have to imagine that whatever it is, what we seemed to have had to be damned close in the least.

We got to know each other better during the first two weeks of the class. We always sat together whether in the classroom or at the station or riding on the public transportation unit we were studying. I walked her to her bus at the transit hub afterward many times. Talking with her seemed so easy, and we seemed to have so many similar interests, that mixed with her demeanor, something strange happened. For the first time in my entire life, I had a genuine belief that if I “made a move” and asked her out, that she would give a positive response. Much like the thigh touch, that was also something else which had never happened to me before. For a brief period I was on “cloud 9”. I felt a happiness and a soft confidence begin to flow over me, which was also something I had never experienced with a woman before. Beforehand, all I usually felt with women were feelings of infatuation, anxiety, frustration, dread, and inadequacy.

Now, this is the part where avid readers of this blog, or even casual ones who may have just stumbled upon it and are sorting out the premise should be asking a simple question: “What went wrong?” Unintentionally, many of my adventures with women seemed to follow a pattern; they were either one sided infatuations that went nowhere, or any interaction which had even the slightest hint of developing went awry. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be the Dateless-Man after all. So, what was it this time? It wasn’t a love triangle between jock and a stoner. It wasn’t a lack of mojo during first aid class. It wasn’t memories from the past. In the end, it turned out to be something fairly routine in the world of dating; poor timing. In a way, my last adventure from college was similar to my first adventure from high school.

As we continued to interact, and proved nearly inseparable in class (especially as we were assigned together as study partners), I was building my nerve to ask her out. Some might say why I waited so long, but the last thing I wanted was to embarrass myself to a classmate who wasn’t interested or available, and then have to go through an entire awkward semester with them afterward (knowing I liked them and had made a foolish move towards them). I had learned that most women who have a boyfriend or husband will mention them if given enough time to talk (even if they’re unhappy or unsatisfied with them). After two weeks and no mention, I was sure that I had a clear chance and with our interests intertwining it felt inevitable. Then, Scarlett finally mentioned it. She had a fiance, a man she’d been seeing for five years, and was living with. As if that wasn’t enough, later on when we had to arrange for that “walking interview” with a rider (who could be someone one of us knew), she not only chose her fiance’s mother, but literally introduced her to me as “my future mother-in-law”. Within a span of another week or less, what had seemed to be feelings of chemistry and romantic inevitability had been smashed with a giant STOP sign. To say I was devastated is an understatement.

I like to think I handled it well. I was vastly disappointed, but I had no feelings of resentment or anger. I briefly considered dropping out of the class during a thin window of opportunity, but I thought that would be too transparent and shallow. At one point later on I even briefly entertained ideas of asking her out anyway and trying to directly compete with this unseen fiance. “To hell with him, she’s mine!”, I recall thinking to myself once. But very quickly I realized that she was not some object that I “deserved”, and that whatever feelings I had on my part were clearly one sided and she had made every sign possible that she was unavailable short of inviting me to her wedding or wearing a white gown with her fiance’s name stitched on it to class. Plus, like I said before, we had a lot in common and talking with her was always good regardless of circumstance. It wasn’t so much that I felt I couldn’t compete with her fiance; I came to the conclusion that even the attempt of interfering with her life in that way would be wrong and selfish. I did not want to cause her any distress, irritation, or resentment. After all, I was just some wacky guy from a class she was taking.

So we completed our share of the course’s assignment, and we both aced the course. Scarlett would happen to turn up in another class I was taking the next semester, but that class was a very large one with a heavier workload, and we were unable to sit together and we didn’t chat much after class. I lost touch with her, as I did with many people (men and women) through the course of my life.

I recounted this story to one other person; my friend who got engaged in December (who is currently married). At the time, he called me a “schmuck” several times for not pursuing her. He seemed to not share my belief that facts such as having a fiance who she knew for five years and was living with, as well as calling his mother “her future mother-in-law” were not clear enough signs that Scarlett was unavailable. At the time, he seemed to share a more lax attitude about boundaries, and would routinely flirt with whatever women he wanted, even ones he knew were currently dating someone else (even a friend at times). It’s ironic that he’s since been one of the first in my social circle to actually wed (and he’s two years younger than me at that). But I suppose such feelings are common for men in their early to mid 20’s. Given the facts, I became convinced that whatever I thought was chemistry between us was just her being friendly as an out of towner and me believing it was more than it was. I would rather accept a woman’s boundaries and fail than risk distressing her in an attempt to succeed. I genuinely believe men were not intended to be as empathetic to women as I am sometimes. It’s caused me nothing but misery, placing myself in their shoes metaphorically and not wanting to risk them undue harm, especially with the full knowledge of what little I offer in the long run anyway. Most men are ignorant or arrogant about their own attributes, and stumble and bumble their way into happiness and success romantically, at least in my opinion and experience. None of my over analysis can match.

I naturally graduated college shortly afterward, and my work in this class actually enrolled me in some sort of sociology award I had no idea existed or I had a shot at. So I got a $200 check not long before my diploma due to it, which was a pleasant surprise. I don’t have as many feelings of regret or frustration about this incident as I do for others, and I’m not yet sure as to why. I think a large portion of the reason is that whether it was one sided or not, for the first time in my life I genuinely believed I had an honest shot with a woman, a feeling that the odds were in my favor romantically. It might have only been for a few moments and it may have been one sided, but I felt it, and that glimmering feeling within, that sense for a moment that I fit in with this world and that someone else would want to share it with me for a little while, means more to me than words can tell. For a brief moment, I was not the Dateless-Man; I was just a man.

This brings us to the end of my college recollections. While there may be some rants or opinion pieces coming later, the next adventures involve some more dating as well as the story I’ve been saving for last. Sorry for the long wait and thanks for reading, for those who have. I don’t desire advice or pity, but having an audience has made this journey easier for me.

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