As per a request from one of my commentors, a good way to fill out this first anniversary month of this blog is by covering some updates about antics with my current co-workers. Last summer, some of my first posts were regarding some of them as well as my reactions to things which were happening around me and them. In fact, my second post ever (“I am Tired of being Jacob Marley”) focused on a sense of ennui regarding one of my co-workers who was close to getting advice from me about approaching a woman I myself noticed, and my feelings about forever trying to aid others other myself. In another post last August (bluntly titled “Another Summer of Discontent”), I groused about another one of my co-workers (a rather hapless chap in his late 40’s I dubbed “Hal”) who seemed to be stumbling into being able to date two women at once, including once roughly half his age who I briefly thought smiled at me. Since I only have one previous adventure with the opposite sex left which is worth writing about which I have hinted about a few times, and since that now suddenly seems to be acting as a symbol in my head as another type written marker of my abandonment of any romantic pursuits from that point on, it is possible I could be “stalling”, or filling time. But, I do think a revisit to talking about my current co-workers could be interesting, and I do try to honor the requests of those who comment to my blog ramblings. Thanks, as always, to those who do! And for those who haven’t, no need to be shy.
One major reason for why I haven’t updated any of these tales for the past year is actually rather simple; both of them turned out rather anti-climatically. I’ve become friendly enough with quite a few of my co-workers, but I’ll focus on the two I discussed earlier. One I will dub “Ian” (not his real name, as always), who is in his late 20’s and is a very tall, lean, Russian immigrant. He is a bit shy and awkward, but can also be blunt about various awkward topics with both friends and relative strangers (such as fetishes or mentioning ethnic stereotypes). For reasons I don’t quite understand he’s attached a bit to me as a mentor at times, which is a role I didn’t want, but I have tried to fill as best I can when I have had to. The other is the previously mentioned “Hal”, who is pushing 50 and is also tall as well as has questionable hygiene and intellect, and can have a very short and immature temper with clients on the phone lines. Both have social awkwardness that unites them, and “Ian” seems to enjoy watching the antics of “Hal”, and has become more of a gossip than I imagined last year. At any rate, both of the previous situations involving women fizzled out. Workers come and go at my job rather frequently (those who last beyond a year are rare), and those who are women seem to depart more frequently. The job tends to employ and attract more men than women, and most of those who have stayed for any length of time hand tended to be senior citizens, or close to it.
The co-worker that Ian and I had noticed wound up leaving the job perhaps a week or two after I posted about it. The same could be said for the one that Hal was into. The circumstances revolving Hal’s reaction are more interesting. He apparently got the young woman’s phone number on his cell, but not long after the cell was broken and he was unable to retrieve any of the data. Hal’s phone was broken in the middle of some altercation with a middle aged woman (another former co-worker of our gig) who he has dated sporadically over the years. As I tended to commute home with Hal for quite some time before a recent office change, I actually had to hear him whine and moan about losing the cell and the young woman’s number for quite a while. It was a bit pathetic to me, as Hal was old enough to be that young woman’s father and he was endlessly complaining about “losin’ out on dat opportunity” to date her as if he was a teenager. Did I mention Hal speaks with the thickest Brooklyn/Queens accent I have ever heard? Like Bugs Bunny, he says “tree” instead of “three” and often speaks with poor grammar (i.e. “I don’t wanna lose you over a dollars amount” or “I dunno nothin’, sir”) and in terms of temperament reminds me of a union of Eeyore the Donkey (from “Winnie the Pooh”) and Ed Norton (from “Honeymooners”). But, he’s the one women in their mid 20’s want, and he certainly isn’t a virgin – he mentioned having an ex wife once.
The more I have gotten to know Ian, however, the more interesting things have gotten. He’s often sought to talk about women and dating with almost any co-worker who will listen – sometimes blurting things at random to get a conversation going. He is romantically inexperienced, stating that he’s “never been in a relationship before”. I don’t exactly know if that means he is a virgin but such a thing could be implied. What I do know is that he has fetishes, and often proudly admits them. He’s talked at length about his foot fetish to at least a half dozen other co-workers, who often kid him about it sometimes. He belongs to foot fetish group on Facebook, even. He also has a fetish for Asian women, which only seems awkward because he makes borderline racist (or at least “concerning”) statements or stereotypes about Asians he sees on the train during his commute constantly. There is another co-worker who is a lady, who works alongside me daily in fact, who seems to demonstrate some of the details about him which I find a bit off. Because she is overweight (or could be considered that for some), before Ian knew her well he used to make no end of jokes regarding it to me on our commutes (such as mocking her appetite or calling her a “whale” more than once) – something I tried to discourage without seeming too much like an old man. Yet one day, she wore sandals and he got to see her feet – and suddenly he became more understanding and got to know her a little better to the point that he has a crush on her, now. I consider that a bit shallow, but what do I know? Maybe increased exposure to her opened Ian’s eyes a little.
This co-worker, who I will dub “June”, dyes her hair red and has family in Pennsylvania, and is of Dominican heritage. She is also 20 years old and has various tattoos and piercings. Her position is one which aides in some of my duties so we work together daily, and she is a very adept worker and quick learner, and often acts like “one of the boys” in terms of talk. Despite her weight, I can admit that were I younger, she would be “my type” and I wouldn’t care about her weight at all. However, she is 20 and therefore I have no attraction towards her at all (nor her towards me) because for my personal taste, 20 is too young (as I am in my 30’s). I heard once that she had a boyfriend, but she doesn’t talk about him or that often. As I have gotten to know her I’ve become more at ease around her, chatting and joking with her in a similar way as I do other co-workers in our immediate area. It’s something I have only noticed very recently. Aside for the initial shyness when meeting someone new which is probably normal from a few months ago, there was no pressure. We get along well. It was a fresher lesson that I can get along with women fine so long as there is no romantic potential present. But if there is any chance of romance, especially if I am attracted or infatuated, I choke up.
During the past year there was another lady co-worker who was with the company for, at best, two weeks. On her first training day she happened to overhear my geeky conversation with someone else and seemed to make an effort to jump in. She later tried to sit next to my station before being moved to another by our supervisor. Another of my co-workers (an older man in his 60’s who works from home now) claimed that he thought that she liked me, but I denied and doubted that. I saw no obvious signals at the time. She was gone before I could make a move, and even if she wasn’t, would I? With men outnumbering women at work, nearly every guy on the job will playfully flirt with the women there (and vice versa). If Ian or Hal had an eye for her, would I have sought to compete? At any rate, it was a fleeting thing, and I almost forgot it. But, even after it was mentioned to me, I froze up around her. It was a fleeting moment from the past year, but worth a mention since I am getting it all out now.
Lately, Ian has been trying to increase his efforts to discuss women with me, both online (we chat on Facebook almost daily) and briefly at work. It constantly makes me uncomfortable; it’s not simply because he is a younger co-worker who sometimes sees me as a mentor (or at least who I think sees me in that light sometimes), but because my lack of a love life and my own secret shame of inexperience is something I keep very close to my vest. It is difficult enough for me to discuss such things with my mother, or with people I have known for years, much less a co-worker. It almost does feel like having to hide an alter ego, only it’s not in regards to something cool like being a superhero, but of something which is a major contributing factor to my status as the Dateless-Man. There are times where I wonder if Ian is himself trying to “come clean” about his own virginity to me by his occasional mention of being “inexperienced” with relationships, but this is hardly a topic I wish to share with him. Despite his meek demeanor, he has his own form of ribbing people, and has developed into quite a gossip. Were I to even imply to Ian that I was a virgin over 30, at least a quarter of the office would know within 48 hours. I’ve done everything in my power to keep a lid on this secret in my personal life beyond masked blogs or long past message boards, and don’t wish to reveal it to anyone beyond who already knows. After all, even a past which includes awful crimes can bring a sense of pride or accomplishment to warped individuals; there is absolutely nobody who values older male virginity outside of religious extremists or sex workers (and often, not even them). I do everything to change the subject when he wants to talk about women (often in relation to his foot fetish, or his Asian fetish, or wondering if June is single), and I’ve always changed the subject.
But, Ian has noticed. Yesterday on our semi-daily walks to the train station (where we part ways), he said, “Getting you to talk about women is not an easy thing to do.”
I replied, bluntly, “It isn’t a topic I care to talk about.”
Now, I am very aware there are far worse “sexual secrets” to have, and many have endured rougher fates and lives over them than I. I can’t imagine what it is like to have to hide being homosexual or transgender, or even ethnicity depending on the place and time (as throughout American history, people of color who looked “light enough to pass” often had to rely on that and hide their heritage, or any other oppressed minority such as Jews or Armenians or so on). Any stress over my lack of a love life could be considered a problem of “male privilege” (as I am statistically less likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than a woman is) or “white privilege” (as I am less likely to be hassled by police or discriminated against by whites), or even “first world problems” (as ISIS isn’t about to raid my village and everyone has clean water and roofs here). That all said, my lack of romantic experience is among the darkest secrets I have, besides the lipoma on my back. Anything with even goes near the subject tends to make me feel uncomfortable in the last. And I sometimes fear the longer I interact with Ian, the better chance he will figure it out. I haven’t wanted to outright lie to him, or anyone, about my love life. I don’t want to lie about having had sex, or been in a relationship, and when pressed I try to rely on technicalities such as “it’s been years since I dated” or “I have no love life” and so on. But at the same time, I don’t like going into detail about the subject away from text bars, either.
There are some who feel that the best way to destroy awkwardness is to expose it. Some might suggest “coming out” as a virgin to anyone who will listen would be “liberating”. For me, it feels absolutely petrifying, like being outside naked (a nightmare which I have several times a year, which is a classic “anxiety dream” for people to have).
So, that’s how work’s been. I have a steady but routine and not exactly well paying job which keeps me busy, but alive, with some eclectic co-workers and wild times. Keeping things stable in terms of work is the most important thing I can do, and I try my best to do that, wacky co-workers or dark secrets aside.
Hope those who wanted the update enjoyed it. I will admit, it proved more enlightening than I imagined.