The title of the blog may say, “The New Adventures of Dateless-Man”, but in truth most of the adventures posted are actually past incidents from my life. Delving back into my childhood through adolescence and into my college years, until now as I am “over 30″and still woefully inexperienced and an utter failure with women and romance. As my flashbacks ended, the focus of the blog has mostly shifted towards my own thoughts and feelings around related targets (with a few exceptions). Angst about my own virginity has come up a few times, and earlier this month I dipped a toe into revealing that I had a fetish at all. But this time I have a truly “new” adventure, which does involve a woman but it also involves something else. It saw me almost lock horns against another one of my “elder virgins in arms” and put in stark detail the sizable gap between someone such as I, and someone such as him. It was hardly a fun incident, but an incident which has actually caused me to question my own futility at romance for the first time in a while.
There is a bit of backstory and context to delve into. As someone who has a job which requires unusual hours as well as someone who has often utilized the services of cyber cafes, I’ve bumped into a wide assortment of unusual or strange “characters”. One of the weirdest is a man who I will dub “Vick”. He is actually a year younger than me, but due to balding and an issue with weight he appears as if he is older, and is of Italian ancestry. He actually claimed to have gone to the same Catholic elementary class as I did, but I don’t remember him at all. He is someone who, per his own account, was once addicted to drugs and “lived a life of sin” in his teens and early 20’s as he sought to eke out a career as a stand up comedian (where his demeanor, at best, is like a young Artie Lange). Vick’s father is mentally ill, foul tempered, and from what I have seen personally, extremely verbally abusive (with little ever told about his mother). However, at some point he “found God” and became a born again Christian. He mixed this into his desire to perform in order to become what can be best described as “a free form prop comic preacher” who spends most of his time busking on trains, train stations, a college he took an acting class at, parks, streets, buses, and occasionally clubs. His act usually involves him coming up with one song lyric as it relates to some “character” he as invented, which is usually the name of the character, and then singing a song which repeats that lyric over and over as he dances awkwardly for between 5-20 minutes. At the end of his act (before asking for “donations”), he will usually preach about Jesus and that his version of faith involves “a childlike faith” and “to become pure like a child” as well as “going out of your mind and thinking outside of the box”. He’s been captured on video many times on YouTube and even tried out for “American Idol” and “America’s Got Talent” more than once. His talent is dubious; while I suppose he is funny in an embarrassing and pathetic kind of way, he is more annoying than anything. 90% of the time Vick’s audience is either in a train car, a bus, or a computer lab; in other words, captive. He has been detained by police and had his stuff confiscated a few times, but thankfully never been assaulted by an irate person; I’ve seen videos where he’s been confronted and perhaps God has looked after him, as nothing violent has happened.
More than his act, being “a man of God” has consumed his life; Vick has clearly used it to fill whatever void in himself that drugs once did. He is almost physically incapable of talking to anyone for longer than a couple of minutes without attempting to convert them or sermonize them. He has attended church but usually disapproves of most organized religion. He views the Bible in his own strict interpretation which includes a rigid intolerance for homosexuals (to the point that in a Facebook post about the recent Orlando shooting he all but says the victims deserved it), a belief that a woman should be “a princess”, not having sex (with oneself or others) before marriage, and seeing many things as sinful (or things such as tarot cards as “Satanic”). He is mentally disabled and sees a doctor, although other times he has claimed he was encouraged to lie about it by his parents to get the disability money. Despite his talk of love, Jesus, and childlike innocence, he has a volatile temper and is incapable of taking any criticism well. He will eagerly attempt to use his faith to judge someone else and talk himself up if he is losing an argument. Vick’s views on women are hardly the best. While he compares himself to Rocky Balboa and believes “having a woman” will motivate him into being a better man, he also wishes it was “the 1950’s again” and seems to lament the era of more independent women. While he has enough charisma to go on dates (more than I ever have), things tend to deteriorate quickly. Several times, Vick has admitted to going to massage parlors and getting “a foot job”, which I did not ask about. I believe it a form of masterbation but I am not sure. Even on Facebook, he often is asking people to attend a show or aid in whatever music video he is trying to craft online one second or begging for prayers and fighting with anyone who criticizes him or encourages him to seek more therapy the next. At heart Vick is (or wants to be) a decent person, but above that he is very annoying and passive-aggressive.
I don’t exactly recall how we became acquaintances. While I may have zero ability to attract women, I seem to be adept at sometimes attracting weirdo guys. I sometimes call them “Mr. No-Friends”. Basically, someone who senses that deep down you won’t thrash them no matter how annoying they are, and you’ve chosen to make eye contact and talk with them once. I probably talked to him once or twice and suddenly he thinks I am a best friend. I have tried everything to get him to reconsider. I have criticized him, sought to give him advice, and told him that I did not want to be friends, as I found his comedy annoying and was not interested in his faith. Vick refuses to take the hints or outright statements of discomfort; even being deliberately mean and verbally vicious on purpose to drive him away doesn’t work because deep down he knows it is all bark. He also is one of the few people in real life who knows my own shameful virginity secret, and that is one revelation I regret handing him. He is not the first “Mr. No-Friends” I have met in my life but he’s become one of the hardest to be rid of. I am normally open minded and compassionate towards people with social awkwardness, but Vick is an incredibly frustrating person to deal with.
This incident in question takes place last week (and therefore counts as a “new adventure”). I was on the train going home late at night and Vick happened to get onto the same car during that commute. It has happened more than once before and is always frustrating. Telling him I am tired and not in the mood to talk does no good; Vick will ignore me and go about with whatever he wants to talk about. 90% of the time it is an opinion about some crazy element he wants to add to his act which he wants a perspective on which he usually goes on to completely ignore, thus rendering the conversation useless. He is very loud and if he goes on his “act”, he makes no secret to everyone on the train car that we are friends, which can be very embarrassing (especially since I do not consider him a friend nor is he very talented). That night was no different as I had to talk Vick out of busking and embarrassing me before he asked my opinion about his latest “wacky” annoying character he wanted to perform as and what prop to add to his costume for it. Knowing he wouldn’t leave me alone anyway I engaged in some conversation and offered some suggestions (which he ignored). A couple of middle aged women recognized Vick from some of his busking and he informed them there would be no “show” today. From how they seemed to react I got the impression they enjoyed laughing at him rather than with him.
Things were going about as smoothly as my frustrating encounters with Vick go before an added element came into play; me seeing first hand how he interacts with women. Out of the blue he notices a blonde woman of Slavic descent (she had a Russian or Polish accent and our neighborhood has many immigrants from those areas) reading a book on a seat across from us and begins to talk to her. Vick claims to have “seen her before” and asks if they had met. Since he had just come from a club Vick soon learns she’s been to some of them and presumes it is from there. He introduces himself as a performer (and loudly proclaims that he’s decided not to perform tonight for my sake) and states that he has videos online and tried out for “America’s Got Talent” recently, which is all true. Vick then asked for her email so he could “send her links to his stuff” or words to that effect. Her demeanor was friendly (or at least courteous) as she declined, saying that “I’ll look you up since you’re online”. At this point the entire conversation changed. Vick then demanded why he couldn’t get an email, stated that he wasn’t trying to pick her up, and proceeded to talk himself up as if he was a major professional talent. The woman continued to be polite, although it was obvious that she was taken aback by Vick’s shift in tone and was now on defense. Things continued to deteriorate as Vick would compliment her on her beauty one minute while judging her “close mindedness” the next, and was all but demanding her email before going to jot down links to some of his online stuff. Vick refused to let it go and was treating it as a rejection.
As a silent witness wishing I could jump off the train at that point, the awkwardness and “crossing the line” moment was as clear as day. After 5-10 minutes of this back and forth, in which Vick was getting more heated and seemed to take each refusal more and more personally, I asked him to stop. Perhaps as a part of “male privilege” (such as not having to deal with aggressive men I am not into demanding my digits at random intervals a lot) I gave him benefit of the doubt and presumed he was ignorant of how this spectacle was playing out. I told him in no uncertain terms that he’d “crossed a line where it got so awkward even I can see it”. I asked if he even realized it. Vick instead restated his case that he was only asking for her email to share some of his comedy act links with, not to try to date her, regardless of the fact that I didn’t claim his aims were outwardly romantic. I made the error of sharing an exasperated glance at the woman’s direction (which she shared) and at that point Vick turned on me. He (loudly) blamed me for talking him out of performing his bizarre act on a train at 1-2 a.m. as causing his lack of credibility in her eyes as an entertainer. At one point Vick snorted, “Now you can finally have your chance to talk to a beautiful woman”, to which I replied, “That has nothing to do with this,” and indeed we didn’t share a word between us. Vick continued to insist on complimenting the woman’s looks while judging her for being “closed minded” and not appreciating his talent, and before long brought up Jesus as his strength and why he is a holy man better than everyone. He did finally jot down some links to look up and she took his paper, likely to avoid furthering the already nasty scene. She eventually got off the train and a few stops later, so did Vick. In Vick’s mind I was trying to sabotage his interaction with the woman, whereas in my mind I witnessed Vick cross the line into harassment and tried to diffuse the situation for the woman and offer him advice, only to have him turn on me. By that point I didn’t care if he misunderstood my intentions and was happy for the peace once Vick left the train.
At this point I realized more than one thing. Firstly, that how Vick is with me and people online seems to repeat itself with his interactions with others. While I may know that Vick is not violent and is all bark and no bite, others certainly don’t know that. I witnessed him switch from inviting to judgmentally hostile towards a woman within seconds; while I’m not naive and am more than aware that men get like that a lot, I honestly hadn’t had so blunt and ugly a demonstration since college (if ever). He doesn’t take hints with anyone and anything which doesn’t line up with his worldview is seen as a personal insult to his ego, which he will defend even if it clashes with the “holy” message he professes. The hypocrisy of those who wrap themselves in religion is also hardly new to me; I went to a Catholic elementary school, I saw it daily as a kid. Part of the reason why Vick hasn’t gotten anywhere in life or his career besides his lack of talent is his rigidly hostile personality. After all, a homophobe certainly has an uphill battle in the entertainment industry of New York. Yet he’s had plenty of opportunities with women and/or professions (even interest from cable network stations or reps from them) and botched them all.
But the second thing I noticed was my ability to accurately read the situation, “feel” the awkwardness and energy within the scene change, and just have a general awareness of the affair. Just to start out with, the woman was reading a book, which is one of those obvious tell tale signs that someone does not want to be bothered on mass transit (the other being headphones). As a rule of thumb, mass transit is a terrible place to proposition people, but things such as books or headphones are obvious demonstrations that someone is occupying their commute time and does not want to be bothered. Regardless of intentions, Vick was fearless with his “icebreaker”, but his critical issue was failing to take a refusal gracefully. Regardless of whether his intent was romantic or not, Vick failed (either out of ignorance or selfishness) to empathize with the woman and realize that it isn’t unreasonable to not want to give out a personal email to a stranger one has just met for a couple of minutes on the train whether he performs or not. An email is not quite as personal as a phone number or even a Facebook profile (or “digits”), but certainly within the third to fifth most vital contact data that most people have. He failed to realize that a strange man she doesn’t know or desire to know asking (if not demanding) her contact information or more interest than she has can be threatening (or at least uncomfortable or unpleasant). I could genuinely sense her reaction shift from bewildered curiosity to defensiveness to awkward “wanting this to end” the longer Vick proceeded and got emotional. I’ve rarely wanted to give advice regarding interacting with people, but I’ve certainly gained some experience with that throughout my various jobs that I was able to read the entire scene with 100% accuracy. I mean, if I can “feel” when interest is there versus not there over the phone for the limited capacity I have to at work, maybe that translates outside of work or off the phone. Above all, my ability to have empathy for a woman may as well have been a super power compared to Vick, even with arguably less dating experience. I have always known myself to be a shy, reclusive, socially awkward neurotic mess; I am not used to the idea of being able to read a social situation better than someone else.
Thirdly, I realized something more potentially profound. As much as I fret about being a burden, an annoyance, or a source of emotional stress to women based on my sheer inexperience or lack of charisma, I am none of these things. Vick is, and the gulf between he and I may be as vast as the gulf between myself and some handsomely charming ladies man. Perhaps I may have been closer when I left college in my mid 20’s but maybe times have changed since then. My last date took place several weeks before I landed my first major job after college (and even before my birthday that year). That was over eight years ago. Maybe I have changed since then, adapted to my experiences or simply survived more crap since 2008. I am well behind the curve in terms of the average romantic experience level for a New York man, but maybe I am not as vastly off the mark as I suspected. I’ve seen first hand what vastly off the mark looks like through Vick. And despite being a Godless atheist, I was not the one who allowed anger (one of the seven deadly sins) to consume my opinion of women or pay for “a foot job” at a massage parlor (whatever the heck that is). It sounds small and pathetic, but this may be the first time in my entire life I sensed that I was better at something even remotely involving women than another man, especially a man I knew personally (whether I wanted to or not). With my usual circle of friends I’m just their sidekick or a sexless background detail; next to Vick I may have seemed suave or confident (not arrogant or full of bravado). It also was a modern example where I proved that I was not willing to even allow a man I knew to harass a woman in my presence without a word.
There are many things I’m not and may never be. My woeful inexperience with women is a hurdle which I may not be able to be overcome. And as per the examples of almost every person I have ever seen who seeks to buck up a “later in life virgin”, I may only get one chance at romance. Virtually every person I have ever seen who ever tries to reassure an older virgin tells some version of the same narrative: “I met my latest boyfriend/husband and he was ___ old and still a virgin and now we’re engaged/married/dating very steadily”, or they offer hearsay of someone they know whose tale goes like that. Which means even that reassurance suggests that I may only have ONE shot at this (since nobody ever says, “Yeah, I dated a guy who was a virgin until he was ___ and we dated a bit and moved on, he was no better or worse than anyone else”), that it is double or nothing. I am not planning to instantly marry whoever my first lover is, nor do I think most people want to do that with an older virgin they meet (usually that’s a stigma against them; the theory that they’ll attach to their first lover like a baby duckling). Ideally, I’d want the person who I choose to share my life with to be someone I have made an informed choice towards. But life isn’t ideal and maybe I may only have a “double or nothing” shot at this. However, I don’t think I am as bad a guy for a woman as Vick (who among other things can’t hold a steady job) and maybe that means I’m not the worst freak out there. Maybe all the guys out there who “stumble and bumble” their way to more than I’ve experienced got there because they were willing to do so at all. I’ll never be a great catch or even an above average catch for any woman. But I’m closer to average than Vick, and better than horrible. Maybe I wouldn’t be as terrible at this dating stuff if I gave it another shot as I am now, not envisioning it as I was in my teens or 20’s.
I am still processing this, and things in life can always happen. My budget is low and my schedule is tight. My family obligations never end. But all year I have been looking for some sort of “sign” to maybe dip a toe back in the arena, maybe give OkCupid a serious try. This incident may have been it.
I am the Dateless-Man, but I am a better man than someone I know who isn’t an actual criminal. It isn’t much, but it’s something to hang on to. So long as I retain my empathy and experience, my attempts at dating don’t have to be any worse on someone else than any other random encounter they may have, if not better. “He did nothing for me but he was at least considerate and funny,” isn’t the worst bad date for a woman to talk about, after all. I am not the lowest denominator of men; I may be close but I’m not the lowest. I got a refresher course for that. I’m not the literal worst, as the kids say on Tumblr these days. The next step is where I go with this, if I go anywhere at all.
This is as close to upbeat as my blog posts get! Soak it up!