Dateless-Man vs. 2017

It’s been a wild and wacky year over here at the Mattress of Solitude. On paper I worked for three different companies within 10 months, after steadily working for one for over 5 years. This latest position is one for a city organization, which boasts things like union representation, benefits, and promotional opportunities. As an update from the past post, I have made it past the training phase, as well as a month long “nesting” period. The first month after training isn’t a grace period, but a period where screw ups aren’t put on the permanent record and extra supervision is given. From this point on I have to last another 10 months before my position becomes permanent, and before I can even consider any promotional opportunities. Most people who moved up usually worked on the initial rung for 2+ years anyway.

My trainers liked me. My supervisor thinks I’m near perfect even when I make an err or two. Much of the job is self explanatory, to the point that the most stressful part of the day is logging in on time during a mere 3-4 minute window when I have to fight with software. I have fine tuning to do, but I am getting the hang of things as best I can. While this position may be new, my experience in my previous jobs has helped tremendously. Above all, it’s a job that isn’t centered around sales, but more geared with trying to do some good (along with customer service). Once upon a time I went to college with the ideal of wanting to help people. In some ways I am the same person, yet in others that person may have been from another life compared to now. And the irony is that person that I was has informed a large chunk of my experience with women.

Every day, and every week, at this new job brings with it a mix of feelings. Confidence with each shift, mixed with anxiety for the future. I am grateful for the opportunity yet petrified that I will screw it up and it will come crashing down. Very little in my life has genuinely gotten better; it often either stays the same or gets worse, albeit often in different ways. Managers and supervisors offer mixtures of open armed understanding mixed with warnings of dire consequences for too many write-ups. The job can seem almost blindingly easy and frustratingly difficult within a few minutes of each other. However, for the moment things seem to be going well there. Which means I am always in a state of near panic that it will change in an instant.

I imagine none of my co-workers, or supervisor, or anyone of the people I trained with would suspect my deep, dark secret. I am a different person at work than I am outside of it. I am gregarious, always able to get in a joke or offer my viewpoint without going too far. In the position I give off an air of experience despite being a newbie. A couple of them are women and while I would never seek to try to date anyone at work — because it is often more drama than it is worth — a few of them are my type. College Dateless-Man, who I mentioned before, would be wrapped in angst-knots about this. “Woe is me, for being surrounded by babes I can’t or won’t approach,” I would have lamented, and buried that lament until years later when I would have written it for the blog. Now I have a bit more experience and perspective. Plus, it helps that I’m not a creep who doesn’t respect women or can’t work with them. And the irony is with the specter of romance totally removed, I don’t seem to have a problem talking to them. I’m a funny guy, I can make almost anyone laugh without even trying. It’s almost unconscious timing.

Besides this recent update, the theme of 2017 has been Zen. The idea of finally having embraced — no, accepted — my status and no longer being emotionally burdened and agonized by it. Part of the consequences have led to gaps in posting. I think 2017 saw about 10 blog installments, which is a historic low. I try to average at least 12 and I know 2014-2015 averaged way more. And maybe it comes part in parcel with the theme of growing and moving on. The first year or so of the blog, 2014-2015, was mostly focused on expressing my own experiences with women and romance (or lack thereof) that for the most part I had never told anyone. Just to get them all down into another medium and express my thoughts on them outside my own mind. 2016 in many ways dealt with me absorbing some of what I expressed as well as some newer experiences. I groused about my own virginity semi-frequently. And the theme for 2017 has been acceptance of my romantic void while actively seeking change in my career.

This isn’t to say that I never have pangs of regret or frustration regarding my lack of romantic success or any sort of a love life in the past. Acceptance isn’t pretending something never happened nor never feeling any residual emotional feelings at all. The mind doesn’t work that way. In some way I do think about bring a virgin every day. The big difference is that it doesn’t make me feel as bad about myself as it used to. It could be acceptance, it could be over familiarity, it could be becoming numb to it after so many years, I don’t care because the net result is less angst. My birthday is coming up in another 3+ months and that naturally will bring me another year closer to being the 40-Year-Old-Virgin. There are times I genuinely wonder what it would be like to experience mutual romantic emotions, or to make passionate love. But unlike in college, there’s less of a sense of entitlement or lament and more of an scientific curiosity.

Part of the problem isn’t mere inexperience nor having zero game or romantic charm (or a place or opportunity to practice those skills without being judged as a man-child). Much like with work, while I have a fear of failure, short term success also petrifies me because it is something which seems rare and uncommon. It also doesn’t jive with my own poor self image, so there is a little cognitive dissonance going on. If a loser starts to win, is the loser now a winner? Or just on a lucky streak heading up for a colossal loss to end all losses? And while I seem able to successfully hide that anxiety at work, I don’t know if I could do the same on the dating scene. Because while I consider dating failure to be a foregone, predetermined conclusion, it would probably be the opposite which would bring the most pressure and suspicion. The most stressful thing a woman could say to me after a date wouldn’t be, “You’re a wad of human filth and I hope you die,” it would be, “I actually had a lovely time and would love to do this again.” I’d be in uncharted territory, where now failure will be worse because it came at a higher stage.

For a brief moment, I even got a little more open minded about legalized prostitution, such as in Las Vegas. I don’t have the funds for it now, but if I stay where I am at at work, I will eventually get vacation time and a bump in salary. And I realized the irony is that while I would be second, triple, and quadruple guessing anything said or done on a real date, there’s one advantage to a sex worker. I would KNOW for a fact anything she was telling me was just a ruse for more money. And she would know that I was just there for a good time. No pretenses. I wouldn’t have to find triple meaning to every word said or not said. I wouldn’t have to wonder whether a compliment was genuine or ambiguous; I’d KNOW it was just filler for a better tip. If a woman on a date were to tell me, “I think you’re the cutest guy in the room,” my initial reaction would be to question her ability to see at all, or fret she was being sarcastic or that I was taking advantage of ignorance. If a sex worker says that, I KNOW it’s baloney for an extra $100 or whatever, so there’s a bit more freedom to relax and enjoy the experience without anxiety. Ultimately, however, I still am unlikely to pursue this option. Not because I have anything against sex workers, but that ultimately I feel it wouldn’t do me much good in the long term even if short term it would take some of the edge off. But in the long term it wouldn’t teach me the skills I’d need to navigate a normal, mature romantic relationship or even the motions of entering the dating scene, which are skills most people at least have moderate experience in after college. Unfortunately beyond this option or other for-hire dating services, there are no short cuts.

But the big chance that Zen has brought me is the lack of this experience no longer fills me with existential dread, at least anywhere near as often as it was in the past, or even 2014. It’s just something it’s a shame I never experienced or had, like cable TV. I just hope there’s less fine print than cable TV.

I had a post planned where I plan to examine what I call “the Three I’d Monster” of positive reactions, which I didn’t get to. But I have to have something planned for 2018. I’d like to thank everyone who has stuck with the blog another year, I always appreciate it. The idea of other people potentially reading this was what ultimately got me to write this stuff at all, and I think it has ultimately brought me to a better place. I just wish I’d gotten to this place a decade ago, or even five years ago.


Dateless-Man vs. New Gig & Therapy?

I’ve been scarce again lately. Hitting that once-a-month-at-least average hasn’t happened again for the second time in 3-4 months. Most of this is due to me being focused elsewhere. As I stated in my last post, my employment situation has changed. Last April I took a test for a city job. Some 14 months later, they got back to me with an interview. Long waits like that for city or federal jobs are not rare. I made it past all three interviews and submitted more paperwork, and signed more forms, than I thought possible. By the end if they asked for a notarized photograph of me in a giraffe costume juggling cats in front of Macy’s, I would not have been shocked.

In theory I am overqualified for the position. The requirements were either a Bachelors or 1-2 years of experience in a similar gig. I have the degree and over 6 years of such experience. I am midway thru a 4 week training course. After that is a 4 week “nesting” period where most goofs I make will be expected and forgiven. Beyond that, I have to make it another 44 weeks to make it past probation. It’s a salaried, union position – a rare thing in America these days, even New York. In fact I just attended my first union meeting today. I was bombarded with a ton of information and yet more paperwork. I’m being lectured on stuff regarding retirement and I’m barely a fortnight in. It adds even more pressure.

In a lot of ways, I consider myself a screw up. I haven’t always made the best of whatever opportunities I was given. This blog has extensively covered my foul ups in regards to dating. I often tell myself I “never had a chance” or “no woman ever liked me,” but deep down I know that’s not true. It’s just easier to feel that way. The reality is my opportunities were far and few between (perhaps more so than others), and I botched them all for various reasons. But I also feel I botched other areas as well. I didn’t always capitalize on educational or economic opportunities. When I was unemployed, I was distracted by depression and tending to an ailing grandmother (alongside my chronically ill mother) and didn’t use all that time wisely. Suddenly I’m in my 30’s and behind most of my pals in the progress of life. Now I’ve been given an opportunity, and every sign I get is this is my last chance. A job like this does not come easily. I do well and I can have a pension, and plenty of promotional opportunities. Flop out, and it’s back to jobs for misfits. It feels like so many areas of my life — where I feel I have no margin for error. It’s either 100% or nothing. It adds some stress and anxiety, even as training gives me more confidence.

At the union meeting, the various reps went over all of the various options and services they provide. The one which inspired this post was free counseling services. The job itself is stressful to workers, but they mentioned personal stresses too. I haven’t been to therapy since I was about 18, and I was nowhere near ready. The last time I had access to counseling for free was college, and years later I regretted bypassing it. But as they mentioned it, I wondered how willing I am now to go thru with it. How willing I am to tell a professional a hint of the innermost anxieties and issues I have been willing to vent about anonymously in this blog. To tell a real live person, even on a confidential basis, of how ashamed I am of being a virgin. Of how it may or may not effect my confidence. Of how I have spent years of my life burying or learning to accept whatever pain that comes from that. I’m better now than I was last year, or 5 years ago in this regard. Or to discuss some of my apathetic or at times nihilistic moods. How willing would I be to address such issues to a male counselor versus one who was a woman, or vice versa?

Much like the economic opportunity, it too feels like a last chance. I’ve got some time before I hit the big 4-0 but it is closer now than when I started this blog. I’m already at an age where the public perception of men who are still this romantically inexperienced are religiously motivated, circus freaks, or serial killers. I’ll never get a do-over of my youth, and to a degree I have accepted that. Yet my time to make a serious go at it and have any sort of success, heaven forbid with more than one lover, is also coming to an end. So, hey, no pressure or anything.

Yes, there are some women who are my type in the training class. But mixing romance and work is often an unwise combination. I don’t even consider such a thing an option. It’s been both a boon and a bane that one of the trainers is a woman who is into the same geeky comic stuff as I am (and is married). Great conversations between lessons or tests, though. Four years ago I’d have angsted more about that. It still reminds me occasionally of something I have yet to experience.

So, I am not ditching the blog. For all I know I may need it more than ever soon. But giving an update and where I am now. Life is moving a little more positively for me than it did 1-2 years ago, and that sometimes makes me anxious for a shoe to drop. And I get a lot of pressure in the make-or-break department. Hopefully this time I don’t screw it all up.


Dateless-Man vs. A Forum Ban

“I’m a victim of circumstance!” – Curly Howard, “The Three Stooges: Disorder in the Court” (1936)

A bit of a disclaimer before I get into this. This is easily a topic I didn’t expect to cover here, and it may actually be the most immature thing I have typed up for this blog. I actually missed posting an installment in August, and missing a month is something I dislike doing if I can help it. I actually have some good news to report on. Last year I applied for a city job, and last month I actually had an initial interview regarding it. It went well enough that I’ve been invited to the second step of “the process” (their term, not mine) of landing this position. If successful, training begins a week before Halloween. It’s been an interesting experience, since I have rarely applied for a job while I currently had one, or at least have gotten further than just shooting a resume and cover letter into the Internet or taking a test. Nothing is set in stone yet, but it alongside having to renew my health insurance and other work related things have taken up a lot of my spare time.

As a further disclaimer, it’s possible that I may be 100% in the wrong about the situation and circumstances I am about to report. The only side of a story I can usually state with total accuracy is my own. I do my best to understand another side or motivation, but I am in my own head more than others. A part of me hesitated to even make this a topic, since it comes close to chest thumping. It comes close to bad-mouthing someone online at a forum where they cannot defend themselves — even though I have linked this blog once or twice, and it’s easily found on Google once you type “Dateless Man” — seriously, it’s the third link that pops up. If anyone from the other venue wants to chat about this below, I welcome it. And in the grand scheme of things, it’s really not a huge deal.

However, I’m overdue for an article, and this made me feel things. It’s related to the topic of the blog, and it’s either this or share memories about The Mask. So let’s dig into it.

As I have mentioned earlier this year, I’ve been participating on a discussion on reply forums hosted by Doctor Nerdlove. He’s an online love advice guru for geeks online, and probably the only one whose advice I would actually come close to recommending. There are an endless amount of love advice “experts” online, in bookstores, and on TV and radio. Many of them may offer free tidbits online, with the ultimate goal being to sell you on some books, audio tapes, CD’s, a newsletter, personal coaching services, and so on. Other examples I have stumbled upon include and Frank Kermit. Heck, even talk show host/game show host/comedian Steve Harvey has gotten into the love advice game. Harris O’Malley, a.k.a. Doctor Nerdlove, also sells books, but he offers considerable services online. He has a weekly blog, podcast, and has an advice column via submitted letters once a week on his own website and every 2 weeks on Kotaku (a video game website, of all places). He’s been at this since 2011 and has a steady and healthy community of commentors in his weekly reply section. So much so that he used to offer weekly “open discussion” posts just to allow people to talk about topics outside of his article that week.

As he tells it, Doctor Nerdlove (DNL) struggled with romance as a youth. He didn’t have sex until he was 19, and even afterward considered himself someone who was “no good with women.” He entered the Pick-Up Artist (PUA) scene and while it helped him have sex and meet women, he didn’t like who he was becoming to do so, nor a lot of the toxic attitudes that are a part of the philosophy and scene. He’s since become a romantic adviser who has sought to subject some of the few “good” elements of the PUA scene and put a more understanding and even handed spin on it. Most often, it means issuing tough love to “truths” of manhood. I don’t think I stumbled upon his website until 2014, and I didn’t begin reading it semi-regularly until late 2015 or early 2016. During one of my “woe is me for I am virgin” fits at the time I googled one of his articles about older male virginity and it began from there. While I’ve heard more advice on dating than I could ever retain since high school from dozens of sources and while I hardly agree with him on everything, DNL comes as close to being a romance adviser whose take I usually respect. Reading his work has helped me gain some perspective in addition to my own work here on the blog, purging myself of feelings and memories I don’t tell anyone.

His website hosts a comment section after every article, much as WordPress does. It naturally features “regulars” and it often became a community forum of sorts. I lurked there for a while and eventually decided to comment myself and become a part of it. It would be the first time I was becoming part of a forum revolving around my romantic issues since college. The format at the time was “IntenseDebate” (it has since become “Discus”) and it was possible to hook it into a WordPress account. For login ease, as well as a bit of cross promotion and continuing along the the theme, I naturally used the same moniker there that I do here. At the time I thought it was innocent enough, but in hindsight I probably should have seen how it would lead to being misunderstood. Yes, this is foreshadowing.

DNL himself rarely interacts on the forums much, at least since I was around; he did sporadically in 2015-2016 and that has dwindled to almost nil since. He’s understandably busy and therefore has to designate moderators to police the forum. As with anything involving romance – especially involving unpleasant truths men need to hear – the forum gets a steady stream of trolls, troublemakers, lunatics, Men’s Rights Activists (MRA’s), GamerGaters, and all around malcontents in between genuine advice seekers and givers, and opinion sharers. The forum once had roughly 3-4 other moderators, but over time and circumstance that had dwindled to one acting moderator. For the sake of not wanting to call someone out where they can’t really respond easily, I’ll therefore call him “The Mod” (or “the Mod” or “Mod”). The Mod had been serving this role for a while but over time, instead of making up 20% of the forum’s “ruling body”, he soon became 80-100%. DNL can overrule him on things like bans or opinions but rarely if ever does.

I bring all this up because when I got on the forum, I was pleased by it’s open mindedness and stream of ideas. I never solicited advice – merely sought to offer my own opinions, takes, or experiences – yet naturally I got plenty in turn. In hindsight, that being the theme of the website made it obvious. And for a while it was interesting, being able to have more discussions about things regarding my state and related topics outside of the blog. I mean I have great commentors at this blog too, and I’m grateful for all that. But the balance of position is different. It’s my own blog – all those who reply are guests. There, I was a guest like everyone else. Unfortunately, over time I made one enemy, and that was The Mod.

Without airing his dirty laundry, like most people the Mod had to overcome a lot of adversity in his life, including a physical handicap. He also works and has worked professionally in the helping industry. He helped moderate the forums for years, and while his intentions were always good, over time I feel he developed tunnel-vision. He had seen and interacted with so many lonely men with issues with strange screennames that they all began to blur and gel. It’s human nature after a while to categorize people under that circumstance almost immediately. He determined my alias meant that I saw my virginity as an identity and it implied I didn’t want to change. I told the Mod that it was a name chosen due to the convenience of my blog, and due to my own fondness for superheroes and it being the title of a comic strip I once toyed with writing and drawing in college. The Mod never believed me, however, and from then on his views on me would steadily become more rigid. From then on, the Mod determined that I refused to accept the (unsolicited) advice given to me, despite there being no way to prove what I retain and what I ignore. Over time he would consistently inform me of what I was doing wrong and why I shouldn’t be posting whatever I posted. None of my posts were angry or insulting or had any sorts of vulgarities or so on – which I imagine frustrated him because it made me a hard nut to crack. Older male virgins were a dime a dozen there; but one who wasn’t angry at women or spoke in crude terms about them? Less so. First it was that I posted too much about myself, so I must be selfish. Then when I would offer more objective opinions or takes on situations without bringing up myself, I was an ill informed hypocrite who didn’t know what I was talking about. The Mod would insist that my posts should get shorter, and simpler, and more sparing – first in nicey terms (“Brevity is the soul of wit; women like wit”) and later in more blunt and hostile terms as if I had violated an unspoken rule. Finally, he would insist I was repetitive. I would ask what topics where my opinions would be more acceptable, and I never got an answer.

I suppose this would be fine were it uniform; if the Mod merely treated everyone like this. But he didn’t. There were a handful of long term regulars whose opinions were valued more than others – who could even be critical of him on occasion without fear of a lecture or ban. Others would be allowed to issue insults or devolve into nasty arguments which the Mod would allow to fester for random intervals. Some of the regulars were active woman-haters or frequently cursed people out during disagreements. But the biggest case of all was a poster who, for above reasons I will dub “The Pal” (or “the Pal” or “Pal”). The Pal was someone who would brag of posting while drunk or stoned, and offer crude, lewd, and occasionally rude missives which would showcase that this was no exaggeration. Jokes about women’s genitals were hardly rare, for instance. He would even brag about topics such as deliberately sleeping with “ugly girls” he didn’t like just because he could, or that he deliberately drove while under the influence more than once. He would often suggest excessive alcohol and/or marijuana as romantic stimulants. Whenever someone was offended, the Pal would brush it off as a joke due to his substance habits.

The Mod, however, never policed his behavior. The Pal could get away with posts which would issue warnings at least and bans at most from anyone else. As the Mod told it, the Pal was a longtime member of the forum. In the past he’d been a malcontent and been banned. However, he took some of the advice to heart, had more romantic success, and then returned. When he got flack from longtime posters for past ills, the Pal took it in stride. And for this, the Pal was untouchable. The most the Mod would do is intervene after some argument the Pal haphazardly provoked got too nasty with words to the effect of, “C’mon man, you’re making me look bad.” The Pal, to his credit, always knew when to apologize or placate, but it was a predictable routine. And the only reason I know all this was because one of the longer term regulars called the Mod out on this special treatment, and rather than belittle them, the Mod responded honestly. One argument or one misspoken word or misunderstood joke could get anyone banned for a week to a month, if not forever, except for the Pal. The Pal could make a crude joke about “smashing” some vaginas, go “my bad, I’m just stoned tee hee” and that was that. Ad infinitum.

One of the themes of DNL is to become a good man rather than a “nice guy.” That means standing up against toxic male behavior and being an ally of women. After one advice column, where an angry older male virgin had started a fight insisting everything was wrong and tearing into women and feminism, I jumped in. Like a lot of guys he was dismissing the opinions of women, and poo-pooing experienced dudes as “not knowing what he went through” and all that. I felt I could use my experience in this instance to rebut him, and add to the chorus against him. Demonstrate that I lived some of the philosophy of the site, and my own life in general.

The Mod chose that time to try to pick another fight about my avatar name and undermine me. Even one of the respected regulars replied, “Dude, seriously!? Do you think now is the best time to get into that?” In a rare show of grace, the Mod relented.

Things came to a head this spring when an advice column regarding an older virgin triggered me to reply. I often did when that topic came up, since I lived it. Among the things I tend to disagree with DNL on is his underestimation of how difficult older male virginity can be to overcome. He often advises, “It’s all in your head, just try, etc.” in longer words, and while I get the positive spirit of it, I usually tried to offer my own experience. The Mod took umbrage with a lot of my replies and started taking things out of context. Casually mentioning “never going to the prom” as an example of life milestones which I lacked due to inexperience which made me difficult, I sparked a whole argument about what’s mainstream. Mentioning the word “mystique” once in regards to my friends losing shyness with women from experience somehow got the Mod to determine that I was a sexist in so many words. It became obvious by now that any statement or argument I made, the Mod would interpret in the worst possible way. It got so extreme that I could have probably said it was raining cats and dogs and he’d criticize my flippant defense of cruelty to animals. The Mod then began suggesting I had to apologize for misstatements for “weeks” despite some apologizes I made after being misunderstood within posts from a 7 day period, or one week. Frustrated, I applied the same anal retentive technicality hair splitting to him that he offered to me, while suggesting he didn’t need to think like a hammer and see everyone the same, and that I felt he was a good mod. Against my better judgement, I decided to see if he could accept any criticism from me, even if I wrapped it around a blanket of kissing his ass. Also against my better judgement, after several salvos of his blunt and aggressive criticisms and judgments of me and anything I said, the Mod randomly chose to relate to me when I mentioned growing up with a chronically ill mother who I still have to tend to. His own parents struggled with illness you see. I suppose in hindsight, I should have swallowed emotion and accepted the token olive branch. Instead, I noted how the Mod suddenly was treating me with dignity only after I offered something he could relate to from his own life.

His reply was, “well, **** you then,” and later banning me for a week. Only he never calls it bans, he calls them “vacations”.

From then on posting became a stress game where I never knew when the Mod would beam in for another round. Where anything I posted would get dissected, misunderstood, and told it didn’t belong while some MRA specialist could whine about a lack of pity sex and it allowed to go on for dozens of replies, or while the Pal could make another stupor-inspired statement. Last week I made the error of criticizing that the Pal suggesting that marijuana was the answer to stress induced impotence (due to an off handed remark by DNL in the column) triggered an argument with a few people suggesting I was a harsh anti-drug zealot on par with “Reefer Madness”. I sought to reaffirm my stance (that suggesting substances, especially ones not prescribed, to deal with emotional issues, can be a slippery slope to addiction for some people), and while most of us agreed, somehow I was coming at it from the wrong angle. And then the Mod came in with tirades that featured some of these lines:

“The cherry is that you refuse to actually do anything about your own life while telling other people how to improve their lives, as if you actually know a thing about doing so, and on top of that you routinely spread BAD INFORMATION and bad advice about literally everything you talk about.”

“You’ve got a blog you can pass out bad information and play coy with people in the comments”

“I know you don’t want to improve your life, but that’s sort of the thing here, so for a host of reasons; goodbye, gawd bless, and enjoy a nice long vacation from this section.”

The Mod gets paid to counsel people for a living.

And so went the permanent ban. Most posters who don’t curse people out, deliberately insult them, or advocate for rape rooms (seriously, sick guys come up) maybe get a second finite ban, maybe a month, before a third strike. I just got two. Even the Pal replied, “Aww dude that’s cold.” I’ve since joined a spin off forum formed by fans of the column which isn’t officially sanctioned by DNL but has many of the same people. The Mod is not a mod there, which is good. I get along with everyone else. However, the pace is slower as it’s not a site linked out much nor driven by the latest advice column or article. I was contacted by another poster who confirmed that from her angle my treatment was a little strange and that some of the issues regarding the Mod and his abrasive style and bizarre hypocrisy were not just me being petty or biased.

So, yeah, an entire diatribe about how someone was mean to me online. I said this would probably be one of the most immature things I posted here. Experiences such as this were not uncommon in the past, I guess I figured since I was older and the people there were too, that I could commiserate with people there about my feelings regarding relationships without being recruited for the latest he-man woman hater’s march. Unfortunately, online forums are always privy to personal politics and interpersonal hypocrisy. I know the Mod probably didn’t hate me insomuch as he hated “yet another ignorant older virgin man,” and that it wasn’t personal so much as having a hammer and seeing himself surrounded by nails. But it was still a little frustrating, and only highlights why I usually chose to be a lone wolf when it comes to being open and honest with how I feel about this sort of stuff. Much the same way as I became yet another symbol of angry virgin men to the Mod, he may have become another avatar of the sorts of holier-than-thou men I have dealt with who talk a big game about authority and righteousness yet prove to be just as petty and hypocritical as anyone else.

The zen is still here. I don’t feel lower about myself for being single or a virgin over this. I have to admit, I did have an immature, emotional reaction of wanting to dive into OkCupid, successfully date and even get into a relationship or two just to be able to return with a new name and tell the Mod to stuff himself. I’m a man, which means sometimes my emotional reactions are the same as a seven year old’s regardless of age. Disbelieve me? Just look at Congress.

On the plus side, I am headed into a second interview for a better job next week. I am very anxious about it and any number of things could still go wrong. I just felt my latest unsuccessful foray into seeking a sense of togetherness regarding my relationship status. And sometimes I wonder why I have ennui. I know this was a weird one, but thanks for reading. Hopefully future installments won’t be as political.

A Summer of Relative Zen

“I am what I am, and that’s all that I am.” — Popeye the Sailor Man

It’s almost the end of the month, and I like posting here at least that often. Partly for my sanity (whatever there is of it) and partly so it doesn’t seem like I abandoned the blog. Far from it. I’ve been busy with work, both my day job and my night job writing about comic books for a website. But it may be worth it to compare myself with where I was one, two, and three years ago. This is the 3rd anniversary of the blog, after all!

It’s officially been a year since the last website I wrote for closed down, and I must say I like the new online digs better. The money’s about the same — not much. But I feel more important, with a more hands on editor there. I’m one of the stars of the website, providing a bulk of material. I feel appreciated, not another cog in a machine. It took losing the previous website to realize just how much I enjoyed writing about my hobby in a semi-professional manner. In addition, I survived my day job’s restructuring last year as well, and while I am technically working for a new company, it’s run and owned by the same people (for the most part). Things certainly don’t seem as troubling as they were last July.

In terms of my endless angst about being the Dateless-Man, an end may be in sight. No, I haven’t found anyone or tried dating again. The day that happened, everyone who reads the blog would know — it’ll be the day there’s a nuclear holocaust or some other world shattering disaster. But, once again, compared to July 2016, and especially July 2014, I feel in a different place. In August 2014 I wrote an installment called, “Another summer of Discontent,” and while it’s only 3 years ago it feels like much longer to me. What felt like a raw gaping wound in my soul which would trigger pain sporadically no longer seems to be there. It’s another sign that my search for “Zen” — just not giving a damn about being a single eternal virgin — is closer than it has ever been. That’s been a theme to 2017 which I haven’t minded at all.

I wouldn’t exactly say I am happy or gleeful about my status. Occasionally there are pangs of regret, or twinges of, “wouldn’t be nice to ____” and so on. But so far it hasn’t led to any emotional cycles. While this saps a lot of will for angst-posting, it is better for my mental health. I’ve either come to accept my lot in life as the Dateless-Man, or I’m too comfortable to risk change. Either way, the difference is more in semantics. I have entertained potential near interest in giving OK Cupid another try (as I’m not really the type for app/swipe type online dating, most of all since I lack a consistent iPhone device), but nothing beyond that. I still don’t think I have the will, the drive, or the time to devote the time I need to make that work. And that’s alright. Maybe it’s accepting a negative self image to my core at long last, but so far the only symptoms are less emotional despair and no longer giving a damn (or at least as much of one) about this particular area of my life. I’ve lived without fulfilling this area of my life for so long that the lack of it no longer seems foreign or alien. It’s just part of me, like the lipoma on my back or the freckles on my skin. I probably care more about the comic book article I am putting off writing to post here than about whether or not I will still be alone by Labor Day. I KNOW I’ll be alone on Labor Day. There’s no mystery. What else would I be doing, holding court at a bordello? Now what’ll I be having for dinner on Labor Day, that’s the question.

This era of not giving a damn feels like looking at things through new eyes. I look back at a lot of my past memories and exploits, misadventures and failings with women, and kind of wish I didn’t take it so serious. I wish I’d have had that attitude back then. “Oh, she’s not interested? Of course she’s not. Who cares. What’s in the vending machine?” That attitude would have been SO much better in college than me moping for years because of jocks and stoners. Maybe I didn’t need confidence to ask women out; maybe I just needed to not give a damn when and if they rejected me. Unfortunately, I think I have reached this state at a time and place in my life where I don’t have the energy or location to pursue anything romantically.

It’s totally possible that my newfound Zen is just a layer of emotional defense mechanism I’ve managed to seal myself into for years. It’s very possible that the first hard rejection on the dating scene could crush me like it did in college. I don’t know, and I am not in a rush to find out. All I do know is College-Dateless-Man hadn’t lived through what current Dateless-Man has. He wasn’t a social worker for a while, then unemployed. He didn’t go to the mat helping his disabled mom keep his grandma out of a nursing home to die in peace for years. He didn’t take a sales job out of sheer desperation and then prove to be totally okay at it. He didn’t get the chance to make some cash and earn a few convention press passes typing about the hobby he loves for years. Maybe the only difference is that College-Dateless-Man hadn’t lost enough or struggled enough to realize there was more to suffer in life than being lonely. I accept that whatever a woman is looking for in a lover, that isn’t me. That doesn’t mean I have to be sad, or angry, or bitter about that. I spend a while giving a damn about it, and it sucked. Now I’m kind of done, at least for now.

This is the blog’s 3rd anniversary and I don’t plan to stop now. There are some topics I’d like to broach when I have more time. As well as there being no way of knowing what the future holds. For all I know I could save a hobo on the subway tracks, become Internet famous and suddenly have women asking me out. It’s as likely as anything else. For now this blog acts as a safety net, and maybe having one after all this time in life has made that tightrope a little easier to manage. Thanks for all the readers and commentors! That potential for an audience, whether small or large, proved to be the last element getting me to put thoughts to paper about my love life (or lack thereof) years ago when I’d never been able to do so before. And that, along with just getting older, has done me some net good. The path ahead, just not bearing so much of that weight from years past, already looks a little bit brighter than it did in 2016.

Dateless-Man vs. Envy, Round 2

Back in December I noted an instance of envy that I had regarding an associate of mine who is the friend of some friends. I noted how my desire to not be envious of friends or acquaintances was an ongoing challenge despite me reaching an internal armistice regarding my singleness. This month, an incident occurred which could have triggered another moment of envy, and I feel I handled it much, much better. It could be a sign that even over the past 7 months, something inside of me has changed for the moment.

This time it doesn’t involve “Skip”, but one of my very best friends I’ve dubbed here as “T”. It was on a day when my talent for nicknames was on the fritz, obviously. I’ve talked about him here and there, including my 2nd base story (which involves his ex). He’s actually one of my oldest friends; he was the friend of a friend from junior high who bonded to me more after we shared a class in high school. T went on to become one of my staunchest pals during my high school and college days; one of the network of 5 or so pals who I saw on a daily and weekly basis. We hung out, watched anime, saw flicks, went to bars and clubs, and RP’d tabletop RPG’s more times than I can count in our youth as part of “the gang”. He briefly went to the same college as I did, but only to earn enough credits to qualify for a police officer. He’s been a cop now for roughly 10 years give or take. Thankfully, aside for a few sprains and strains he’s never gotten seriously injured on the job.

A former “fat kid”, he’s since become a gym monster. He’s won awards for weight lifting at his local gym, and briefly took up Greco-Roman wrestling. I joked at the time, “because your job isn’t violent enough for you”. Deep down he is a bit shy with women, but smothers it with bravado and a lot of boisterousness. He also drinks a lot when he’s off (like a lot of cops I know), and while he’s hardly the biggest stud of the group he’s had his share of girlfriends. He also was usually the one, either due to his face, his muscles, or both, considering the most attractive of us as a group — despite being the shortest (at 5′ 8”). He spent most of his high school and college days having long term relationships with two women, and after those were over he’s had some flings here and there. We share a similar sense of humor and some of the same hobbies and attitudes.

T is a man of contradictions. While he can at times be too honest, he also can be a skilled liar. And while I’ve no doubt he cares for me as a friend, he’s also been the messenger of some esteem sapping statements at awkward times. In the above “2nd base story”, he once drunkenly uttered a line which has stuck with me to this day:

“You wouldn’t know what to do with a girl if one sat on your lap.”

T was also the instigator in a more recent incident representing “the Dark Side of the Internet” a few years back. To recap, at a time when being on Facebook was a new and rare thing for me, he started a topic just before my birthday that year (about 4 years ago). To paraphrase, he asked if anyone knew any “drunken sluts without any standards for his friend who really needs to get laid”. And while nobody tagged me or used my name, to a person every one of my pals and associates who took part in that discussion seemed to know who he meant. A good online in joke was had by all. Complete with a woman I once had a crush on during high school adding, “If it hasn’t happened by now, it probably never will.” It was deleted from Facebook, but not my memory. Ever since, my pals and I have had this unspoken pact to never discuss my love life. While I am certain T meant well, the end result was more honesty regarding what my pals thought of my virginity than I wanted.

So, all this set up, for what? Despite having once urged me to join Facebook to make it easier to stay in touch and plan gatherings, T’s since “unplugged” from the social network. He hasn’t been on any major social media platform for almost 2 years now. Appearances by him at gatherings are even more rare than before. As everyone (but me) marries, has kids, gets a better job, and moves, that happens. This month he made one of his rare appearances at a birthday party for someone in the extended social network. I missed it, but pictures were posted and shared online. One was of him. A woman who had never seen him before posted, “Oh, who is that cutie?” Immediately another one of my pals said something about an introduction. I don’t know if any ever happened, or is in the works. But the gears were in motion.

I can say without a doubt had this happened a year or two back, and especially 5-6 years ago, I would have been envious as hell. After all, out of my entire group of pals, I was the only one who was a virgin after high school (and definitely after college). Out of the lot of us I was never the one any woman liked that way. I hung around them all the time, but their auras and appeal were greater than mine. None of them directly “sabotaged” any of my efforts, nor did they ever help me. Nor I them. We were pretty mercenary, yet if anyone in the group heard that a woman liked one of them, word cycled thru the grape vine quickly. I used to think it was inevitable that I’d be living my life being one of the crew and it’d happen for me. But the law of averages never worked out that way. Among them, at least romantically, I was always just a sexless sidekick. I was their Snarf, Deputy Fuzz, or Orko. Sure, people found me hilarious, but never so much so to take home. At one point during a Super Bowl night at a bar, I was with one of my pals and a woman watching the game and she was flirting to his face, and he didn’t notice; I had to tell him later. There were no end of nights throughout my youth and adulthood where I was frustrated, galled, and depressed over the ability of T and my other pals being that magnetically appealing to women without seeming to need to try.

This time? I was happy for him. I thought, “Go figure” or something like that, and that was it. There was no caveat, no sustained period of envy this time. Maybe it’s from a place of acceptance. Maybe it’s from a place of maturity. Who knows. All I know is that this time around, I won my bout with envy. There was no angst or fleeting moment of frustration. The ladies always love T. Even ones who weren’t even in the party with him. It’s just a fact. Nothing worth getting upset over.

Nick, who was in the last envy bout, has also gone on at least one or two dates, and posed some more about being checked out. With him I perhaps got more envious because he posts a lot of anti-feminist, he-man style macho stuff on his feed and has some toxic beliefs and unresolved issues with women. He literally feels any guy who is a feminist is trying to suck up for tail. He’s a postal worker and another buff guy with slick, gelled hair. They’re what women want. That’s not me nor has it ever been, and that’s not worth wasting emotions on for the moment.

I used to lament being the funny sidekick of the gang. Now I at least see it for what it is. I may not be thrilled, but it doesn’t have to make me miserable. And being envious of friends or associates is no way to be. I’m glad that this time around, I didn’t blink. This era of acceptable, or at least giving fewer damns, certainly has felt nice.

Dateless-Man vs. (A College Era Bonus)

The past can return in strange and unique ways. Nostalgia is one of the biggest advertising and marketing strategies these days, usually because it’s quietly acknowledged that life is miserable. Anything from a recent event or a news story or a song can bring with it a memory of the past or dig up old emotions. I didn’t understand why adults got wistful for songs that were decades old until I was over 30 and heard a song from the 80’s or 90’s, even one I never even liked at the time. For people who are survivors of genuine trauma, it’s called “triggering”. To this end, a recent story regarding the woes of has reminded me of my awkward era in college. launched in 1997 when search engines were still new things. Heck, middle class Americans having daily access to the internet was still a new thing in 1997. It joined engines like and of course, and It soon launched its own forums and subforums about virtually anything and everything. But, in recent times it’s become yet another useless website to its owner. So, he shut it down and relaunched it as separate websites earlier this month.

Now, I have made quite a few blog postings covering my tenure in college. Most of them are about specific incidents involving women and my attempts to date. In fact, college was really my last major attempt to date at all beyond fits and starts such as speed-dating or a random blind date. It was the last period of my life where I was taking active attempts to connect to women romantically on a regular basis. In fact it could be argued that the utter failure of my ability to do so then, combined with the bigger challenges of the working world, and the deteriorating health of both my grandmother (who is dead) and my mother (who isn’t, thankfully) led to my progressive dissatisfaction with my love life and my current state. Incidents from adolescence played a major role in this foundation, but college smashed it all together with being a young adult. The malformed lesson I learned was that anywhere I go, I am stuck with myself, and many of the same things which plagued me in romantic (and esteem) relations in junior high or high school plagued me in college, regardless of me becoming old enough to vote, or drink.

My first contact with was when I went to college and began having more regular access to a computer. I grew up poor so I never had a PC, so the computer labs in college became my second home. And as the above links showcase, college was an awkward era for me, especially so. I was no longer a child, but not quite an adult yet. It was in college where my angst about my virginity began, especially as the legal adult age of “21” loomed closer. I was at my most bitter and depressed state during this period, and eager to find some way to either get advice or simply vent my frustrations. Behold, the Internet was here!

Were I born a decade later, I would have likely stumbled upon the legion of angry woman-hating Men’s Rights Activists on various forums and websites. Yet because this was around the turn of the century those didn’t exist yet, or at least numerously. Instead I stumbled upon and in particular their forum revolving dating. It was the first place where I publicly started posting anything online regarding my frustration with my romantic status. I found it overwhelming. I sought, and got, reams of advice; much of it contradictory. Date younger, date older, be yourself, be someone confident, work out, don’t work out, smile, don’t smile, talk to strangers, talk to no one, etc. Before long I heard all of the cliches of dating advice. It didn’t help that I sometimes would debate people too. After a while I would split and go back a few months later after another depressing fit. Other times I would lurk and read about those going thru equal or worse loneliness than I.

I sought advice from all sorts of crazy places online during this period. I even periodically emailed the Playboy Adviser (since at the time I had a gift subscription to Playboy for 1-3 years). I learned after one exchange that the Adviser avoids answering the same email twice by only answering an email from a “new” address once. So I would literally create alternate emails just to be able to ask another question (albeit similar to one I’d asked before) every few months. I got some more consistent advice from the Adviser, but a lot it seemed very generic. One letter was almost morbidly depressing and they suggested I seek therapy. Considering counselors in college were free, I probably should have taken them up on it. I’d had a therapist in high school who I didn’t feel terribly well suited by, and I think it soured me on the process at the time. Even as I, ironically, majored in mental health and social services.

As a bonus, I may as well devote a paragraph to a college memory that I don’t think I delved into much. If I have, hey, it’s been a while. One of the college courses that I took in my freshman year was a basic 1 credit, 1 hour course which basically was a college 101 course teaching about the campus and various basics. One project involved setting up a college .edu email address, which I immediately abandoned for far easier emails to figure out at Yahoo and Hotmail. But honestly the only thing I remember from that course is the instructor. I’ll dub her “JW” since that was her initials. She was in her mid 20’s, so not dramatically older than an 18 year old boy. It was easily the first time I’d had a crush on a teacher of mine – probably because I spent elementary school in a private Catholic school mostly taught by elderly, angry nuns. JW not only taught the course, but also was a general education guidance counselor – which meant she knew all the basics of registering for classes and had materials regarding the paperwork. Once you picked a major, even “liberal arts”, you moved onto a counselor to help with classes in THAT field.

I delayed picking a major for about a year basically so I had an excuse to see her about paperwork regarding taking or dropping classes. And so I could hang out in JW’s office a little as I did this, and just sort of talk. I’d never flirt (as if I knew how) or get weird, it was just small talk. JW was pleasant and friendly to be around. Sure, she was physically my type, but she was also very nice. She smirked at my jokes and seemed to enjoy my company, as limited as it was. She had time for me. And it’s something which has come up with my “Carrie” monologues lately, and has been a reoccurring theme in my dating woes (besides fear). Simply being in the presence of a woman I am into or desire in any way, and being allowed into it due to friendship or functional college duties, feels good to me. I’ve seemed to have gotten so little acceptance from women I liked that this mere gesture feels good. Too good to want to risk, say, asking a classmate or friend out.

Now of course I never asked JW out or made any sort of lame romantic overture. I was 18 but not a total moron. I knew I was the student and she was my elder teacher. I knew nothing would happen or could happen. I knew it would have been wrong to even give the impression that I had a crush on her. But, hey, sharing a few minutes in her office getting a few words about what basic class code to fill out on a transfer form felt nice. Once I picked a major, I moved on and got over it. Still, it was the first teacher crush I recall having, at one of the most awkward times of my life where I’d all but sob as I typed some gripe on a forum.

Still, while I didn’t get or use much useful advice on those forums, I think they were a baby step towards what I have done here. It was the first time I was attempting to vent some of my years worth of frustrations and thoughts about my lack of a love life or the reasons for it anywhere. Now, I chose a wrong venue to do so; after a while of complaining, you wear out your welcome fast. If you don’t run with SOMEONE’S advice and offer, I don’t know, a video series showcasing your utilizing it for results, people assume you’re hopeless or want to be the way you are and give up, or get nasty. Blogs were in their infancy and I didn’t think of crafting one yet at that time. In a way it is good I didn’t; my posts would have been far more raw and emotional at the time. My tone may have been angrier or even more bleak than it was even in 2014. I was in the heart of the early stages of mourning the death of my love life then – denial, anger, bargaining, and depression. It took over 2 years of blogging here – in a venue where I can type as long a missive as I want, since it’s MY blog – to reach a state where I feel I am the closest to acceptance.

Farewell, You were a hot mess of a website, but I was a hot mess of a person. At least now the 50 billion words of text I posted over a decade ago of being undatable are now purged from a server forever. Thanks for being there when one emotionally distraught teenage mutant ninja virgin needed you way back when.

Dateless-Man vs. Jury Duty

After the tone of the last article, at least one reader was concerned that I was abandoning the blog. Don’t worry, just because I may have found some sense of “Zen” regarding my own lack of a love life doesn’t mean that I planned to abandon this blog. While I have made a lot of hay and made many a post about my own past dating misadventures or bemoaning my own state regarding it, I feel this blog has a place even if I’m not feeling miserable currently. There are other things to examine from my past, or I could encounter something where I feel a need to type about where this is the best venue for me. After all, when I started this blog in July 2014 I never expected to write an entry about Steve Harvey, but here we are.

At any rate, earlier this month I had to perform what is called a “civic duty” but is in reality a big headache in a messed up system. That is jury duty, where once every 7 or so years all citizens are called up to their local courthouse to serve in jury pools for criminal, civil, or grand jury cases. Each state offers different compensation; in New York it is $40 a day, or $5 an hour. The current minimum wage is $11 an hour, meaning that the only place in the city where it is legal to pay someone half the minimum wage for a day’s work is in the hallowed halls of justice. Few jobs pay you for this “service” since you’re not working with them that day. Beyond other things like school or life, it’s often a big inconvenience. I often wonder what our courts would be like if verdicts were decided not by unwilling hostages, but people who genuinely wanted to be there. Professional jurors would invite possible corruption; the current system causes direct apathy. Besides, the idea of one element of the system actively combating corruption when the entire system itself could be said is corrupt from top to bottom is laughable. It’s like worrying that the patio is going to get smoke damage after the house has burnt to ashes.

I digress. Part of where it tilts towards the topic of this blog was during the voir dire process. That is where both sides of the case offer brief details about it and try to weed out as fair and unbiased a jury pool as they can get. In our case, it meant picking 8 out roughly 25 or so people. It took hours for them to explain a fraction of the case (which turned out to be the sort of lawsuit that could only happen in NY; drug addict vs. slumlord) and even longer to weed out people in batches of 6 at a time. By the end of the day some of us who had been there a while were over-familiar with the particulars. Between my own experience with the process and my frustration with it, I was in a snarky mood. And in jury duty, this is rarely a scarce thing.

I realized that I happened to be seated fairly close to a young lady. I noticed two things about her. The first being that she was my type; the other being that she was likely way too young for me. She had dark hair and like many people in my neighborhood, was of Slavic descent. After a while I made a wisecrack to break the ice. The attorneys had made a habit of wanting to discuss their jury selections outside of the room in private. Unfortunately, they chose to do so merely a few yards away in a fairly large, empty hallway, with the door wide open, so everyone could hear due to the echo. “They passed the bar,  but they can’t even close a door,” eventually uttered from my lips, and most of the room chuckled.

That wasn’t the only joke I made, but the young lady and I exchanged a few words of conversation. She, like most of the room, had never done jury duty before so I offered my experience. Once it came our turn to speak before the lawyers, my suspicion about her age was confirmed; at best she was 20, and was likely 19. Far, far too young for me to consider dating. But that wasn’t what caused me to notice the entire situation.

I remembered when I was about her age, in college. I blogged extensively on it. Back then, I couldn’t start a conversation with a total stranger to save my life. Especially with women who were my type, it was something which was a massive struggle for me. I would have to work myself up, or feel my heart in my throat. Now, I was casually using one-liners as icebreakers. It reminded me of some other times interacting with other workers as I make my way through life where I wonder exactly how shy I still am. Once the social context is established I don’t have a problem. So long as it isn’t a loud bar or club I usually don’t have a problem with one on one conversations. Some sort of joke or wisecrack about our shared environment or experience remains my best ice breaker. It was further proof that once romance is removed entirely from the equation, maybe I am not so closed off after all. In fact I can be quite a chatterbox once I get going if I don’t take care. There was a reason why I related to Spider-Man as a child, after all.

I don’t know how I did it, but somehow I am no longer awkward around talking to college aged women. The big downside is that it took me until I was in my 30’s and out of their dating pool to do so. If I’d somehow gotten to this stage when I was still in college, maybe I could have capitalized on the surroundings. It is easy to take for granted the sheer amount of people who share space with you in a socially contracted area until you actually get out of school. Then it’s much harder to make friends or even lovers based on sheer proximity or shared habitat. Now of course were I a predator or a sleazeball who was after women that much younger than me, this would be a cause for celebration. Were I in a depressed mood, it would be cause for lamentation. For the moment it just is.

It reminded me of an incident a couple of years ago. I happened to share an experience with a woman in my travels. It was another typical New York affair, ducking a rat after a snowstorm. I was able to make contact and even get through the icebreaker phase with some jokes or lines about our shared situation. But once it came time to formerly introduce myself, maybe ask her name, maybe further still ask her number if I was especially bold, I had nothing. It was like hitting an invisible wall in a video game, or trying to access a memory file which did not exist. Because it did not. I have no positive experience in that regard. I was trying to dig for psychological energy where none existed. Now that it has been 2 years later, would I have reacted the same?

At this rate, I’ll be comfortable talking to women in their mid to late 20’s by the time I am in my 40’s, and by the time I am middle aged I should be fine to chat up women in their 30’s. And by jove, when I’m in my 80’s I’ll be gung ho to chat up anyone. Maybe this wouldn’t be a problem if I was someone who saw the legal age of consent as my only limitation, but I am not. I feel like Dorian Gray if I am interacting with a woman (or a man) below a certain age. They don’t feel like a peer, but as a kid. At the last speed dating event I went to at the New York Comic Con, half the participants were maybe a day over 21 and it felt awkward as hell. Maybe it is the removal of any sort of romantic possibility due to the age limit which makes it easier; without that one awkward void of mental energy I’m quite sociable.

Other times I wonder how things would have been had I reached this level of Zen years ago. I like not feeling so angst ridden as often about my non existent love life. I like this feeling of not giving a damn anymore. I said many times I wished to have that “urge” for companionship to be removed from me, and I think for the moment it has. It’s nice. But at the same time, not giving as much of a damn anymore in theory makes it easier to get out of my own way, and might have made it easier to date. I might care less about messing up and more about making a connection, or at least enjoying my time regardless of outcome. I mean, what’s the worst she’s going to do? Nothing she says about me is any worse than what I tell myself when I wake up every day. I already expect her to reject me; the fun is in seeing how far I get before that happens. Maybe this time I can get past the first date before she vomits in my presence. Maybe it takes two dates for her to realize she’s won the Loser Sundae. Maybe someone else takes three. What do I care? At least it gets me out of the house. The only problem is this entire process takes time I do not have, and time I cannot get back. Sort of like just missing a bus but getting to watch it leave. I am far too along in my 30’s for this to have any success. I feel ready for dating 101 when I am already expected to be at dating 401. There’s no way to make up the lost semesters. There’s no chance of having more than one lover, and if I do, then all that first lover does is train me for her successor, which is a lousy deal for her.

They often say youth is wasted on the young, and I am inclined to agree. To think that out of jury duty of all things I was reminded of something. I think I have figured out how to thrive within my life stage; the problem is that it’s a life stage in the past, where I benefit from hindsight. I could totally handle high school or college now; I’m just too old. It’s like going back to master kindergarten again. Sure, I could totally nail those finger paintings this time around, but you can’t really do that.