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. About.com (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 About.com has reminded me of my awkward era in college.

About.com 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 AskJeeves.com and of course, Google.com and Yahoo.com. 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 About.com 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 About.com 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 About.com 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, About.com. 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.

 

Dateless-Man vs. Zen

“This is the life I got left. Know what I mean?” – Mercy, “THE WARRIORS” (1979)

Longtime readers may know that we are at the tail end of what I usually considered my “loneliest time of the year”. To briefly recap that 2014 entry, it’s the period between October thru March (roughly from the build up to Halloween thru Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day and ultimately my birthday). I won’t reveal whether I am an Aries or a Pisces partly to remain mysterious and partly because I place little if any stock in astrology. The point is that usually for this six month span, I would become even more morose and depressed than usual. It would remind me of my own failings in life, especially with my love life, even more so than the six months prior.

Therefore, October 2016 – March 2017 represents the third such period I have gone through while crafting this blog. It began in July 2014 as a bit of an experiment. I hadn’t seen a therapist since high school and I was curious what the effect would be if I were to find a format to lay out many of my own memories about my love life (or lack thereof) since it often caused me great emotional pain. I’d tried to write (or type) personal journals for years but never could put pen to paper. But the blog format, where there was always the potential of interaction with a reading audience, seemed to do the trick. And so I laid out practically every major memory and interaction I had regarding the opposite sex. I wrote essays about my own feelings about romance, my own angst over my virginity, and so on. In quite a few articles recently I have stated how I have felt that blogging about my state has had an effect on me, I was just trying to pinpoint what.

In particular, a few times I’ve stated feeling at a crossroads; I certainly did last year. I am in my 30’s and am woefully behind the curve in terms of dating experience. As I laid out, all of my previous attempts have been few and far between, and often unsuccessful due to my own inability to cope, bad luck, or circumstance. Ever since the end of college in my late 20’s I sort of put these feelings in a box, trying to move past the intense feelings of isolation, inadequacy and love-sickness which often depressed me when I was younger. I felt caught between two possible choices. The first is to make one last ditch effort at dating with whatever woeful attributes I have before it is really too late in terms of age to make any impression. This requires literally ignoring the great body of evidence that I’d complied and gotten out of my mind into text regarding my past attempts and thinking success was remotely possible anyway. The second choice was to “find my zen” as I called it, and finally abandon any hope or desire to be romantically successful. To abandon it as I’ve abandoned many childhood pursuits which were unrealistic and move on with my life.

As of now, I have to say that this has probably been my easiest “Loneliest Time of the Year” that I can recall. My angst was at a minimum compared to 2014-2015 or 2015-2016. My birthday in particular was just a normal work day. There were no pangs of regret or frustration, no feelings of inadequacy or failure that I often felt on that day. Even one of my very best friends commented on how she noticed that I wasn’t “freaking out” about everything days before like I usually do. But it wasn’t just the tail end. New Year’s and Valentine’s Day came and went with noticeably less negative feelings than usual for me. I genuinely think expressing so many harrowing memories and feelings in an honest way, which I rarely get to do since I don’t like dumping emotions on my pals too much, has helped. I’ve unloaded years worth of memories with stories I genuinely hadn’t told anyone, or explored angst in a way beyond a vague comment in real life. Furthermore, simply knowing I have a safe space has also helped. If I do have a relapse, I know I can whip up a blog post about it. Some of the stuff regarding “Carrie” is an easy example; rather than need to bury some romantic drama for years from my high school or college years, I could blog about it in real time. It’s helped me move on.

(Incidentally, I had dinner with one of my friends and his now very pregnant wife. “Carrie”, who is the ex of a friend and one of their pals, apparently has had drama with them. She had a shortlived relationship with another friend of theirs who I know, and without going into detail is now persona non grata with most of my local social circle. It explains why she was so surprised that I attended her birthday party, and why she was interested in what I could tell her about the “old crew”. While I don’t judge women based on what others say about them – even friends – it certainly has added a wrinkle there. That even if that 1% chance of her being into me was possible, it would probably poison the well with a few of my closest friends. Ah, drama. How much I hate it.)

This isn’t to say that I am a happy camper, or have accepted myself and all of my flaws in the ways some would prefer. What it does mean that I feel less tormented by my own pangs and romantic lamentations than before. In fact I hardly have any lamentations now. I’ve let go of a lot of it, at least for the moment and the recent past. Maybe I am making peace of things which were never meant to be. I’ll never have a successful “puppy love” crush in elementary school. I’ll never have a hormonal high school fling, or a free spirited college affair or two. I’ll never have a successful romantic prom or school dance. I’ll never have a relationship where, due to youth and circumstance, it would have been be okay to make any growing pain errors or for it to be acceptable if I just want to enjoy things like walks in the park, beach walks, hanging out or watching the stars on park grass instead of more “mature” dating like bars and clubs or more expensive trips. All of those milestones are behind me, and there’s no way to make up for them as a man in my 30’s, when I am supposed to be experienced and together. There is no do-over, no second chance. And these days that’s sort of okay. The notion of that doesn’t fill me with any negative feelings. These days it feels like a statement of fact. It is who I am, the hand I was dealt. I’ve groused about it plenty, and now I feel spent and empty.

I have described myself as going through the five stages of mourning the death of my love life more than once. When I was younger — especially throughout college — I was often caught in a web of denial, anger, and bargaining. I have waded through depression a while, and I feel very much that acceptance is in reach. This isn’t to say that I am promising never to relapse for a moment or two; that’s not how emotions work. But as of 2017, it very much feels like less of a big deal than it did in 2016 or at any point since I’ve begun the blog in summer 2014.

It is possible that it’s due to outside factors. I often find comfort in routine. The company that I work for (and have for over 5 years) has seen quite a few more shifts over the past month and a half. Things at home rarely get easier regarding a handicapped mother and not having a lot of spare money. And the administration, as well as dealing with people who are reacting to it in one way or the other can become exhausting. But I don’t think it is entirely due to these factors alone. I think I may have genuinely reached  a place where I have vented enough, and in a different way, then I have before. It’s the emotional equivalent of having hit a heavy bag until I have nothing left but to collapse and recover, and then walk away.

I have visited another message board on occasion – the one hosted by Doctor Nerdlove, who is among the saner advisers of male geeks online – and I have encountered some criticism that all I have done is make being “the Dateless-Man” into an identity that I can’t let go of. I suppose some of that may be true. I certainly didn’t want to become like this; it’s been a combination of society and my own inability to put myself together in a shape which fits in anywhere. I’m too normal for the true out and proud freaks, but I’m too freaky for the norms. But if so, what is my alternative? The dating game isn’t golf; there are no handicaps or mulligans. It’s difficult for anyone in their 30’s to reenter it for any circumstance. For a man to do so with less romantic relationship experience than the average junior high student is nearly impossible. I’m not a bachelor; I am a collection of red flags and underwhelming attributes in the shape of a man as far as others see. Sure, my friends might talk the world of me and consider me a funny, smart, loyal guy — but none have every been in a rush to set me up with anyone they know, either. None have ever seen me as a romantic being. I simply have never projected that vibe. Men like me are given no mercy, no understanding, no patience — and why should me? Most women have been annoyed, victimized, or even threatened or attacked by men with even fewer red flags. They have no time to take a chance on me, and I certainly don’t blame them. I’m IN me. I know I’m not all that. It is too late to make up for lost time. It would be selfish to inflict myself upon them, expecting miracles.

If being the Dateless-Man has become an identity, it’s not one I chose. It’s one that I discovered I was while I was already midway through it. But to me it’s just a cute name to call myself on WordPress. At the moment I find myself in a place where all of the old rejections, lamentations, romantic frustrations, and lovelorn yearnings just don’t hurt much if at all anymore. I have become numb to it, but not numb to all feelings. I have regrets, of course. It is a shame that I will never get to know certain feelings. I’ll never get to caress someone, hold them, kiss them, make them feel special and lovely in the way that only a lover can. Or, heaven forbid, do all that more than once. But, it’s also a shame I’ll never get to ride a dinosaur  or punch out a bank robber. Life goes on, and I have things to do, hobbies to enjoy, and so on. Regret is a terrible motivator, and I’m not motivated by that. The emotions regarding my lack of a love life haven’t been as hot or passionate as they were at this time last year. The old slings and barbs, the memories and thoughts, even some of the songs, which used to bring me terrible pain are now nothing to me.

If this is what acceptance looks like, I am not minding the view so far. The irony is that if I’d reached this state about a decade ago, or even 7 years ago, I might have thought, “Good, so if it doesn’t hurt so bad anymore I’ll give OkCupid another go!” Can you imagine that? “Oh, now that I feel no pain anymore, I’ll run face first into the inferno.” That’s just crazy. Thank goodness I’m old enough to know that it’s no use chasing pipe dreams, nor is it worth it to lament about them. It’s possible that something could trigger a relapse, but I have no clue what, and I am not eager for it. At the moment I am as close to Zen as I have ever been, and it feels much better than the alternative. To realize and accept, or at least be the closest to accepting, what can never be can be very liberating.

I mean, it could be worse. It could always be worse. And that’s not bad.

Dateless-Man vs. The Ideal Woman

“You’re my type, baby — a woman!” Larry Fine, “Three Arabian Nuts”, 1951

While it’s still February and the specter of “International Sucks If You’re Single Day” still fresh, I thought I mind ponder what my “ideal” woman might be like. I actually did a post like this way back when, but since it’s been about 2.5 years, I imagine it’s ripe territory to revisit. After all, I’ve rehashed other stuff like angst about my virginity more than once, so it’s fair game.

To be honest, whenever someone would ask me what type of woman I was most interested in, I would often feel awkward. But I guess this isn’t enough of a description since just about everything involving women or romantic overtures makes me feel awkward. I feel awkward when I get out of bed in the morning, on a weekend. To be more specific, just thinking about ideal traits I might prefer in a woman feels demanding to me. It feels like I am being picky or judgmental, even of hypothetical women who do not exist. And to be fair, many men have absurdly high standards and demands of women they date or bestow interest in. In fact, when you admit to being an older male virgin online or even acknowledge having little romantic experience well into your 30’s, inevitably someone will insist that the problem is that your standards are too high. And, admittedly, for some men out there that’s true. Yet on the other end of the spectrum, having no ideals or standards for a woman one prefers is bad too. A guy who is “eager to stick it anywhere” is seen as a sleazeball, and he probably is. People want to feel special, like someone who has chosen to date them has chosen THEM, not aimed for the nearest human shaped wad of meat that got within range.

Last year I got a reminder than as much as I bleat on about being an older virgin, I clearly am not willing to lose it at all costs with literally any woman. I know for a fact that a friend of my mother in her 60’s is very much into me physically, at least because younger white men are her fetish, and I couldn’t be interested in the least. In fact the woman creeps me out to be honest. So I clearly have standards, which means I clearly have an ideal for someone I would like to date. Is it possible to have one without being too picky or demanding?

For a lot of guys, most of the traits of their ideal woman are physical. I know that when I dream about women, they never are alike. They often are of different ethnicity, hair color, skin color, shape, and size. If I had strict physical demands, I’d imagine I would always be dreaming of, say, blondes, or so on. Some guys have a fetish for a particular hair color or even ethnicity, which can be gross. Fetishes also play into ideal women I guess. But I don’t, and my physical type is very flexible.

I like to think I am a “face man”. I basically have to “like” a woman’s face. Anything else after that about her, at least physically, is a detail. Naturally, unless you are dealing with identical twins, faces are unique. I can’t narrow down what details about particular woman’s faces that I like, because I have gone for a wide variety of them. It is the sort of thing that is hard to pin down in text and comes off as wishy washy. “Oh, he’s just trying to convince people he doesn’t just troll for hotties”. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There’s been a wide variety of women I have looked twice at. Some have been over 200 lbs, one was a “little person”, I am not put off by physical handicaps. I have naturally looked twice at many “conventionally attractive” woman too. I don’t expect brownie points to being open minded and having a wide physical palette, I am just saying it like it is.

In terms of body type, my philosophy has always been that I do not expect a woman to be a perfect model unless I am one myself. I am not, so I am not mainly looking for that. While I won’t lie and say that there aren’t upper limits to my liking in terms of under or over weight, usually that’s only at an extreme. Again, I have been attracted to women of various sizes. I don’t believe that alone is a strict ideal. At this point in my life I don’t “judge” (for lack of a better word) a woman’s looks in a number scale like a damn lot of men do. “Oh, she’s a 4, she’s a 7, she’s a 10,” none of that noise. To me it’s more of a “my type, not my type”. It’s yes/no, pass/fail. This sounds strict, but it’s actually been more liberating for me since high school. I can go onto any bus or subway or be in any gathering and instantly see many women who, at least on initial physical appearance, are “my type” and they are a variety of shapes, sizes, and ethnicity. I think it gives me more options.

If I am honest, one sort of strict physical ideal is height. I would be intimidated by a woman taller than me. That would be 5′ 11” and up. I would feel even more emasculated than I usually feel. That isn’t to say I would be scornful, or if I happened to go on a blind date with a woman who was 6′ 3” or something I would demand she hunch. But it would be intimidating for me, and make me feel more neurotic. I can feel out of my league around any woman, much less a towering Amazon. It would feed into what I always inevitably think around women – “What in the world could she possibly see in a loser like me?” Some guys are turned on by women they think could toss them around, but I am not.

Therefore, most of my idealized traits I look for in a woman wouldn’t be physical. Probably the first trait I would idealize would be intelligence. A sense of humor is an absolute must. Kindness would be nice, but on the other hand I like sass too. I imagine a woman would have to be a little patient with me, but I’m not looking for someone to mother me. I get enough of that from my actual mother. Understanding is a key trait too, but within reason. I mean, I won’t deny I can be full of crap sometimes (or a lot). I would be anxious around someone who deferred to me TOO much.

Ideally I would prefer a woman who was into, or at least open towards, a lot of the geeky stuff I am either into or on the periphery of. I imagine this is universal; an artist or musician is likely to prefer someone who either is into similar things or is at least tolerant of their arts, for instance. That isn’t to say that we need to be lock step in everything. Like if she’s more into board games or STAR TREK while I am more into comics and anime, that is fine. I am very flexible. But if she wasn’t even tolerant of that stuff at all, I doubt we would sync up very well. Accepting this about myself has also been a process, albeit one which has followed the course of society. When I was in high school and even college, things like comic books, anime, and video games were still very niche and cultish. That isn’t to say that plenty of people didn’t like them, but they were more fringe. Over time that changed and now it’s not uncommon to see online dating profiles where people list what anime, board games, or comics they like (or for even “mainstream” people to admit a favorite film genre is “superhero movies”). Prior to 2008 or so, this was much rarer. I welcome this change, and can only shake my head at angry guys who act like “gatekeepers” of this both online and off. It is a shame that it’s happened when I was well over 30 instead of when I was younger, but such is life.

Therefore, when I was trying to date in my younger years, I kept those geeky things close to my vest. I sort of had to; they were fringe stuff, and I was already fringe enough. This included my previous halfhearted attempts at online dating and 75% of all of the speed dating I did. In contrast, the last speed dating event I did in 2015 was at the New York Comic Con and it was pretty liberating being open and honest about the nerd stuff. Even when there was no chemistry, we could usually talk about that stuff for a couple of minutes.

Now when some guys say they want women into geeky things, I sometimes wonder if they may need to be careful for what they wish for. That is, these days it may be possible to run into a woman who actually knows MORE about their chosen geekery, enough to “school” them on it. There also involves a give and take with passions, which goes with anything people like. Each person has to be willing, at least a little, to indulge the other. If you want your partner to like all of your things but aren’t willing to even try some of theirs, that’s unfair and hypocritical. I am absolutely down to learn some more about someone else’s passions. In fact I usually find talking about what drives another person really intoxicating.

Now onto the “mature” stuff. There is a study that says that adult virgins are so unpopular that even other adult virgins don’t want to sleep with them. Now ideally, I would prefer a woman with experience, if only so at least one of us knows what they’re doing. Two virgins trying to have sex with each other is awkward enough when both are teenagers, but things get worse if you’re both in your 30’s I imagine. This isn’t to say that if somehow I wound up meeting a woman I really dug and she told me she was a virgin, that that alone would be a deal breaker. I would just feel even more pressure since neither one of us would have a clue as to what to do. I also would feel a great swell of pity that her first time was with me. If I’m terrible at sex, an experienced woman can at least let me know so I have some hope of improving. Even though I am pretty shy and awkward about tactile stuff, I have always fantasized about cuddling or caressing. Naturally that would mean I’d prefer a woman who was into that stuff. I do have a fetish but it isn’t anything I rely upon exclusively nor would I ever reveal unless I was in a deeply committed relationship, and maybe not even then. Ideally, sure, I wouldn’t mind meeting someone who was into it, but it isn’t a deal breaker.

Ideally I would prefer a woman who was able to have fun without spending a ton of money. Naturally this is mostly because I am broke, not because I think women are “gold-diggers”. Hell, I think plenty of men are gold-diggers these days and I think that trend is on the rise. Sure, I am game for some activities which may require money sometimes, but I also enjoy simple pleasures. Conversations, stargazing, walks in the park or on beaches or some of that sappy stuff, just enjoying the company of other people. Even when I am with friends, while bars and clubs are nice and so are movies, sometimes I just like to chill and enjoy their company. Someone who wanted to drop $100+ on a whirlwind of clubs every other night may not be my type…at least not for long.

It still feels strange for me to list ideal traits I’d prefer in a woman to date. That’s because I consider myself open minded, and I’m not just looking for an ideal. Especially since my love life has barely even begun and I am not looking for someone to marry right now. I can try to find something in common with almost anyone by using empathy. And I am aware of my many flaws and shortcomings. A woman who were to date me is slumming it, and I know that. Therefore I do my best not to be demanding and to be open minded. It would be hypocritical of me to reject a woman I otherwise was liking for something small or petty and to pine if she did the same to me. I try to lead by example, even to a fault. I try to be open for new experiences, especially with women. After all, I have rarely gotten to be in the company of women I desired or was attempting to court. A woman could suggest bungee jumping without a rope and I’d likely be game for it if I was into her enough. Unfortunately, being this way is considered being a doormat and is unappealing. The bottom line is an ideal is just that; an ideal, nothing real. It might be a guide to work with because life’s more confusing without a plan, but it isn’t anything I rigidly adhere to.

Perhaps the most important trait in a woman I’d prefer would be that she actually likes me romantically. It sounds dumb to say it like that, because of course that’s what everyone likes. I’ve never experienced this in my life, though, so it still seems like an exotic novelty. To have someone who I desired actually desire me back, even if only in a small way. Even if it was at the level of a shrug of the shoulders and a sentiment of, “Eh, I’ve dated worse.” That alone would be incredibly intoxicating to me. I honestly have no idea what such a thing feels like. I often fear that were it to happen, I’ve been without it so long that I wouldn’t believe it or would be suspicious. At the very least I would assume that if a woman did desire me back, it was out of some sort of fluke or ignorance. Either I had somehow stood in the right light or unknowingly capitalized on a solar flare, shift in the cosmic axis or an undiagnosed optical condition. Or through some fluke or pure accident I managed to strike a perfect first impression which I would have no way of following up on. In some ways I wonder if that would freak me out more than a rejection. I can deal with rejection; I expect rejection, and consider it the inevitable outcome of any overture or romantic attempt. I would have no game plan for the opposite. If a woman called me a waste of life, I’d probably shrug and agree. If she called me cute, I’d wonder if she’d ever met another man in her life. I would worry about living up to her ideal, and fear she was seeing something in me which wasn’t there. Which is why having a poor esteem is a trap for any woman I go near (since there’s no way to win), which is one reason why I usually consider this stuff futile.

Having an ideal is a fine thing to have, so long as it doesn’t lock you into one rigid course. Life, and people, are full of variables. A key rule is to be just as understanding and open mined, if not more so, than you’d expect someone to be with you. And that means while having some idea of an “ideal woman” somewhere in my head isn’t a bad thing to have in terms of having a basic road map, it isn’t anything I am hung up on. Least of all because it implies me having a set of standards I expect a woman to live up to, when in reality, I am the one who has to match her standards from a disadvantaged position. Being the Dateless-Man, I am already entering any romantic situation from a position which is only slightly above zero. I am the one who has to make that number rise through continued effort. I am the one who has to prove my worth, live up to some expectation or demand of what she wants a man to be. I feel like I live in a world where everyone is either yellow or blue, and they become green when they meet, and I’m stuck being spotted polka dot plaid. I’m a platypus at a swan lake. Tofu at a steak house. A puppet trying and failing to be a real boy. So in that regard, going over what I would want in an ideal woman can sometimes feel like spending time focusing on a pipe dream.

Still, this has probably been my longest offering in a while, and a rare month where I got in two posts. Next month, I acknowledge another year older as the Dateless-Man. It usually always comes with some degree of depression or malaise, but this year feels different. I haven’t gotten as anxious about things which didn’t relate to work so far. I don’t long to not be alone as much as I used to. Maybe after so many years, and so many posts, I have gotten out a lot of the emotions about this which I had within me. Maybe Zen is becoming closer. Maybe the acknowledgement that finding romance with an ideal woman or even any woman is simply another impossible fantasy to abandon like so many parts of my childhood is near. Maybe I can truly close this chapter of my life this year, and be done with it once and for all. Sure, I wouldn’t mind it happening for me, but I could say the same for finding a jet-pack or a suitcase full of a million in cash. Part of becoming an adult is realizing what is obtainable versus what is a dream. Maybe in not chasing an ideal woman, I can finally wake up.

 

International Sucks If You’re Single Day

“I’m just a lonely boy, lonely and blue. I’m all alone, with nothing to do. I’ve got everything you could think of. But all I want is someone to love.” — Paul Anka, “Lonely Boy”, 1959.

Don’t let the quote fool you. Valentine’s Day came and went and I wasn’t too blue. The period of time from October to March usually represented the half of the year when I got more depressed, morose or lethargic. I’m hardly the only one who experienced this, and studies have shown that the change of season often have that effect on people — less daylight hours. As I explained once before, it starts in October because Halloween represents a holiday I used to love as a kid but has become less enjoyable as an adult. Christmas has tons of false commercial cheer and New Year’s tends to bring regrets. February brings “International Sucks If You’re Single Day”. And my birthday is in March — where I grow another year older as what I am.

When I started this blog in 2014 it was right before this period and I am sure some of my posts during it showcase it. Not only did I intend this blog as an outlet for my memories and frustrations regarding whatever anyone could call my love life, I also intended it as a bit of a self experience. I had never typed up any sort of journal expressing my own thoughts on personal, non geek or genre related stuff in my life. I had no idea how I would react.

So this is the third annual go around of this “period of the year”. And beyond one period of frustration, I’ve been pretty “chill”. Recent reorganizations at work have kept my mind elsewhere, but I don’t think it is just that. Having this space to not only be able to vent, but to have some discussion or reflection after with others — albeit on my terms, since this is my blog — has helped. I’m not saying when the big 2/14 came around I was dancing in the street. Least of all because recent snows have kept the streets slick and ice ridden. But on the whole I was okay.

And anyone who has ever taken mass transit in a major city after February 14th can tell you, it can be a gauntlet if you’re in the wrong kind of mood. I work atypical hours so I usually come home later than usual. As in, around 9-10 p.m. That is after the period where couples who work can still meet after and do whatever. And boy, the couples were out in force. I didn’t witness any platform canoodling but there were plenty of flowers, balloons, couples just drinking in each other’s company. Being that I live in NY, these were couples of various types of people and orientations as one melting pot. One couple that were standing on the train for a while looked to be in their early to mid 40’s at least. The woman resembled Nancy Allen to me (of Robocop and Carrie fame). Since whenever I often see couples either making out or soaking in their time together, they tend to be younger, I actually thought it was cool to see a couple who were neither elderly nor college age.

As also part of my usual tradition, I got some a card and a small gift for my mother. It’s kind of lame that she’s really the only person I ever had to shop for on that day. I’ve sort of adapted it to being another time I have to buy her a present and a card out of the year. It isn’t that I dislike it or anything, it’s just something I compartmentalize in my mind. I barely even like mentioning it because of “Momma’s Boy” stereotypes that I have always felt surround me. Only in America are adults who live with family members and/or parents seen as immature or lessor than. For most people it is an economic necessity too, which also implies bad things. Her being handicapped of course complicates it, but most people don’t care, frankly. The American model is to abandon all of your roots as soon as you can, live alone, work for some corporate master, earn 10% of your worth, retire on 10% of that, and die. Hopefully after breeding at least once. It all seems so small and mechanical to me. Especially as plenty of super rich families all live close by or under one McMansion here like on Dallas. But I digress.

Regardless, I took an “International Sucks If You’re Single Day” without any real period of being glum as a good, albeit different thing. It is more evidence to the possibility that after so many years, I am finally accepting my status on an emotional and spiritual level. Perhaps having a safe place to vent on my own terms really was a missing component. Sure, there are times when I may feel a twinge of frustration or longing, but I don’t sense they’re as long or frequent as 2014 or 2015. We’ll see how I handle my birthday, which I always dread. I never want to be another year “past 30”. Enough of those and I’ll eventually be “past 40” and so on. If I hate living up to plenty of stereotypes of virgin men (I’m a geek, I live with my mother, I don’t have much money, etc.), imagine when I am a literal 40-Year-Old-Virgin. Being a working adult helps with that; I can keep my birthday on the down low, have a normal day at work, and be done with it as soon as possible. That’s exactly how I like it. After all, what is the point of a celebration to me? What sort of life do I have to celebrate? Sure, I have it better than a lot of people and I do try to appreciate that. But on American, NY terms I’m not even a face in the crowd. I’m on the lowest rung out of all of my friends. I am behind them and most of my peers economically and romantically. Why would I enjoy celebrating more of that? Just give me a normal day, thank you. That was always harder at school, where teachers and/or friends would insist on bringing it up every year. Plus, teenagers and adults in their 20’s always want to get plastered on birthdays.

I wonder if part of the acceptance within me, besides the sheer venting, is the recollection and listing of all of my past memorable incidents with women or futile romantic efforts. Actually laying them all out in text form from A to Z in rough chronological order has allowed me to go back at them beyond just my own memories. It was a release of some pressure, perhaps. Or maybe seeing it all in black and white helped me come to a place close to acceptance. I am what I am, and certain things were never meant to be. Fighting against this, hoping against hope, yearning for things I was not made to attract brought me a lot of pain. But now I have it all here, to read and reread if I need to. It is easier to finds a new angle on something. In addition, it’s easier to not have to recollect it as often, since I have it down in text here.

It could be argued that if I really accepted my state, I would reveal more of myself. I would reveal my virginity in my public profile or at least be willing to admit my exact age, name or where in NY I live. I wouldn’t hide my virginity to others or avoid the subject entirely. I would argue that while I may be closer to acceptance, I am not 100% of the way there, and even if I were, relapses or regrets are part of being human. I don’t like being judged, or pitied, and revealing those things openly would result in both. I don’t want to become a laughing stock at work. I don’t want to have some of my friends who are women pity me or misunderstand me. Being aware of public perceptions is part of acceptance. What I am is not normal. It never will be. I have lost too much time. Using the mantle of the Dateless-Man suits my purposes for now. I can vent and share without being judged or pitied on too personal a level, and I compartmentalize this from my “public” life a little. I am not ready to reveal myself as a freak quite yet. I am not ready for many awkward conversations about it. I barely even like to acknowledge it verbally.

At any rate, at least now is “Happy Cheap Chocolate Day”! Corporate candy overstock is my best friend.