Saturday, September 02, 2006

Of Image-Obsessed Scenesters, Measuring Up to Rocky Marciano, and Jack Kerouac


This is an old draft I never got around to finishing a while back. I've been fighting a losing battle with a cold all weekend, so if the editing's not perfect - and I sound more bitchy than usual - blame it on the overabundance of various medications flowing through my system.

~ Jason

FAIRFIELD, Ohio (ZP) -- You know, there's a reason I don't date.

Actually, there's probably a million reasons floating around, somewhere buried in the black hole that is my subconscious mind.

But there's one big reason.

As much as I hate to admit it, I bore easily.

The formal ritual of dating is such a hassle - mix in one part fashion show, two parts audition, one part awkwardness, and three parts insecurity, and one is supposedly having a "good time."

What's so fun, exactly? The chance for awkward conversations about nothing and, yeah, well, maybe an even more awkward Yeah, I'll call you, just let me find my pants, and put your number in my address book?

And then there's the sheer stupidity of trying to pretend that, well, physical, intellectual, and emotional attraction doesn't matter. There's no sense in lying about it, insisting on the rather tedious Dance of the Subtle Hints. I don't do subtle hints...

Flirting? Yeah. Got it. I do flirt too damned much. And I'm very aware that it can get me into a world of trouble.

But those subtle hints, the so-called "signals?" Well, I'm about as dense as a lead-filled cinderblock.

Courtship, as understood in the Western World, involves spending most of your time together trying to figure out if you're even on the same damned court.

Why bother? I'd rather just enjoy the company of friends - if it ends up as something more, well, fine. Does it really matter if it lasts two hours or 20 years?

I think I'm starting to understand why, exactly, I've spent more time as the Other Man, the Affair, the relationship-killer, the Weekend Fling, or as the closet-feminist escape hatch from Mr. Let's Get Married So You Can Be My Baby-Making House Servant While I Play Golf...

* * * *


I was asked out on one of those "date" date things a few weeks ago by a 22-year-old performance artist at a thrift store in nearby Hamilton.

Or maybe I asked her out. I'm not quite sure, really.

One minute, we're talking about buying jeans on the cheap; the next, we're trying to figure out what there is to do for fun in this part of the country.

We exchanged cell numbers and email addresses, said goodbyes with promises to call in the near future, and parted ways.

And then I drove home. Checked my email.

"Do you want to hang out next weekend in Fairfield?" read the subject line.

Without even thinking, I decided well, why the hell not? and emailed her back.

The plan sounded simple enough - meet at a shopping mall, hang out (whatever that means), have dinner, hit a bar or two...

* * * *

Okay, so I'm starting to get the hint. I'm not all that bad looking, I guess. I'm not exactly comfortable discussing such things as how I look - it seems so childish, so downright silly.

Physical appearance is so fluid and worthless, really. Six years ago, I was about 85 pounds heavier than I am now, and my dad was built like Rocky Marciano. Now, I'm the one supposedly built like the former heavyweight champ (comparing my measurements to the International Boxing Hall of Fame's Tale of the Tape, Marciano had two inches and 15 pounds on me), and my Dad resembles a shorter, stockier version of John L. Sullivan in his later years (complete with handlebar mustache.)

And then there's what a friend of mine calls the Kerouac Factor. Apparently, I bear some resemblance to Jack Kerouac (left) when I'm clean-shaven. I don't see it, but I've now had about a half-dozen folks tell me that. And I'm not sure that's a compliment, either.

Could be worse, I guess. At least I'm not told I look like Charles Bukowski...

* * * *

Sitting in one of those We-Smile-All-the-Damned-Time chain restaurant/bar places, my "date" brought the Kerouac Factor up several times. That, and her obsession with black eyeliner, her Day-glo neon bracelets from Hot Topic, her preference for Gucci sunglasses, her hatred of the "mainstream," etc...

I barely got in more than 30 words during dinner.

Not that I was all that interested, really. The fact that I was sitting at a table with an attractive brunette had nothing to do with me, as a person. I looked like Jack Kerouac, and, well, my date made it apparent that that was the only reason I was having dinner with her.

I fit into her image. Because I look like one of her favorite authors, have a tendency to chain-smoke in public, and because I happen to write obscene narrative poetry in my spare time...

That, and the fact that I'm a librarian. That, I guess, implies that I'm well-read, introverted, and somehow intelligent.

Apparently, heterosexual male librarians in their late 20s are the perfect fashion accessory for the 2006 Trendy Cincinnati Scene.

Like Day-glo bracelets.


Did I mention I was actually compared to a fucking silicone bracelet during dinner?

* * * *

For some odd reason, I attract Scenesters. And I don't like Scenesters.

I require depth beyond obscure 20th century avant-garde ephemera, depth that too many of the self-described cool people in this world can't seem to provide.

It was apparent, within the first five minutes, that I was not at all interested in pursuing any sort of relationship with this woman.

The only things we had in common? We'd been shopping at the same thrift store, and we both had read Kerouac's Scattered Poems. And we both own Ramones albums.

I know absolutely nothing about the fashion industry (and I could care less, actually), imported European cigarettes (are you kidding? I'm a Virginian. I wouldn't be caught dead smoking those French grass-clippings-in-a-tube), or vague, downright arrogant notions of socioeconomic class (apparently, it's okay for your date to make fun of the working-class family sitting next to you, simply because they're wearing Git-R-Done! tee shirts).

I don't read Cosmo or Blender. I don't care about celebrities sleeping with other celebrities. I have no fucking clue why I haven't felt the need to cut holes in my jeans since 1994.

And, no, I don't think Pete Doherty is the greatest rock musician ever, and no, I don't own a fucking Vote for Pedro tee-shirt.

Every time I tried to spark up a conversation about something deeper than, well, pop culture, I was given the Oh, Who the Hell Cares About That? look. My "date" would simply crush out her imported, overpriced coffin nail, light another, and switch back to whatever she was talking about.

At one point, she told me I looked, like, smart and, like, deep, and that was why she asked me out. Apparently, her friends all thought she was too hot and smart and funny and that she needed to find a guy who would fit into her lifestyle and...

She needed to find someone to settle down with, someone who would take care of her, someone content to let her play Frieda Kahlo of the Cincinnati Suburbs while he busts ass to pay her bills...

There's only one thing worse than Scenester Women, and that's Scenester Women who think art is simply a marketable product, something created from some comfortable middle-class vacuum, void of any passion beyond the shallow need to become pop culture trivia...

Not my bag, lady. But I hear there may be some emo kid out in the mall, some shoegazing 25-year-old looking to adopt a wannabe art diva...

* * * *

Dinner was the highlight of the date. It went downhill from there.

I should've known better. Any woman who would propose a first date at a frigging mall has some serious materialism-in-place-of-depth issues.

I tried being polite about it, though. It's just a date, I told myself. I finally decided to call it by the time she was ready to hit the bars. I'm a cocktails-and-conversation kinda guy - not into the whole cruising for thumping hotspots thing anymore.

I thanked her for the evening out and about in lovely Fairfield, exchanged hugs, and got the hell outta Dodge. Not my type, whatever my type is...if I even have a "type."

* * * *
Two days later, I receive a strange text message, one from the same woman.

Apparently, she'd met someone at a club in Cincinnati, some guy named Steve who played in a band, and she didn't think it'd be appropriate to see me anymore...

Oh, thank you, Jesus.

I guess I just didn't fit into that image.


And I always wanted to be a fashion accessory.

Like Day-glo bracelets.

- # # # -


Anonymous said...

whoa.sounds harsh

cooper said...

A day glo braclet? lol

You do look similar to Kerouac, good old Jack- Zen before it as cool...and cool again.

It makes you wonder doesn't it? Is there anyone out there who is about anything. I mean about anything substantial.
How many people live a life of pretense instead of living a life?

Ohio, NY, Maryland - it doesn't matter.

feel better jason.

ziggystardust73 said...

"The formal ritual of dating is such a hassle - mix in one part fashion show, two parts audition, one part awkwardness, and three parts insecurity, and one is supposedly having a "good time."..."

I'm so glad that other people think that dating feels like this. I think it is a barbaric ritual that should be outlawed.

Still, I seem to subject myself to this ritual constantly. Doh.

quote britney unquote :-) said...

Oooo...Zenfopro is sick....eeek! sending good vibes at you man!!!

Hope you feel better and stay away from those psycho bitches down in ohio. i don't know which was worse when i was a student - the mrs degree girls or the hip wannabes who thought they were soooo cool. glad i'm in chicago again.

yea dating is a pain in the ass. but there's always breaking the sink in bathrooms at brick street ;-)

get better and shit. and jeezus i hate word verification......

Cat. said...

Maybe this chick gave you her cold?

Since you are now an accessory, perhaps selling $1 black silicon bracelets is the way to go for a hobby...? :-)

Joanna said...

I'm so there with you on the dating thing. I decided a long time ago that small town dating wasn't for me. Kinda sucks since I live in a small town, but in the case of the small town I live in, all the guys have been passed around from one woman to the other and that's not cool! So you either have to move on to bigger towns or be alone! Wavering between both of those options has worked for me so far. Of course there is the long distance thing, and it sucks even more.... but I digress!

It's hard for me to imagine that the day glo bracelets are still around, I guess those things will never die for the 'young'uns', or maybe i'm just getting old! sigh. Anyway, hope you're feeling better!


pia said...

Look like Kerouc before that horrible picture with his mother--that has stuck to me like glue

Get bored on dates also. Once fell asleep for a sec and my face almost landed in the pasta

Feel better :-)

The ZenFo Pro said...

Um, not sure what you mean, but, yeah, harsh is one way to describe it :)

Lol, yup. Hey, don't look at me. I don't come up with these stupid "I Love the 80s" fashion trends...

Actually, I always thought it was so cool to hear that my Dad's dad was often confused with Clark Gable before my grandmother made him shave off his mustache...

As for "aboutness," well, I sure hope so. From what I've seen locally, yeah, think I'd rather live like a monk.

And I think I'm finally doing a bit better...just in time for...sigh...more work :(

Ziggy (Oh, how I love the handle:):
Yup, think I agree with you there. Romance is one thing, as is passion. But this whole "Courtship as Fast Food" drives me nucking futs.

Quote: you haven't had time to read, eh?

No comment :)

Lol, nah, this was about a month ago.

Hmmmm...maybe I could just sell myself on eBay ;)

Oh yeah. Dating in a relatively rural area sucks something fierce. And commuting to Cincy for a love life, lol, isn't much of an option for me (Cincy is 20 miles/45 mins away) nor is it very appealing.

Yup. Apparently the 80s stuff is making even more of a comeback. Just wait until somebody figures out how rank those jelly shoes get after a few days ;)

And thank you! I am doing much better :)

Oh lord. I think I know which photo you're talking about. Geesh. That's what Imeant about not being sure if it was a compliment or not. I mean, the guy was a raging alcoholic with a God Complex. Let's be honest about it... lol

I haven't fallen asleep on a date yet. But the way things are going, I'm sure it's bound to happen.

Lol, hey, thanks, chica!

sassinak said...

dudes seriously, it's not any better dating in a city if you don't care to look like the prevailing trend.

unfortunately it seems like you're supposed to meet at school or work, if those options aren't available to you..

(i've pretended to fall asleep and yawned a lot to end a date by hour one point five...?)

ziggystardust73 said...

glad you like the handle - did you want to go on a date ;-)

Cat. said...

You probably could sell yourself on eBay...which would be very proto-something and avant-something else. And also really freakin' sad. veryvery glad I'm not swimming in the dating pool anymore...

Anomie-Atlanta said...

I think you're much more Ethan Hawke (circa Great Expectations) than Kerouac. That's a compliment.

LibraryTavern Liz said...

Yes, dating sucks. This is why until this June I don't think I had been on an actual date since in the last two years (I went out with guys during those two years, but never clearly in the courting sense) ...

Maybe I need to be reminded how bad first dates and meeting somebody are. Right now I'm at the transition from just dating to getting serious stage and I don't seem to know how things should/will/could/might progress.


Miz BoheMia said...

One of my professors, Dan Langton, back at SFSU was good friends with Kerouac...

As for the chick, dios mio, are there no normal women there???

The ZenFo Pro said...

Lol, see...this is why I don't date often. Yeah, not dating anybody I meet through work or, well, through school (even if I do choose the Piled High and Deeper (Ph.D.) route in the next few years, well...

Lmao! It's the penchant for wearing black tee-shirts and jeans, isn't it? ;)

Hmmm...very true. And, lol, I'd probably do better on Half.Com

Lol...hmmm, never gotten compared to Ethan Hawke before...

Gracias :)

Lol. Yeah, jumping from dating to serious stuff is always hard to judge. I usually treat those kinds of relationships like, well, shit - i.e., just let it happen.

You know, I think I met Dan at a bar in Santa Barbara sounds so familiar...

Lol...yeah, I'm starting to think about swearing off American women....

sassinak said...

*snickers* how do you feel about canadians?

LibraryTavern Liz said...

I usually treat those kinds of relationships like, well, shit - i.e., just let it happen

hmmmm, apparently, BOTH relationships AND bowel movements are easier for you than they sometimes are for me. *blush*

The ZenFo Pro said...

Sass: day, I'll post the "Love Triangle Involving the Bronx and British Columbians" story ;)

OMG!!! Liz, I'm lughing so hard I can barely breathe!!!

Damn you, woman ;)

Hmmmm...does Dr. Phil make a laxative?

stephan!e lee said...

wow. and you met this woman at a THRIFT STORE??!? i thot people who shop there usually aren't as shallow as she seems to be.

but then again, you should have realized something was wrong when she suggested meeting at a shopping mall.

oh, and btw, looking like jack kerouac?

definitely a plus. ;-)