SUNDAY MORNING ADDENDUM:
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.
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