Sunday, March 29, 2015

Stood Up or: Learning How Strange Love Is

Yes, I got stood up.  You know what I mean.  The only kind of stood up there is.

Five days earlier, I made the call.  Not a call I’d done in awhile.  I asked a woman out to dinner.  A date.  I know men sometimes do this in a backwards, fraidy-cat way, being vague and saying, “You want to hang out some time?”  I chalk that up to a fear of rejection.

I was not vague.  52 years old is way past vague.  Literally said, “I was calling to see if I could take you out to dinner.”  No ambiguity.  A date.

“Sure,” she said, no hesitation.  Mission accomplished.  I asked her on a date.  I advised I’d call a few days before the date with the details.  Schedules didn’t mesh until then.  I was clear.  Sunday dinner plan was in pen, logistics in pencil.

Mission accomplished?  I’m not 16.  What’s the big deal?  When it comes to affairs of the heart, there’s some 16 in all of us. 

As planned, I called on Friday.  Got her voice mail and left a message about the plans.  Asked her to call back with directions to pick her up.  If she countered with meeting me at the restaurant, that would be fine.  I was assuming the male dating role of the picker-upper.  The gentleman caller.  In a perfect world, she’d have a parlor.

By Saturday night, I hadn’t heard back.  It didn’t give me a good feeling about the date.  I texted her, referenced my voice mail, and let her off what I already assumed was a spit out hook, suggesting that her schedule must have changed.

The next day came and went.  No date, but also no peep from her.  I was a wee bit pissed, and rightfully so.  In most situations, anger just masks the real emotion.  Sadness.  When someone makes you angry, they have usually made you sad.  Anger is easier to admit.

My feelings were hurt and I did nothing to deserve it.  That’s the worst.  There‘s not a person out there who wouldn‘t tell me I had a right to be angry.  What do I do?  The other person is off living life with no remorse, and I’m left stewing in a realization age isn’t an indication of maturity and manners.

“It’s her loss.”  I understand the gesture, but it’s my loss.  I did it the right way.  I put it out there.  It was a god-damned mission for me and I got burned.  Please don’t tell me “Everything happens for a reason”.  All this calls for is some compassion, not a meme.

I did not see this coming.  This was me, by god!  Who wouldn’t want to chat with me over a free meal?  I’m very entertaining and my table manners are top notch.  My wardrobe would’ve been clean, perhaps even snazzy.  I would have arrived showered and perhaps a fresh shave, but I wouldn’t want to give the wrong idea.  I’m not a first-date kisser.  I’m old enough to join AARP, and yet talking about kissing on the first date.  I wince and wonder what the hell I’ve done with my life.

For a few days, I watched self-pity rain down on the yard of my life.  Told myself I was right to not try.  Look what it got me.  Eventually, the sun broke through and a new growth of humor appeared.  No matter how bad the storm, humor emerges.

I have forgiven.  Let’s face it, she know not what she did.  I feel for this the woman, whose hyphenated name will never contain Brennan.  Now’s your chance, Connie Britton.  Britton-Brennan would make for some fine alliteration and I’d look good on the red carpet.

Let’s clarify.  This was someone I‘d met on numerous occasions, but hadn‘t seen in awhile.  We had a good, group-setting rapport.  She was sharp.  Funny. A nice smile.  After running into her a few days earlier, I decided to ask her out.  At the very least, I looked forward good conversation and some laughs.  We’d had that already.  I knew date one would go well enough that I was mulling over the second date plan.  Oops.

What remains with me is wonder.  What is the thought process that says the blow off is the right way to go?  Just vanish.  Ignore.  No call or text to cancel, or just a simple “Thanks, but you smell like plums and I’m strictly paleo.

Does she do this sort of thing in other aspects of her life?  Does she carpool, yet skip someone on the route?  A mail carrier who refuses delivering in rain?

Were there others like her in history?  If a gender-neutral wise man, would the baby Jesus be without myrrh?  If John Wilkes-Booth, does President Lincoln complete a second term?

Kidding aside, the bigger deal was the mission.  This was the first time I asked someone on a date in years.  Years.  Think in terms of presidential administrations.  Here goes…

I have not had a date since George W. Bush was president.

Trust me, I take no pride in that statement.  Judge me if you must.  I‘m being honest.  I didn’t spend these years focusing on my career.  I wasn’t the Secretary of State.  No excuse.  None required.  I quit trying.  It’s not like I ever pounded the pavement looking for the one.  Never been the super-driven, planning type.

I appear to be easygoing.  People say, “Mike just goes with the flow.  He never gets riled up or angry.“  My still waters run deep.  I come across that way, but the last 15 years have been influenced by fear and shame-based stuff.  Worrying about what’s going to happen, and not quite feeling worthy of certain successes.  It’s a whole other story.  I’m fine.  Just piecing together the puzzle for you.

I’m not afraid of rejection.  I’m afraid of limbo, of not knowing what will happen.  I’ve circled Yes on her “Do you like me?” note, but not knowing her answer.  Asking one woman on a date is no cure.

Me asking a woman on a date was a big deal.  I have never dated like some have job interviews, for practice.  Nor do I look to a first date like she’s my future wife.  Or do I?

After all, I am the model for Rodan’s lesser known statue, The Over-Thinker.

When I was dating during the G.W. Bush years, I often dated women I wasn’t interested in for the long haul.  Before you think me the cad, I was honest and it was mutual.  It was my way of shielding myself from relationship anxiety.  Genius, I know.  Like eating foods you don’t like so you won’t gain weight.

I’m not waiting another ten years for a date.  I’ve dabbled with the online thing and just hate it.  It’s hard to get excited about dating based on her interest in the outdoors, animals, and showing off her cleavage in a selfie.  Definitely feels like a job search.  It’s hard to approach it as a fun way to meet new people.  Gee, maybe make a friend.  Huge load of crap.  How many of your current friends became so because of a lack of dating chemistry?.  It just feels like torture.

Social waterboarding.

I’m exploring alternatives.  Like in these days of terrorism, I am be aware of my surroundings.  I will be on the lookout for someone interesting.  Join a few groups, charity stuff, volunteer. You meet good people when doing good things.

As I look at the endeavor of dating, I am baffled.  How do two people find each other?  Trust themselves and each other to marry.  Adam and Eve were kind of stuck, but after that?  Leap of faith?

Given divorce rates, you’ll have to do better than that.  You’re embarking on this life-long venture with someone who very likely refuses to fart in front of you.  Should there not have been a Saturday morning or two’s journey into the Dutch oven?  My god, you should at least know if your future spouse is putting out rotten eggs.  If you find this out after the wedding, you’ll deal with it.  However, 25 years later there’s an insurmountable resentment because your spouse put you off egg salad sandwiches.

I would like to love someone.  Yes, it’s true.  I don‘t enjoy being alone and do hold out hope for that fun, smart, crazy-cool chick who will call me on my shit.  She’ll tolerate my occasional methane-tainted path, all the while embracing her own silent-but-deadlies.

On the other hand, when I called and texted, part of me expected her to cancel.  Yes, even hoped a little.  It would have allowed me to skip right over the limbo part.  Granted, I didn’t hope for the silent treatment.

Any potential date reading this is figuring out how to automatically send my calls to voice mail.  This confession honesty isn’t easy.  It’s not where I thought I’d be at 52 years old.  Might as well embrace it and poke a bit of fun at it.

Tongue and cheek approach.   Two things my former date will never get from me. 

Call me, Connie Britton.

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