The very first thing I did in 2011 was wake up, shower, and go to the grocery store to buy the ingredients to make Raspberry Crack† for Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman.
At the time, I thought: holy crap. I am leaving a year filled with pain, anxiety, emotional abuse, misery and more pain. And I am leaping into a year that begins with one of my favorite authors and one of my most beloved musical artists, as well as some of my best friends in the world (Hi Whitney and Alexei!). Around a kitchen table. At which I will be sitting. Wow.
What could possibly go wrong?
Ultimately, very little. Very little had to go wrong. 2011 was a year of trying to convince myself that I could survive the status quo. Little secret between me, you, and the rest of the internet? Almost didn’t happen. Survival, I mean. 2011 brought me the closest to suicide I have been in a decade.
Sounds dramatic, right? I guess suicide is dramatic, but I don’t intend to make a splash with the idea.
I mostly mention it to give you some context, Gentle Reader, for my mindset coming into 2012. I have spent 2011 trying to put my head and my heart back together. I have been questioning and trying to come to terms with who I am and the choices I have made. I have been wondering what my place is in this world, and if I even have one. I have been lost, personally and professionally. And with regard to 2012, I am not as optimistic as I might like to be. I see SOPA and NDAA and the economy. I see my empty bed and my empty wallet. I see my grad school loans only overshadowed by my law school loans. I see an election year that is terrifying in its lack of viable candidates and a surplus of terrifying candidates. I see rage waxing and worry that my strength is waning.
I have found strength in myself that I didn’t know I had. I have friends who are so phenomenal that it’s a little overwhelming. This blog has a nonzero number of readers (that nonzero? That’s you. You are not zero—not The Zeppo [that's Xander]. Mazel tov). I have things to work toward in 2012 that aren’t just about trying to find reasons to keep living. I’m still funny. My cat remains adorable.
So my resolutions for 2012 are:
- To remember that I am loved by amazing people.
- To come to terms with the decisions I have made to this point.
- To consciously and carefully let go of as much of the baggage I’ve been lugging around with me as I can.
- To stop carrying the world on my shoulders.
- To practice guitar more often.
- To try at least five Scotches I have never tried before.
- To find a hottie or two to hang out with/hook up with.
What, you thought they would all be emotionally intense and interesting?
My biggest resolution, and one I hope to keep more than anything is this, though: I want to live. 2011 was about survival and subsistence—emotional, physical, and economical. It’s time to find ways to live. I wish that were as easy as it sounds, but it’s without a doubt worth working and fighting for. So I guess 2012 is going to be less about just trying to hang on, and more about climbing.
Happy new year, Gentle Reader. I hope your resolutions are wonderfully easy (or nonexistent). I hope 2011 has been amazing for you, and that 2012 will be even better. I hope there is no climb for you. I hope when you look around at the world in the new year, that it’s either a world you know you can live with, or a world you know you can change for the better (or both). I don’t yet know what the world has in store for me. I guess…let’s all hope for the best.
†Raspberry Crack is something I make, that my friends named, and that appears to be fairly addictive. The look on Neil Gaiman’s face when he first tasted it will be something I hope to use to get some incredibly nerdy and hot girl into bed some day.
It’s very rare for me to break up with a friend. In my post on friendship, brilliantly and creatively titled, “Friendship“, I discussed how important my friends are to me, and how I approach being friends with people.
My friends are important to me, extremely so. Which is why somebody has to pull a seriously dick move before I walk away.
This occurred last week, when I got into an argument with a friend of mine from high school over a relatively minor issue. I expressed an issue I had with something he had said, and he responded with dismissal, condescension, and an absolute lack of anything resembling validation or evidence that he so much as momentarily considered my perspective on the matter.
Now, this sometimes happens between friends (we are all occasionally douchebags), so I was willing to let it go and hope that the next time we disagreed he might actually take the time to address what I had to say. (Letting it go did not keep me from telling him he could take his condescension and shove it, because I’ll be damned if I let anybody just be a dick to me and not say anything. Outside of work, anyway.) We’ve known each other for a very long time, and he and his family provided me a place to live when Mom kicked me out of the house in our sophomore year of high school. For that I will always be indebted to him.
But then he sent me a private message to scold me for telling him to shove it, and he included the following: “I’d ask that you don’t respond as I have great respect for you [Whiskeypants]; don’t make me question that respect.”
The moment I read that sentence should have been the moment I realized our friendship was over, but it took a few more PM exchanges between us (in which he became increasingly dismissive and condescending) before I realized how awful a thing it is to say that to somebody.
Let’s take it apart:
1. “Don’t make me [x]” is one of the first entries in the abuser’s lexicon. I’m not calling this (ex) friend an abuser, but that kind of rhetoric is extremely questionable to me, and puts an individual in the position of having to do nothing and just suck it up, or face some kind of punishment. That’s no position at all, really, and I would never say such a thing to a friend unless it involved tickling or whupping them in Words With Friends. You don’t threaten people you care about unless it is somehow going to end in giggles.
2. “I’d ask you not to respond” is also something I would never say to a friend. I may disagree with my friends (sometimes vigorously), but I will never tell them that I do not want a response no matter how I feel about the matter. They are my friends. I want to hear what they have to say, even if I hate it. And if for some reason I don’t want to hear it, I still recognize their right to fill my time, email, Facebook, chat window or whatever with their views. Even if they do like Ron Paul.
3. The whole thing immediately invalidates, without consideration, anything I have to say with which he might disagree. Because I shouldn’t have said anything at all, and am unworthy, somehow, of his respect. Certainly my viewpoint on the issue wasn’t worthy of respect, so I don’t know why anything else I said to him would be.
To be perfectly honest, I think I would have been less hurt and offended if he had just said, “Go fuck yourself.”
But I don’t break up with friends who offend me. I don’t break up with friends who hurt my feelings. I do break up with friends who tell me they will lose respect for me if I make any further attempt to defend my position (wherein “further” is “at all”). But then, given the incredible amount of condescension he managed to heap upon me in a relatively few amount of words, I wonder if the respect he felt for me was not real, but imagined.
I have finally begun to realize that I am getting rather tired of being single. It’s not so much that I am for sure ready to date and look for a love and partner. It’s more these isolated moments in my days and nights when I realize I am missing something.
Sometimes I lounge on my couch watching TV, and I realize I am missing the weight and warmth of a body—not just beside me, but with me, snuggled close.
Some evenings I read in bed, and I realize that I would rather be—get your mind out of the gutter, Gentle Reader—reading to somebody else. My favorite book to read aloud is, by the way, Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. Yes, I can be cajoled into doing voices.
Sometimes I walk down the street and I realize I want to hold somebody’s hand.
Some nights I roll over in bed and wish I were rolling over to put my arm around somebody, to bury my face in warmth and skin.
Some mornings I wish I had somebody for whom I could make breakfast. For one thing, it would be a good excuse to find out if I can flip four eggs without a spatula, not just two.
Sometimes, I miss having somebody I can call to say, “Come over. I miss you, and so do my hands.”
I wonder how long I will be okay with missing these things. It’s obviously not going to last.
Nice! Simple, uncomplicated, not in the least bit stressful. But that never lasts, does it?
However, lately things are looking like this:
I have tried to write this post several times, now, and always given up. It shouldn’t be so difficult to write, and yet the number of drafts I must go back and delete after I (theoretically) publish this one is absurd. But I’ve become increasingly aware of the difference in the quality of life between the people I know who are happy with their friends and the people I know who are not.
I just got back home from a birthday party for somebody I adore, a friend of mine who, just by being who she is, makes me want to be a better person. That sounds cheesy, I know, but it’s not that kind of vaguely inspirational-Disney-movie feeling that the world isn’t ready for me. It’s more specific than that. She reminds me how much integrity matters, how important it is to own your own bullshit, how much awfulness a single human being can handle with grace, humor, and tact (I have one of the three). I have nothing but respect and love for her, who she is, and how she moves through the world and her life. I am honored that she calls me her friend.
She is but one of my many amazing, brilliant, kind, generous, supportive and loving friends.
If y’all recall, I’m shy (I refer back to that post a great deal, don’t I?). It took me a long time to learn how to make friends, and one of the things I vowed to do was to be a friend. I was not going to pay lip service to friendship. I was not going to fuck around with two-faced bullshit, I was not going to play games, I did not care to waste time playing roles for people or myself. I was going to earn every friend I made.
To this end I work hard to maintain my friendships. I provide a shoulder and an ear when they are needed (also, whiskey and food). I keep the secrets I’m meant to keep. I offer time when I have it, and do my best to make time when I don’t. I make it a point to try to text/email/chat/FB to tell my friends that I love them, miss them, think they are rad on a regular basis. Given the number of friends I have, this tends to be limited to my closest, which is in some ways a shame, because they are not the only people I love and appreciate. And if I am failing to maintain my friendships, odds are, something is going down in my life that is preventing me from doing so.
I believe it is because of this, the fact that I am a decent cook, and the fact that I’m hilarious, that I have the friends I have.
Making new friends is interesting, because I have enough. Yeah, yeah—I’ve heard it before: “you can never have enough friends.” Meh. That’s true in terms of networking and for the purpose of throwing loud, obnoxious parties. But in terms of real, in-depth, trusting relationships, it’s all about quality over quantity. I am at a point in my life where, if I go out of my way to seek out your company in any way? It’s because I see something in you that means something to me. It could be your intelligence, your sincerity, whatever—it’s something that is, to me, worth exploring.
I can’t tell you how awesome it is to be in such a position. To be surrounded by so many amazing, wonderful friends that I can handpick yet more amazing, wonderful friends. Hello, luxury.
And I am not saying that all of my friends are perfect. None of them are. I mean, except for you… Hi.
But I can look around at the people I love, and who love me, and be proud of them, and proud that I’m with them. If you can do the same, *high five*. If not, time to reevaluate. Life is too short to play in the bullshit.
For Science: The first part of the post was written after margaritas, a pint of Jameson and ginger, and some number of old fashioned—what the hell is the plural for “old fashioned”? “Old Fashioneds”? I mean, when you are sober. When you are drunk, the plural is something like, “Ol’fashenz”.
Okay, Whiskeypants, let’s reel it back in. For science:
Almost nothing in the title is relevant to this post. But that’s the title I came up with on my midnight walk home from BART, and I’m stickin’ to it. Mostly because I have had too much whiskey not to.
Wait, that’s not true. The crush part is relevant. And the separation part. And the Part III part. But not the church and state thing, ‘cept maybe metaphorically. And the crush bit is not 100% relevant, since this post is mostly about desire—but crushes apply, too.
On the plus side, I just found a glass of cranberry juice I left here Monday morning. It tastes fine. So here’s to hydration.
One of the social skills I have repeatedly refined over the years is the ability to be 100% cool with being friends with women I desire. It’s a more or less invisible social skill that, in my drunker moments, I think is totally underappreciated. I think it is a skill more people ought to develop, honestly. It brings perspective in to the relationships I cultivate because I want, allowing me to realize that I can cultivate them much better because what I want is merely a facet of somebody much more interesting and complex.
That does not, of course, make it easier to deal with actively and determinedly being friends with women I’d like to throw against the wall and kiss until one or both of us just can’t breathe anymore (especially if I already have and can remember what it feels like to do so). It just makes it possible and, in most cases, preferable. When you take a look at the hotness of the women around me [From here on, writing sober:] (and it’s really rather remarkable), the need to separate desire from friendship and to box that desire up becomes apparent. So does the difficulty of doing so. But I don’t think I could be friends with these women if I couldn’t do it. Not and be a real friend.
Which is, I suppose, the long way ’round of saying: I don’t think it’s possible to be a true friend to somebody you also happen to want to fuck if you lead with your dick (real or metaphorical) and not your head and your heart.
So then it becomes a matter of priorities—are you hanging around because you hope he or she will eventually open up to you, or are you sticking around because you hope he or she will eventually ,,open up,, to you? And how honest are you being with yourself about that? And how honest with her or him?
And now the real question:
If you have ever found yourself in a position to doubt where you stand with a friend, lover, or partner…you must be human.
If you have ever found yourself unable to properly interpret body language—at least, enough to make some sense out of your situation…you must be human.
If you have ever stared at an individual you desire, not sure whether he or she does desire, or still desires you…you must be human.
If you have ever found yourself fighting the desire to shake somebody and ask them to please tell you what the fuck is going on…you must be human.
If you cannot help but want them and smile at their antics even while you are wondering where they stand…you must be human.
If you are afraid to just ask…you must be human.
If you ask and get the answer you were expecting (but not the one you wanted)…you must be
Have you ever stood in front of some unbelievably gorgeous and compelling work of art and wanted to just stare at it, try to take it in, try to absorb it? To try to make your brain comprehend what you are seeing and what you are feeling when you see it?
I will do that in museums, when I am struck by the vision and talent of an artist, when I feel that there is nothing I can do but just appreciate the hell out of a piece of art. Sometimes, I do the same thing with women.
I don’t know about you, but I love a good stare.
Say you think some individual is totally hot. Like, devastatingly hot. The kind of hot where your eyes want to follow him or her everywhere. The kind of hot where, even if he or she is no longer in the room, if you picture him or her, you still have to brace yourself against something until your blood pressure returns to something resembling normal. And, given the absence of ability to touch him or her (which may be total or may be temporary), you wanna look at that person—as much and as often as possible. You want to take in every detail, every angle, appreciate everything you can. Because regardless of what flaws that individual may or may not have, he or she is fucking stunning.
And if you do get to (and he or she doesn’t call the cops on you for being a creepy stalker, and good luck with that), it’s a bit like being a kid in a candy store. Or even an adult in a candy store. You ever been to Powell’s Sweet Shoppe? You don’t have to be a kid to appreciate it. But that’s beside the point. I think. Mmmmm. Candy.
Sugar is good for you, right?
Anyway, lately I find myself staring. Like, chin resting on my palm, all thoughts gone from my head, eyes like malfunctioning tractor beams, staring. And yes, for those of you keeping track at home, I am talking about the hotness ninja. I’ve been staring, trying to avoid loud, wistful sighs, and enjoying the hell out of the view.
It’s a simple pleasure, and one of which we should all take advantage whenever possible. Gentle reader, if the hottie(s) in your life are receptive, and you aren’t a creepy stalker (<–IMPORTANT) don’t forget to take some time and just stare at them. Watch them move, watch them work, watch them cook or do dishes or reorganize their bookshelves. Appreciate every angle, every movement. Every moment where they are thinking of something, singing, reading, or dancing.
It’s an entirely worthwhile way to pass the time.
It’s important to remember that, when everything has gone horribly wrong, and your night has gone to shit, and all the communication about all the things has failed, and you are frustrated in every goal you may have had—
It’s totally fucking okay to stay up until the wee hours of morning eating ice cream, drinking whiskey, watching tv, and fervently hoping that, after you do finally fall asleep, everything will be better, fixable, or possibly nonexistent when you wake up again.
(If it isn’t okay, I’m in trouble.)
One of the things I was really enjoying about being single was the utter lack of real desire I felt for anybody. Even people to whom I had been previously attracted were nothing more than a side note to my libido, which was apparently taking a nice long, deep nap. I even managed to tend bar at an event where tons of hot women were crowding my bar, all wanting my attention, all wanting what I had to offer without it even occurring to me to flirt with any one of them.
This was a relief. This was safety, of a sort. If I didn’t want anybody, I didn’t have to worry about getting in any way involved, getting hurt, or even about what I looked like when I left the house.
And I have been prizing safety above all things, which makes sense, given the emotionally abusive relationship I left late last year. I turned myself off, to the point where I felt so little when I was around otherwise incredibly attractive women that I was actually a little nervous. I was almost worried I had done too good a job. But I was good. My defenses were up, I didn’t have to worry about attraction, and I was ready to move through the world like this indefinitely.
Recently has put paid to that plan. Recently has fucked everything up. Recently…I encountered this incredible woman who is also apparently a freakin’ ninja for all the resistance my defenses put up against her. A freakin’ ninja of hotness. Now, maybe I’m in the minority here, but it just didn’t seem like I should be guarding myself against hotness ninjas. I didn’t even know there were hotness ninjas, and I am absolutely surrounded by gorgeous women on a regular basis.
Anyway, that’s an area for later research and possibly some diagrams.
The point is, she’s hot. No. What?
The point is, I am no longer in that awesome safe place. And I just don’t know how I feel about the fact that I want somebody again, or the vulnerability that attends the wanting. And I confess, there is some part of me that wants to go stick my head in the sand again, if that’s even possible right now. But I am too busy enjoying the ways in which she makes me go weak in the knees. And looking at her. I’m attributing this to her hotness ninja powers. Hotness ninjas have powers—or at least, that’s a fact I expect my research to reveal.
I’m just genuinely hoping this isn’t a mistake and that, if it isn’t, I will allow myself to have some fun. Because, you know—hotness ninja.
This is the longest I have been single—that is to say, without somebody to be emotionally involved with or sleep with on a regular basis—since I was still in my teens. This is not extraordinary. Neither is the fact that I’m totally cool with it. But I am still gonna write an entire blog post about it, maybe because it is so unextraordinary.
For the time being I have a job. It won’t last much longer, which is sad, but it has provided some structure in my life, something to do with my time, and perhaps most importantly, a means of
purchasing whiskeypaying rent.
I get up in the morning, I go to work, I work hard, I go home. Sometimes I see friends, although lately not so much. When I go home, it’s to my cat and my guitar, and to a queen-sized bed that, apart from books, various pieces of laundry and things I need to put away, is empty until I get into it. It’s not the most exciting life, and sometimes, when I am surrounded by a mass of exhausted people heading home at the end of the day, I feel like I am in Metropolis.
I am loving it.
I am also loving being on my own. Not the kind of loving being on my own that comes from post-breakup bitterness, or that empowerment that comes from anger or from the feeling that happiness is the best kind of revenge. This is no longer a reaction to my ex. This is strictly for me. Healthy, right?
Well, rather than live in the moment and just enjoy it, I panicked. What if I get lost in this, become complacent? What if I get so used to being alone I forget I want to find somebody? What if I spend the rest of my life blogging about relationships without ever finding one again? What if I move to Berkeley and start collecting neighborhood cats and wearing tie dye—
And then I walked to the mirror (I was in one of the bathrooms at work for this little panic attack), gripped the sides of the sink and looked myself in the eye. “Shut. The fuck. Up. Shut the fuck up. Shutthefuckup.”
Having glared and f-bombed myself back to relative calm, I noted the following:
- I will never move to Berkeley.
- I will never wear tie dye.
- Collecting neighborhood cats is always a possibility. Also, dogs.
- It’s far too early to be worried about being alone forever.
So I think I am slowly becoming more comfortable with being comfortable with being alone. And I think if I do this the right way, it will make me more of a candidate for a good relationship rather than less. Knowing me, that’s a seriously big ‘if’, but I am gonna run with it.
I find myself in a difficult spot these days. I need a break from dating, from emotional attachments. But I don’t need—or want—a break from sex. So theoretically, I need to find somebody (or somebodies) I can sleep with without the emotional attachment.
Now here, I run into a problem. While I can sleep with somebody without falling for her, I cannot do it without caring. And when I care, I really care. My friends can tell you that if they need anything, I will do everything I can to make sure they get it—and if it is out of my power, I will check in until I know that somebody else provided for them.
My friends will also tell you that I check in with them regularly, that I want to make sure they know I love them, that I like them, that I care—and that I think they are awesome. I think about my friends on a daily basis—some of them, admittedly, more than others. And while I might do this less with somebody with whom I am merely having sex, I still do it. Because frankly, just because it’s just sex, it doesn’t mean that person is any less human or any less on my radar (in some ways, more—when I want somebody badly enough, she is always on my mind).
(And that, gentle reader, is before I even start making an effort. If I am actually dating a woman she gets treated very, very well. I don’t mess around, there.)
I have been told that I can’t do this if I am just sleeping with somebody, that it will be confusing to the woman or women with whom I am sleeping, that they won’t be able to take what I am offering at face value—regardless of the fact that I offer everything at face value, and I offer what I offer as a matter of course. And I offer what I offer because I can’t not. If it’s obvious to me that somebody should have something, or experience something, then not offering is like having an itch between my shoulders.
I have been told that they won’t appreciate it, that they will run from it. And I know that this is right. Every experience I have had bears this out.
So what do I do if I can’t not care and I don’t know how to not give? Does every gift I give, every text I send have to come with a disclaimer, now?
This gift/text comes carries no obligation or investment, emotional or otherwise, on the part of either conferrer or recipient. Conferrer accepts all responsibility for any choices made from conception of gift/text idea to delivery; recipient is not required to accept gift/text or use it respectfully or wisely. Unless otherwise and explicitly stated, conferrer does not expect recipient to take her clothes off upon or within six (6) months of receipt. However, conferrer would probably appreciate it, because recipient is wicked hot.
Or do I have to find that unicorn of a lover who understands that the sex doesn’t have to be meaningful, and the relationship doesn’t have to be meaningful, but I am still going to be caring, and kind, and appreciative?
Neither option seems feasible, or likely.
So maybe I’m S.O.L. Maybe I’m not gettin’ some any time soon. But that’s cool. As much trouble as it has been to me in the past, and as much trouble as it is now, I like the fact that I care.
I was told early on that I was “fat.” I was also told early on that “fat” was not okay, not nice to look at, not nice to touch. That is to say, I have been trained since childhood to believe I am unattractive. I have never been one of the thin, (supposedly) attractive people who could dress in form-fitting clothes and grab the attention of the people in the room just walking into it.
I have never been one of those people who could diet and work out a little and lose the extra weight. I work out a minimum of 4 days a week unless I am ill, and I keep a relatively healthy diet. But despite the extraordinary amount of muscle I carry around, people tend to judge me based on the surface—that extra jiggle in my wiggle, to be precise.
Why am I bringing this up? Well, I have recently realized something. I tend to date really extraordinarily beautiful women. I mean, every once in a while I change it up and go for something extra crazy instead of extra hot, but that’s another story entirely. Ahem. Right.
But every time I find some gorgeous, brilliant, interesting woman who expresses interest in me, I have the same thought running around and through my mind: WTF does she want with me?
I mean, let’s look at this situation, here. I am 34, not gainfully employed, overweight, missing a visible tooth (oh yeah—like the meth head look? Never mind that it’s because of some bad dentistry), and I am still carrying around matching luggage from some previous relationships.
Whiskeypants, you may be saying, clearly these women are interested in you for your personality. Maybe that intelligence of yours makes you sexy. Maybe blah blah blah blah.
Fuck that. You find anybody who doesn’t, deep inside, want to be told that they are handsome, pretty, beautiful, stunning. Ultimately, gentle reader, I don’t want to be wanted for my personality—at least, not only my personality. Of course it’s wonderful when people can see past physical flaws (or not see them at all, or recognize that they aren’t actually flaws, goddamn it) because they see who a person is. Of course it’s fucking brilliant when that happens.
But let’s face it: I want to be wanted because somebody has looked at me and found me fucking hot. And I am sorry, but anybody who says differently is lying to you and possibly themselves. We say looks don’t matter, but that’s because we don’t want them to. Not because reality bears this out in any way, shape, or form (whose form? my form?).
I can’t tell you the number of times I have been out with some gorgeous woman and had somebody come up and buy her a drink right in front of me. I won’t lie—to be discounted and ignored like that stings like a motherfucker. No matter how satisfying it is to know she’s going home with me and not that presumptuous individual. I have had it hammered into me repeatedly: I am no looker.
So when some woman, who could clearly have anybody, shows interest in me, it sends me into a tailspin of “why?!” and “WTF?” and “really?” And then I set myself the task of talking myself out of that woman until I have more or less convinced myself that she could never be serious about me (either in a physical or emotional sense) in a million years.
I forget a lot of relevant facts at this point—all to do, of course, with my personality. Facts like:
- I am ridiculously smart.
- I am funny.
- I am kind.
- I am generous.
- I really really really treat the women I date really really really well.
- I have yet to have any complaints in the bed dept.
- I am trustworthy.
- I know how to communicate.
Somehow, though, none of that measures up to the fact that I grew up with the understanding that I was never all that attractive and that I couldn’t rely on my looks to get me anywhere. I don’t know how to get over that. I know there’s tons of rotund-positive stuff out there, but ultimately it doesn’t do anything to penetrate 34 years of programming and programming reinforcement.
So what’s the point of all this beside some whining about being liked for my admittedly rad personality? Good question. I’m not fishing for compliments. In fact, I’d prefer not to have a bunch of well-meaning friends decide to shower me with them just to make me feel better. So save it.
What I want all of you to do instead is to bring those compliments out for the people immediately around you—your children, your friends, your partners, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, that person you just started dating (because if anybody is at their most insecure…). Tell them they are beautiful, that you love their eyes, their hands, their dimples, their smiles. Say, “My gawd I find you amazingly hot.” Tell them this in person, if you can. If you can’t, tell them over the phone: “Damn, I miss that fine ass of yours.”
Because everybody needs to hear it, regardless of what they say or even think. It will put a spring in anybody’s step to hear that they are beautiful, or that they have stunning hair, or that their smile moves you in some way. This doesn’t require that you buy into traditional ideas of beauty (what tradition, anyway? Japanese? African? America in 1920 or 1980 or now?). Just that you find the beauty in the people around you and—just as importantly—that you tell them about it.
Now go forth and compliment.
Here is a short list of things to remember when you have a crush—I’m listing them here because in the last couple of weeks, I’ve been forgetting these tools, making the crush I currently have much less manageable. Which sucks, because frankly, it’s bad enough that I don’t get to touch her as it is.
1. Crushes are temporary. Temporary!
They are even more temporary if you don’t entertain them in your head. But who am I fooling? I don’t just entertain my crushes—I make them tea, play them songs on my guitar, do interpretive dance for them, and invite them to stay indefinitely. But they don’t.
I know it seems like it’s gonna last forever. And I have had crushes that have lasted years—before, during, and through other relationships. So I understand if you are shaking your head right now and fervently disagreeing with me because you’ve been into that one girl since kindergarten. But really, I swear, it’s temporary. Or you’re actually in love, and therefore SOL. Sorry. I bet he or she’s adorable.
2. You are not what she or he is looking for right now.
And maybe he or she ought to be looking for you. The way my crush could really do a lot worse than settling on me. However, let’s face it—if he or she doesn’t think of you romantically, no amount of showing him or her how awesome you are is going to change that.
That is to say—it’s out of your hands, gentle reader. If your crush wakes up one day to the realization that you are awesome in a romantic sense, then you are one lucky motherlover. You may also discover you are in a romantic comedy with Jennifer Aniston.
3. If you find yourself in a romantic comedy with Jennifer Aniston, don’t panic.
Seriously, this happens to me all the time. Just try to remember your lines and collect your paycheck later. It will be okay.
4. If you know what he or she is looking for, don’t try to turn yourself into that.
You are what you are, my friend. That doesn’t mean you should not be constantly working to improve yourself—however you choose to do so. Improve yourself for yourself.
Don’t try to turn yourself into a mountain goat because she likes to climb, do it because you want to, because you love it. Don’t try to read all the works of Pynchon because your crush is a snobby intellectual hipster. Read them because you are a snobby intellectual hipster.
5. Don’t assume it’s because of your shortcomings.
Don’t assume it isn’t, either. But that’s not the point. You have to remember that just because she or he doesn’t see the great qualities for which she or he is searching, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t there, or that there aren’t others that ought to be considered.
This is a good opportunity—not to focus on all the things that you are not (to him or her, anyway), but to focus on all the things he or she is missing out on. There may be a million reasons why he or she should be seriously considering you. Focus on those—theoretically eventually somebody will come around who wants all of those things. It just might not be your crush. The confidence this helps to create makes you even more attractive.
6. Be cool, Sodapop.
Don’t get yourself all worked up over this. Given that it is out of your hands (with regard, anyway, to doing anything about your situation—any entertaining of the crush itself may lead to things being very much in your hands), you have to remember to belt in, sit back, keep hands, feet, and elbows inside the car—and enjoy the ride.
One of the things I swore to myself upon coming out of an awful relationship (that capped almost a decade of serial dating/relationship experiences) was that I would remain single until at least the end of the year.
This is one of those things you swear, like when you decide you are gonna cut down on sugar, fatty foods, and whiskey, like when you decide you are gonna exercise more. Like when you decide to do anything you know you should do but are not 100% convinced you really want to do.
- Being unemployed doesn’t matter. Not being able to pay for dates or take a woman places doesn’t matter when you don’t have a woman to take out.
- I never have to clean my room.
- I have the opportunity to get my life together outside of the dating dynamic.
- I am not working my ass off to prove myself to somebody who doesn’t appreciate me anyway.
Wait, was that emotional baggage? Oops. Right, this isn’t about the women I have already been with.
- No girl to crawl into bed with. I am not just talking about sex. I am talking about that feeling when I walk into a room and know a woman I adore is in the bed I am about to fall into. I miss that feeling of wrapping myself around a sleepy girl, of enjoying the way she feels, the way she smells before I drift off to sleep.
- No sex. Just because it wasn’t necessarily an element of the above doesn’t mean it’s not an element. My mouth and my hands miss skin. My ears miss sounds. I am not going to tell you what my tongue misses, but you can guess.
- No license to stare. I don’t know about you, but I love looking at the women I am with. If I could I would just rest my chin on my hand and look. They put up with that better if they are sleeping with me.
- No license to tell her how hot I think she is. Generally, I don’t get to tell the devastatingly hot women around me how lovely I think they are (apart from those friends who think —tragically—that I am harmless). When I am dating I get to do that. Regularly.
- I miss having somebody I can wrap myself around, or grab by her belt loop and pull toward me. I miss finding dark corners for smooches and looking across the room to see that she is just as distracted as I am at the idea of those smooches. I miss that level of intimacy.
But where was I? Oh yeah, remaining single until the end of the year.
How am I supposed to do that when I find myself so totally enchanted? Some rules were made to be broken. Those rules include reducing: sugar, butter, bacon, whiskey, and women.
Crushes: simultaneously wonderful and awful, powerful and weak, illuminating and shortsighted. They are entities that have a symbiotic relationship with love, that often camouflage themselves as love, that have the potential to open the door to it—but most often do not. Sometimes they hurt like white fire.
That is to say, occasionally they are unicorns that lead you to romantic comedy-like bliss, but most of them are puppies you don’t get to keep. And they’ve shit on your floor.
I have been trying to figure out why I enjoy them so much. I must be a romantic. A sarcastic, scarred, cynical, bitter, and pessimistic romantic, but a romantic all the same.
Crushes used to be crushing for me. They used to involve long days and nights of wishing fiercely, desperately. They used to involve hours, days of making mix tapes (actual tapes, folks), writing godawful poetry, obsessing. But then pragmatism set in. The realization that I am always going to be surrounded by beautiful, crushworthy people could have led to a certain amount of despair. Instead, I decided to enjoy them (and to learn to make mixes for friends).
I love noticing the inconsequential details that crushes bring to light. The way she moves the hair out of her eyes, the way she cocks her head when she thinks, mutters to herself when looking at recipes. I enjoy the way my eyes want to rest on her for longer than is socially necessary or acceptable. I enjoy those moments when I can make her laugh or smile, make her eyes light up. I enjoy knowing that, while all of these details remain—as will my appreciation for them—, the feeling they create in me is temporary. And that if I play my cards right, she may never be a lover but she could always be a friend.
In the end, I get to play with the puppy. So what if it isn’t housetrained?
Dear Battlestar Galactica,
I guess the first thing I should say is that I frakkin’ miss you. I miss you and I want you back. I know you had to end things, and I can forgive you for that, and even the cheap shot you threw at me as you left. But I miss you, and I just can’t go on like this.
I can’t keep jumping into these rebound relationships. They aren’t satisfying, they aren’t healthy. Caprica lasted the longest, but I think Caprica and I both know that I’m just looking for you in very virtual corner, in every proto-cylon. I’m looking for Starbuck, Adama, and Tigh. I am looking for real drama, morally questionable presidents, hot blond hallucinations, inexplicable obsessions with “All Along the Watchtower.” No amount of Eric Stoltz can really match all of that–and ultimately, Caprica knows it, even if that is a fact it prefers not to admit.
I feel so vulnerable writing this to you. But I just can’t help it. BSG, come back to me. I love you.
I seem to have been focusing on the whole joblessness thing here, so maybe this is off topic.
But when I got off the train today the first person I ran into (that I knew) was my ex.
Now, I don’t know about you, but regardless of how I feel about an ex, there is a certain amount of cognitive dissonance in just walking past somebody when that somebody was, until recently, a somebody I used to walk to, wrap my arms around, and kiss.
Was that an unnecessarily long sentence or is it just me?
It’s odd to just walk past somebody when you know how her body fits into yours, how her hair feels between your fingers, and how her lips feel against yours. It’s odd to walk past her with a wry smile and not stop, and not say hi, and not touch her.
And in that moment, it almost doesn’t matter how it ended. And it almost doesn’t matter that she was abusive, and that she blamed you for your reactions to that abuse, and that she even went so far as to fictionalize your past in order to relieve herself of accountability. In that moment, all you know is that you know what it would be like to walk up to her and greet her with the love you felt until recently…
And then you find yourself a block away, and heading toward friends and pint-sized drinks and feeling your body tense up as reality pushes the past away, smacks you on the ass, and tells you it wants cream and sugar in its coffee.