Fighting Through the Crowd, One Awkward Chit-Chat at a Time

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Long ago, William Shakespeare wrote about the process of courtship, “FUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!!” (*citation needed*)  No words written since have rung truer in my mind.

The process of meeting and attracting a member of the opposite sex (*Or same-sex. I don’t judge. Do what or whomever you’d like*) is a draining, humiliating ordeal that test the limits of ones’ stamina, courage and true desire of wanting to not die alone in the quite distant future. You feel like cuddling anytime soon? Better be willing to make an ass of yourself in public in the name of love!

Part of what makes the process so goddamn terrible is that it is in fact a process. There is a step foundation to every relationship, especially romantic ones. So to go from:

  1. Stranger, to
  2. Person you like having around, to
  3. Person you enjoy having sex with, to
  4. Person you hope to bound yourself with for many many years until one of us is dead,

you have to understand the human trust and compatibility matrix. Or you have to at least be able to not sound like an idiot.

Many people say that there is no process, just a matter of being yourself. That’s true, but also, that’s bullshit. Being yourself is great, and I’m all for it, but that doesn’t mean that process isn’t there, quietly lurking behind your charm. Being yourself, sitting and chatting is just far more subtle and less all up in yo’ grill than pick up lines and grinding. Any form of trying to get to know someone better is essentially an old school wrestling ladder match. There is a bunch of people trying to climb higher and higher than everyone else on someone’s emotional ladder, all trying to reach the heart that is dangling from the ceiling on a wire, waiting for the first person to overcome everyone elses’ struggle, make it to the top and become the World Wrestling Federation champion of their heart.

That was a stupid analogy.

And, like most everything else in life, it only gets harder the older you get. Trying to meet women when you are in the late twenties is horrifying and obscenely hard. When I tried to talk to girls when I was a teenager and failed (*and trust me. I failed*), it wasn’t so bad because I always had the excuse of being an idiot teenager who didn’t know much about anything and was still being driven by physiologically confusing hormones that were gleefully joy riding through my body like an angry 7th grader who stole his step-dad’s car. Of course, only now in retrospect do I realize it wasn’t so bad. At the time, I felt like shit. Less than shit. Why wouldn’t I? I, an overly sensitive, fat, uncoordinated teenager with no self-esteem, who, through the miracle of nerves and the song “My Hero” (*the greatest ‘pump you up’ song ever*) gathered every scrap of courage caked in the corners of my psyche to do whatever my fifteen year old version of “hitting on a female” was, only to be quickly shot down, mercilessly laughed at, or completely ignored. Those are exactly three of the four reactions I strongly hoped would not happen (*the fourth being kicked in the balls*).

But no matter how terrible I felt back then, which was pretty goddamn terrible, I know better now. I had no business attempting to form a relationship back then because, again, overly sensitive, fat, uncoordinated teenager with no self-esteem that blah blah blah … In the end, it was probably all for the best.

But when you’re in late enough in your twenties that 30 could spit on you, ‘awkward teenager’ isn’t an acceptable answer anymore. You’re just some guy who doesn’t seem to have a grasp on this unspoken social contract that apparently exist for the sole purpose of pissing me off and exposing this open exhaust port in my social skills the rest of society. At this point, the only thing I have to fall back on is, “I suck at this.”

But there is one thing I hadn’t counted on, another added component that I hadn’t realized was going to be such a big thing. I had always thought about this whole process of meeting people strictly from my end. I had never once really thought about the other person’s side, namely, them meeting other people.

As I got older, I met a whole heap of really nice women. Great women, actually. Problem is, as I found over and over again, they were taken. Already in relationships, which was great for them, but did little good for me. As I got even older, more and more women were actually just full on married. That was confounding to me seeing as we were the same age and they were married and getting their lives in order, all while I was still (*and am*) an immature hopeless wreck of an “adult” whose shit can only be categorized as “not together”.

I don’t keep in contact with most of the people I went to high school with. Partly cause I have been trying to get my life moving forward. Mostly cause I hated them. Those people, terrible people. I don’t like judging, but I totally am. I kept something like six friends from my high school friends, and they know who they are. But occasionally, I run into someone I supposedly knew back then and make small talk. Actually, that’s not true. They run into me. I never see, and usually, recognize these people. Anyhow, for a solid four years now, every single person from high school that I’ve come in contact with has either gotten married and/or had a kid.

I’m realizing more and more that people around my age, and like a great, great deal of them, are completely unavailable due to their being awesome at navigating through life and the people in it. Again, good for them. But also, again…. well, you get it.

There is an ever shrinking pool of woman. Plain and simple. As it stands now, the pool looks small and inflatable. And within’ this small blow-up pool, all the regular crap still stands, like finding someone who you actually enjoy spending time with. That is the constant barrage, because there are a lot of very nice, wonderful people who, for whatever reason, things just aren’t going to work out with. And that’s fine. That’s ok by me. Sometimes people are great, but it just isn’t going to work out. That’s happened before and is completely acceptable to me. One person who it doesn’t work out with is just another step closer to finding the person whom it will work with.

My issue is the other people. People who are completely unbearable or, even worse, completely selfish. I understand that in the end we are all selfish in this regard. We are all looking for people to make us feel nice and suit us well and whatnot. I get it. It’s a process that all stems from the search for the greatest addition to me. What chaps my ass is people who… well, are just dicks about it. People who are so selfish and so reckless that they put people who are doing their best (*i.e. me*) in terribly awkward positions.

For example….

Once, at work, I met a girl. Many of the schools I’ve worked at have after school day care programs. She worked as the coordinator, or ‘teacher’ if you wanna get low tech about it. She was very nice, very pretty, very easy to talk to, liked to laugh, and even recognized my super sarcastic tendencies and began flowing it back to me. She was a cool chick. We spent several weeks talking and getting to know each other during little bits of free time away from “building up the future that is our children”. Eventually, when we got passed “getting to know you” chit-chat, little flirt bombs started dropping and they were constantly hitting their targets.

At about this point, a female teacher started having her son, also about my age, come to the campus and just kinda generally help out. Help in her class, teach the kids how to play games at recess, help out the PTA when they were setting up whatever pointless shit they do, and so forth. I talked with him a bunch and he was a cool guy. He was also not an ugly man. Every female employee at the school made it very aware that this fact was so. But it was tough shit for them because he had himself a wonderful girlfriend. She would come visit him all the time at the school, bringing him lunch, and even helping out with the kids and stuff. Great girl. She was very sweet and so cute that I would bet even money that her mother was a basket full of puppies.

I also noticed that this fella had started chatting up our local after school caregiver. I didn’t think much of it. She and I were in no way at a point where jealousy could even pretend to be an issue.

A few weeks passed and, in a moment of blind courage, I asked Ms. After school if she’d join me for dinner. She said yes. I was the man. We made plans for that Friday, the day after the next day. For the next day and a half, “Superfly” was playing in my head everywhere I went. It is rare enough that I get up the balls to just blatantly ask a woman out. I’m not great at conventional date-fare. It is even rarer that I get up the balls to ask, and the offer is accepted. King Kong didn’t have shit on me.

Friday rolls around. I see Ms. PM caregiver at lunch, and she informs me, in her most apologetic ‘Please don’t get mad at me’ voice that she had a bail on our plans. Something came up. I said it was ok. And it was. Stuff comes up all the time. I’m not stranger to this concept.

The day moved along, much slower than it had earlier, when I ran into Mr. Teach the kids handball. We exchange pleasantries and start exclaiming our eagerness as to the weekend starting. He asked me if I had any plans. I said no because I no longer had plans as of that point. I asked him if he had any plans himself. He looked kind of embarrassed, and took a look around to see if anyone else was near. He asked me if I could keep whatever he was going to tell me to myself. I said sure, cause I could. He smiled a devious little smile and tells me that he is going on a date with Ms. Daycare wench that night.

I understood now why he wanted to keep his plans hush-hush. Everyone there knows him. They all know his mother, and most everyone knows, or at least knew of, his impossibly sweet girlfriend. He didn’t feel that the school was the best place to announce to the world that he was sleazing around. Many a man, in the course of conversation, have told me, sometimes rather casually, about just flat-out cheating on their ladies. I, as a man, accept this information and do nothing with it. It is not my relationships that are being toyed with. Even when I do know the woman being wronged, I say nothing because, frankly, it’s not my business. The women will eventually find out their boyfriends’ are douche-bags and handle the situation accordingly.

Only in this case, this guy managed to snake a girl away from me. My victory shot down. Now it was kinda personal. But I’m not entirely sure how to handle the situation because I didn’t know if he knew that we had a date and purposefully tried to keep her away from me. “Why would he?” I thought. He had his great girl, we all at the school were superbly friendly with one another, plus, he hadn’t been around for a few days. He would never of known about our impending date and had the chance to sabotage it. I kept myself reserved while thinking about all this. I asked him when he asked her out. He said first thing that morning. They both arrived in the parking lot at the same time and he asked if she would be down for drinks later. She gave him a resounding yes.

Mother. Fucker.

SHE jilted me! SHE bailed on me to go out with someone else whom she knew for a fact was already in a relationship! They were both acting like terrible people, but she was the only one that was directing some of that shittiness directly to me! Near as I could tell, this guy had no maliciousness towards me and my doings at all. He didn’t know shit about me and Ms. Care-skank.

… Goddamn it…

Fine. No longer my problem and I should have just dropped it, but couldn’t let my own thoughts slide on this one. I told him that she had plans with me that evening until she told me just an hour before that she had something come up. He then put the rest of the puzzle together himself, realizing that she was already busy when she agreed to plans with him. He then responded with, “That sucks, man.” I came back with an even more eloquent, “Uh huh.”

It could have ended there. It should have, really. Funny thing about me though, I’m kinda dumb, so I felt compelled to ask him if he was still going out with her. He said yes. In my curiously wounded state, I asked him why, since she had proven herself quite the goddamn flake. I will never forget his response.

“She didn’t flake on me, man.”

It hit me then. This was no longer a revealing introspective on someone we both knew and worked with. It was now an “I won, you lost, eat shit” scenario. This guy ‘won’ and despite learning what we both just pieced together and high-tailing it away from that ever-growing, weird ass situation, he decided to victory wallow in the filth that both he and she are flooding around us.

I excused myself under the pretense of needing to get back to work, but more so as to not cause a scene when there are children relatively close. People take incidents going down at public schools very seriously and I did NOT feel like being on the news.

As I pretended to work with the kids, I contemplated my options as to how to handle this situation. The way I saw it, there were only three options.

The first option was to just let the whole thing go. He’s a dick, she’s a bitch, fine. I wasn’t going to try to argue with these people because they had managed to show me in just a few hours that there is really no point. Obviously, nothing I do or say that could really get to them. Unless I went with option two, which was to inform this guy’s cute as shit and totally undeserving of this crap’s girlfriend. He wants to be a sneaky dickwad, he can do it on his own watch. Once he drags some other innocents down with him in full knowledge, he signed his own “I Fucked Up!” warrant as far as I was concerned. And if I really felt the need to show him just how badly he fucked up, I could always go for option three. Confront him myself, and kick the shit out of this guy. RAGE, MUTHAFUCKA!!!

The harder I thought, the less I could decide which option I wanted to go with. They all seemed like decent options…for awhile. After spending so long thinking about them, I did what I always do, and started thinking about the pitfalls of all three.

If I went with my first option, those two, and anyone who would eventually find out about the situation, would know that they had themselves a grade A doormat in the form of an unusually tall, Mexican aide. If I went with my second option, I might get some heat drawn on people who deserved it, but I’ll have done so at the price of exposing myself as a snitch. I haven’t snitched since I was eight. And this isn’t one of those issues where someone could get seriously injured if I didn’t say anything. The only person who was hurt was me, and by going and exposing this fucked up scenario to such a sweet girl, or even more devilishly, his fifth grade teaching mother, I’d do nothing but show the world that I am just a boy who can’t take the fact that he lost. If I went with my third option, I’d be showing myself as a force. Something that …. isn’t really needed or wanted so strongly in an elementary school setting. I’d really just be causing more of a ruckus. If I did end up hurting him, I’d be the asshole of the school, even if my reason was just. And that’s the best I could hope for. If I confronted him and lost…I can’t even imagine the loss of dignity, respect and probably employment that would come down on my head.

So there my options were. Keep my head down, snitch, or assert my dominance. The pathetic dance of courtship had been boiled down into prison rules. When did that happen? When did giving a girl a flower and chasing her in the sandbox when I was little develop into the same code of conduct to survive confinement surrounded by rapist and murderers? When did human interaction get so goddamn complicated when it should be so awesome?!?

In the end, logic kicked in and I just ignored that situation, and them. If I knew they were both horrible people, why bother spending more energy on them? I could chalk them up, her especially, as people who don’t need to be in my life.

And that’s what it ends up becoming. You whittle away what’s there, what you don’t need, to get something that really matters. If some people show themselves as unfavorable, or even caustic, I know now that there is no point in getting upset. Once you get through people you know won’t work, you just get closer to people who do. All that’s left at that point is to be yourself and hope to God you don’t make yourself look like an idiot. In my case, I don’t stand a chance on the second bit. Hopefully, one day it won’t matter.

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