Sunday, February 11, 2007

Breaking All "The Rules"

The first known incident of my incredible ability to self-sabotage was in the 8th grade. Josh Peterson, one of the most popular guys in school was my science lab partner that year. We got to know each other and, in true Colleen fashion, I developed a raging crush on him and was in constant fear that he would notice because I'm not so good at hiding these things. A girl in one of our classes asked me one day if I liked Josh and I said "No, of course not. We're just friends" with as much egg-head self-righteousness as I could muster. He asked me a few days later why I didn't have a boyfriend and, trying to play it cool, I told him that I hadn't found anyone good enough. When he asked me what my standard was I told him it was perfection. Lame, I know, but I was 14. In 10th grade he moved to Charlotte and on his last day of school he gave me a hug and asked if I would miss him. I said, "Of course I'll miss you, we're friends, right?" To which he responded "Yeah. Friends. I wish we could've been more, but I wasn't perfect."

Yes, I'm still upset that I didn't date the popular guy in 8th grade.

I bring up this story to illustrate a point. I'm confusing, but not on purpose. You see, I'm incapable of concealing that I have a crush on someone, but if I'm cornered by the person in question I will inevitably deny everything. Why? Because on the inside, I'm still a nerd in love with the class stud. Sure, I've developed a little more confidence since then, but I'm constantly saying dumb things in an attempt to hide my feelings.

Por ejemplo...

Last week while I was out with The David we were sitting at my apartment and he mentioned that his neck was sore. Because I love to give massages and I was eager to touch him I reached over to rub his neck. When he said "If you keep going I'm never going to leave", I said, "Don't worry, I'll kick you out when I'm done with you." Now, I was, of course, kidding. But I knew I'd probably been looking at him all googly eyed since he kissed me so I figured I should tone down my enthusiasm a bit. I expected a laugh. He didn't laugh. He didn't even comment. In fact, all conversation stopped. Usually when that happens I feel the need to express my interest after a move like that, but I figured since I like the guy and my verbal diarrhea could only get worse from there, I should just give up. So I did.

But then there was the calling thing. When he left I told him to call if he wanted to go out again and he told me to do the same. Do the same. The problem with that was that during my post-first-kiss bliss if I had called when I wanted to see him again I would've had to call as soon as he left. And even I know that's inappropriate.

Luckily, it's been almost a week now and I think I handled things well. I sent him an email the day after the date to tell him I had a good time. He responded and said he wanted to get together soon. So I called him today to see if he wanted to get together this week. I had to leave a message. I hate that. I am horrible on voicemail. We talked for a while trying to find a night that would work...which turned out to be problematic because he's working out of town two nights and then he's going out of town Friday. He asked if we can do next week and I said that was fine. I figure I must have scored some not-a-naggy girl points by letting him off the hook. And he did call me back so I figure he wasn't just postponing because he doesn't want to see me.

So all systems are go. I haven't fucked up anything and he seems to be at least mildly interested in seeing me again.

After the last blog I managed to calm down a lot about the whole situation, which is probably why I was able to act rationally about the whole thing.

Dating is complicated all on its own, but my dating dilemmas tend to be more annoying because while I have rather progressive views of relationships now, I did grow up reading "The Rules". This means that while I don't have an ideological problem calling a guy to ask him out, I hear my mother's voice in my head saying that I can't let him know I'm interested. And after a first date that involved a lot of making out and what my mother would call "heavy petting" (actually, my mother wouldn't know what to call the things I often do on first dates)I hear the voice of an old teacher of mine saying "no one's going to buy the cow if you're giving the milk out for free."

Although I don't like comparing myself to a cow and I'm certainly not on the market in the sense that they're referring to in "The Rules" i.e. prostitution...uh..i mean marriage..., these things still worry me sometimes.

You know why? Because some guys...yes...even the ones who say they don't like girls who play games...expect girls to play the games. I've mentioned this to some of my girlfriends before and they've usually responded by saying "I know, it's annoying, but it's what we have to do."

No, ladies. It is most certainly NOT what we have to do. It's what I refuse to do. Why? Because I don't subscribe to the "Trap a Man at Any Cost" idea. I'd rather get rejected than get a second date because I succesfully denied myself what I want. I'd rather have some guy think I'm crazy than be something I'm not.

Of course this plan backfires on me all the time...hence the plethora of craigslist dates and the countless hours spent alone in my apartment feeling like a crazy cat lady. But in the long term, I think being true to myself is probably going to be more valuble than following all "The Rules".

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

You May Think I'm 14 After Reading This.

I probably should've blogged about this last week when the saga began, but alas, I have been now I'm gonna have to provide some back story in order to fully communicate the confusion I'm enduring as a result of my date last night. Maybe confusion isn't the right word...well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. In fact, I decided I'm going to devote two posts to last night. One to the background, one to my confusion.

So...a little over a year ago, Tiffany, my friend since the 1st grade, met a guy at St. Mark's Coffeehouse and went on a few dates with him. I remember her calling me, excitedly, to tell me about her most recent prospect. She told me what he looked like, what he was reading, and all the things she'd learned about him that night: raised Greek Orthodox, did a stint in the military, M.A. in philosophy, makes a living by organizing labor unions. All these seemingly incongruent details woven together created a picture of a guy with whom I might actually be compatible. Of course, Tiffany was about to go out with him, so that didn't occur to me until she finished her description and said "I can't believe I'm going out with him; he's perfect for you."

They went out a few times and quickly realized that they had some irreconcilable differences. The things about him that made him totally wrong for Tiffany seemed to make him totally right for me. I even calmed her down and answered some questions she had when a few of his sexual interests shocked her. I knew after that particular conversation that things wouldn't work out for them, but it never occurred to me that I should find a way to meet him. After all, men attracted to Tiffany, generally aren't in to me. She and I are close, but we're completely different people, physically and otherwise. And most importantly, my friends are too important to me to knowingly walk in to awkward situations.

They only went on a few dates, but they kept in touch. Several months after they stopped seeing each other, Tiffany started in on me..."you have to meet this guy, Colleen, he's PERFECT for you." I brought up the attraction thing, stating that if he's attracted to 5 foot tall sorority girls then he's not going to be interested in an amazonian feminist. "But he said I wasn't his type. He's usually into taller, curvier girls,," she replied. For 6 months we debated this. I didn't want to meet him. Sure it was intriguing, but it seemed much more trouble than it could possibly be worth. In addition to my previously stated reservations, I didn't feel like putting myself in a situation where I would be comparing myself to Tiffany. I've always felt the need to compete with Tiffany (she generally doesn't instigate these things because, well she's too good for that....or maybe she doesn't see the point because she always wins), so meeting this guy, knowing that he'd been interested in Tiffany seemed like a trip to Self-pityville on the Insecurity highway. But eventually, she wore me down and I agreed to meet this guy, this "perfect" guy.

At this point I will give him a name, because at this point he became a real person as opposed to an idea in my head.

The three of us planned to meet for drinks the week after I returned from South Carolina last August. Tiffany suggested we get there early so I could have a martini and lighten up a little: I had never been so incredibly nervous in my entire life. As I was fishing a gin-soaked olive out of my glass I looked up just as an Adonis stepped into the bar. I was trying to remember the last time I'd seen anyone so beautiful when Tiffany noticed me staring and jumped up to say "David! Hey, this is Colleen." I think I made some sort of coherent introduction while trying to send Tiffany telepathic messages of gratitude. You see, if I made a list of all the physical traits I wanted in my ideal man, it would be David...right down to the curly hair and big nose. As the evening progressed, he seemed more and more ideal: we had the same favorite beer, we both recognized a Mozart concerto playing in the bar, I was even trying to get a job with an organization that works closely with his organization. We had a few drinks and he made an exit, saying it was good to meet me and we should get together again.

The evening was unique for several reasons. The most obvious being that I felt like I'd just met the male version of me. Secondly, it just felt different. I'm the kind of girl who generally pushes for what she wants...especially when it's a man. I've thrown myself into dead-end relationships time and time again because I seem to lack the ability to see that what I want isn't always what is best for me. I also have a hard time understanding how it is that I can be so happy and so sure of a good thing when the other person involved doesn't see it at all. I suppose I'm a dreamer of sorts and sometimes my fantasy life supersedes my reality. But meeting David, I felt no sense of urgency. I didn't feel a need to possess him, to be whatever he wanted me to be and do everything in my power to make him want me back. It was enough just to know someone like that existed...I suppose it gave me hope. This began my self-imposed celibacy period, or as my friends see it, the time I refused to shave my legs for months on end. After meeting David I realized that I'd been settling...I'd been compromising things that I wanted because I didn't expect to meet anyone who shared so much in common with me...I am, after all, a bit strange. I got a grip on my love life and found the courage to stay single rather than settling for someone who may be great, but still not what I want. I had felt so alone for so long, that I'd been trying to make things work when they so clearly shouldn't. And then suddenly, I met this guy, who I realized I would probably never see again, but it was enough to know that he was out there and there were probably others like him, though they may be few and far between. I was still alone in my day to day life, but I felt less alone in the world.

And for the record, I often have huge epiphanies as the result of insignificant encounters in my there's no real over-dramatization of event, per se, but I often over-dramatize. So after a day or so of contemplating how meeting him affected my perspective of past and future relationships, I quit shaving, quit dating, and promptly forgot what it was that got me into such an introspective state. If I hadn't documented it all in my journal, I wouldn't have reason to give it a second thought.

But because I had documented it in my journal, which I picked up and re-read a couple weeks ago, David re-entered my thoughts. It didn't occur to me to talk to Tiffany and try to see him again or anything, I just had a few pleasant, reflective moments and then buried the journal in the bottom of a drawer.

Last week while wading through responses from one of my more ridiculous cragislist posts, this one involving my new-found love of men in drag, I opened an email from someone using the alias "David Hume". It's not uncommon for people to use fake names on email accounts when responding to craigslist ads...mine says Dagny Taggert, which is certainly one of the larger ironies in my life at present. "Oh, someone thinks they're a philosopher," I thought to myself. I read the brief email and had a strange sort of premonition before I opened the files attached to see the pictures that were sent. I felt like I might know this person. So I looked at the pictures and sure enough, it was David.

I wrote him an awkward response explaining how we had met before and he told me he had been attracted to me but assumed that I was "too sweet and nice" to be interested in the things that he is interested in: i.e. sex...very open-minded, progressive, sex. While no one has assumed that I'm "sweet and nice" in a very long time, I understood how meeting me through Tiffany could have led him to that conclusion. We exchanged a series of emails and decided to meet for drinks last night.

Again, I was nervous, but a strange hybrid of intense anxiety and inner calm. I was terrified and relaxed, paranoid and secure, cynical, but somehow optimistic. I was conflicted. I got to Williams a few minutes early, ordered a PBR and patiently (yet impatiently) waited.

David arrived shortly after and we quickly slipped into easy conversation. The positive feelings quickly took over and all my anxiety dissipated. Talking to him felt good...good like your head hitting the pillow after an 18-hour day. Good like your plane touching down at DIA after a weekend of binge drinking in Vegas.

David told me in one of his emails that he'd managed to avoid a long-term relationship for a while, and he wasn't looking to get involved in anything serious right now. As usual, I don't know what I want right now so the disclaimer didn't bother me. Lately I've been finding myself on the receiving end of un-wanted enthusiasm, so I appreciated that it was unlikely to work out that way. And I definitely appreciated the honesty. So when we reached that moment where our eyes met and neither of us were looking away, I broke the connection and stared absently at my beer. I couldn't remember which of us started staring into the other first...and I was embarrassed that it might've been me. The next time the staring thing happened, he broke making some silly face, which I liked, since I tend to do the same in awkward situations.

We ended up at my house when he said "I hadn't planned on making this a late night, but do you want to find someplace to make out for a while?" The direct approach always works on me.

When he kissed me, I thought I would lose the ability to stand on my own. My mind completely shut down and all I could do was kiss him back. The world sort of went fuzzy while his lips were on mine. I'm not sure how to describe what it felt like, but it didn't feel like kissing someone for the first time.

Then, you know, stuff happened...use your imagination...but not too much of your imagination...i managed to retain a little decorum decide the world fuzziness.

When we were saying goodbye, he said "maybe we can do this again if we find time in our busy schedules." I suddenly felt conflicted again: wanting to see him again but not wanting to risk ruining the memory of such a good night, wanting to show him I was interested but not wanting him to know how interested, confident, but still insecure. So I told him to call if he wanted to get together again. He told me to do the same.

I closed the door behind him, replaying the events in my mind and trying to figure out what the hell had just happened and where the hell I should go from there.