Friday, April 21, 2006

Those of you who have read this blog and its archives may have come to the conclusion that I have bad luck when it comes to women. That assumption is wrong. I have terrible luck with women. In fact, you could argue that my luck is worse than Marten's (although not quite as bad as Davan's). And sometimes it's enough to make want to toss in the towel and join a monastery. Sadly, every intense feeling is fleeting, and as wise as taking up the tonsure might be, given my record, I never seem to be able to keep myself from trying again.

I've come to realize that if I'm going to keep torturing myself, I might as well learn to find some humor in this. Dealing with rejection is a tricky issue. On the one hand, a rude or hurtful rejection inspires righteous anger and/or grief. On the other hand, girls just love to use a bitter response as an ex post facto rationalization of their refusal to go out with you in the first place. So it's better just to laugh at it. It usually makes the other person indignant, since you were supposed to be so heartbroken by their rejection as to be incapable of ever feeling joy again.

At some point I plan on publishing a book about my epic failures with girls. I'm still toying with titles, but so far "The (Un)Fairer Sex" is the best one I've come up with. And before you censure me for publishing it, consider the rash of boy-hating fads that have sprung up, including but not limited to such gems as this one. (Or if you've been reaing a lot of Andrea Dworkin and want to go all-out, this one.) As far as I'm concerned, such a book would merely serve to level the playing field. To paraphrase Kenny Rogers, "If you’re gonna play the game, girls, you gotta learn to play it right."

Here's a sample of what the book will cover in greater detail.

Every guy strikes out. Every single man born on this earth will at some point hear the dreaded words "I'm sorry, BUT..." from a girl. Part of being guy is knowing that you're probably going to hear those words more often than not. However, not all failures are created equal. Let's consider a few types, from the mildly insulting to the flat-out outrageous:

"I'm washing my hair." Most of the time you will not hear this exact phrase, unless you had the misfortune to ask out a woman who is either mind-numbingly stupid or heartbreakingly honest. Two common variations (there are way too many to list in detail here):
-"I've got too much homework." When was the last time you heard of a girl blowing off a date with a cute guy because she had a paper to write? If, in choosing between you and homework, she chooses homework, that's a pretty clear message; you're better off taking your lumps and moving on. If she's lying then you wouldn't want to date her anyway, because if she lied to once she'll lie to you again. If she's telling the truth, well, that's just creepy. Either way, you win. (Sort of. Might want to reconsider your taste in girls, though.)
-"I have a lot of things to do today." Not always a bad sign. Until you hear it for the fifth day running. When that happens, it's best to accept that "a lot of things" is probably not going to involve you, unless you enjoy stringing yourself along over a woman who can't bring herself to say "no, thank you."

"Is this a 'just friends' thing?" This is an example of what I call the Parametrization Complex. She's trying to nail down exactly what you want ahead of time so she can be exactly sure of what the future is going to bring. If this sort of reflexive anxiety tires you out, you can call it quits right there. However, if you're feeling creative and have some time on your hands, you can assure her that your intentions are honorable and present her with a Contract of Chastity to prove how dedicated you are to making her feel comfortable. If you really want to get fancy, have your roommate notarize it. Plus side: if she's got a sense of humor, she might actually find it funny. It may not improve your chances of dating her, but she may appreciate the joke. If not, well, it's not like you lost anything that you hadn't already.

"I'm really not looking for a relationship right now." Similar to the question above, except that it's slightly more arrogant. Instead of asking you about your intentions, it operates from an assumption of what you want. In this particular case, the assumption is faulty. Simply skimming through any Dave Barry book would assure that many guys aren't looking for a relationship. Many men approach women the way they approach dessert: "Same great taste, half the committment." To further reinforce this stereotype, a possible response to the above statement is a hopeful "...Well, how about a meaningless hookup instead? " Again, though, you have to deal with the consequences if she lacks a sense of humor.

"It's not you, it's me." Technically, this is a rationalization and not a rejection. However, you're going to hear it quite often immediately following a rejection. If the girl is making an attempt to let you down gently, this is a good indication that you've just been shot down. However, if she's taking a sledgehammer to your dreams of buying her dinner, this line might just be more icing on the cake. Although she might be saying this in good faith, it's somewhat annoying due to its tendency to sound like a lady protesting too much. Unless she says "It's not you, it's me--I'm a crazy bitch." In which case we can file it under a new category: "Honest Confessions."

"Sorry, God says I can't date you." Every guy has his own story of That One Girl that just cut him off at the knees. Some guys' stories are more pathetic than others. Some sound like they came from movies. And others (such as this one, which I have actually heard) are just too good to be true. If a girl's religion gets in her way of dating you, then believe me when I say that you are at least 100% better off for not having the misfortune of getting into a relationship with her. The thing about this type of girl is that any comment you make regarding religion from that point on is taken as a mockery of her faith (though it's kind of hard to mock someone who can say the above quote to you with a straight face). If she follows it up with something like "...but I think you're a wonderful person," you might feel justified in asking her why God doesn't want her to date you if you're so wonderful. Just be prepared that she might actually tell you her reasons for thinking The Divine has an interest in you staying single.

In all of these situations, it's important to remember to keep your sense of humor. It's a sad fact that the person who gets angry first under these circumstances automatically loses whatever high ground they may have had. If you can remember to laugh (sometimes it's hard to recall what laughter feels like when you're so busy getting your guts stomped out), you'll be a lot better off than the guy who responds to failure in a bitter and vindictive fashion. All he's doing is justifying her imagined reasons for not wanting to date him. This isn't to say that you can't come up with a few good retorts. Just don't step too far over the line. Keep your responses lighthearted and whimsical. If she's got any class, she'll respond in kind and there will be few, if any, hard feelings over the whole affair. However, if she gets indignant with you, it probably meant that she wanted you to suffer more over your failure to win her affections.
Keeping calm and laughing at the situation allows you some detachment from the pain of being shot down--and it's usually the case that men who laugh at their misfortunes suffer less emotional and mental fallout as a result.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

This week has been awful, but today was wonderful. Even in the face of a PChem test at 7 PM last night and a Biochem test at 8 AM this morning, sat through a PChem class while barely conscious, and lost my notebook an hour before lab--it all seems minor in retrospect, even the two tests seem small. Even the paper I had to write seems small. The weather's nice, my birthday is coming, and I have summer work--research here at the college with Dr. Gary DeFotis (whom I will describe in greater detail another time. He merits a post of his own), from late May to early August. Somehow things to be falling into perspective, gradually, on their own. Which is good. I don't have the strength to force them into perspective at the moment.

Today also saw the fruition (or at least partial fruition) of a project I'd had in mind for some time. I say partial because the pictures didn't turn out exactly the way I'd intended. That's OK, though, because they're still pretty cool. I figure this can be the first installment of the 2006 Spring At William & Mary series. Unlike the past two year's, though, this particular one is by night.

Monday, April 03, 2006

A Tardy Requiem

This post is a bit late in coming; nonetheless, here it is. I had written something earlier and saved it as a draft, but after re-reading it I decided it was too wordy for what I was trying to say.

Adam, I miss you. I never understood your strength until it was gone. I hope you're at peace with the pain you wrestled with. Rest well, my friend.

Though Adam was a friend of mine, I did not know him well
He was alone into his distance, he was deep into his well
I could guess what he was laughing at but I couldn’t really tell
Now the story’s told that Adam jumped
But I’ve been thinking that he fell

Together we went traveling as we received the call
His destination India, and I had none at all
Well, I still remember laughing with our backs against the wall
So free of fear, we never thought that one of us might fall

I sit before my only candle
But it’s so little light to find my way
Now this story unfolds before my candle
Which is shorter every hour as it reaches for the day
But I feel just like a candle in the way
I guess I’ll get there but I wouldn’t say for sure

When we parted we were laughing still, as our goodbyes were said
And I never heard from him again as each our lives we led
Except for once in someone else’s letter that I read
Until I heard the sudden word that a friend of mine was dead

I sit before my only candle like a pilgrim sits beside the way
Now this journey appears before my candle
As a song that’s growing fainter the harder that I play
But I fear before I end I’ll fade away
But I guess I’ll get there though I wouldn’t say for sure

Though Adam was a friend of mine, I did not know him long
And when I stood myself beside him I never thought I was as strong
Still, it seems he stopped his singing in the middle of his song
Well, I’m not the one to say I know, but I’m hoping he was wrong

I’m holding out my only candle
Though it’s so little light to find my way
Now this story’s been laid beneath my candle
And it’s shorter every hour as it reaches for the day
Yes, I feel just like a candle in the way
I hope I’ll get there...but I never pray

(Jackson Browne, "Song For Adam)