Knit a little, read a little, watch a little

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Whine ahead - anybody have cheese?

Knitting continues apace - Mom's first sock is done (or will be later tonight - I just need to do an inch or so of ribbing and cast off) and the back of Inishmore is finished. Thanks to everybody on the compliments about the previous shots. It's supposed to be sunny tomorrow, so I'll try to take pictures in sunlight. The rest of this post is going to be one long, self-pitying, self-involved, possibly narcissistic whine. If I don't get this off my chest, it's not going to be pretty. The universe seems to be conspiring to get me right now, so venting is necessary. You have been warned - and I won't feel badly if you don't read it.

That evil excuse for a Hallmark holiday is coming up. No, it's not a holiday I like. To say it's a holiday I loathe is to vastly understate my feelings. It is a holiday where, if I'm having a GOOD day, I'm merely a bitch. It goes rapidly downhill from there, and I rarely have a good day. It's a holiday that is like shoving a sword into my chest. I haven't gotten a Valentine card since they stopped making you give cards to everybody in the class in elementary school. High school was particularly putrid (and probably the source of a lot of my feelings towards the holiday). This is roughly how it went:

Person 1 - Look at the lovely stuff my boyfriend gave me. And we're going out to dinner, blah, blah, blah.
Person 2 - Loot at the neat stuff my secret admirer gave me.

Repeat Person 1 several times.

Me - Fuck off and die. (Guess who never had a boyfriend or a secret admirer?)

This is a holiday geared to couples, and it has always struck me as one that rubs singletons' noses in their status. You can't get away from it - every store is filled with hearts and flowers and cutesy stuffed animals with cutesy poses. Hell, I can't even escape it in my own house (my mother loves Ferarra Pan cinnamon candies, and this is the only time of year she can easily find them.)

It's an annual reminder that another year has passed, and I'm still a single, bitter, cynical virgin. And the bitter and cynical aspects of my nature are starting to frighten me. I've always been cynical, moreso than my age would indicate. In my college Russian class, the test on words of love and marriage coincided with a particularly bad time. The question on the test was "When are you going to get married?" My answer was "I'm never getting married, because all men are SOBs." (SOB had turned up in a story in my textbook - one of the few Russian words I use on a regular basis.) My teacher was amazed that I was so cynical at that age. It's gotten worse as time has passed, and I'm starting to fear that I am past the point of no return - that I have walled myself off from any ability I had for love. I think about dating what Groucho Marx thought about clubs - I wouldn't want to date any man who wanted to date me. (Also rooted in my early educational experiences, although not specific to evil holiday.) It's a catch-22, and I have no fucking clue as to how to fix it.

Admittedly, currently dating isn't an issue. I don't know any single men my age. Most of the single men I know are either old as the hills (60+) or "first word jail, second word bait" (high schoolers.) This town didn't have anybody I'd date when I was a teenager, and the pool does not appear to have deepened. Since I don't drive, my options are really limited (a 32 year old woman does not have her parents drop her off for dates.) However, that's just the current excuse. If that was really the problem, why didn't I date when I was in Portland? Pittsburgh? Montreal?

Let's take a look at what passes for my dating history:

Steve - 2 dates in high school. We met at my friend Heather's house - he and Heather worked together. He told Heather he was interested in one of her friends. Heather assumed he meant someone other than me, and hooked them up. They went out briefly, but nothing really came of it. It was OK, but we didn't really get to know each other. The prom was really awkward for me, because he went to a different school, I didn't know anybody there. It just wasn't very fun. Nothing ever really happened after that.

Mike - 2 dates in college. Both to my sorority formal (2 years running.) The first year, I had to have a friend ask him (seriously - I swear I'm blushing while writing this.) That time, he was half an hour late (turns out this is typical), so I left a note on my mailbox and walked to the event, which wasn't far from my apartment. He arrived a little after I did. We had fun, but nothing really happened. He was in a fraternity, so we saw each other off and on over the next year. I think I asked him the second year, but I honestly don't remember. Again, nothing of great excitement. He met another friend of mine, and asked her to his fraternity's formal. They went, he rented a hotel room, they slept together, broke up her relationship and they dated for a year. It took me several months to be comfortable with that relationship, mostly because I'd never fully resolved my feelings towards him. Hell, maybe it was jealousy that he went to all that trouble for her and not for me. She broke up with him because he just wasn't mature enough for her.

Paul - Closest thing I've had to a boyfriend. Member of the same fraternity as Mike. Invited me to the formal, we went, he embarrassed the hell out of me. Let's get this on the table - I suck at ballroom-style dancing - I think it's an attention span kind of thing. He insisted on dancing - we were the only ones on the dance floor, so my suck-age was really obvious. I probably should have realized this was a sign of things to come, but I'm naive, so didn't. We sort of went out for about a month. We went to a movie (The Crying Game, not a movie to see with frat boy, since they can be freaked out by subject matter, even if they know it in advance), hit the local jazz club a few times. He had a rather irritating habit of the Homer Simpson "D'oh" - cute every once in a while, but constant use is grating. I think what really twigged that this wasn't going anywhere was the following. One day, I went to the movies on the spur of the moment. Told him about it later, and he asked why I hadn't called him. The thought hadn't crossed my mind, honestly. He took a job at some summer camp - just vanished for the summer. I saw him that fall at the "Rosebud Debut" (well, they weren't pledges anymore, so the "Pledge Cocktail" had to be renamed, didn't it?) We ended up talking about whether our generation was going to be better off than our parents, with me playing devil's advocate/little Mary Sunshine until one of my sisters rescued me.

Dave - law school. He was a year ahead of me. Offered me a last-minute ticket to Maya Angelou, which I accepted (slightly embarassing - I had a late class, and was late to the show, and the seats were up front.) Went out a couple of times, I thought as friends. He was insistent that he pay for everything, which irked me - no, I don't work at a big ol' law firm, but I can afford to buy you a cup of coffee. He was fun, but when he announced he "want[ed] to date" me, my brain ran home and left my body to compensate. I stumbled through the night (we went to a friend's party.) I spent the next few weeks avoiding him at school - not easy when all your classes are in one building, and there are only 750 students in the school. I didn't handle it well, and maybe that's the karmic debt I've been repaying.

In general, those that are interested in me do not interest me, and those that interest me could care less about me. I kinda believe that in a past life, I was an incredibly chipper slut, and this is about balancing the scales. Intellectually, I know that the problem probably resides in my childhood. I was tormented by my classmates as a child for being smart (I skipped a grade, and was still smarter academically than most of my classmates.) I never developed the social skills that would allow me to function in a more normal way. When everybody else was dating and all, I was at home reading cookbooks. I think the ADD plays into this as well, because it makes it more difficult for me to read the more subtle cues that others read as a matter of course.

The virgin thing? (in case anybody's made it this far.) I occasionally feel awkward about this (at 32, who wouldn't?) It's not religious, or a "saving myself for marriage" thing. I always say that desire and opportunity haven't crossed yet. Desire shows up on a regular basis. Opportunity, not so much. There are days that all I want is (to paraphrase Carrie Bradshaw) for some guy to lie on top of me and wriggle. But I'm not going to compromise my standards. The one guy I KNOW wanted to sleep with me was sleeping with several of my friends, on several substances one shouldn't be using, and referred to me in class one day as a "dictionary." If the first two hadn't killed any feelings, the third certainly did. By late high school, I hated being such a brainiac (although I also knew it was the road out of here) so the dictionary reference was a killer.

Honestly, I don't know. Anything. If anyone has any thoughts, feel free to leave them in the comments.