Saturday, January 31, 2009

For Jennifer, Yet Again.

Paul met me as I came home this evening with a smile, then turned to my mom and said, "Dating at Manchester is a lost cause. "

Okay, I paraphrased a bit for readability. All the memoir writers do it.

I had discovered this horrifying tidbit of information during my tenure at MC too. As, I must add, has my friend Jen (Hi, Jen!). We have talked at length about the subject, and since we each have now graduated, we talk a lot about how dating in about fifty miles in any direction from our homes is also a lost cause. This is because most of that is farmland. And cows.

Paul had, during his discussion, divided the girls at MC into "several separate but equally important groups." Thank you Law and Order (Yes I watch too much TV. I was just telling you why. The dating thing, remember?). The fact that Paul had taken the step to organize girls into groups amused me. Apparently, he had thought this through far more than I gave him credit for. I was impressed.

However, when I mentioned that boys had groups too, he seemed to think this was less important than his idea, the groups of girls. Sorry, Paul, you are so wrong. Just saying.

He seemed to think the fact that I am single was related more to my personality--which I acknowledge. I will be the first to tell you that I am single because I expect boys to disappoint me and feel vindicated when they do. But it is not my fault. The dating pool is a bit shallow around here, and there are all kind of farm chemicals in it that have given its inhabitants third eyes, not to mention mullets, ex-wives, and drinking problems.

Paul had grouped girls into these (although there are certainly more) categories, which he summarized for me and I reproduce here:

The "Girlfriends"

These girls spend every waking moment together. They braid each other's hair, chew bubble gum and have never left the seventh grade. When you manage to break one of these young women away from the herd of cud-chewing manicured perfume-ad models, you notice that you have not quite broken her away so much as you have joined the herd. Your "girlfriend" will convey messages through The Others, including what you have done wrong (so you can fix it).

Reportedly, they also use their friends as a tool during your inevitable break-up (you will never live up to the demands of the group). Apparently, Paul had a friend report to him that the friend's girlfriend, Ms. X, had asked her friends to make him break up with her, since it was too painful for her to engineer herself. Ms. X's girlfriend then found the boyfriend's car, his second love, and took out her vicarious rage on it in the form of a short keen-edged blade. Yes, she slashed all his tires, perhaps hoping that he would think his girlfriend had, instead of hers.

The Shy Ones

These will never approach you, and you will always assume their quiet demeanor and lack of eye contact to be a non-verbal request to get the hell away from them, right now. If you manage to break through to a Shy One, you had better not be shy yourself, or your dates will involve the two of you pretending not to pay attention to each other until the humiliation of each other's company drives you apart.


Some of these girls are merely unattainable. They met Mr. Right in the first grade, in the hand-washing line after Finger Painting 101. They smile, they talk, they exude the kind of confidence that only comes from knowing they already have someone they will share a burial plot with.

Others in this group are far more nefarious. They don't display the ring, no, they smile, chat, exude confidence, and flirt with every guy that comes their way. Then, when the poor, defenseless man attempts to schedule a date, they flash the before-unseen diamond, which they only take out on special occasions. They would be happy to keep up the flirtation, but inform you calmly that their fiance has begun to take umbrage at your close relationship. He has purchased a flight into town, the sole purpose of which is to liberate your teeth from your jaw. She then smiles, tosses her hair, and goes back to her chemistry equation

The "Oh, you're so funny!" Girls

These, my brother says, are the worst of the bunch.

They are the girls who laugh at your jokes, confide in you, seek out your company, and would date you in a heartbeat.

Except for that little problem. You aren't an Abercrombie & Fitch model. So, you see, they're going to hold out for the guy that's exactly like you in every way, but prettier, so that their children look like they fell from heaven and had to have their wings removed so they wouldn't get made fun of at recess.

Paul has a point about most of these things. He missed the Man-Haters, but you wouldn't really want to date them anyway, so they don't really fit on this list. I have seen them all, since I am a Shy One. I have the whole disappointment/vindication problem too, but I am at heart, a Shy One. Shy Ones have a gift, for, though we remain alone and, to some extent, unhappy, we get to see all the other groups move around us.

We also get to observe the guys, since we're too afraid to talk to them unless we consider them totally non-threatening. This is why all my guy friends were decidedly younger than me or interested in girls that were my polar opposite in appearance, if not personality. I hesitate to describe each group. There are so many, and I know that Jen would end up having so much to add to my list that I may as well wait to write it when I am with her. But since she is probably asleep by now (I had a little caffeine), I will try to do something a bit different. I will give the reasons given to me, usually months or years after the fact, why I have been overlooked in lieu of other, prettier girls.

Buddy Speak

This is not a quote, no, it goes unnoticed for too long to have any given catchphrase. Girls don't know it's happened until it is too late, until the time has passed, and the boy you've become such friends with no longer sees you as a girl at all.

You have become gender neutral.

He knows you aren't a guy. He (usually) refrains from emitting gastric noises in your presence; he doesn't scratch private areas or talk about the body parts of girls he likes or has liked (I repeat, usually). Naturally, his inhibitions erode more and more with each passing hour of being his--gasp--buddy.

You spend so much time together and know him so well that he has had to compartmentalize his brain in order to survive. If any girl ever had the cunning ploy of getting to know a man as a friend so she could date him later, know that this will backfire. These men are your genuine friends. Finding out you may as well be a cactus or favorite pet is only thrown in your face later, something to remind you of how utterly undesirable you are in general. Your relationship with him is fun until you have a bout of low self-esteem. Then you take your guy friend as proof that you always be alone. And you cry.

But in their defense, most of these men are kind and supportive at the right moments. But it would help if they would stop calling you "dude."

The Model Citizen

This guy is much like the "Oh, You're So Funny!" girl. They are counterparts. These are guys who want only women with perfect bodies, bleached-blond hair (no, I promise, it isn't natural), and large breasts. And I will state now and for the record to all men who are reading this: if a woman is a size zero; she can't be a DD at the same time unless her plastic surgeon is on speed dial right next to your number. Be warned.

These guys are nice; they like spending time with you.

This is because they consider you asexual. Yep, just like they were your buddy, except you don't have the friendship to fall back on. Just an overwhelming urge to stop eating, find some cream to clear up your skin that actually works, and buy a push-up bra. Only then, you think, will you be pretty.

What we as women must realize is--THESE GUYS AREN'T ACTUALLY NICE. No, though they may treat you kindly, smile at you, or share a snack with you, deep down they think women are slabs of meat they are born to haggle over like discriminating chefs at market. If they flirt with you (well, me) it is because they are practicing their lines on you to see if it will work on the real girls.

They are after your pretty friends. If you like your friends at all, ignore them. These men are too chauvinistic to deserve their company.

"I wanted to ask you out, but I thought you'd say no, so I asked her (him--ouch) instead."

These are the most infuriating of the bunch, because the guy usually waits until the week before you or he moves out of the state, country, or hemisphere. Or the month before his wedding, or, more rarely in the Bible Belt, after he discovers that his hesitancy to date is because he is, in fact, gay.

They are your friends, your co-stars in plays (you know who you are), your partners in group assignments, the person you tease, your first real crush. They are the person that would be perfect for you, only they don't know it, or you are too shy to give them the encouragement they need.

They tell you this as you sit at a picnic table, remembering the fun you used to have. You are rediscovering why you liked them in the first place, thinking about how good it is that they have returned to your life, how you could actually force yourself to make the first move this time. And then they drop the bombshell. As you reel in the aftermath, they inform you that they are totally over whatever once existed, then smile and walk away, leaving you with the knowledge that you were the reason it didn't happen in the first place. Because they just told you.

That's why I think they say it. They're feeling good about their lives, accomplished, self-actualized, and they want you to know that you missed out on it all. For whatever reason, your distance from them, your implied rejection, was the catalyst they needed to turn their lives around and make the changes they needed. And now, now that they are more desirable and know it, they want you know what you missed out on.

What else could it be? They couldn't want anything else, or they would be saying--"Hey, I wanted to ask you out, didn't have the guts, and left. But now I'm here, better than ever, and I want you in my life. Can we be more than friends?" Instead, they're breaking up with you, even though you were never together in the first place.

There are guys in the world that don't fit into these molds.

There are the Shy Ones, there are the guys that think they are the center of gravity in the universe and that all should orbit around them in reverence to their glory and wisdom. There are the guys that can't handle breaking away from their video games, sports, etc to fill time with other company. There are guys who wait for girls to ask them out. There are guys who feel the need to get girls drunk before they ask them out, which backfires because they are by that point, drunk as well. There are even guys who attempt to ask girls out, date them, and break up with them all by using Internet social sites like Facebook (I've known some of them too).

But, usually, these are the men who ignore me to the extent that I don't even notice their rejection or, sometimes, their existence. So, I will allow others to write blog posts about them. And if you're reading this and thinking, "Wow, she's given this a lot of thought," you're right. I've talked this through a hundred times with every woman I'm on good terms with. It's what we single girls do out here where there's no Barnes & Nobles, yarn stores, or Starbucks at which to drown our sorrows.

1 comment:

  1. I can't help but think that you derived some of your inspiration from my love/friend life...

    Oh, and tell Paul to keep trying. He's tall, and I've never seen tall guys stay single for long.