I am...a New Yorker

[Previous entry: "Changing"]

Wednesday, October 2, 2002
Understanding, But Not Condoning

The pattern, but not the why.

A man with a Muttley (as in "Snidely Whiplash and...") tee shirt.

A crate in the back of a (mini-van) taxi with a red-haired mannequin's head on top. At least I hope it was a mannequin's head.

Little girl with white tights with hearts licking blue icee drippings off her fingers, arm, and transfer. She was going to lick it off her skirt, but when she raised it to her mouth, the liquid trickled down onto the bus seat. How can I explain, except to say it was just one of those cute, kid things?

Not nearly enough water. I always get off track when the seasons start to change.

Woman with "E. Vil" T-shirt. I did a doubletake. Very clever abbreviation of East Village.

Not yet, but definately after therapy this afternoon.

To the video store just before midnight and seeing people pushing a baby carriage. Only in New York.

Desperately Seeking Susan and Harold and Maude. After rereading and editing those old entries yesterday, I needed some H&M time.

There's something else...a better way.

To "Don't Be Shy," both in Harold and Maude and on CD. It makes me pine for my own Harold.

Guy trying to pick me up at the therapist's office. Who am I to demand perfection, but if he's there, it's probably a bad idea.

Cowards who anonymously post nasty comments under the mistaken impression they are clever. I never stated anything of the kind and anyone who'd think the comment below applies, hasn't been paying attention. But then, this is an AOL user, so how much reading comprehension can be expected?

Moreover, the comment doesn't even logically follow from the post at hand. I refuse to date abusive assholes (or whiners who want to be abused), I refuse to give up my dreams and goals in order to have a man, any man -- so I won't do anything that isn't "pillowy-soft-and-cushioned?" Survive what I have, pursue a difficult path as I have, and you'll understand the absurdity of your remarks. Following the status quo, that is easy.

I think there is something better out there, but if most women and, indeed, most people, settle for less, then less will be the most there is. Certainly the tragedy of settling for less should be obvious, given the current American political "leadership," as just one example.

I do indeed live right here on earth, quite obviously. I eat, sleep and shit -- like anyone else. Please get thee to a clue. There's hope, even for the biggest dolts. After all, the coward knew enough to address me as "Ms."

I am...beginning to understand why people grow bitter or become hardened and self-preserving to a fault. I can understand why a coworker and a neighbor rank a man's earning potential at the top of their dating criteria. It's not so much "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with" as it is "If you can't get love, at least sell to the highest bidder." How that saddens me to see.

This sort of economics of physical affection is alien to me. For one thing, I always expected to be alone. Not only did I never think I needed a man for financial security, but that such an idea would be absurd, as there just wasn't the option. No one was more surprised than I when Mr. Snufalupagus, from a prominent family that owned many buildings in SF and was appointed to the Mayor's arts commission, offered to "keep" me. Years later, my market value ever lessoned, having been rejected yet again by a brilliant, poor boy who thinks women only want men with money, I wonder why I have such costly morality.

I accepted that fairy tales aren't for all of us, that there are other lifestyles. It didn't stop me from having many crushes over the years, but I had come to accept that boys just didn't find me attractive. I would never be white, blond, pretty, short or tiny and that was the dominant fetish where I went to junior high, high school and college.

I watched again and again as boys mooned over some pretty, but usually vapid or manipulative girl. It's not that I think pretty girls can't be smart and/or nice, mind you, but that pretty is too often enough to get by on, so they rarely develop anything else.

But then I met Eric when I was 20 and this odd thing that had never been part of my life before seemed possible. He reciprocated. At first. I've been confused ever since, because five years later, Evan seemed to reciprocate as well, as did Nerd Boy four years after that. At first.

Then, somewhere along the line, something goes terribly wrong. When these things happen to my friends, the next step is dating. It never goes that way for me, never takes that next step. Rafe seemed so different, so I gave it a chance, because he seemed to want to do the same. Afterward, I told him thanks for teaching me the error of my caring, trusting ways.

I keep thanking the universe for shooting that budding romance down, so spectacularly in flames very early on. If I had not found out what I did when I did, I would have rushed home every night to visit him in the hospital, like a fucking sucker. I would have grown to care for him, already I had, and I would have been hurt, all for someone who'd omitted some very important information.

. . .

I told the last of the men I was dating about my decision this morning:

Yes, seems like a century ago [he started off his email saying how long it had been since we spoke, about a month]. Since then, so much has happened. The main thing is that I decided not to date anymore. There's just nothing in it that's good for me. I'm not in it for for meals, money and gifts, as so many women seem to be (in this day and age, it [that sort of behavior] makes me truly sad). I'm tired of dealing with the aftermath of such people, being punished for their callousness -- when I'm genuine and caring. There is so much else I need to focus on.

I hadn't told him earlier because he hadn't called or emailed in weeks, so I didn't think there was a need to say anything.

. . .

I hate when people tell me, "Oh, it happens when you aren't looking, so stop trying so hard." Even John told me recently that I'd meet Mr. Right now that I'm celibate. I wasn't looking when I found any of the men I cared about. When I met Eric, not only had I never dated, but I was about to transfer to a university and had my plate full with that. When I met Evan, I was on a bus going to throw myself off the Golden Gate Bridge.

Similarly, when I met Nerd Boy, I was consumed with being back in New York and busy being in love with this place. Moreover, at first I thought he was a high school student in the summer work program. I didn't give him a second thought. A few months later, it was all I could do to get to and from work, as the hours grew longer and that constant state of alert, post-September, consumed every last drop of my light.

Then one day, while helping me on a major but mundane project, he said something terribly intelligent and I started paying attention. A few months later, I went to see someone else in his department, but he was the only one there. We got to talking about books and writing. He told me to come by any time to borrow books and pointed me toward a feminist anthology.

There's the rub. On the one hand, who doesn't like it when someone says she's pretty? But on the other, in the time between Eric and Evan I heard that all the time from men who cared of nothing else, who didn't really see me, just my face or my body. So when I meet someone who appreciates my mind, I'm fully engaged by them. I don't think that's wrong of me.

Maybe if I had any sense, I'd never have let myself grow to care about Nerd Boy, because he never complimented me about shallow things. But I'd rather have him, telling me I'm brilliant and engaging me in stimulating conversations that make me feel alive, than a thousand empty compliments.

It's not so much about caring what others think of me, but of wanting to be around people who appreciate me as I am, who like the things about me of which I am most proud, who accept my faults. It's about finding my own kind -- my motley tribe of freaks, geeks and weirdos. I certainly thought I'd found precisely that with Nerd Boy. Heaven help me, but I miss those brilliant, soaring, but funny conversations so very much. It's just not often I find them.

It's only after I meet such a person, my hormones all aswirl, that I start looking to satisify the physical hunger. But it's ultimately pointless, because what I miss most is the stimulating conversation. That's one of the reasons I'm returning to school, because at least there will be some use for all these brains, some outlet for all that intellectual energy. Honestly, I'd much prefer to use my powers for good and not evil.

My therapist tells me I shouldn't "give up." What have I given up? Emotional and sexual frustration? Why is not having a man to subjugate me necessarily a bad thing? And no, I don't think it necessarily must be that, but the kind of men who pursue me certainly do have very rigid sex role expectations. She said it can't be that black and white, but alas...

Scott, to my great surprise, told me last week that I want to be a spinster. Yes, and I also dreamed of being poor, mentally ill and just generally wretched! Perhaps...some day...leprosy! I really didn't know what to say to that. He said I'm always going to just up and decide to go somewhere because I haven't been there before. I told him that was impossible for me to say, a real chicken and egg question.

Do people not let me in because they know I'll leave? Don't think so, I was in SF for 3 1/2 years and no one let me into their life -- I rarely even saw my friends. I think it's quite the reverse, I didn't give moving to San Francisco or New York a second thought, because there was nothing and no one holding me to Foolerton or SF. There's not in New York, either.

I'm concerned and disturbed when I see my friends hold themselves back and give up their dreams for their men (or women, as the case may be). Yet I can't honestly answer how I would respond in the same situation, because I've never been there. People sometimes tell me I'm brave for moving all the way to New York, so far away from my family and friends.

But it's not like any of those people, love me though they say often enough, made time for me on a regular basis when I was right there. At one point, Fang canceled plans to see me every week for a year because it was the "only time" she had for her boyfriend. They lived together and saw one another everyday (granted, on very different work schedules). I just question why that relationship, in this culture, is privileged above all others. Why live with a romantic partner, rather than a friend? Why is there so much pressure for that one relationship to be the be-all, end-all? Isn't that why the divorce rate is so high?

Perhaps the one benefit of not really being a significant part of anyone's life is that you're perfectly free to go as you please -- no one cares, or scarcely even notices. I suppose it's equivalent to the old adage that "it's lonely at the top," as following one's dreams can alienate you from others who do not share them. The only problem with that theory is that I'm far, far, far from the top, even though I feel on the verge of something BIG.

[Next entry: "No Yogi, But I Tried"]
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Replies: 1 Comment

Come back down to earth, Ms. I'm-too-damaged-to-do-anything-that-isn't-pillowy-soft-and-cushioned. It's not so bad.

Posted by A COWARD @ 10/06/2002 01:55 AM EST

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