Pre-nuptial rumination

It’s hard to think about without wincing but sometimes my mind wanders and I think of the stupid things I’ve done to get men to love me.

How I’ve shushed that voice inside me that protested. How I’ve talked my way around it. How I knew going in that it was a bad idea but how I convinced myself that no matter what at least I’d get a good story out of it. It’s always worth the story, right? Yeah, sure, may be. But you don’t just carry the story with you and break it out at parties and then put it back in its case and back on a shelf until the next time you need it. You carry the shame too, and that shame will creep up on you and buckle your knees in the shower or in long walks across parking lots when your mind wanders. Is it still worth the story then? Yeah, sure. May be.

Maybe not.

There was this one man who came after me like a bull running toward a billowing red flag. That’s how it felt to me. It was exhilarating. He must have smelled the sadness on me, a bloodhound hunting the lovesick. He made me his mark and he must have known I’d think it felt so nice to be marked that I would go along with what was a very bad and very hurtful plan for everyone involved. He must have known. He must have laughed to himself at how easy it was. Maybe he did.

Maybe not.

There was this one man who spent many of his waking hours and of some his sleeping hours radiating a disdain for me that was palpable. You could walk into a room and feel it. I could walk into a room and feel it. He told me when I confessed my unhappiness that we had made our bed and even though we weren’t happy, we needed to lie in it. Forever. Because that was the right thing to do. I imagined myself dying a withered and dried-up husk of a person. Sometimes I think about what life would be like had I stayed and lived out my life pushing that boulder up the hill. The thought errors out every time. It cuts to a “footage not found” screen. Maybe that man would have grown to love and respect me with time.

Maybe not.

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I’m thinking about these things a lot lately because of how so many of my past relationships contrast so sharply with the relationship I have with the man I am going to marry. All that time I spent positioning myself so that I could lap up crumbs of an aloof man’s affection; what was I thinking? Who was I? Why was I so sure that I had to settle for whatever I could get at that moment because it was pretty unlikely that I’d ever find more? Why did I need to self-loathing to play out externally as a relationship with another person? What did I actually learn from any of that, other than don’t do that again, dummy?

I’m under no illusions that marriage will be easy. But to be stepping into it with someone who has never once made me question my self-worth feels like a revelation, a sunrise, a new notebook, a popped cork. There is magic and comfort there, with room to grow and without fear.

It’s exactly what I have been pining for my whole life.

Sim men are not easily impressed

yep, i'm pretty okay

I spent the ENTIRE day in pajamas, playing the Sims 3. I did this in solidarity with the bf, who, because he’s anticipating his first final of the semester tomorrow, spent the ENTIRE day cramming. In pajamas. He took some breaks from studying to come check on me and laugh at my virtual versions of us as we danced awkwardly, argued with strangers unprovoked, and were unable to get it on anywhere except the bed. And even then, with my Sim working it (see above), his Sim deemed me “okay.”

Tough crowd.

An example of how not to woo a woman

I had a Plenty of Fish profile once upon a time. My username? Hipsterectomy. Yeah, yeah. You wish you thought of it. Anyway. If you’re a girl and you put up even a semi-flattering photo of yourself, you get a shitton of worthless one-word e-mails from dudes (subject line: “hi,” e-mail body: “hi”), even ones who, were they to actually read your profile, would see they are not compatible in any way with you. It’s just how it goes on these sites. The men throw shit against a wall and see what sticks and the women lurk and wait for someone not insane to message them.

Anyway, I got some truly odd messages in my short time on PoF. (Two foot fetishists and one man who wanted to know if I needed someone to call “daddy” stand out in particular.) And then the other day I got this:

The pitfalls of online dating

I mean, I guess it’s an easy way of saying both “I don’t want kids” and “I don’t read for comprehension,” but still. Fellas, think before you hit send.

INSTANT UPDATE-O-MATIC! Do you think this guy was trying to make a play on words implying that I removed a man from my life recently? IS IT POSSIBLE THAT I HAVE BEEN OUT-CLEVERED AT MY OWN GAME?!

Uncertainty

That’s been the name of my game lately, it seems.

My sister’s ordeal has been its own beast, and one that has not yet been fully tamed. She’s coping. I’m coping. We’re all coping. We are mining hope like it’s our job and so far it has either actually helped or made it seem that way.

But there is other uncertainty around. It swirls up from the bottom like creamer in my coffee, making things sweeter but triggering my constant suspicion that it’s not good for me. I savor it when I can get my mouth on it. I think about it a lot. I don’t know what it all amounts to but in my more self-indulgent moments I imagine myself getting used to it and the feeling washes over me and I’m left with a stupid grin on my face and some hazy, sun-speckled idea of what the near future could hold. I am full of pride and know better than to let myself get carried away with getting carried away. And yet. I am doe-eyed and hopeful and possibly naive and definitely making mixed CDs and constantly plotting and scheming (and not in the deceitful way) and hoping the day away. The scary part is that all of this could be in my head, even the real parts. If that makes sense. It doesn’t, I know.

I am putting myself out there, wincing. Bring it, Universe. I can handle you.

Come for the bug lotion, stay for the flattery

I enlisted a nice gentleman’s help in Rite Aid last night, as I was completely unable to navigate my way toward the bugspray aisle. “Do you have bug-repellent lotions?” I asked him. He thought for a beat and then said, “Let’s go see.” He led me back to the bugspray and I scanned the bottles and canisters and moist towelettes for something more spreadable. I didn’t find what I was looking for.

The man picked up a bottle of silky smooth spray with a supposedly great scent.

“What about something like this?” he asked, showing it to me.

“Nah,” I said. “I’ve got to have full coverage.” He was puzzled and I explained that if any portion of my flesh is exposed when I go outside from spring to the dead of winter, I am guaranteed multiple mosquito bites. Sprays are not going to cut it for me.

“I can be the only one in a group of thirty people who will get bitten,” I said, perversely proud of my freakishness but also disgusted by my body’s inability to fend off tiny bloodsucking critters.

“Ahhhh, you know what they say, don’t you?” he grinned. “That means you’ve got sweet meat.”

I laughed it off, thought better of saying, “I’ve been told that before!”, thanked him, and we parted ways.

Until, that is, I was ready to check out. “I can get you over here,” the man said.

I unloaded my paper towels and bottles of ibuprofen onto the counter.

“Ms. SM, that’s what I’ll call you!” the man said, grinning something fierce.

I smiled back, puzzled.

“Miss Sweet Meat!” he explained, laughing and launching into a conversation as I tried to keep up with him while rummaging for my wallet and the correct chunk of bank-approved plastic required for our transaction.

“It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever been called,” I said.

“Are you from around here?” he asked. “From Memphis?” I nodded. “You a student? Just finishing up the semester?”

Now that was being too kind to me. I see this face in the mirror every day and watch as new lines are carved into its landscape and I do not look like a student much these days. Except maybe for how I dress. “Noooo, no no. But thanks for saying that.”

I told him I’d been out of school for several years and he wanted to know where I worked.

“The paper,” I said. I am always reluctant to tell people exactly where I work because I’m afraid they will clam up and not talk to me or be as free with their words. Everyone likes to imagine that they have something a soulless gotcha journalist would love to snatch and run with. Most everyone has nothing of the sort.

The gentleman lit up and leaned in. “So let me ask you this: What did you think of the paper putting a dead body on the front page?”

“That was my page!” I said.

The man fell out and couldn’t believe it. “That was YOURS?! You’re a local celebrity! I can’t believe it!”

But he thought I meant I took the photo. No, I explained. I just placed the photo and put words around it and tried to make it look good and easy to digest. I expounded on why I thought that photograph was worth putting on the front page of the newspaper. I explained that we purposefully made sure the dead body was below the fold when the paper was in the news rack, since we knew it was sensitive material and we weren’t trying to maximize the shock value just for kicks.

The gentleman told me he was from D.C. and was surprised to see something like that in the Memphis paper. I told him I was surprised by it too.

And then he asked me if I was married, and when I said no, said he really would like to take me out to dinner.

I declined, clumsily (the same way I weaseled out of admitting to being single the last time I talked relationships with the Rite Aid clerk; I know, I have just got to learn to say “thank you, but no”). And he called me “a breath of fresh air” and said he had really enjoyed talking with me.

And it was genuinely the nicest thing that happened to me all day yesterday.

Question answered: ‘What’s an ideal fella to you?’

From ye olde Formspring: I’ve never introduced myself to you, in person at least. I think you are intelligent, attractive, a wonderfully acerbic wit, creative, enviable, enigmatic, intriguing, and constantly searching. What’s an ideal fella to you?

Hot dang! I like fellas who heap on the sweet words. That’s pretty much ideal. :) (<---- when I put an emoticon in an actual post, I mean it.) This question immediately made me think of this long, drawn-out dreamboy description I wrote in my diary many, many years ago. And, because I'm stalling on how to describe my current ideal fella AND I enjoy every opportunity to laugh at sweet little virginal teenage me and her sweet little virginal teenage worldview, I’d like to transcribe what I considered the perfect dude on June 16, 1997:

Tall, about 5’11” to 6’1″. Lean, but not skinny. Medium brown hair, amazing blue-green eyes, 5 o’clock shadow of light brown hairs.

His hair is a grown out bowl cut that wisps in and out of his face like Chris Hardwick’s. His jawline is perfectly chiseled and his voice is deep. It’s smooth and almost buttery. His laugh is infectious and boyishly cute. His smile is bright and radiant and reveals almost perfect teeth. His body is muscular, with only slightly defined pecs and a hint of a six-pack. A loose t-shirt hangs over his too-big-for-me-but-I’m-comfortable jeans that are cleverly buttoned just below the elastic wasteband [sic, yes I just sic’ed myself] of his plaid boxers. His feet are hidden beneath folds of denim, and are clad in scuffed looking Airwalks or Vans, probably close to a year old and borrowed from a friend. Inside this incredible-looking creature is a childish curiosity about the world in which he lives. He’s smart, but not in a conventional way. His grades are good (but not good enough for his parents) but he lacks scholastic enthusiasm. Often during class, he is caught drawing cartoons or sketching the teacher as the devil. (later edit: Or writing poetry.) He is a favorite among peers, but not because he’s popular or greatly desired. His popularity comes with his constant wish to be an individual and his incredible sense of humor. He is humble, never uttering a conceited word, and he is the most considerate being on earth. He treats his mother as if she were a porcelain doll, his father as a comrade.

This guy’s heart is open to all walks of life. He judges but not purposely or vindictively. His concience [sic!!!] forces him to always admit when he’s wrong; saying he’s sorry is never a problem.

When he loves, he loves with every fiber of his being. His is romantic, not afraid to share his feelings, or say what he means.

His dreams are vivid and shiny; mostly about fame, but he realizes the reality that covers them. He doesn’t shun the idea of marrying and having a family; it’s his #1 dream.

He’s multi-talented and loves all forms of art. Music is his companion, art is his friend, and his friends are the world to him.

But when he is in the mood for private-time [sic], he retreats to his room and daydreams of his love, and their future together.

He would never neglect her; she means the world to him. He would sacrifice all just to see her happy.

He’s mature and caring, not entirely afraid to cry, but very masculine when he needs to be.

In other words, internet, I totes thought I was going to meet and marry a skateboarding-themed JC Penney ad some day. Jeez O. Peete.

I wrote that description of my ideal man as I was being slowly and excruciatingly pocket vetoed by my first boyfriend, who had just graduated high school and suddenly, without warning, had stopped talking to me in anticipation of all the sweet college ass he was about to get once he arrived in Knoxville. It took him a full three weeks of no contact with me before he caught me in the chip aisle of the grocery store where he worked and dumped me on the spot. I didn’t protest; I just sort of nodded my head expectantly, trying to be super understanding because why WOULD a college freshman want to stick with a high school sophomore, especially me, especially in Hardin fucking County, population LAME? We shook hands — really — and I snatched a bag of Doritos and got the fuck out of there. I buried that confusion and resentment deep, though. Real deep. You can’t tell at all, I know!

So. In the intervening years, my expectations for what the male sex should offer me have, uh, simplified somewhat. I no longer daydream about crumpled denim cascading around skateboard shoes or (wince) wispy, grown-out bowl cuts, but I do love a man who can make me laugh. That’s absolutely No. 1. And before, when I said he had to be smart but not conventionally smart? Yeah, no. I now fully admit that I like ’em nerdy. Nerdy and booksmart, in my self-indulgent little bubble, also implies a certain set of sociopoliticalpsychoreligious beliefs I needn’t really get into here. I don’t mind some ambition. A good work ethic (and, obviously, a job — maybe even a career — and plenty of independence). He’s got to be easy on the eyes, but my definition of that is ever-changing, so I won’t spend any time defining it now. Creativity. BUT NO MORE MUSICIANS. No offense, musicians. You’re all just too, uh, complex for me. That said, we have got to be able to share music. Swap mixed CDs and get wistful about hooks and lyrics and interesting chord progressions and finding songs that speak to the now in the way that so much good music does. He should be kind, at his core. He needs to be silly. And to know that my favorite game will be trying to embarrass him in public. Or not trying and embarrassing him anyway. Because I’m a fucking dork. He’s got to get my humor. He’s got to get me. And he’s got to want me. Every fucking crazy inch of me: The me who sings in the car, talks to herself at the house, speaks in complete sentences to the cats, takes pictures of everything, has an unscrubbably filthy mouth, and always laughs a tick too loud.

He should have a grand romantic gesture or two up his sleeve that he can pull out periodically to make sure I am not completely eaten up with cynicism.

He needs to have a good relationship with his family, and be able to fit into my crazy family with relative ease. He should probably be open to having a family of his own, because, despite my better instincts, I imagine I would like to have a family some day. And I’m going to need a solid partner.

Well. I thought I had simplified what I want, but maybe I haven’t. Nope, I’d say maybe I’m pickier than ever.