It’s Not Worth It

They sat across from each other in the booth – I brought the coffee over and sat next to her.  I was a little stunned – I did not expect him to be there.  She didn’t say that he’d be there; I expected it to be just us.  I don’t know how I looked to them – I didn’t have the strength to feign gladness, and used what little energy I had to keep my mouth shut.  She rubbed my shoulder, and it felt good – but it didn’t light me up like it usually did.  I had a “good angry” going on, and I wasn’t about to let it go.

For the next hour they talked as if I wasn’t there.  I managed to chat a bit about an introvert/extrovert question from work that day:  “You have a birthday coming up, and you have an unlimited amount of funds.  How would you like to celebrate it and how many people would you like to be there with you?”

I answered, “Out to dinner with one friend” – which may sound sad to all you extroverts out there, but is in fact one of the more pleasurable things in this introvert’s life.  He thought it was a sad answer – there was genuine pity in his heart.  I didn’t expect either one of them to get it – by this time I really only had two clear thoughts:  1) why the fuck is he here? and 2) why the fuck am I here?  I don’t know why I didn’t get up and walk away.

The arrangement was so uneven that it wasn’t worth being friends.  I listened to her way more than she listened to me.  And it wasn’t just the time – it was the content, too.  I don’t know if she’s a superficial person, but there were definite limits to what could and could not be discussed.  When I was hurting, I wasn’t in a position to talk to her about it.  That isn’t who she is.  And that made my hurt that much worse.

From her point of view, people should keep their feelings to themselves.  Public displays of affection are verboten.  It explains why I didn’t have any “deep” emotional conversations with her – she may have been feeling lots of things, but they were private matters.  You might argue that our friendship lacked the trust it needed to share those kinds of things – and you’d be right.

Marc Maron says something like “you don’t really know whether you’re in a relationship until someone gets hurt.”  Because it’s exactly those moments when you realize that the relationship you have with someone is not a casual thing.  We were friends – emphasis on the lowercase “f.”  Now I’m looking for someone who isn’t afraid, not just of my feelings, but even more importantly, of showing and sharing theirs with me.

A Bit of Human Kindness

My experience with online dating over the years has been just awful.  This e-mail (posted as received) from one potential connection is an exception among those experiences:

[from her to me]  hey, i just have to say your photos are really impressive…i have found on this site that most guys (probably women too), post older photos of themselves where they look younger and more attractive. for some reason i came across your profile and your pics are amazing 🙂 you seem to just get better looking and in better shape as you age, and i am impressed that you included all the older photos as well., you seem like a real genuine guy..wow, seriously not sure what you’ve been doing, but keep it up….i hope in 5 years i can look that much better than i do today. i don’t really see us as a match, but just wanted to reach out to you and tell you i thought it was really cool and i hope one day you meet a great lady

[from me to her]  Hi _______, thank you for your kind and generous remarks.

I had something of an epiphany a few years back … overweight, out of shape, no love life – not a pretty picture.  I decided to do something about it, dropped some weight, joined a few clubs (books, art, writing) …  I posted the older photos because I wanted to show folks that I’m still a “work in progress.”  I’m still working on losing weight, stretching resistance bands to build a little muscle and tone up.

You’re a terrific looking, awesome woman yourself – I have no doubt that you’re living a healthy lifestyle and you’ll look at least as good as you do right now (heck, better – I honestly believe there’s some truth to the claim that we don’t get older, we get better) with every passing year.

My only regret is that you don’t see us as a match.  Such kind and generous support is a rare thing in this world – you’ve really given my ego a boost!  If you ever have a change of heart, I’d love to spend some time with you – nothing better than having a mutual admiration society!

Thank you again for reaching out – you’ve renewed my hope in human nature.  If I meet someone half as kind and thoughtful as you, I’ll consider myself a very lucky fella.  I hope you meet that terrific guy who gives you the care, affection and love you so clearly deserve.  My best to you, always …

I’ve traded online dating for more face to face group activities, enjoying the activities for their own sake.  If I meet someone during these events, terrific – and if I don’t, that’s fine too.