Disclaimer: unless someone is truly a d-bag, or if there’s really no chance I’m ever going to see or talk to them again, I will try my hardest to not cast anyone but myself in anything but a positive (or possibly neutral) light. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. And the d-bags. Because I’m not a total asshole.
Once upon a time, a small-town girl moved to the big city to make a new life for herself. Wait, I’ve seen this before… don’t her quirky ways win over her worldly, pensive, and handsome neighbor/dog walker/barista/fellow commuter?
HAHAHAH! No. Maybe that happens if you have a stylist so you don’t constantly look homeless and/or unemployed, and someone to write lines for you so you don’t say nerdy or uncomfortable things… I enjoy the benefit of none of those.
I’ve already mentioned my most awesome online dating adventure ever (http://grownuplivin.wordpress.com/2011/01/17/worst-first-date/) with “Derek” the almost-40-year-old, former full-time pot dealer who lived with his mom and older brother two hours from Chicago…. that’s the kind of guy it takes for me to actually come out looking like the cooler one.
We’ll come back to my brief foray into online dating in a bit. For now, let’s take a look at a few examples from Mairin’s Cluelessness: A Brief History.
High School (or: the times I’m unwittingly an asshole): We had this thing called TDT in high school – “Teacher’s Discretionary Time” – which was essentially 20 random minutes around 4th period that they used to balance out the lunch timing. Junior year, I was lucky enough to end up in the Psych class that was mostly seniors, so our teacher didn’t care what we did as long as we weren’t loud. Two guys, Adam and Steve, came up to me while we were all just hanging out one day. I was probably studying, because that’s how cool I was:
Adam: Hey Mairin, we were just wondering what you thought of Jacob
(Note: Jacob is standing approximately ten feet away watching this exchange intently)
(It should also be noted that seated right next to me, and listening in with interest, is Pat, a guy I have the major hots for)
Steve: He’s kind of waiting for an answer
Mairin: I don’t think much of him
(Pro Tip, boys and girls. WORD ORDER MATTERS)
Adam and Steve: BURN!!!! (Or the 1997 version of “BURN!!!! Whatever that was.)
(Jacob is still watching. The poor dude.)
Mairin: NONONONO! I mean, I don’t think of him much (Mairin. This is not helping. Sooo… it’s not that you dislike him, but that he’s invisible? Close your mouth and stop talking. Forever.)
Steve: So… you’re not gonna go out with him?
Mairin: (there’s no hole for you to crawl into, kiddo. You’re going to have to answer) Um. No. Sorry.
At this time, Adam and Steve walk back over to Jacob and in the sensitive way that only 17 -year-old boys can do, break the news to him. He just lowered his head and walked away. I’m a terrible human being.
There’s also the time I got asked to Prom. But didn’t realize that was happening, so just appeared to brush the dude off. My friend explained it to me later. I was shy and awkward and sorta weird back then (hahaha, “back then”)…. and it simply didn’t occur to me that anyone would ask me out. So I either didn’t accept that was happening, or was so shocked I could only stammer out sentence fragments or loose collections of words in the wrong order.
I studied in college… and did not go out on one date. Yeah, that’s right. Not. One. I spent a lot of time working on mathematical theory. Or composing late at night in the music lab. I did join some clubs after I had to quit track due to injuries: I was in the Mathematics Club (if you think high school math club kids are dorky, you REALLY need to meet the college ones!) which was led by my academic advisor/linear algebra professor, and was an inaugural member of the Atlatl Club, started by my archeology professor. I know, I know, there’s nothing hotter than a mathematical-theory-loving girl who knows how to throw (and make!) a Paleolithic hunting spear, so it’s pretty surprising that I stayed single all through college, but there it is.
The Working World:
We had this sorta cute college intern once when I was a mental health case manager… Burt. He spent a lot of time doing visits with me (he went into the field with all of us, but I feel like I got him most often in his last week). On his very last day we had the following exchange in our office, after having been out all day driving around the city.
Burt: So, do you think the Shrek sequel is something you’d like to see?
(The Shrek Sequel, you guys)
Mairin: Oh, probably, I kind of want to.
Burt: Yeah, I’d really like to go see it too.
(Awkward, 3-minute pause. Seriously. EXCEPT, I didn’t know it was awkward… I rarely know it’s awkward.)
Mairin: Well, I hope you get a chance to see it!
(and then I went on my way finishing up paperwork. Burt left forever about 5 minutes later. I probably said goodbye. I hope I was normal enough for that, at least)
Coworkers (who had been witness to this entire exchange): WHY ARE YOU SUCH AN IDIOT?!!? (or something similar).
Didn’t see it. At all. In my defense, I think he should’ve just asked me to the movie, if that’s what was going on there…. I just thought he really liked Shrek. WHAT? That could happen. Sigh. I couldn’t even be normal enough to say, “Maybe you should wait 20 minutes until you’re not an intern at my work anymore, and then ask me again”. And then I’d be all charming… you know, how people do.
And then there’s the online dating. Which took place when I was re-reading my copy of “Chaos: Making a New Science” (which is fascinating, by the way, and you should totally read it). So I would get to my meeting places early, after I let the guys know I’d be the redhead already seated, reading a book about Chaos Theory. Yeah. Yeaaaaah. Why I’m still single remains a complete and utter mystery to me.
While I was doing the online dating, I was an intern, working in an office with only two other coworkers. They were all about this process, from helping to decide who I should meet, to critiquing my clothing choices (I maintain that jeans and a nice shirt are PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE for a mid-week, after-work, casual dinner, first date, especially if my work is such that I am allowed to wear jeans every day. Hell, I even wore shoes that weren’t sneakers. Maybe. I at least thought about it), to giving me options for restaurants that would make me look in-the-know (I was an intern. I had zero dollars and couldn’t afford to go anywhere, so I had no suggestions). “Finding Mairin a date and helping her pass as a less-nerdy version of herself” became a group project…. I think they were more into than I was actually. Which makes sense, because they didn’t have to actually spend time talking with these dudes. I’ve since given up on online dating…
One of those online dates did turn into a relationship for a couple of years… which leads me into my current “ripe-for-a-romantic-comedy-happy-ending” situation: I finished grad school, got a decent job in the Loop, and moved out of the apartment I shared with a roommate. I wanted to live on my own, closer to work and closer to the expressway so my suburban boyfriend could come and visit me more easily. And then my job broke up with me. Three months later, my boyfriend broke up with me. A month-and-a-half later, I got a new job six blocks from my old apartment and now commute over an hour each way on public transit to get there. Also? The handsome, employed-appearing guy who lived in the apartment behind me moved out shortly after my relationship ended and 6 22-year-old hipster kids moved in. What. The. Hell. Universe? (note: I’m not totally hating on all aspects of hipster-dom. I can have hipster tendencies myself. But these kids were such hipsters, it was as if hipsters were smugly dressing and acting as hipsters to be ironic). Seriously. What the hell.
So, aside from one failed, awkward “surprise” set-up at a party (P – I love you, I really do. And the gesture/effort was more than I could ask of a friend), that’s where I am now. The Universe appears to conspire against me at times…. And when it’s not, I do a pretty good job of effing it all up myself. If someone from Hollywood were writing my life, I’d meet my soulmate on the bus, when we both ask people to keep moving all the way to the back at the same time. Or at the grocery store, both buying an odd mixture of health food and beer. Or wandering the empty streets of downtown when I’m on my “lunch break” for my second job at 5 am. Ok, maybe not that last one. That could be sorta creepy.
Until then, I’ll be the redhead at the corner table, reading “After Capitalism”. That’s sure to be great hook!