Sunday, August 22, 2010

North to South, or West to West?

Let's talk about Gibson.  He's an acquaintance of mine from way back, and he's a genuinely decent human being.  I don't think he's malicious or cruel, and he spends a lot of his time trying to make sure that everyone gets talked to at a party.  He's a good guy who can be relied upon to volunteer to help friends pack house in terrible summer heat because he wants to be nice. 

Gibson really likes NASCAR.  He is amazing in the depths of his fan-ness.  So much so that the scale of his devotion makes you take a step back and regard his efforts with a surprising affability.  Rather as though your neighbor just ate his own weight in grape jam to prove himself to a radio show host.  Regardless of whether or not you approve of potentially harmful stunts or shock-jocks using people for their own ends, there is one thing you can say: that's an amazing amount of jam.  And that sort of consumption deserves to be... I think "lauded" is the wrong word.  "Noticed and studied" is more apt.

Still, it's a significant occurrence -- that cannot be denied.  And Gibson's enthusiasm for NASCAR is something that makes you say "wow, that sure is something."  By any method of measuring the thought-time consumed by a certain subject, Gibson and NASCAR set the par.

[At this juncture, I should step in briefly to state that Gibson's name isn't Gibson.  Also, Not-Gibson doesn't have NASCAR as a favorite activity.  I used it because it's something that's known to many people, but only excessively followed by a few.  It also has enough of a social stigma to mimic the environment surrounding the real activities of Not-Gibson.]


So Gibson (or Not-Gibson) is nice.  He's pleasant in conversation, though he does have a tendency to say painfully awkward things.  Things that are so awkward or socially tone-deaf that I wonder if they could possibly have sounded awesome in his head and gotten lost in translation.

He has the sort of demeanor that would prompt old ladies in church hats to fan approvingly.  Widespread use of please and thanks, helpful when asked, eager to talk about things when asked.  But it's all slightly contrived, as though it were being translated out of a Turkish guide on how to behave amongst Americans.  At times, he seems utterly without guile or subtlety, but the next words out of the mouth will seem almost like veiled sex talk.  It's bizarre.

If anything that one does brings the ephemeral words "serial" and "killer" near you and affixes them to your person with thought-tethers, it just makes you hard to be around.  I could picture myself being interviewed by the news and saying "... sure he seemed normal, but then we found out he was eating pretty young women's left eyeballs while watching an endless loop of an episode of 'The Arsenio Hall Show' from May 23, 1992.  What a pity -- he made tasty brioche."

Recently, I met the female version of Gibson.  The same mix of guileless weirdness.  Not obsessed with NASCAR (as is "the thing Gibson likes"), but something very similar such as stock car racing.  Still likely to say uncomfortably un-social things at any given moment.  Still basically pleasant and a good human.

I thought to myself, "These two are made for each other."  And that thought is what this entry is about.

*** *** ***

As somebody who is "out there" in the "dating scene", I've devoted a fair amount of thought to the aspects of attraction and similarities.  One of the most successful ways to decide who to date is to find people that you have commonalities with.  It's one of the reasons why small churches and aloof ethnic groups have "successful" dating practices -- members have a whole raft of things in common.  A member of those communities will find that all the prospective mates all have similar upbringing, economic situations, religious preferences, moral standings, and so forth.

So the affair of Gibson and She-Gibson should be all sowed up.  Were I to introduce them, there's a significant chance that they'd realize how much they have in common and hit it off.  Sure, it's not a chemical reaction: there a modest chance that they'd not be interested for any one of the thousands of unknowable reasons why we prefer blue to red, or right to left.  But they have a ton of things in common, so that should set them forwards on the path to happiness.

But then there's me.  I don't WANT someone who's like me.  If I found a female, tall, nerdy, trombone-playing version of me with a good sense of humor, I wouldn't want her.  We may develop as friends (though even that might be in doubt), but I certainly wouldn't want to live a life with her.  I say that I wouldn't want her with good confidence, because I know myself. 

I don't want you to misunderstand: I love myself.  I'm happy with how I "turned out" as far as my demeanor and personality.  But one of the things I've been good at over the years is diagnosing my own problems.  I haven't necessarily been good at fixing said problems, but one step at a time.  I know and understand quite a few of my personal weaknesses.

For example, I have a tendency towards indolence.  If I have free time, I don't think "I should go for a walk or exercise".  Instead, I think, "I should listen to that music I've heard a thousand times before, because I enjoy it.  And maybe I'll fix myself a pizza-and-ice-cream sandwich, while I'm here."

I also avoid confrontation like the plague.  It takes me forever to deliver some kinds of bad news, and I've started to dread checking my work email accounts during my off-time because I tend to obsess over things that have gone wrong. 

Neither of these are healthy and productive traits.  Ideally, I'd be able to best these failings myself.  However, if I have a companion who assists me in the right direction, so much the better!  If she comes in and says, "It's not stupid hot out right now.  Let's walk south for an hour and see how many cows we see," that would be helpful.  Because funnily enough, I enjoy the company of other people MORE than I do being indolent or gun-shy.

In any case, what I don't want is someone to join me on the couch and bring donut-and-General-Tso's-chicken sandwiches.  That would be reinforcement.  And while perhaps I'd have the ability to examine the behavior outside of myself and say "Get moving, you glob!  Here, let's find the fitness center together," it seems like it'd be a lot nicer the other way.

It's just like everything else, I suppose: what I want is a balance.  I don't want a woman who's completely different ("You've been branding heretics in Uzbekistan for the summer?").  I also don't want a woman who's utterly the same ("Why do we have a refrigerator groaning with pickles and absolutely no other food?"). 

I wonder how my philosophy would work on dating websites.  After answering the personality surveys and receiving a ranked list of potential matches, should I strike off the most likely thirty candidates in the list, just to make sure I stay "different enough"?  Or does the computer do that for me, in which case perhaps it's throwing out people who are the right amount of "like me" with the digital bathwater?

All I can really say for certain is that there's no reason for me to hurry in setting up Gibson and She-Gibson.  He and/or she may be just as interested in finding someone not quite like themselves.  And like me, they may want to make sure not to end up with someone who reinforces their own personality deficits.

The good news is that the vast and entropic nature of the Internet virtually guarantees the existence of an eyeball-eating Arsenio Hall fan club.  Not that I'd know anything about that. 

I certainly never dated three of the members.

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