Monday, January 02, 2012

Message Received

This post was going to be about me watching a woman tie her hair up.

During the recent orchestra rehearsals I was involved in, I landed my eyes on the back of someone's head.  When you are a brass person, you tend to sit in the rearward of the ensemble -- as such, I see lots of head backs.  This particular woman took a moment during the space after tuning to spin her hair into a ... do they call them "buns" if it's just scrunched up like a gift-wrapped pony tail?

Whatever that "style" is called, she was engaged in producing it.  Over and again, her dexterous fingers slid through and around her hair, causing it to rise and fall in a regular pattern.  It was hypnotic, as the hair was so inky black as to be almost undifferentiated except for the sheen.  It was also attractive, as the movement of the hair continually exposed and obscured a graceful neck.  Also of note was the facility with which the actions occurred.  She managed herself expertly, with the unaware grace of a ritual practiced to perfection.  She ended by doing a bit of slight-of-hand to somehow get her wrist band around her hair.

And it came as a surprise to me that -- during the break -- I approached her and tried to flirt it up a bit.  I must declare that such behavior is NOT in my usual bag of tricks.  In the sum of my life, I've usually not been so bold as to be openly flirtatious with someone I don't know.  In the depths of my soul, I just have an aversion to it, as though it were something that "just isn't done".  That's patently false: lots of people do "just that" every weekend for hours on end.

We exchanged names and chatted about the state of the ensemble and the caliber of the music.  Just as I was feeling that this was really going well, she interrupted and said, "I'm sorry.  I'm not interested."  Not really sure what happened but knowing a dismissal when I hear one, I apologized (for some reason) and extricated myself.

Sitting amongst my fellow trombones, I felt the flush of shame in my cheeks.  I hope nobody saw that.  I hope nobody can tell how strongly I'm blushing -- am I blushing? because I feel like I'm a tomato face. I tried to rehearse back what I'd said -- had I offended?  Did I accidentally say that all women should be forced into gay marriages AND abortions?  I don't *think* I did.

So I had the simultaneous reactions of "well, that went well" and "why did I ever touch the hot plate AGAIN".  And all that other stuff that you expect to happen, happened.  I beat myself up for thinking she'd be interested.  I got self-righteous about how great I am.  I got apologetic for asserting that it might be a Moses-tablet-level sin to turn me down.

And this evening, when I sat down to write it, I reflected on what's been going on with relationships.  A friend who's been engaged for years broke things off.  A friend who's been terribly unlucky in love got engaged to someone she calls "my best friend".  A friend who had been completely unlucky in his "undergrad" state now has a wonderful girlfriend in his "graduate study" state.  Another friend broke off a years-long relationship going into the holidays.  Another friend is engaged and being pushed by the fiance into a more advanced timetable than preferred.  Another friend is trying really hard to land a girl but is too anxiety-inducing to get women to consider him for very long.

That last one is what worries me.  I have a core of acquaintances which are too misanthropic to find relationships.  They're all guys and they're woeful.  One is religious and sanctimonious, but simultaneously slightly cruel and cowardly.  Another is abrasive and opinionated despite low knowledge.  Another is a hard-worker, but has a knack for saying tremendously awkward and inappropriate things to people.  Another is an egomaniac who auditions women for the coveted role.

They're a miserable crowd, and it's easy from my glass house to see exactly what the problem is.  I don't know if some of them will ever find what they call happiness, but I can put my finger on the problem (or at any rate, *a* problem).   What I can't figure out is why I'm not doing any better!  I mean, I should SURELY be a much better catch than the emotional abuser.

The dark realization is that no doubt they say the same thing about me.  "At least I'm doing better than Andy!  What a sad-sack."  They see me floundering at rehearsals and say, "Know what his problem is?  He plain doesn't know how to talk to women.  They're looking for someone to browbeat them and..."

Err, that's enough from the emotional abuser.

It is difficult to feel (unless you have unassailable self-esteem) that the normal people have already found partners.  That, too, is untrue.  As I stated earlier, people in relationships are just as "abnormal" as the people outside.  Relationships fall through -- even long lasting ones.  In the news recently, an Italian man divorced his wife over an affair.  An affair that occurred 60 years ago -- the husband is 99!  Now that's letting a grudge simmer. 

But though good relationships take work and a fair helping of luck, it doesn't take the sting out of being dismissed before a first introduction is over.  I'm sure my father would jump in at this point with a metaphor involving skinned knees and repeated attempts to ride a bicycle.  And while he would be right, and while I will again attempt to be suave when I next find someone I fancy, none of that means I have to like it.

And it doesn't mean I can't buy back a bit of self-respect by working it through and writing it out on a cold night by myself.

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