Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sometimes the Tale is Told

One of the things I would love to get better at is the telling of stories. In general, I don't have an aptitude for it. Only in very specialized circumstances have I felt proud of my output. One is when I read the material of others. It's probably the leftover drama training from eighth grade, but I love reading stories out loud. Making voices for characters, trying to add layers of meaning... it's not something I've had much call to do -- watch out, prospective children of mine! -- but I enjoy it regardless.

The second is relating the circumstances of relationships. And those (so far) are stories that end in failure. In spite of that rather gloomy end, I try to never make these stories depressing. Emphasizing the comic aspects of life usually helps. Who can resist stories about people who smoke complaining about addictive behaviors in others? Or about a pair of people so accommodating that they end up working against their own interests? That's just funny.

I prefer having the stories funny. Life deserves to be made funny, because it always provides us with reasons to be sad. In reality, the stories of my relationships give people strange ideas about how I recover from relationships. They think me flippant, due to the apparent mirth with which I handle rejection and the bizarre. They can also think me jaded after all the stories. "Don't you know any normal women?" is a phrase I've heard more than once. But all people are normal... until they aren't. And that's always been true.

The truth about me (as always) is in the middle. Repeated failed relationships and longish periods without dinner companions has not made me jaded against the large proportion of the world's women I have not yet had the privilege of taking to dinner. Nor am I so detached from feelings to not look wistfully on relationships that work well and people who have created their own happiness with another person. I have friends who have made great relationships, and friends who tried very hard but couldn't make them work. Other people are not a good solution for being alone, strangely enough.

I had the opportunity to chat with a friend and talk about a woman I was interested in. I'm now old enough that I tend to think too much, so I had reservations about trying to pursue a relationship with this woman. Let's call her Alice so I don't lose track of my pronouns. I told my friend there was Alice, who I was infatuated with, but that there were at least three things holding me back. If you've never been confided in, I should tell you that confessors love it when you give them bullet points. They also appreciate it when you already have your pointed sorted in a way that already suggests the course of action you're going to take.

My friend nodded sagely then said, "It's interesting that you say infatuated." Then became still and stared, prompting me to respond. Sometimes my friends can be frustratingly like me, but then, I suppose we collect the friends we deserve.

So, I contacted Alice in spite of my reservations but still respectful of them. We had a few meals together and things were great. We weren't more romantic than Napoleon and Josephine, but slow and steady makes February 29 and all the rest have four-and-twenty blackbirds, as they say. I tried to set something up. I tried two more times. Each time, she apologized that she couldn't, resisted attempts to involve her in scheduling, and reiterated how much she'd like to see me again. And I while I hoped she would, I didn't bother her after that.

Because that crossed the "third time" threshold for me. If I'm trying to make plans with someone, I never ask more than three times. By the third time, if I haven't received any forward motion, I withdraw. Because nobody wants someone who keeps pestering people to do things. And sometimes people just want to quietly ... not see someone anymore. I respect that. The "three times" makes sure that I stop bothering someone who doesn't want to be bothered. It's just a tidy end.

So when my friend eventually asks, "Whatever happened with that Alice lady?", I will say that sometimes there is no story. I may still be infatuated (SPOILER: I totally am), and maybe something will happen at some point in a distant future (SPOILER: it hasn't as of when this was written), but this ended quietly. There was no fire, no hate, no bizarre. Just a modern relationship that never got off the ground. A lot of them are like that.

This resolution to the affair will make my friend a little disappointed, that Alice wasn't at least crazy enough to burn my car or bring along a puppet to dinner. But then, I'm a little disappointed, too. It's a lot easier to get over something that ends in a spectacular fashion - the story makes it easy to laugh about and have everyone gang up on one side. It's about having another fresh story when friends get together, starting with, "Well, wait until I tell you this one!"

Having it end in quiet dissolution is just the same old story.

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