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A Petty Situation

May 6, 2003 - 10:16 p.m.

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Last Five Entries:
The Party's Over
July 11, 2004
The Next Day
My Nervous Breakdown
True Confessions: My Life as a Female Impersonator
March 15, 2004
Bite Me
February 29, 2004



I'm upset about something.

You, my faithful reader, must be thinking: You? Upset about something? How entirely unlike you. Not.

After my class tonight, one of my friends in that class was asking several other students about getting together to do the end-of-semester celebration thing. And she didn't ask me.

As a matter of trivia, the reason I took this particular class is because this particular friend insisted that I take it with her, because she absolutely had to have at least one class with me, because I'm all that.

You, my sympathetic reader, must be thinking: You loser. You could just as easily approach her and ask her if she'd like to get together with you.

Well, you Know-It-All, I can't do that. Because I have sworn that I will never ask her to a social occasion again.

So how did I get to this petty situation?

I met her- let's call her Bebe- almost two years ago in a class in my first semester. I don't remember exactly how or why, but she and I started talking frequently before and after classes, and during breaks.

And let's put this in the context of the facts immediately important to me. She is unmarried, and about my age. Unmarried heterosexual women my age are rare (and she did turn out to be heterosexual). Therefore, it is imperative that I get to know any unmarried heterosexual woman I meet.

But it gets better than that. She also turned out to be very smart. She and I seemed to share similar views on many issues. Such as relationships, an issue about which we talked extensively. She seemed to be a very independent person, concerned about being her own person rather than identifying herself through a man, and it annoyed her that so many people define themselves through other people. Having experienced before the co-dependent relationship, I liked hearing that.

And I should be able to tell you more about the specifics of all the things about which we talked, especially since I will assert momentarily that she and I were making a "connection." But you know what, I can't remember. Because today, whatever it was, it doesn't matter. Perhaps as you read on, you will understand why my memory only recalls a few key points.

One of those points was about how independent she was, and what she thought about relationships.

The second thing that I really remember was that it seemed like, whatever we were talking about then, we were making that "connection." I am not good at reading signals from women- I never have been, and I'm resigned to know that I never will be. But there was a particular way in which she'd smile at me that made me think there was a "connection." And somehow, she really did seem excited to see me when we saw each other. Also, there was the absense of the "let me tell you about my boyfriend" thing. So I was getting good signs.

I forget which one of us suggested that we go out for drinks. I think I was the one, but I'm not sure. I had asked her out on two other occasions, and on both of those occasions, she had said yes and then flaked out and canceled at the last minute.1 And I honestly forget if those cancellations were before or after the going out for drinks. But the three are related, as you shall see in a moment.

We went out for drinks one night, I think after one of her classes. Going out for drinks meant that she drank wine while I had soda, because I don't drink. (And by the way, bartenders hate people who sit at the bar and only order a soda.) But we sat at the bar and talked for an hour, it was another nice conversation.

But with this conversation, in contrast with our other conversations, I didn't feel "connection." I at first blamed the environment- a bar just really isn't a place where I feel comfortable, so it was a stupid idea on my part to suggest going out to a bar. If in fact I was the one who suggested it.2

After the bar though, is when I really got the message about lack of connection. After we left the bar, she didn't say something along the lines of, "I had a great time." She said something along the lines of, "Well, see you later."

As I've said before, I'm not good at interpreting signals from women. But I was fairly certain that the way she said bye to me was another way of saying, "Nice try, Bucky. You lose, don't bother to play again."

Reflecting back, I actually think I know the point in our conversation where "connection" really derailed. Bebe was telling me how she likes to take off on trips to other countries spontaneously and by herself. In fact, she said, having a companion for such trips ruins it. She attempted to convince me of this point, and I couldn't see it, because I feel like a trip like that is no fun if it can't be shared. I really think that's the point at which she decided that her and my world-views were not similar enough to warrant any sort of romantic relationship.

Anyway, I was disappointed that the bar thing went poorly. But, it's not the first time I had been attracted to a woman and failed to develop "chemistry." As a matter of fact, I have no idea how "chemistry" is developed. I think I'm missing the necessary chemical.

I felt that the appropriate way to deal with my disappointment was to simply let it go. Life is full of disappointment. I continued to talk with her at class and such, and a few times on the telephone (she always called me- as you know, my faithful reader, I hate telephones). But it was all friendly, and that was fine.

By the way, I had sworn to never ask her out again, for a combination of (1) she wasn't interested in me, so I would be annoying her by continuing to ask her out, and (2) there were the two times that she canceled on me at the last minute.

Also by the way, and I do remember it was by telephone, some time after the bar, that she insisted that she and I must have a class together again, because I'm so smart and she would enjoy classes much more with me in them. Or something like that. I don't remember exactly, except that it was highly flattering.

Near the end of that semester, she asked me for what seemed like a date. She invited me to come to her place on a Saturday night to watch a movie with her, have wine with her (though she knew I wouldn't be drinking any), and just generally talk and be with her. Given our history to that point, I thought it was a bit of an intimate invitation.

There were two possible readings to it. One reading was that it was nothing more than it seemed. She just wanted to spend some social time with an acquaintence. She felt that she knew me well enough to determine that I wasn't a pyschopath, and that a private rather than public setting would be fine and safe.

The other possible reading was that she had, in fact, changed her mind about the prospects of me as a romantic partner. We still had been talking even after the disappointing bar experience. She had been calling me. She had been saying positive things about wanting to continue at least a friendship with me, in setting up having class together and all. And the whole setup- her place, wine- seemed rather intimate.3

The logical side of me stuck with reading one, and the optimistic side of me was fascinated with reading two.

So I went to her place that night. We cozied up on the couch to talk. She had wine. I don't remember exactly what we had been talking about. Maybe if it were really important, I would remember.

I do remember this. I was feeling very strongly that we were having that "connection" again. My head also started swimming in the "what next?" dilemma. Particularly, is there some point at which I'm supposed to make my "move," and if I don't, will she be disappointed? I'm not very good at making the "move."

Fortunately, perhaps, I never had to make the call. Because we had been talking for about a half hour when she mentioned, in no particular context, her boyfriend.

This wasn't a new boyfriend. This is a boyfriend she had had for months. Or years, I don't remember. And he lived with her (though he wasn't there that night, and I saw no sign of maleness anywhere in the condo).

It was stunning not only in the context of my expectations. It was stunning to the extent that I had known her for four months, we had talked extensively about our personal lives, and this boyfriend with whom she had a committed relationship had never been mentioned.

When she mentioned the boyfriend, I was willing to write myself off as an idiot. She had invited me over for nothing more than conversation, and I had read too much into it. The reason she had never mentioned her boyfriend was because it must not have been relevant to all the conversations we had previously. There's no reason that she must announce that she has a boyfriend. After all, she had told me that she doesn't define herself through any relationship with a man. So why would she affirmatively have to tell me that she has a boyfriend? How foolish I had been.

And I was ready to believe my idiocy and incompetence when it comes to socializing with women, because I have no confidence in myself.

But my mind changed quickly on that. After talking to me about her boyfriend for a minute, she asked me innocently, "Did I ever tell you that I have a boyfriend?"

I answered, "No." I thought, And you know it.

And then she said, "Oh, I hope you didn't think that I was leading you on by inviting you here tonight."

And there it was, the guilty admission. She knew full well that she was leading me on. For what purpose, I didn't know. I lied, "No, I didn't think that at all."

The rest of the night was very uncomfortable for me, because for the rest of the night, she told me about her boyfriend. Her relationship with him, by the way, sounded as co-dependent as any about which I have heard. So much for that independent spirit I had admired about her.

Despite the whiplash from the boyfriend surprise, I took one positive thing away from that night. She didn't seem anymore like the person to whom I had been attracted. I therefore was not disappointed in the outcome of the night.

We're going to jump the story to January of this year, I think. Bebe and I have had classes together every semester, intentionally by collusion. We've continued to have nice, friendly, and sometimes personal conversations before and after classes, and sometimes she has called me on the telephone to talk. But aside from classes, we never saw each other.

Actually, I think it was December that she was telling me how lonely she was. Her boyfriend had moved out to go to school in another state, so she found herself alone in her home. I told her that if she wanted, she and I could hang out one day. I thought that by that point, I was clear enough about our relationship that hanging out wouldn't be a problem. She took me up on the offer.

So we spent a Saturday together. We started by having lunch together, and going book shopping. In learned in the course of this that she had been having some sort of breakdown in the relationship with her boyfriend. I didn't learn this directly, but several times while we were together, she got calls on her cell phone. Every one of these calls was about the problems she was having with her boyfriend. I heard her halves of the conversations.

As a matter of fact, and I could be wrong on this, I think she wanted me to overhear the conversations, seeing as how she was having them right in front of me. I was usually not in a position to say, "I'll go somewhere else," because they happened in places like her condo, before we left, or her car.

I didn't ask her anything about her boyfriend, however. I was a little torn, because I did want to show some sort of sign of caring about her, and offer support for her. On the other hand, I thought I would be sending a bad signal by asking about romantic woes- like the vulture waiting to swoop on the kill.

After book shopping, she and I went to see a movie, The Pianist. After the movie, she was personally offended to find that I didn't like the movie as much as she did. It was a good movie, but I wasn't terribly impressed. My complaint was that it had no plot. It was a series of events, but a series of events make no plot. The movie stopped and started, but had no beginning, middle, or end. I spent the entire 2+ hours waiting for the story to start.

She thought the movie was emotionally powerful. Then she couldn't understand why I wouldn't enjoy such a movie. And it was personal, because she said I ought to do more with my life than not enjoying good things.

That's the kind of argument that I really don't need to have. It was getting late anyway. So when we got back to her place (where my car was), I had decided that it would be time for me to go home.

She wanted me to stay a while and talk. So I did. I don't remember what we talked about. I do remember that at one point she said she was sleepy, so I said I should probably go then. But she asked me to stay a little longer, and I remember thinking that if she's sleepy, she should be sleeping rather than talking to me. Of course, I stayed.

And then it got weird. Weird for me, as least. Perhaps this just goes to show that I don't know how to have a friendship with a woman. But she asked me to brush her hair, because having her hair brushed feels good. I spent the next half an hour, sitting on her couch with her kneeling in front of me, brushing her hair. My arm hurt. I kept waiting for her to tell me I could stop. It wasn't happening.

This felt a little intimate for a friendship-and-nothing-more. After a half an hour, I stopped and told her that she should sleep and I should go home. And I left.

Here's my little conspiracy theory on my relationship with Bebe. I think perhaps that when she has a lull in her relationship with her boyfriend, she decides to consider me (and maybe other men) as a temporary fill-in. During our first "connection," she might have been in a bad time with her boyfriend, and she was considering me as a fill-in or replacement. That consideration may have ended when things got better with her boyfriend. This last time, I know she was having trouble with her boyfriend. My guess is that she was either considering me as a fill-in again, or using me as some sort of leverage to make her boyfriend jealous.

That is, of course, only a conspiracy theory.

We haven't had socialization outside of class since then. As always, we have amicable chats before and after class. Well, sometimes. Not as much as we used to.

Given our past dates or social situations or whatever they be called, maybe it's best that Bebe and I don't see each other outside of class any more.

I'm sure she remembers our history differently. That's always the way.

But when you brush someone's hair for a half an hour, you deserve consideration as a friend.

So that's why I'm upset that when she was asking other students about end-of-semester celebration, she didn't ask me.

And why I'm sworn not to be the one to ask her.

Annoying footnotes:

1. "The art of love ... is largely the art of persistence." - Albert Ellis. (This footnote is really just for Miriam's benefit.) [Back]

2. The suggestion of a bar may have been stupid if I'm not comfortable in a bar. But I couldn't very well invite her to my place to fix dinner for her, now could I? (This footnote is really for Abby's benefit.) [Back]

3. Should her invitation have screamed, "Hi! I want nookie!" to me? (Another footnote for Abby's benefit.) [Back]

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