Hunger Pangs

It’s July 4th, 2007, and I’m lying around waiting for my friends to come over so we can go do patriotic stuff like drink beer and eat hot dogs and stuff. But in the meantime, I have enough time to stroke down a few words of introspection on a timeless topic that will never get old– my own head. So happy birthday, America, and now on with what’s really important: me.

I think I’ve been spoiled forever, by the books I’ve read and the movies I’ve seen, and society’s general infatuation with the idea of romantic love. Last night I saw “Knocked Up”, and although I liked it and found it very funny, it made me sad.

For one thing, I’ve got this heretofore-unknown biological clock ticking away. It cropped up suddenly a few years ago; maybe I’ve mentioned this before. I never thought I cared much one way or the other about having children. But it turns out that I do. I want kids, and seeing people having kids makes me feel a strange mix of joy, jealousy, and despair. So “Knocked Up” depressed me that way, in that sort of Lifetime movie way, where your eyes tear up and you’re all “god I hope nobody sees me this way before the lights come up”.

The other way that “Knocked Up” tugged on my heartstrings is with this whole geek/princess dichotomy at the center. Princess has one-night-stand with geek, proceeds to fall in love with him, sees his inner beauty, reveals some of her inner ugliness, everything turns out OK in the end. But the end never resonated for me as much as the middle parts where she’s deciding that they’re “just too different” and “it wouldn’t be fair of me to drag you into a relationship with me”… after the scene where she’s looking at his apartment and being disgusted by his possessions. After the scene where she’s embarrassed to have him meet her friends. After the scene where she goes mental in the middle of the street and kicks him out of the car.

I’m not sure what Apatow was trying to do with all of these scenes, because they really make the woman, “Allison” look terrible, to my eyes. Do women come away thinking her actions were justified? And then he’s made to come back and apologize… for something… I’m never quite sure why he’s the one who has to be apologetic. Perhaps that’s the point, and the movie is just illuminating the interaction between men and women. But that’s the thing, man, I already know it works that way. You don’t need to point that shit out to me, because it’s right there in my memory and I came to the movies to get away from that bullcrap.

I realize, of course, that many people won’t react this way. They’ll see the characters sort of mimicking events and relationships in their own lives, and they’ll crack up in a recognition response. I rarely have that response these days. A few months ago, a friend and I went to see “Spamalot”, which is this musical based on “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”. Of course, being a good and responsible geek, I know a lot about that film. Not as much as some, but I’ve seen it enough to know all the famous lines, and they make me laugh still.

But the audience for Spamalot was apparently a lot more invested in Monty Python than I, because much of the performance left me cold, while the audience was laughing and clapping everytime the book trotted out another classic Python joke. It wasn’t enough for me. It’s not enough any more for someone to just hold up a mirror to my life. It’s got to be a magical mirror that twists my life and shows it from an angle I’ve never seen before. Show me what my ass looks like to everyone else, or something like that. Well, as long as it looks *good*. Which means don’t show it, ’cause I’ve got my father’s butt and that’s only something to be tolerated, not celebrated.

All this butt-talk reminds me, naturally, of my original premise for this post. Romatic love. Everywhere I go, everywhere I look, my rose-colored glasses are tainted by an impression that there should be somebody out there who fits with me and will understand. It darkens the lenses. They become poo-colored glasses. Gross.

It’s a common malaise, I know. I’m by no means unique, and now you know you aren’t either, if you happen to be sharing the disease with me right now.

I say “right now” because it comes and goes doesn’t it? Lately more comes than goes for me personally, but I recognize that tomorrow the chemicals in my brain may be aligned in such proportions that it won’t matter to me that I’m not “being gotten” at the moment.

Lying here in my bed, I’m listening to Debussy. There are other people in the world who like to listen to Debussy, but lying here just now I had the hubris to assume that that cross-section of the population will never line up with the cross-section of people who can deal with the fact that I can eat pizza four days a week and be happy, and that even should those two parts of the Venn diagram intersect, what are the odds that they’ll intersect with the infuriatingly difficult to locate circle that surrounds the women (because, alas, they must be women) I’ll find physically attractive. That circle seems to be at like, 50% transparency. Hard to see, hard to figure out, and basically never there when you need it.

Yeah, so I’m feeling rather pathetic today, and if you’ve read this far I do apologize for my current (and seemingly constant) maudlinity. Here’s hoping that writing it down and spitting it on the face of the Internet helps settle my rage a bit.

And it is a kind of rage. I’m pretty angry at my own failure to discover, and the world’s unwillingness to produce, somebody that fits. Angry at my failure to accept the ones that almost fit, and just get on with my life. Angry at my failure to recognize the ones that might have fit had I not been stupid and young and fascinated by shiny things over there. Angry at the ones that I thought fit but who didn’t share the opinion and left me wondering what just happened. Angry at the years and still more years wasted by ennui, inertia, fear, and a stubborn inability to admit when I’ve failed. Sometimes that stubbornness serves me in good stead, but in the big questions of life, like “do I change my major” or “should we break up” that stubbornness has been treacherous to my happinness.

At the moment, it’s to the point where even if there’s a glimmer of hope I instantly start to think of the parts of me that will have to be subordinated to any relationship, because she just won’t understand and I can’t stand to have her not understand. I hope I can get over that particular foible, because it’s completely ridiculous of me to expect to have every nook and cranny “gotten” by any other person. Here’s where that idealistic idea of romantic love rears up and takes a fang-toothed bite out of my just-tolerable butt.

Maybe I should give up on the idea. I read this book by Steven Brust recently, called “Cowboy Feng’s Space-Time Bar and Grill”, in which everyone who is in love at the beginning or falls in love during the course of events either dies in bloody violence or is horribly betrayed by their loved one. And it’s about saving the universe, for some reason, even though it’s all futile and everybody sucks and nothing is any good when you’re not either drunk or listening to music.

Books like that are usually more concerned with illuminating the duplicity of mankind in the face of his innate nobility and compulsion to survive than they are about having a fully-rounded emotional core. Basically, you can’t ever be happy for very long, but keep on living anyway. God, Brust, what the were you trying to accomplish with that book? Total downer masquerading as a light action-romp, with a whimsical cover painting that fooled me completely. Sucked me in with bright colors, got me committed with some interesting action and premise, then proceeded to break my heart and depress me completely for days afterward. I expressed this sentiment in an Amazon review. Take that!

It just contributes to my sense of inadequacy when it comes to dealing with romantic issues. These are life-skills I never picked up. Never picked up that ability to just deal and move on. Never took the class about how to just go to bed or date someone casually. How do you date casually? I read this blog where some kid (has to be a kid in his 20’s) writes about the dates he goes on. Seemingly every woman he meets wants to make out with him. He’s always making out, and very often going further than that.

I’ve lost enough of my natural gullibility (I had a lot to spare) to understand that he could be making it all up, even though my first inclination is still to believe what he says. Regardless of that, I just don’t understand the mindset of “making out.” How do you make out with someone and just leave it lying in the street afterwards? I’ve always taken a kiss as a promise, as intent, as a statement of opinion. I have a hard time seeing a kiss as a singular event with nothing more to it than a physical act that happens to be lots of fun.

But then, I never made out in high school. Another skill never developed.

I think it’s working. I feel a little better, and right now, this minute, it’s OK that I’ll probably never find that pretty girl who like Debussy and pizza and doesn’t mind that I read stupid science fiction novels like “Cowboy Feng’s Space-Time Bar & Grill”. I hope you’ll note that I didn’t say she had to read them herself. She just has to not mind that I do. Actually it’s more than that; I’d really rather she just respect my taste and consider that since I like it maybe there’s something to it even if she can’t see what that is.

Basically I want her to be a genius who thinks I’m a genius too, even as my actions prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’m not. Oh, and she’s gotta be hot. A hot genius. Like Tara Reid in “Alone in the Dark”.

My soulmate would find that funny.



  1. New Found-land.

    OK, I’ve decided that I’m going to use an analogy. Please don’t snicker.

    I kind of think that we are like Velcro. We have all these thousands of hooks. One is love of pizza. One is excessive sneaker interest. One is a hatred of Pachabel’s Canon. One is a secret desire to shoot electricity out of one’s fingers. Whatever. And your potential mate has all these loops, thousands of them. They’re not all going to line up. It’s unreasonable to think that they will. But the trick is finding someone who has enough compatible loops to keep you together. And I think this is perfectly feasible. An actual girl you would want to date will almost certainly not get the Tara Reid joke. Why the hell would she have seen it in the first place? Why the hell did we see it in the first place? But if you explain it to her, she might think it’s funny. ‘Cos it is. And there’s one more hook that got looped.

    The Velcro analogy kinda falls apart here because this fastening is an ongoing process. Like you are out walking around in your Kangaroos, and the Velcro keeps shifting, changing, negotiating, almost like it’s alive.

  2. I like the velcro analogy.

    The mitigating factor for me is just how transient these feelings are. I mean, one day I’ll be perfectly fine and the next I’ll be morose. Now, don’t get me wrong, these aren’t wild mood swings that put me in danger or anything. It’s a gentle sway.

    Like now for instance. I just had a really great second date that I didn’t expect to happen, with a lady who has a bunch of hooks in common with me, and enough differences that I’m intrigued rather than repulsed.

    All of a sudden things are much more pleasant in John’s Head. It turns on a dime, you know?

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