Tuesday, May 15, 2012

THE MEANING OF “MAYBE”

Call me a glass-half-empty guy, but I always thought “maybe” meant “no”. 

When I’d have to spend hours shoe shopping, grocery shopping and random shopping with my mother, I’d ask, “Can we get a milkshake at McDonald’s on the way home?”  It was the pre-Happy Meal Era, but I’d still been successfully brainwashed by lovable Ronald McDonald and the Hamburglar while watching Saturday cartoons.

Mom’s answer to my query was always the same:  “Maybe.”  Yep, that’s a “no”,...laced with just a tinge of hope to get us out of the public eye before one of my full-scale tantrums.  Clever survival tactic, also a life lesson.  Maybe =  No.

Others reinforced my learning.  To Mrs. Martindale, my fifth grade teacher:  “Can we go outside after the math test?”  Maybe.  If you’re good.  (Jimmy Hardy always did something to turn maybe to no.)  To my best friend Michael during freshman year in university:  “Do you wanna catch a movie Friday night?”  Maybe.  How was I to know his roommate had a bong, deemed more alluring than Jessica Lange?  (Sacrilege, I know.)  To myself, most weekday mornings:  “How ‘bout a jog tonight after work?”  Maybe.  (Unless it’s raining, too hot, too cold, too sunny, too dark, too late or too close to dinnertime...or snack time...or random time-wasting Twitter time.)  I’ll repeat,...maybe means no.

Apparently the makers of the Plenty of Fish online dating site got a lot more milkshakes when they were kids.  How else can I explain the unexpected consequence of my trying out a new feature on the website?

Recently, I’ve been getting a fair share of emails, notifying me that NapLover72  or BicepsOverBrains or ChewsWithMouthClosed  “wants to meet you.”  Oh, it’s all quite exciting, until I click the profile to discover a multitude of reasons why I’d never given more than a dismissive glimpse to NapLover’s thumbnail photo before. 

Still, I decided to click the Meet Me link at the top of the POF web page.  Up pops a guy’s photo, along with his age and location.  Choose YES, MAYBE or NO and a new photo appears.  Repeat until thoroughly bored. 

Given that I was procrastinating mowing the lawn, I clicked responses to a great many photos.  In all, I chose YES twice and selected NO dozens of times.  My inner voice chastised me for being too picky so I selected MAYBE 10-15 times as well.  Perhaps there’d be a file of all my maybes that I could go back to when desperation and/or the reality of my general unworthiness kicked in.

But no!  Much to my horror, I discovered last night that an email message stating “RuralGay Wants to Meet You” gets sent to not only my YES choices but also to every single MAYBE.  I’m sure most people would shrug.  So be it.  But I am a shy, easily mortified soul.  I’d thought I was so bold, giving an online wink/poke to two guys when, in fact, I’d announced my ogling to more than a dozen men.

Lo and behold, I received a new Plenty of Fish message.  It was a Maybe Man, thanking me for my message.  Egad!  I’d hardly call a poke a message.  Then, he politely rejected me.  What?!  In what world does a Maybe get to turn you down?  Maybe means no!  The gentleman went on to explain that he is good friends with my ex—AAAACK!—and did not want to compromise that friendship.  Honorable, yes, but this little anecdote will filter back to my ex, a guy whom I want to know absolutely nothing about my life.

Yeah, it is not that big of a deal and yet I now realize that many (or all!) of those guys who supposedly wanted to meet me might have been pressing the MAYBE button, too.  If maybe does not, in fact, mean no, it is at the very least noncommittal.  I do not want to give or receive alerts that in essence mean, NapLover saw your photo and thought, Meh.  Not a promising start to a relationship.   

Okay, deep breath.  I am relaxed.  I am over it.

I don’t care. 

But when I say I don’t care, everyone knows that I don’t care means  I really do.  Isn’t that universally understood?  What’s that you say...“Maybe not”?!  Sigh.  When did communication become so complicated?

2 comments:

Jeff Ballam said...

I can so relate! The few times in the past I had blind dates, and this was before the Internet, portable or otherwise, it never went well. That's kind of why I prefer the 'chance encounter' method.

Rural Gay said...

Hi Jeff,
Thanks for posting a comment. I would be happy to wait for a chance encounter. That's the way it happens in the movies, right? One minute Billy Crystal is spitting seeds at the window in your car and then you're realizing he's the love of your life at a New Year's Eve party. Okay, maybe Billy Crystal is a bad example. (At least he's got the funny.)

Where I live, there are no such chances. If I were a lesbian, I could see the possibilities. At least now I know that single gay guys don't head for the country.