Saturday, April 2, 2016

FLUNKING SCIENCE

I hate when I flash back to my teen years. All that awkwardness, all that angst. Somehow John Hughes managed to capture it so well in “The Breakfast Club”, making entertaining what, in reality, was anything but. I don’t have recurring dreams about myself in adolescence (thankfully!), but sometimes life has a way of bringing me way, way back.

The morning after my second coffee with Craig, he sent a follow-up text, just as he’d done after the first. I was in a meeting and I only had a moment to glance at the name of the sender and to register that it was a long one. I smiled. Clearly he’d gotten over that jolt that I was friends with his ex. I knew he had a busy week so I assumed he was offering a couple of openings when we could meet. Maybe he was even apologizing for the sudden shift in the tone on our walk after I accidentally mentioned Jay. Vancouver is such a small town, ha ha.

It was an intense day at work but I slipped into my office for a moment at lunch to read the text.

Thanks again for the coffee and walk yesterday. I enjoy chatting with you, and would like to continue getting to know you. I’ve had a chances to reflect and I think what I’m feeling is more platonic…Blah, blah, blah.

Shit.

It happened again.

Two steps forward. Two steps back.

I was (mercifully?) called out of my office immediately and didn’t have another moment to reply until I got on the ferry that evening and headed home. Sometimes being busy after a pinch of rejection is a good thing. No rash text response. No wallowing. Just keep going with the routines that make a day pass. But I was bugged. Craig strikes me as a kind person and someone who, like me, is precise with his words. The blah, blah, blah had been about wanting to develop a friendship and to have more coffees and chats, but my hunch had been that everything was fine—great, in fact—until we stumbled on the realization that his ex was my tennis bud. Even though they broke up a year ago, I sensed I’d inadvertently scratched a scab off one serious wound. That bugger risked getting infected all over again. I wanted Craig to admit as much. This was about his continuing struggle to right his life, post-Jay. This was not about me at all. And so I texted—How did you determine this needed to go down the platonic path? Own up. Mention Jay.

But I didn’t get what I wanted. Not Craig and not the explanation. You and I presented (I would say) fair and honest pictures of who we are to each other. It comes down to chemistry and I have to go with my gut. My gut says, “great guy! Good possible friend!” I can’t explain but, it’s in that hard-to-point-to place called “This is what it feels like.”

Shit.

It is me.

F#*kin’ chemistry. Yet another reminder that high school is nothing like the real world. In eleventh grade, I made As in Chemistry. One semester I even got 100%. I had this science down to an art!

It was only two coffees, one more than I usually manage. It’s no big deal. I know this. If Craig texts sometime in the next month and wants to go for a platonic coffee and a platonic walk, I can do that. I can smile and be genuinely invested. I need more friends.

But I’ve spiraled downward in the days since. It’s not about Craig. It’s about the message, not the messenger. I’m a great guy. Super nice. Gosh golly swell. But whether the guy calls it chemistry or the elusive spark, I don’t have it. I’m not date-worthy.

Yep, I went there. When you hear the no-chemistry/no-spark line enough times, it sinks in. Hello fifteen-year-old me. I’m right back to What’s wrong with me? WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH ME?! Teen Me thought everything would be better if only the Clearasil could just ward off the blackheads and if I just committed to using the weight set in my room. Coax some semblance of a bicep to make an appearance. And stop telling people Air Supply is my favorite music group.

I need to snap out of it. Reverse the numbers in 15 and act my real age. At 51, I’ve got a lot going for me. The pimples are long gone. The muscles finally showed up. I’m incredibly fit. I still have a full head of hair (I think. I make a point of not looking in any hand-held mirror at that point at the top of my head where I had a cyst removed.). I’m regularly told I look much younger than my age. I’ve earned three degrees. I’m a leader at work. I’ve got that Sally Field factor: people like me; they really like me.

But not like that.

I want to scream. I want to blame someone. Damn single gay men. Flakes, all of ‘em. I could call up my 60-year-old single gay friend, John, and meet him for coffee. He’ll commiserate. Yep. They’re all fucked up. Flakier than a chocolate croissant. (And then our bitch session would take an intermission as John goes back to the coffee counter and gets that last croissant, the one that’s distracted him repeatedly during our conversation. He’ll return saying the calories will go straight to his belly. Not that it matters. Flakes!)

So here I am after all these years, still wondering what’s wrong with me, still trying to improve myself, still not being enough. What does it take to have real-world chemistry? How do I radiate a spark? Where the hell do I buy myself a warehouse of figurative fireworks?

The truth is I always hated Chemistry.

4 comments:

Andy said...

Sorry to hear it went that way. What do you think went wrong? What do you do from here.

Rural Gay Gone Urban said...

Thanks, Andy. See, that's the thing. I don't know went wrong. Is it a simple lack of attraction? If so, not sure why Craig was so genuinely eager to get together a second time. If I'm not attracted to a guy and he wants to meet again, I indicate that would be okay, but that I feel we're going down a friendship path. (Coincidentally, that's what Craig's ex, Jay, did with me a year ago.)

Craig and I have so much in common and, it's true, we may form a great friendship. I suspect I exude a wholesome, gosh-golly personality and guys want some sex appeal. Alas, I don't know how to show that. And, worse, I have no idea where to go from here. It's at or near the point of exhausting the possibilities. Perhaps I'll become a volunteer greeter at the airport and see if I can pounce on a newbie!

Andy said...

Some people take a shine to others when they first meet them, when they're still trying to work people out. And then when they've worked out it's platonic or something more, then the behaviour changes...etc

Tough one. I don't think you're lacking in the fitness department from the sounds of it so maybe you need to flaunt that more somehow?

oskyldig said...

While reading I thought of something, and it might come off as a bit harsh but I do not mean to offend. I only wish to further understand or perhaps make you consider a perspective.

You speak of chemistry and the disappointment of Craig feeling platonic feelings towards you. You, like many of us, immediately jump to the "something is wrong with me," but I can't help but wonder about the other times that you've decided not to move forward with guys because you felt that same platonic feeling.

You call gay men flaky, all of 'em, but aren't you kind of exuding the same behaviours that you blame others for? Perhaps I'm way off base here, but it's just an overall feeling I've had and I'd love to hear your thoughts on it!