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Love Wars V: Cupid Strikes Back

May 24, 2014

***Note: I’ve been sitting on this all weekend in light of the UCSB shooting, since I reference both guns as well as guys who just don’t get it, and as usual, I tell the tale in a cheerfully flippant manner that might seem dismissive of the genuine anguish the events–which, it’s worth noting, have been heavily condensed for the sake of narrative convention–caused me. Obviously, I have decided to hit the Publish button nonetheless, because even though I don’t even pretend to have a solution for the likes of Elliot Rodger (although I offer the beginnings of one in a tangential paragraph that would hardly begin to address the underlying issues), I figure I can at least contribute to a conversation about men, women, and the unrealistic expectations in between them by sharing my own experiences with men who take unnecessary offense to rejection.

*Deep breath* DUNNNH, dunh, dun-dun-dun-DUN-dun, dun-dun-dun-DUN-dun, dun-dun-dun-DUUUUUUNH…

Okay, now that I’ve gotten a poor attempt at transliterating the Star Wars theme into text, our tale picks up not in Hoth, but rather back in Colorado, which, compared to the balmy paradise of SoCal, seemed Hothic enough (especially last winter–all that snow made for awesome skiing but terrible driving!). Darth Oblivious and I met for Italian dinner in a small, softly lit restaurant left over from the days when the Mob attempted to forge a Manifest Destiny all its own in my small corner of the West. The romantic setting I was able to ignore thanks to the fact that it was attached to a bar that was as close to a literal hole in the wall as I’d ever seen, and that the bar would be the setting of our shoot about a sleazy bar rat who sees an uptick in his sexual appeal once he gets a vasectomy.

Or at least that was the premise going in. I was presumably being consulted on how to make this storyline into an actual story using the actor DO had already brought on board. We went through several iterations, all of which necessitated a dinner or lunch meeting at the cozy little establishment, and one of which even brought along my BFF and first ex-husband to play a deadbeat dad who would be a contrast to the virtuous Vasectoman who also happened to be a real chick magnet. Nothing came of that idea, of course, but the meeting was memorable for the moment when DO observed a shared chortle between my BFF and me and murmured, “I really need more platonic female friends,” with a look that hindsight gives the soundtrack choice of “Hungry Eyes.” O alarm bells, how I wish I paid more attention to thee!*

*Yes, I know “thou” and “thee” were the pronouns reserved for informal and singular second-person use. Pray permit my poetic license.

But attention was not paid in full and on time, and in the course of our finalizing a sufficiently epic and vasectomy-promoting storyline (our sleaze would get rejected all night until he gets picked up by a suspiciously seductive lady, played by yours truly, who turns out to be completely baby bonkers, thus really testing my acting skills. The scene ends with our hero rushing off to get snipped, then returning for a night of worry-free kinky shit, or would’ve if the sponsors hadn’t deemed it too risqué), we conversed at length and freely.

I took it as a positive that he seemed curious and inquisitive about my self-description as an aromantic asexual and that the doubt in his voice about such a description subsided as I explained how it readily connected, for me, with my highly anti-marriage and -baby stance. Though he wasn’t personally 100% on board with the latter, thus giving unfortunate fruit to my uncle’s theory that guys just don’t really know how they feel about kids and won’t until they have one, DO seemingly understood and accepted where I was coming from.

What we were on the same page about was an interest in skiing and saving gas money getting up to the ski areas, though I raised my eyebrows at his degree of frugality that extended to hiking up above the lowest lifts and skiing only off the higher chairs thereafter–the ones where no one scanned tickets. I, too, have considered impromptu Craigslist organ donation as a means of paying for a pass, but I did ultimately dig deep down into my checking account and pay up, especially when the area in question is the small mom-and-pop one whose enthusiasm for the sport helps it live up to its name of Loveland!

An uneven interest in saving money aside, we also shared a passion for reading and expanding our minds with new perspectives, which led to him lending me a book he rather enjoyed. I accepted, in spite of the fact that the last time I borrowed a book from a guy, it ended rather badly.

Perhaps most interestingly, at least for those who probably have their own preconceived ideas about me, is that DO and I had another mutual interest in guns, though mine was more from a general interest in expanding my knowledge of all things survivalist as well as being able to use “I know how to shoot a gun!” to stem the invariable tide of anti-vaccination and -GMO bullshit I will doubtlessly hear to no end in SoCal, whereas his seemed more rooted in libertarian principles of defending freedom from the baaahing nanny-state goats–er, sheeple–or something like that.*

*In case anyone is curious as to where I stand on gun control based on that confusing paragraph, I’m mostly cool with letting the Fox Newsers have the Second Amendment as long as they let us commie pinko Muslim atheist Jews keep the First, Establishment Clause and all. I do, however, think the Supreme Court** needs to revisit that portion of the Second regarding the right to bear arms as part of a well-regulated militia, as it has not been addressed since being effectively invalidated in the early nineteenth century, and revitalizing it might allow reasonable limits requiring storage of weapons in a locked and secured facility where, say, the family three-year-old and/or mentally disturbed teen-to-twentysomething can’t get to them and would also require gun owners to pass certifications and regular tests on gun safety.

**Not the current Supreme Court, however, as I think that would end more like an episode of Oprah: “And YOU get an assault rifle, and YOU get an assault rifle, and YOU get an assault rifle! ASSAULT RIFLES FOR EVERYONE!!!!!”

But Darth Oblivious was more than happy to teach me all about how to fire a loaded gun just the same. One sunny but windy January day, we took off for an unused National Forest Access campground, set up a series of soda bottles, and promptly engaged in the relentless destruction of all we had previously created. All my liberal-minded intellectual elitism exploded into subatomic fragments as I released a primal scream of joy upon blowing the shit out of a bottle of fruit punch and purred with the delight of a four-year-old ant-stomper as it bled helplessly into the snow.

All my other pretensions of moral superiority fell aside as Darth Oblivious and I stopped at a Central City casino for their $7.99 prime rib special, my unease at the hopelessness of the scatting of senior citizens gambling away their Social Security checks swept away by the delight of the prime rib succumbing to bloody defeat in my mouth. All my primitive hunting instincts sang in glory as I basked in the triumph of a successful day alongside someone with whom I was happy to bask in the bonds of bro-dom.

Alas, not all my newfound broski’s instincts were so easily satiated. On the way home, he commented, “Man, a neck rub sure would sound good right about now.”

“Sure would,” I agreed.

He looked at me in surprise. “I thought you didn’t like being touched?”

“I don’t, for the most part. But my muscles get just as sore as anyone’s. Stupid early hominids, descending from the trees before our back muscles properly fixed themselves to stand upright.”

“So you don’t mind this,” he said, reaching across the car to rub my neck.

“Well, no,” I mused. “I mean, I exchange neck and shoulder rubs with my best friend, the guy for whom I have no sexual attraction just as he has none for me, all the time.”

“Must be nice, having that kind of a friendship,” he said, continuing to rub my neck.

“It is! I mean, we agree that’s the one and only disadvantage to being single, so we step in for each other. Sure keeps things simple!”

“Mmmm, yeah. Well, if you want, I could do an exchange with you if we go back to your place.”

“It definitely couldn’t hurt to have another PURELY PLATONIC friend with whom to share a good back rub! But I’m going skiing with my uncle tomorrow, so you’ll have to leave by 9:30. No negotiations.”

“Yeah, I understand!” he agreed in a tone of voice that, hindsight delights in telling me, indicates he really did not. But my back and shoulders were tight from holding an AK-47, not to mention months of skiing after my massage therapist had left his Denver location to be a ski bum in Vail. First world problems lead to first-rate lapses in judgment, kids.

But back to my place we went, and his entry necessitated taking him past my bedroom, where he screwed his eyes up at my queen bed.

“Man, that is a short bed. I have no idea how I’d fit in a bed that size.”

“Well, lucky for you, you’ll never need to try and figure it out!”

He screwed his face up even more, but I ignored it. We had muscles to relax, and I had a 9:30 deadline at which Cinderella turned into a pumpkin!

The massage I received wasn’t bad, though I did have to laugh uncomfortably as he murmured, “Man, you got a surprisingly hot body under those baggy clothes.” I refrained from commenting on his in return, and when he made no motions to get up and leave at 9:30, I continued rubbing his neck in the interest of equal time given until a few minutes past the anointed hour.

“It’s past 9:30,” I said, and stood up to escort him downstairs. He stared at me uncomprehendingly, and I shifted my weight, waiting for him to get up.

When he didn’t, I gritted my teeth. “It’s past 9:30. I have to go to sleep. My uncle’s an early riser.”

He continued gawking in what appeared to be a combination of surprise and hurt. Finally, after a few seconds of me taking mental inventory of my apartment and trying to figure out what I could use to knock him unconscious but not dead and how to get him downstairs before he awoke, he frowned.

“So you’re okay with this,” he started, standing to rub my neck briefly, “but not this,” this being a hug that I wasted no time in elbowing my way out of.

“You got it,” I sighed as I sat down, already feeling my 10 p.m. lights-out slipping away. Maybe I could keep this short enough to get seven and a half hours of sleep. I crossed my fingers, but Darth Oblivious’ ominous silence wasn’t boding well for that, either.

“Well, that’s too bad,” he finally sighed. “I think this guy you were with really screwed you up. I think there’s a girl buried in there somewhere who loves to be touched, and she’ll come back out with enough time.”

My Wernicke’s area having shut down response processors as a natural defense against rampant stupidity, I could only respond with this:

When all else fails, ask Jackie Chan.“Because you did touch that guy, right?” Darth Oblivious continued, living up to his belatedly bestowed nickname.

I stared at him with my jaw hanging open for another few moments, my most pressing thought that I was probably now down to seven hours of sleep. When I finally wrestled my brain back to the matter at hand, I managed, “Yes. But the whole experience helped me realize how much I disliked physicality. You’re confusing the cause-effect relationship here.”

He nodded, his jaw set stubbornly. “It’s too bad,” he repeated as I pointedly checked the clock on my phone. “You’re not boring to me.”

“I’ll…be sure to put that on my resume,” I ground out. I was pretty sure I could still ski okay on six and a half hours of sleep.

“Every other girl bores me so quickly. But not you. God, why are all the good ones unavailable?”

I could ski on six hours of sleep, but my uncle was definitely going to have to drive, I decided. I stood up again. “The only reason you feel that way is because the feeling is completely and utterly unreciprocated.”

“You’re probably right,” he sighed, finally, to my delight, standing up himself.

As I all but shoved him out the door, he paused and turned. “I think I’m gonna go away, out of state, for a while. But don’t worry about the book–take your time reading it.”

“Will do, and that trip sounds like a great idea. Have a good night!” I shouted as I slammed and locked the door.

It turned out that I need not have worried about the hours of sleep I was unlikely to get, as my uncle and I ultimately decided that conditions did not merit the time it would take to drive to the mountains. But the lack of an immediate voyage to the most Hothic part of my state left me with no room for extra shut-eye in any event–like Luke on the verge of a grim new future with awkward revelations about the real nature of relationships, I, too, had to face the prospect of a painful cut: that of someone I had, in spite of our differences, come to regard as a promising friend.

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