Jeff's online journal, ramblings, whatever.

Cherry Rain

Music has the power to inspire, to depress, to lift up, to tear down. But most importantly, it has the power to express oneself and evoke emotions in a way that no other medium can. So I post this remix (above) I recently did of music from Clyde’s Revenge not to show off my skillz or promote a fifteen-year-old game, but to express the overall emotion of the rest of this post in a way that my mere words cannot. Think of it as a film score for this post. Ignore the visuals (which mostly function as a placeholder), and listen as you read.

As evidenced by my most recent post, this past General Conference saw a lot of talks where the brethren urged young men to stop screwing around and get married. I really tried to take this to heart, and immediately made plans with the only girl that a) I had recent contact with, and b) wasn’t either in a relationship or related to me. Unfortunately, that girl happened to be the same one mentioned in the middle of my infamous “confession” post, and this second attempt (just to be friendly again; I didn’t try anything physical other than a hug, I only bought her dinner and the movie, and I mostly listened to her complain about her past boyfriends) ended just about as well as the first. In fact, the outcome was exactly the same the second time around. In other words, I had to do all the work, and even little acts of charity (like me running to the gas station to get her an apple juice when she was sick, so she could perform better in the show we’re doing, since she had previously specifically stated that apple juice helps her feel better when she’s sick) turned into her figuratively spitting in my face (when she left the juice sitting in the dressing room, completely untouched, even after she left). We were going to watch her favorite movie at her house last night, but at the last minute she suddenly had FHE to go to. Deductively, if FHE was actually an important part of her life and not just a convenient excuse, she would have brought it up when I asked if Monday was OK the first time. Or the second time. Not in a text a few hours before.

In retrospect, I should have seen it coming. Nothing had happened in her life to change her fundamental nature. I just wish she had the guts to, you know, clearly communicate her disinterest instead of weaseling around it. But I’ve had that complaint for a very long time now, and I can’t change the misguided notion that most girls have that guys don’t want to hear direct language about how they (the girls) feel. Being one of the guys that falls into the “creepy” camp more often than not, I can tell you right now that the best way to reduce the number of creepy guys in the world is for girls to be direct. True, some of the creepy guys have horrible intentions, but a fair number of them are normal guys who, through no real fault of their own, lack some social skills. Some of them are just extremely optimistic and take what girls say at face value just so they can think they have a shot (i.e. “Sorry, I have FHE” three hours before a planned activity which isn’t even really a date would sound like, “Oh, she’s got FHE; well, I’ll ask again later” instead of “She’s clearly not interested, since that excuse is pretty lame”). If girls would speak clearly, then this misguided optimism would slowly dissipate in the face of truth, causing some of these guys to try to improve themselves instead of pursuing a phantom girl that really loves him but has convenient, pressing business to always attend to. Or even worse, being confronted with so many “maybes” instead of some clear “nos” makes a guy doubt his own judgement, which can either lead to that misguided optimism, or extreme cynicism. “Maybe” will always sound like “no” no matter what it really means. Anything other than an unqualified “Yes!!!!11!” and a big hug, a handhold, and a call the next day from the girl, will mean “no.” So the creepy guy will try to inspire that response, trying with increasing desperation (since he has no idea what he’s doing, and if he hasn’t learned by dating age then society sure isn’t going to teach him), but still just getting “maybes” out of everyone because no girl has the truly giving heart to teach the stupid guy what he needs to know, since she’s afraid he’ll go after her. And being seen in a relationship with a creepy guy ≠a situation any girl wants to be in.

I’m sorry, but the whole “creepy” thing is a pet peeve of mine. I said it in that post I linked to earlier that the difference between “creepy” and “romantic” is often in the eye of the beholder. And more often than not, it’s disconnected from reality. I know a lot of creepy guys are legitimately skeezy: date rapists or whatever. But many are not even close. Many can’t even fathom the idea. (To be a date rapist means that you at least go on dates.) Many creepy guys have a heart of gold, but nobody gives them a chance because of some superficial failing, or because they give off the wrong “vibe,” or because they don’t know that kissing before the third date is OK if dinner was sufficiently extravagant, while saying “I love you” in a month ending in “R” can only be done on alternating Thursdays unless the moon is waning. Or even more obscurely, whenever the girl won’t find it off-putting. While some dashing, charismatic gentlemen are the ones that beat their girlfriends behind closed doors, simply because they have the power to do so. In fact, I would dare say that most wife-beaters are absolute gentlemen in public. I don’t have the research on-hand to back me up, but I would be extremely surprised if that weren’t the case. After all, to become a habitual girlfriend/wife-beater, one must first be able to attract a woman to the point that he can beat her behind closed doors and she won’t immediately break it off or seek help from authorities. And if creepy guys are known for anything, it’s certainly not for being able to hang on to any girl for an extended period of time.

Whenever I hear girls complain about how they have sooo many single girl friends who would love to be asked out but sit at home all the time, I always have to suppress a cynical laugh. As if being a guy meant that you held ultimate power over who loved you. People in general love to play the victim when it’s an impersonal affair (i.e. “Nobody likes me!”) but when any first-person evidence comes up to the contrary (i.e. “You like me? Ew!”) it’s easy to dismiss and go straight back to the “Nobody likes me!” mantra. And this happens quite a lot: a guy sees a girl that perhaps is one of those “girls that are always alone” off to the side at a singles’ activity or something. He tries to strike up a conversation, but gets a cold shoulder. Or even worse, they (seem to) hit it off, only for her to weasel out of a first (or second, or third) date, for no reason discernible to him, other than “Well, I guess I’m a creepy guy. Wish I knew why.” And then the girl complains, “Nobody likes me! I haven’t been on a date in forever! Well, there was that time when Brian asked me out, but ew!” No concrete reason, just “Ew!” And all the girl friends nod, because they also think “Ew!” when it comes to Brian. Note: Brian isn’t anyone specific. In fact, I don’t think I currently know any guys named Brian. Well, besides my boss, but he certainly doesn’t fit into this story.

I’m not saying that a lot of girls aren’t being asked on dates. I know it’s a serious problem. But it’s not a gender-specific thing! There are just as many guys who are getting rejected every day (or aren’t asking for fear of rejection, usually of the confusing weasely variety) as there are girls wondering why nobody asks them out. And there is no greater contempt, no vehemence so directed at a general population, than that of girls towards guys with a fear of getting their hearts ripped out. Hot damn, that’s cold! In short, there’s a lot of anger, frustration, and miscommunication on both sides. It’s not the fault of any one gender. Clarity is the key, people.

Now that I’ve ranted on that soapbox, allow me to go back to my initial premise, and the reason I posted that Clyde’s Revenge remix as a score for this post. This post doesn’t matter. Anyone who reads this post will either sympathize with my viewpoint because they already agree with it, or find a way to justify to themselves why I’m wrong, or why it doesn’t apply to them, and therefore they don’t need to change anything. It would make my day; heck, it would make my year, if this post actually inspired somebody to go out and change their life. But I also know it’s not going to happen. And even if it did, it certainly wouldn’t change anything on a grand scale. Which means I’m doomed to wander through life, going on dates but not dating, all because I have some “creepy” quality that nobody is willing or able to point out to me in a way that I understand, posting repetitive blog post after repetitive blog post about how many times I’ve beat my head against the wall. But since that’s how it’s been for so long, it’s harder to get worked up about it. It’s hard to imagine that life could be any different.

It’s a walk in the rain. You can see the warm glow coming from windows all around you, of happy couples and families. Each house with a lock on its door. You don’t even feel the rain anymore. You’ve been wet so long that you can’t even remember how it feels to be dry, though on occasion you imagine it would be nice. But most of the time you don’t even notice it, nor the chill that has crept into your bones and refuses to leave. You keep walking, because stopping would be even worse. And even the wretched masses won’t huddle together for warmth, for the hypocritical fear of being seen with some bum on the street.

It’s miserable, but it’s life. It’s cherry rain.

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7 responses

  1. Kjersti

    For what it’s worth (although my opinion meaning something to you is more miss than hit) I like the song, it’s interesting to listen to. So did you do an arrangement of it?
    Ok, so creepy? Never thought of you in that way.
    Also, although you may feel like you are being ganged up on by being male. If you feel at peace with what you are doing in your life, maybe the recent talks don’t apply to you. If you feel you are doing everything in your power to be the best potential spouse you can be with all of your specific qualities, then good for you! Don’t worry about it. And take comfort in the fact that there are MANY people in the rain with you. But only you can know what you are and are not doing. But, creepy- you? Never. Quirky? Yes, but awesomely so. And I know creepy, not you.

    April 13, 2011 at 8:38 pm

  2. Honestly, I don’t *know* if I appear creepy or not! There’s gotta be *some* reason my relationships never quite get off the ground! I don’t think I’m creepy to people who know me well.

    And yeah, the piece was an arrangement of a MIDI file (if you really want to hear it then go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfPaVZC1-VY but it’s not that interesting in its vanilla form). And your opinion has always been important to me, even if at times I’m too cynical to properly be grateful about it, for which I apologize. I’m glad you like it; I tried to make it fairly evocative.

    As for the talks applying to me, I think they do. I have a hard time getting to know people, and there are always improvements I can make in that regard. (Of course, I’ve *never* felt at peace with what I’m doing in life, even when I was serving diligently on my mission, so that doesn’t help much, sadly.) But I do appreciate the friends I have, including you, who can and do sympathize. As much of an oxymoron as it sounds, it’s better to be alone together.

    April 14, 2011 at 1:09 am

  3. I really like what you said, Kjersti, “If you feel at peace with what you are doing in your life, maybe the recent talks don’t apply to you. If you feel you are doing everything in your power to be the best potential spouse you can be with all of your specific qualities, then good for you! Don’t worry about it. And take comfort in the fact that there are MANY people in the rain with you. But only you can know what you are and are not doing.” I think that sums up exactly what Jeffery R. Holland was trying to say in his talk. At least, that is the impression I got from it. I feel that these so called “condemnation for being single” talks are aimed specifically at those people who are not putting up any effort at all to get married. For those of us who are, we can breathe a much needed sigh of relief and just patiently continue trying. Just like President Monson said, we should proceed “prayerfully and carefully.” Personally, Jeff, I think you are much too hard on yourself. I see in you a person who is sincerely trying to keep the commandments (especially the marriage one), but who is caught in a culture that is very unwilling to accept anything other than ideals. As for myself, I’ve given up on the Utah Mormon Culture’s ideas on dating and marriage and just decided to do what I want to do, whether or not ignorant people from the bubble think I’m creepy. I also agree with Kjersti on the other point about you: Quirky, yes? A jerk? Some of the time. Creepy? Most definitely not. If anybody’s creepy, I’m creepy, but you-you ain’t creepy. Trust me, I invented creepy.

    April 14, 2011 at 5:17 pm

  4. Mitch Blomberg

    So Jeff, let me begin by complimenting you on a great post. It’s nice to see some of the old honest and angsty posts that made me follow this blog in the first place. I think your feelings are a little more common (and less strange) than you give yourself credit.

    I’m going to disagree with the other commenters because I think you’re right. There are likely girls that find you creepy (although I have obviously never observed this since I don’t really know you). You’re also right that the line between creepy and romantic really depends on the feelings of the target. In fact, there is a semi-funny, slightly inappropriate SNL skit with Tom Brady (the QB for the NE Patriots) that kind of makes fun of a similar point. It is a sexual harrassment training video, and it shows a really nerdy guy doing something and it being termed sexual harrassment and then it shows a really cool guy doing the same thing (or something far more offensive), and it’s totally fine. Anyway, I think you’re right.

    So what do you (and other guys in your situation) do about the creepy issue? I think there are a couple of things you can do. First, I think it’s important to remember your comment that creepiness is partially in the eye of the beholder. In many ways, it really is a situation where it is not you, it’s them. You shouldn’t beat yourself up for something that isn’t your fault. With some girls, you could give them $1 million and they’d still feel it’s creepy. Since you can’t do anything about it, you might as well not worry about it. Be yourself, and continute to treat your dates well. Some girls may find that creepy, but as long as you’re not doing something really creepy (like sitting outside of her house with binoculars), those girls will be in the minority.

    I should also mention that just because a girl doesn’t like you doesn’t mean she thinks you’re creepy. You can be a perfect gentleman and not be liked. It’s an unfortunate reality.

    Second, you mentioned that communcication is the key, but from your post, it seems like you’re failing to communicate on your end and you’re leaving a lot up for interpretation. From your blog, it appears that you lack self-confidence in the girl department, and that often leads guys to interpret everything in the way that makes the girl seem the least interested. I realize it was hyperbole above, but sometimes maybe really means maybe.

    For instance, take the FHE comment. I agree with you — she probably doesn’t like you and is probably looking for an indirect way of saying it. But you don’t really know that. If you want direct communication, sometimes you have to push for it. Why not honestly ask her? Instead of contributing to the lack of communication or assuming every comment means she thinks you’re a stalker, you should say basically what you say in the post. Make her tell you directly she isn’t interested rather than allowing her to hide behind excuses. In fact, you can be up front that you’re terrible at reading signals. Most guys struggle in this area. I don’t think most girls will find that creepy, and if they do, your desire for direct communication would have doomed things eventually anyway.

    And remember, it is possible to misread people. The Kim Isom saga is a great example. While there were a lot of issues going on there, direct communication earlier may have led to a different outcome.

    Anyway, take this for what it’s worth (which probably isn’t very much). If nothing, know that I found your post thought-provoking, and I liked your arrangement.

    April 15, 2011 at 9:39 pm

  5. Thanks for the comment, Mitch! Due to my somewhat antisocial tendencies, at times it feels like I’m living in a vacuum (which is one reason *for* these angsty blog posts), so it’s nice to know that others understand and can sympathize.

    As regarding that specific situation with the FHE girl, that wasn’t the only piece of evidence I got that she wasn’t interested. She had brought up *three* different instances earlier in the night of experiences she had when guys that were her friends tried to take it to the next level and it ruined everything. And how horrible her boyfriends were, which, for at least one of them, is absolutely true. And she kept mentioning how much she wants to serve a mission soon, despite the fact that she’s 25 and keeps putting off turning in her papers. Plus the fact that she’s barely said three words to me since then, all of them work-related.

    But you are right. None of that is direct evidence. And I do need to figure out how to communicate directly with girls. My problem is that every time I’ve tried, it always gets fairly awkward real fast, probably because I guess I don’t have much tact. And what may have been a “maybe” usually turns into a “no” pretty fast if I ask directly. I’ve even posted about that particular problem before (see the “That Look” post from about a year ago). Love and dating just feels like a hard-nosed game of Mao, where nobody explains the rules but just penalizes you whenever you break one.

    Still, I am glad that someone is enjoying my morbid introspection. (And I mean that sincerely, even if it sounds vaguely sarcastic, I don’t mean it that way.)

    And Johnathan, you’re right: I am way too hard on myself. I’ve heard that from several sources over many years, at least one of them professional. I guess that’s one reason I *am* so concerned about dating and marriage: to find that person that can give me the love and support I need, and whom I can love and support in return.

    April 24, 2011 at 12:20 am

  6. Johnathan Whiting

    I really like what Mitch said. I think he said was I was trying to tell you, Jeff, but in a much better way. Just don’t feel alone in you’re dating woes, man. I’ve screwed up with plenty of girls, too (hence my current single status). Someday we’ll (or maybe you’ll) get through to you that you’re rock awesome, and someday the right girl will see that as well. I mean, hey, if my brother could find somebody perfect for him (and I absolutely mean “PERFECT for him”), than it can happen to anybody, even me and you. And now I kinda wanna go watch that inappropriate Tom Brady SNL skit:)

    P.S. I read your Kim Isom post and it reminded me of some of my high school and early college experiences with dating. Perhaps I’ll relate them to you at a later date.

    April 30, 2011 at 5:03 pm

  7. Pingback: Dated Concepts: One Man’s Proposals for Reviving Courtship | Meeker Musings of a Miniature Man

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