Monday, June 3, 2013

It Started With A Smile...

Traveling recently, I was in the airport and took a chair in a row about four or five seats away from the nearest person.  As is customary, I looked around surveying the area.  A young Asian lady about five seats away looked at me so  I granted her a smile.  She did not return the informal greeting.  Instead, she quickly diverted her eyes towards the floor, shuffled around nervously for several seconds, then abruptly stood and walked away.  I watched her move two rows behind me and sit down facing the opposite direction.  Wow!  Her reaction communicated a great deal to me without speaking an actual word.  Sure, I could use the extra space around me and I wasn’t really attracted to her pale skin and harsh, jutting under bite, but she clearly moved because I smiled at her.  I simply transmitted a friendly non-verbal greeting.  What in the world would she have done if I’d actually said “Good Morning”?  She’d have probably screamed her silly little head off and set off all sorts of unnecessary alerts in this particular environment.  It was clear she’d moved because of me, but my question was why.  Of course I don’t know the woman or have any clue as to her background.  Quite possibly she’s suffered years of abuse from terrible men.  I wouldn’t have imagined those sorts of predatory monsters commenced with a smile, but the truth is that I really don’t know their methods.  Now the frail little victim is incapable of acknowledging a positive glance from an actual gentleman. 

Or was the problem not really her background of abuse, but maybe it was the quality of my smile.  I grinned in her direction with basic sincerity but maybe she saw it as so hideously disingenuous that she could not bear to have it flashed in her direction for even that brief moment. This too could be a possibility.  I immediately recalled an old photograph of myself which displays a rather distinctive frown.  The story goes that on al elementary school picture day my mother admonished me to “be sure to smile for the camera today.” I proceeded to elementary school with every intention of heeding that advice at the tender age of eight-years-old.  When the time came, I exhibited such a grand smile that the photographer lowered the camera and instructed me: “Don’t growl at me.”  To which I promptly responded by reversing my smile into the extreme frown that is forever frozen on my third grade school portrait.  It is odd that a professional photographer would be both so bored and so child-hating as to create such a situation and then so very bold as to submit that incompetent result as his work. Of course, maybe an even greater questions is why did my parents actually purchased the odd finished product.  But there it is…a confused little boy trying to follow directions and ending up with a photo like this. 

So, maybe that poor little Asian chick was not actually the product of extended abuse after all.  More likely she had only recently visited the zoo and was startled to encounter a strange man baring his teeth in a manner so similar to the hyena. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Look at Relationship Success

Happy Valentine’s Day. Today I look at some of history’s most famous couples in an attempt to ascertain what they had that made their relationships so successfully enduring.

Tarzan and Jane came from different worlds. It would appear that they were a classic example of opposites attracting. I mean these two didn’t only grow up on different continents, but were extremely different as he had never been inside a house or employed toilet paper. I can certainly understand Tarzan’s attraction to Jane…he had never met such a clean, hairless, well manicured and highly perfumed creature. On the other hand, I cannot imagine what in the world attracted Jane to the King of the Jungle. He was unclean, unrefined, unclothed and spoke without the ability to conjugate verbs. Of course, he was probably in damn good shape swinging from those vines and King of the Jungle seems a pretty impressive title, but that guy had never met a bar of soap in his life! I think Jane was either shopping for a man with a title (thinking she could become Queen of the Jungle) or otherwise was on a serious rebellious trip against her parents.

Romeo and Juliet also came from different worlds, but because of family feuding they were forbidden to even be friends. For many people that is the very spice they require to feel the urge to unite. That age old lure of the forbidden fruit or trying something meant to be off limits. Many people find that type relationships exciting. It feels as if they are two lone souls defying the world when society prohibits them being together. Think teacher – student; officer – inmate; mistress – married man; employee – boss; altar boy – clergy; and so on and so forth. What makes the whole affair seem desirable is the fact that it is not publicly permissible.

I have dated women from many different cultures, religions and backgrounds, and while I sometimes found it very interesting, it was not our differences but the quality of the person that kept me around…or not.

Of course, if you watch Disney movies you’ll quickly learn old Walt’s theory that the greater the disparity the greater the attraction. The knight who found Sleeping Beauty deep in the forest and, stealing a kiss from what he thought was a corpse, wound up living happily ever after! Remember the prince suffering a shoe fetish that became infatuated with a lost glass slipper and searched kingdom wide to find Cinderella with the perfect size feet. The beautiful Belle who fell in love with the awful Beast after learning what was in his heart was more important that his grotesque face. Man! That’s the kind of woman I need to find. No, they don’t make sense, but that’s why they are labeled fairy tales. And Peter Pumpkin Eater…well, let’s not even go there.

Hollywood will tell you a similar story as you think about the dozens of movies following the similar theme that the fat, nerdy, loser will always get the prom queen if he will just remain persistent. In real life, it is that enduring pursuit, meant to exhibit devotion to that one special woman that actually ends up in allegations, ambushes and restraining orders.

Still, these days I am often turned down by women using the excuse that “we just don’t have anything in common.” Yet, these are some of the numerous ladies who happily brag that they are "still looking for a millionaire." What in the world do they expect to have in common with a rich guy? Okay, I know what you are thinking: a bank account! While this answer surely has merit, being the simple guy I am means I’m always flabbergasted that these women forget the lifelong lessons of children’s stories and movies about how it is our differences that matter and NOT our similarities. Will these girls ever learn?

Whether to blame it on fairy tales or pheromones I am not quite sure and the debate will continue I'm certain. I sent one Valentine’s Day card to a young lady I had quite enjoyed spending time with recently. I know asking her to be my valentine opened myself up, but I was caught completely off guard when upon receiving the card she immediately called me with the response: “I wish you wouldn’t send this stuff to my house.”

When will I ever learn??

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Investment Risks and Rewards

Treat any relationship like an investment. That is what is actually is, right?

Be aware that there are both long term and short term investments.

Thoroughly research the product before investing; don’t rush in simply because it is the talk of the town or catches a lot of eyes. Trends change quickly and what is “hot” today can be chilly in an instant.

Know your goal before investing heavily.

Understand how much you are willing to lose before pulling out.

Know when to cut your losses and sell.

Research and constantly assess the potential for growth and return on investment.

Understand the stocks position and history: frequency of fluctuations, prospect for market decline, management style, if it has been poorly managed, ROI and of great importance to your own reputation: whether she is privately or publicly held.

You can always apply the gambler’s advice: “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em; know when to walk away and know when to run.”


Monday, October 3, 2011

Same Sex Civil Unions

I have made the mistake of stating out loud that whenever we reach the point where same sex civil unions are legalized I’ll be one of the first to partake. Obviously I understand why this statement draws stares, but what I mean is simply that it sounds like a grand opportunity. I have male friends that I’ve known for years and although we sometimes disagree on things, we’ve never had a fight that was significant. I trust them completely with my property, finances and even my life. So if the government allowed us to “marry” then I can see that as a very positive move. We’d be able to join resources to maximize assets, minimize liabilities and share all sorts of benefits such as pensions, social security, life insurance, medical insurance and tax breaks.

But of course, I’d have to insist on separate beds and a very clear no sex clause. Wait a minute…that part sounds a lot like my first marriage; yet it was to a woman and we had no such clause!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Long Term Dummy

I don’t consider myself incapable of long term relationships or even averse to them, but admittedly I haven’t had much luck with them. I’ve attempted four of them in the last eight years; the longest endured nearly a year and the shortest made it only four months. The other two fell in between those time frames at ten and seven months each. One ended at my request, one was doused by my girlfriend and the other two were moving along fine for a while but eventually just waned into uninspiring territory from which we both amicably receded. I’d describe it something like a tuna sandwich that you let sit a little bit too long before eating. The mayonnaise and pickle juice soaked into the bread and that did a lot to ruin the whole meal. It was still the same sandwich, but it didn’t hold nearly the same appeal. We nibbled around the soggy portion for a while, but neither of us was truly hungry enough to actually consume that last moist bite. Those two relationships had simply run their course and I still remain friends with both of those ladies.

No friendship survived the other two. One woman attempted to have me swear that I’d never date another woman for the rest of my life. When I refused to do something so ridiculous, she declared that I’d never hear from her again. So far that has been the case. In the other scenario, the lady clearly could not have cared any less about me or our relationship. She simply disappeared. It’s as if she evaporated like a salted slug or was abducted and removed entirely from the planet. No calls, no emails, no texts and not a single reason, excuse or even a good bye. Oh, and that was also the very first time I’ve had a relationship end with me owing her money.

As far as I know she woke up one morning with amnesia and to this date has never recovered any memory of me or us. It was weird for me, but in the end the experience was truly the least stressful break-up I’ve ever endured…though I admit that questions do linger in my head. Could that have been her goal? I dunno. I remain flummoxed by that one.

I cannot figure out why the two longer more serious relationships ended completely and the other two briefer, more casual encounters resulted in lasting friendships. But as usual I do have a few theories. It evidently exhibits an all or nothing attitude and clearly shows an overall incompatibility. These two women were more set on achieving some ultimate relationship goal than ever having or sustaining a friendship. Their interest was in being paired much more than any possible desire in me being their partner in the pairing. Maybe they didn’t even like me, but simply saw me as a step in gaining something better. I was merely the dummy seated in the passenger seat which allowed them to travel the HOV lane of life.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Clouded Memories, Blissful Ignorance

My memories of youth are probably corrupted by the corrosion of time. Certainly as a younger man I was more eager to meet women. Inevitably, chasing behind girls tends to encourage them to run away. Now, in my fourth decade of life, with a divorce, two teenage children and constantly working on multiple jobs and numerous projects I simply have other priorities. It isn’t that I’ve completely given up spending time with women, but with everything else on my plate that sort of thing just isn’t at the forefront of the matrix any longer.

So, with my attention diverted elsewhere, it oddly seems that my tendency to pay the ladies less attention actually results in attracting them. I guess when they aren’t being pestered and pursued they are more apt to poke their heads out of their shells and take a look around. When they notice my lack of interest, it seems to spawn an internal curiosity to explore exactly why I am not showing the level of interest they believe they deserve.

I am not turned off at all by the attention of a nice, intelligent woman. I am not anti-female and my schedule is full simply because I like it that way. My non-stop activity is mostly of my own doing, so I can take a break whenever I choose. When I am approached by an intriguing woman it is very likely that I will make time for her.

This is not some wild claim that women are following me home like stray dogs and lining up outside my door hoping for a fresh bone. But the truth is that in my forties, I can tell you that I get a lot more attention from the opposite sex than when I was a kid. Of course, things have to be considered in proper perspective. Looking back to days when I couldn’t get a pretty girls attention even by intentionally stepping on her foot it doesn’t take a whole lot more attention to make a huge statistical difference: one will always be greater than zero.

Who would have imagined that my being less attentive would have the effect of actually calling attention to me? That would have been valuable information to have as a young man. But I probably would have dismissed it as a ridiculous hypothesis back then. Instead, I once again learn a valuable lesson too late. I’m older now, less bothered to chase women yet more pursued by them. Regardless, the end result is that I am in this period of my life that one might expect I ought to have figured a few things out, but still I am as confounded by females as I have ever been. By the time I sort out this phase of my life I’ll likely be in my sixties dealing with all new and more challenging relationship predicaments.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

When We Still Felt Feelings

Do you recall those carefree youthful days of flirting and dating fun? The extreme sensations you felt in both your head and chest with every possibility that arose to find something incredibly special. I do. Why do things have to change in this area when we mature? I can only imagine that it is the result of experience. Frequent injuries build up scar tissues that result in thicker skin with less sensation. Life has a tendency to wear you down in that way. The blissful ignorance of youth is somewhat sorely missed. Even though many of the feelings we had were of confusion and pain, at least we used to have feelings!