Loss of a friend

It’s time to call it. I’ve lost another close friend from childhood. Not to illness and death but to loss of another kind; communication.

We were thick as thieves for 20 years until he started ignoring my texts and invitations last year. I’m usually the person to reach out, organize events, etc. and although he wasn’t always the best communicator, things would snap into place (so to speak) whenever we hung out, so I never paid much mind to it. Water under the bridge. Why should I take it personally if it felt like I was the only one tending to the garden – not all personalities are built for that.

The turning point last year centered around a camping trip he told me he’d attend. I paid for the camping grounds, told him when, gave him details of what we could do, and he seemed stoked. Other friends confirmed as well but eventually backed out. It didn’t bug me that much as long as my childhood buddy was free to roast some s’mores. He had just started dating someone and said she’d tag along as well.

But they never showed. I think that’s when loneliness hits the hardest; when you’re stood up by someone you trust. No apology. No misconstrued remarks. No drama. No remorse. Just arresting silence.

Four months later, he posted one of those “Friendversary” videos on Facebook with a comment saying “Been too long bro. We gotta hang out at Christmas. I’ll def make the time.” That never happened either.

I’m nearly 30 and I’ve lost two friends this way. My extant problem is that I’m the one to brood and self-reflect. I never did find the blithe, happy-go-lucky escapades of the convivial extrovert all that manageable. Good people are hard to come by, so doesn’t it make sense to engender the spirit of companionship by cultivating the bond that’s there? I suppose this is the loser’s mindset as it’s easy to feel like a loser when you’re the only one who cares.

That said, I still have a few friends who haven’t given up on me. Although I know I can be rather inexpressive, I’m not unappreciative of this. I struggle to find the right ways of saying this so I give it my all to be there for them in times of need.

That said, I was quite reluctant to call this one and make it official in my head that our relationship had died. How long must the cacophony of flatlined alarms last?

I give it a year and hope I’m wrong. But here’s the proverbial truth:  the ball’s in their court and they’ve never made a fucking layup. Only a self-hating degenerate would hold their breath for this.

Here’s to my dignity.

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-Single Guy in NYC
@SingleGuyInNYC

The Woman Who Stabbed Me Got Married Last Month

It’s been a few years since I’ve contributed to this blog, so I should clarify that despite my absence, I’ve remained single, just low on the hustle. What brought me back is a little piece of information: my ex got married last month. She, along with my many rejections, was my muse that inspired this blog; that and strong bouts of depression, anxiety and insufferable lonliness. You know, the usual suspects.  🙂

I loved that woman. She’s the only person I’ve ever been with who had opened new doors of experience for me – expanding my bounds, and solidifing my love of the outdoors. There were growing pains that made both of us irritable at times and only if I had known what she was going through, maybe our relationship wouldn’t have ended the way it did. Shoving love at a problem doesn’t make it go away.

Her mental disturbances, especially the mood swings, lacked any predictable design. Regardless, I wouldn’t believe it and always thought there was something I could do to fix things. After all, when she was up, we would both relish in the euphoria. So, likewise, when she was down, we would both perish in the abyss. Things came to an ugly end when she took a steak knife to my throat on my 23rd birthday. The reason? She had burned a few slices of bacon. At least, that was the trigger – not very hard to find one when your headspace is a latent minefield. If you’re curious, I wrote about her in Girl Fail #21 (Part 1 and Part 2).

And so, we split up and I remained attached, kind of. She consumed my thoughts. Sure, I was heartbroken but never like this. My future had been altered by unseen hands and even though I wanted to move on and find someone else, I couldn’t. New York City is like that sometimes. It didn’t matter how many new faces I met, the ROI was zero. Over time, I realized that she never loved me; instead, needed someone like me in her life at the time. I fulfilled a need. That’s it. Period. It’s good to feel useful, don’t it?

Feeling lonely is a nightmareShe found another man a few weeks after we ended things. I was alone. Following that guy, she quickly found someone else. They started dating, he moved in, and last month, they got married. (It sounds like I kept tabs on her but I swear I did not – just providing a quick summary.)

It’s not the marriage per se that bugs me. It’s how easy everything was for her. To move on; find another job; another apartment; another man; another love. She had all these choices, and through no particular effort of her own. Begrudgingly, I witnessed this and heard about it. It’s clear that the purpose I served was temporary and small, and so, I, too, felt small.

This is a familiar cycle. I no longer remember what it feels like to hold someone’s hand, or to carress a lover’s back, or to run my fingers through their hair. Show me another blogger that knows this despair and laughs when friends bring up their 6-month dry spell – they are my equal. The gap between my ex and I is unbound. Similarly, so is the one between me and serial daters (the most common type of blogs about the single life).

But dear reader, this changes. Like all things in life, this too will come to pass. We must wait. Wait until we find a crooked neighbor to love with our crooked heart, reap the time, and dispel the morning sun and invtie the rain when it’s all done. Only to begin again. We must wait.

-Single Guy in NYC
@SingleGuyInNYC

Is It Okay To Act Desperate?

Depending on sample size, location, and attractiveness, the average match ratio for men on Tinder is typically under 10%. In densely populated areas, it generally drops to less than half of that. With all things considered, it’s easy to get desperate like Pepé Le Pew if these are your odds at just landing a match; let alone a reply; let alone a conversation; let alone a date; let alone a relationship. It’s helpful to set your expectations way down low and not respond like this dude:

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However, knowing what it’s like, I don’t blame this guy one bit – maybe go easy on the CAPS lock next time though. Just a thought.

Here’s to all the Pepé Le Pew’s out there. I feel for ya!

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I’m right there with you – sort of. Dammit, you know what I bloody well mean.

-Single Guy in NYC
@SingleGuyInNYC

Daily Prompt: Conundrum

Before there was “Love Stinks” by J. Geils Band or Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know“; before the British bemoaning of Bridget Jones’s Diary or the love-struck Nicolas Cage in Moonstruck or the conversational heartbreak in Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind, there was poetry. Oh yes, my friends. Poetry.

Love is a conundrum. Love can be a lesson learned; an all too common topic in culture that’s  universally accepted as a calamitous milestone. One such poem that ventilates this tormenting lesson is by A. E. Housman

When I Was One-and-Twenty

When I was one-and-twenty
       I heard a wise man say,
“Give crowns and pounds and guineas
       But not your heart away;
Give pearls away and rubies
       But keep your fancy free.”
But I was one-and-twenty,
       No use to talk to me.
When I was one-and-twenty
       I heard him say again,
“The heart out of the bosom
       Was never given in vain;
’Tis paid with sighs a plenty
       And sold for endless rue.”
And I am two-and-twenty,
       And oh, ’tis true, ’tis true.

 

Summary:

Stanza 1: A wise man cautions to give away currency, or temporal possessions, but never your heart. That way way, one keeps their freedom, imagination, and open desire to do as one pleases. However, our insolent subject was 21 at the time and impervious to this advice.

Stanza 2: The wise man continues, purporting that giving your heart away is a zero-sum game. He is rather pessimistic about any such exchange and says that our subject would ultimately regret it and sulk in disappointment. And yet, notwithstanding this, our subject, now 22 years old, ignored what was said and has come to know first hand that the sage was, in fact, right.

Perhaps this was because our subject finally reached the drinking age. (I’ll leave that for you to ponder.) Whatever your assessment, and despite the bleak tone of the poem, not everyone is entitled to a fair trial here. Some will be lucky; some will get lucky. And visa versa.

This truly is the story as old as time. It is NOT what the Walt Disney Co. encourages us to impetuously ingest. Push that chalice aside, however tempting, and experience what is right in front of you. It is an inspiring, albeit agitating, conundrum. Rainer Marie Rilke put it best.

rainer_maria_rilke_1900“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”  – Rainer Rilke
-Single Guy in NYC
@SingleGuyInNYC

She Makes Me Wanna Die (Girl Fail #21): Part 2

(To read Part 1, click here)

“I want all my children to look like you,” she used to say.

After 18 months of dating, she stayed at my apartment for a weekend to celebrate my birthday. While preparing breakfast on my “special” day, I asked her to finish cooking some bacon so that I could change. While in my room, I heard her screaming and cursing that she had burnt the meat. I assured her that I had more in my fridge and told her not to fret but this rationale had unmistakably mired me into a dispute that would last for the next 45 minutes. Close to its zenith, she emphatically started throwing clothes into her bag, threatening to leave.

bacon.gifKnowing that she’d have nowhere else in the city to go (she was from a different state), I stood in front of the door and begged her to stay.

“Get out of my way.”

“Look, you’re angry. That’s okay, we don’t have to talk right now but where are you going to go? Please stay.”

“Get the fuck out of my way!”

As I implored her to talk to me, she grabbed one of my steak knives from the kitchen, pushed it up against my skin and pitilessly repeated herself. I opened the door and let her walk out of my life. We spoke hours later but we never completely mended our relationship. It was the end.alone nyc

Years have passed but I still see her every week in the streets of Manhattan. It’s not actually her, obviously, but it will be one feature that brings me back; a stranger’s hair, demeanor, or clothing.  Sometimes this vicarious stranger – well, she makes me wanna die.

auden.jpgHowever cliché, we have all considered what it means to be in love. (Here’s my take.) Surely, the modernist poet, W.H. Auden, brooded heavily on this. His conversational poem, O Tell Me the Truth About Love, delves into many of love’s attributes but which stanza is true? If the subject of “love” in the poem could somehow be hidden from the reader, one would feel quite agitated from the hodgepodge of contradictory descriptors employed to describe the same thing. Whatever your sentiments, the answer to Auden’s questions remains a resounding “Yes.”

Will it come like a change in the weather?
Will its greeting be courteous or rough?
Will it alter my life altogether?
O tell me the truth about love.

-W.H. Auden

-Single Guy in NYC
@SingleGuyInNYC

Friend Threshold

SeedAndThreshold_02.pngFriend Threshold: The maximal amount of friends or loved ones a person chooses to maintain. All other associations will either be discarded immediately or left underdeveloped.

What’s your number? Did you reach it? How old were you? Moreover, how did it feel?

I ponder this out of sheer ignorance. The idea of having a myriad of friends, a sweet social network, remains a foreign concept to me, and not by choice. Without my consent, I’ve become a loner, and given my haphazard track record, one might even conclude that it was purposeful and assiduously sought out.

After spending another birthday alone last week, I started digging into what this figurative “friend threshold” is. (Oddly enough, you could take it literally as well. Most notably, Facebook has a harsh 5,000 friend limit; consider yourself warned.) From all the blogs, forlorn songs, confessional websites, historical novels, etc., one would effortlessly conclude that you’re more likely to run into someone seeking friendship than someone not willing to squander any of their social time. And yet, each time I fail making that connection, it ironically connects me to that feeling that’s been sinking. I’m no stranger to Miss Misery. As I become mired in dialogue going nowhere, she pours the whiskey, listens silently, and never forgets to top me off.

In part, I blame the city. Active New Yorkers appear, at the very least, brimmed with companionship. Their ships have boarded and departed, and there I am in some makeshift “Cast Away”raft clumsily paddling towards their modern vessel. In all honestly, I’m not advocating to readily accept every human as your best friend. (We have dogs for that.) But there is plenty of middle ground that’s rarely granted to expatriates like myself.

I’ll give an example.

I organized a pizza party with my roommates and we all chipped in on spreading the word. As luck would have it, the apartment across from us is occupied by three women our age, so I knocked on their door to invite them. Within 10 seconds, my neighbor made it seem as though my presence was that of an intrusive gadfly, despite just standing in the hallway.

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“Hey! I’m Single Guy in NYC, I’m not sure if you remember me but I’m you’re neighbor.”

“Okay…” she sighed, hardening her grip on her door frame.

“Well, I just wanted to let you know that my roommates and I are having a party next week and, if you’re all free, you should come hang out.”

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“Right, maybe. Thanks.”

The door closed immediately afterwards.

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You might think she’s just shy but she’s really not. On the contrary, from what I’ve gathered living on the same floor as her, she’s a lively person. Most likely your average beautiful urban 20-something year old just relishing in their prime. And probably comfortable with her friend threshold. Pizza party? Ha. What’s in it for me?

I guess I see her point. 

-Single Guy in NYC
@SingleGuyInNYC

Have You Got A Light?

Lying naked and winded, fresh out of cigarettes – kicking the habit anyway – on your bed as you begged for another story with your ear pressed to my chest to feel every vocal vibration, we came to appreciate how affectedly we loved previous lovers. It was another narrative woven into our garbs but it was a best-seller. Doesn’t that count for anything?

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The stories I told on days like those could fill volumes, although it was difficult to pinpoint the reason for your curious penchant. Maybe you simply enjoyed the sound of my voice or wanted to damn the silence in the room. Surely you wouldn’t request the same from a hubristic drunkard.

Although our rich companionship is often aggrandized in my head, the intensity and pathos still feels real. I now realize why you asked for a tall tale or factoid; you wanted all of me. After giving myself to you physically, you only wished to couple these ephemeral moments with something to take away. I’ll never have a chance to say it outside of this frivolous blog but I miss that and I’ll find it again. Only this time, I’ll be sure to reciprocate the offer.

-Single Guy in NYC
@SingleGuyInNYC

What Connects Us

To be perfectly honest, I don’t know. Is it my lurid sense of humor? After all, who wouldn’t embrace the gentle warmth of a stranger’s hand as you ascend to the gallows? Are you a vagrant and see that in me as well? I’m not the best looking but compared to old Boxcar Willy, I suppose I can hold my own. Maybe it’s a different flavor of independence; insolence and dissidence. Both kinds are easy to spot out – no need for smoke signals when there’s a fire of visible grandeur. On the contrary, perhaps you see something that isn’t there – a quality I’ve never possessed – and you’re unequivocally convinced it’s the answer to all your prayers. Who needs a God when there’s a temporal resource on speed dial? Number 4, to be exact.

Or, could it be that you’re attached to my illusive traits? Although mercurial and tacitly agreed upon, it feels like a blood pact. Meredith Brooks cashed in on being a “bitch,” so it’s been proven in theory and practice. Chaos can be, and often times is, majestic. That said, everyone has a threshold and, consequently, an end date. I just hope we can speak candidly when that time comes. To revise, and partially reverse, a pithy sentiment: Second chances should be given to everyone who deserves them.

-Single Guy in NYC
@SingleGuyInNYC

Throwback: My First Time (Girl Fail #20)

G FAILIt would be illogical to write – not to mention relive – my Girl Fails without telling you how it all started. I’m going back to high school for this story; back before I had a modus operandi, back before texting and when everyone was on AIM, back when I was battling unwarranted boners and jacking off every 15 minutes, and back when I was oblivious to anything sexually tacit (oh, the irony). Despite my mercurial nature, there was a sensational brunette in my 9th grade English class sitting beside me and I was smitten.

She was shy, allusively charming and, although the same age, blasé – as if she had been on more adventures than Amelia Earhart. But, I could make her laugh. The more I did, the more confidence I acquired and even I was surprised by this recycling of energy. Her best friend sat in front of us and pretty soon we all became close. After flirting for 2 months, I asked her out. She said yes and I got her email address and screen name (not many kids had cell phones at this point). I was ecstatic and eager to fill my friends in on my success, which is why I was surprised to find a rejection note in my locker the next day. She said her life was complicated, she liked a man in another state, and that I was a good guy. It was my first real rejection but I didn’t let it stop me from trying again.

FriendClass was awkward for a week but we got back into our old flirtatious habits and it was business as usual till the end of the year. We chatted online all the time and sent each other funny photos via email. End of the year finals were here and with Summer break quickly approaching, I was afraid I’d be immured in the friend zone for eternity unless I asked her for her number. I couldn’t bare the thought of not seeing her for an entire season.

My plan was to ask her after our English final. Well, guess who finished the test in half the time I did and was picked up by her parents? I was abject. Alas, all hope was lost!

Not quite. Her best friend was waiting for the buses like I was. Believing it was my only shot, I asked her if she’d give me our mutual friend’s number. Noting my candor, she smiled and gave it to me.

“She likes you, you know,” she said, surreptitiously glancing over her shoulder as if her friend would suddenly appear.

I called her that evening, explained how I got her number, how I was sorry I didn’t ask her personally but with the summer here and I didn’t want to lose touch. After speaking for 5 minutes, she said she had to go and I suggested that we hang out sometime.

She sent me an email that night strongly voicing the err of my ways. What I believed to be an innocuous phone call between friends turned out to be the most menacing, disgraceful act normally executed by heartless tyrants. She went on to say that we had absolutely nothing in common, I had no idea who she is or where she’d been, and I was thoughtless (there we go with the irony again). She closed by threatening violence (she had strong, “protective male friends”) if I ever dared to call her again.

ThinkFrom that moment on, I began to over-think every single statement, action, or pass I made at the opposite sex. I feared that no matter how close I got to anyone, I could still be regarded as an evil threat. Every pact could be broken at any time. Every gallant gesture could be misinterpreted as malicious. Every compliment could be tainted by selfish and hidden intentions. As much as I challenged these thoughts, my subconscious seemed to open the door and graciously invite them inside to percolate.

After two years of silence, she instant messaged me randomly one day. (Interestingly enough, I was dating someone at the time.) She asked if I hated her. To be honest, I struggled to find the relevancy of her question since we remained strangers for the past few years. Then again, it was high school and we were all dramatic and peevish twerps expecting our world to end by means of a merciless calamity. Most of us aren’t like that anymore. Anyway, I replied saying that I didn’t hate her and asked if everything was okay. As if she was in a confessional, she wistfully explained what was bothering her and confided in me. She felt lonely all the time and pushed others away for no reason. She regretted the email she sent me and wished she could have taken it all back. Although it was a strange time for an apology, it was nice to hear it from her.

Regardless, the damage was done. She changed the way I pursued women all throughout college and, most likely, is the reason why I continue to contemplate my presence around women to such an unnecessary degree.

Now would you look at that? That’s some Class A psychologist babble right there, and it was all for the price of one large coffee at this quaint cafe on the corner. What a steal!

-Single Guy in NYC
@SingleGuyInNYC

I’m Not Doing So Well (Girl Fail #14-19)

Overcome with lassitude, I sat on my couch drunk, looking down at my hand, not knowing whether or not I had broken it, and reflecting back on my hapless night. Attending local events and parties are perfect for meeting others, so when my roommate told me about a costume dance party in Manhattan, I was stoked. Granted, I’m a little uptight when I dance but with some liquid courage, I was confident I’d reach my stride. The pressure was rising and it was time I went in guns a’blazin’ (i.e. fake-it-till-I-make-it poised confidence). After all, it was going to be a night of masquerading.

Guns a blaze

I went as Popeye the Sailor Man looking for some Olive Oyl.   😉  Here’s a condensed recollection of my failed attempts.

Girl Fail #14:  With one drink down, I felt loose enough to get my groove on. After joining my friends on the sizable dance floor, my roommate pointed out that this girl around us had eyed me when I walked away and had playfully bumped into me while dancing a few times. He described it as “an obvious sign.” Although I don’t know the protocol when it comes to meeting women at a dance party, it’s discernible that verbal communication has nothing to do with it.

I nonchalantly turned in her direction looking for a nonverbal cue that would evince her interest. Turning back, my thoughts kept me occupied. Should I do something to grab her attention or should I just start dancing right in front of her and hope for the best? What will her friends do if I butt in like that? My best bet is to playfully return her gestures, I think. Popeye’s virility was now being undermined by my convoluted thought process. Our shoulders brushed one another but as I went to face her, Michael Jackson earned her attention with a vivacious dance of his own as he swiftly grabbed her hand and moved to the music.

Girl Fail #15:  Disappointed in my performance, strangled by unruly thoughts, I sought after another drink. Luckily, the bar was outside the dance room – making it possible to have an audible conversation. I was just lacking the caprice of a boisterous lover, so I promised myself I’d strike up a conversation with the next person who caught my eye.

RalphCatching my eye, there was a woman, not very dressed up, sitting alone at the bar. After ordering my drink, I asked her about her costume. Hearing my voice, she looked up with a deadpan countenance. I repeated my question in case she had trouble understanding me but she was fixated on her inscrutable expression. Unsure of what I did wrong, she interrupted me as I began to speak  to confess (in broken English), “I no understand.” Point taken: Hit on those who speak the language. Time to follow the hedonistic credo of “party on.”

Girl Fail #16:  Fast-forward a few drinks later, I returned back to the revelry to test my luck again. With my drink resting on the stage, I began dancing with an attractive woman wearing a straight-haired grey wig that just reached her shoulders. The strange thing was that every time I looked up at her, she would turn and move away but as soon as I looked down, she would dance with me again. My moves may be insipid but at least I have rhythm and a sense of time, so I couldn’t understand her fickle routine. At one point I mirrored a wacky, spur of the moment dance movement she did to try to be flirtatious. She smiled and laughed but as soon as I looked up, she turned away and started dancing with her friends. What’s dancing if you can’t look at the person you’re dancing with?

RejectThinking I got rejected, my roommate assured me that she’s just being playful and I should say “Hi.” It was worth a shot but her playing-hard-to-get game was bloody obnoxious. The next time we danced, I peered up and said “Hi.” She turned her head away and kept dancing. I don’t go out like this often, so maybe this has become the norm – the closer you get to someone, the farther they become. Or maybe she abhors Popeye.

Girl Fail #17:  While getting another 12oz dose of liquified therapy, my friend and I passed by a group of women. One of them placed a toy spider on my friend’s shoulder and shrieked, “Ah! What’s that on you?” Sharing a fleeting laugh, I tried to start a conversation with them but it went nowhere. It was obvious they were only interested in my friend, who’s girlfriend was waiting for him on the dance floor. It was another dead end.

Girl Fail #18:  My impeccable streak of failures at the dance party along with enough drinks to sedate a baby rhino was starting to get to me. I departed from my group and ventured to an unknown bar several blocks away. Like I said before, the pressure was rising and my night couldn’t be over yet; not while I still had energy, albeit it was scanty.

Did you catch my mistake? I’ll give you a hint: spinach.

Greeted with friendly hilarity by a group of bar-hopping night crawlers immediately put me in a better mood. To my amusement, cheeky jokes about Olive Oyl went over well with this 2am crowd, especially the cute woman drinking whiskey sour. I flirted with her until she started making out with another guy. Moving on.

Girl Fail #19:  Seeing 10 people on the floor on all fours at the bar won my curiosity, so I decided to join them. The leader of the party was a slim brunette wearing a red top who had lost a $300 pear earring her father had given her.

A damsel in distress in need of help.

PopeyeShe was Olive Oyl and I was Popeye the Sailor Man on another adventure. Accepting the challenge, I rolled up my sleeves, ingested an unpalatable lump of canned spinach (or was it beer?), and began a tedious search for the lost artifact.

Less than 10 minutes later, I found it. Her face lit up when she saw the lustrous gem. She thanked me repeatedly and left immediately afterwards.

Closing time. An hour on the train alone inside one’s head after a calamitous night casts an unforgiving shadow that tactfully follows one’s movements. Justified or not, I was angry. It wasn’t just my costume that made me feel isolated. I was beginning to believe that although my circumstances could be much worse, I lacked the ability to improve them. I clenched my fist till my knuckles turned white and slammed them into my living room table. The impact ricocheted through my forearm as I collapsed listlessly on my couch. Cursing my capricious behavior didn’t abate the swelling pain in my hand.

Isn’t it incredible how one never needs motivation to make matters worse but instead seemingly requires exigent motivation to better oneself? I may be losing my vigilance.

-Single Guy in NYC
@SingleGuyInNYC