Posted by shannonclark on July 20, 2002
Dinner, and alone among friends
Last night, I was walking home when I was stopped by two friends a few blocks from my house. After giving one a photo I had printed for him, we stopped and talked for while.
They invited me to join them for dinner at a local restaurant, I agreed but first went home to drop off my briefcase.
Dinner was fun, loud, lots of laughing, the food was only so-so, but the company enjoyable – and in a move that I did not expect (nor did any of my friends), one of them treated the rest of us to dinner – very nice of him.
After dinner, as if the desserts, bread, pasta, and appetizer was not enough, we went across the street for ice cream (well some of us, I declined all but one small bite of the frozen yogurt).
But, sitting there, on a perfect summer night, outside, on the sidewalk under the streetlights and trees, in short in a wonderful place with good friends, I felt an absense as well.
A few years ago at a New Year’s eve party held by some friends of mine who are practicing pagans, they did a tradition that involved writing down your fondest wish on two pieces of paper, and then giving one to a friend to hold on to, in a year you were to meet up again and burn the papers.
My one wish was “Companionship” – and indeed, very acutely last night I felt its absense. Yes, I have friends, but I am missing something very important.
As we sat, later on that evening, moved just a half-block away to another outdoor cafe, we were a bunch of guys sitting outside on a summer’s evening. In my neighborhood it seems at time the whole world walks by, and guys being guys, some comments were made about the woman who were walking past.
My tastes are very different from my friends I discovered – indeed how to describe my tastes are a bit difficult (I barely know myself in some regards – having little experience to go by).
I know that I am not interested in blondes with big breasts wearing tight jeans, as my friends seem uniformly to be – rather, I want someone with whom I feel comfortable, someone who physically attracts me, but who has the intelligence to back it up and to hold a conversation with – with a bunch of guys on a street corner – intelligence did not seem to be all that important.
The men I was most envious were not the guys with the blonds in stillettos and unnatural features – rather they were the men walking in loving embrace with a woman who looked at them with affection – the men who were studying with their girlfriends on a Friday night, or just out walking their dog – those were the men I envied.
I am not very good at reading unspoken cues – I’m certain that many times over in my life I have missed opportunities – I know that the woman who taught me to dance many years ago should have taught me oh so very much more.
It was on a cruise taken with my parents while in college (yes, I did not learn to dance until college – too chicken and did not have anyone to dance with in High School). A woman had, early in the cruise walked past me and smiled at me – clueless me I did nothing.
It was not until a day or two later, when, my sister having befriended the woman’s brother – that I was reintroduced to her. She actually asked me why I had not talked to her that first day. Silly me.
So, later that day she taught me to dance at the ship’s nightclub – which being a ship at sea involved dancing on a floor that was swaying – lowering significently the embarassement factor.
That week was a good one – but even though she and I sat, under the stars, by ourselves overlooking the ocean in a private area we probably should not have been in (this was before the Titanic movie – but not too removed from a certain scene of that film), I did not so much as kiss her.
I have dated two woman in my life – though I have had many female friends (but we were strictly platonic friends whether I liked it or not) – in the first case we would have never dated had a mutual friend not actually asked us each directly “Do you two like each other?” – and then forced an answer from us both (and then strategically left us alone in her dormroom to explore the implications of our mutual “yes”). The second case was an “internet relationship” first, then a brief one week “fling” which ended the relationship before it really started. In the first case, though we were intimate and dated each other for many month (almost 9 in fact) we were both young and very inexperienced and never had (in the Clinton sense of it) – sex.
So, here I am, at the age of 28, very much alone. Not what I had expected – and with every passing year I fear it will get only harder and harder for me (though on the bright side, a friend did once tell me that most likely my 20’s would suck – which they mostly have, but that my 30’s would be great. His point being that somehow woman in their 20’s want men who are very different from me, but that when they get into their 30’s they change and start to want a man very much like me – smart, kind, considerate, stable, friendly to kids etc. I increasely fear and hope that he was right – but that does imply two very long years ahead of me at least).