The Numbers Game

My sister and I play this game.  It started over ten years ago on a family trip to Disneyland, when I was a senior in high school and she was just a freshman.  She was complaining about how creepy guys would stare at her, looking her up and down like she was a piece of meat.  (Happiest place on earth, I’m sure)  Rather than being sympathetic, I took it as a challenge.  So being the attention loving middle children we are, we competed that day to see who could get more strangers to “check us out”.  Much to my surprise, perky youthful teenage girls are much more attractive to the general public than gangly teenage boys.  I was losing by a landslide, not a single girl ever glanced my way.

The day was coming to a close with me feeling unattractive.  I was sitting outside of the tower of terror waiting for the rest of my family to finish the ride.  Suddenly, this beautiful girl walks up with two of her friends, and she is absolutely staring at me.  She and her friends stood a little ways off, talking in a circle, but her eyes keep darting to me.  I made eye contact, and then I looked down.  This has never happened to me before.  I have absolutely no idea what to do.   Finally she stood in front of the ride (which I’m sitting right in front of), pulled out her camera and snapped a picture.  She smiled, standing there for a little longer, and then walked away.  My dad nudged me with a smile on his face, “That girl just took a picture of you.”  I was stunned.  Shocked.    “Do I talk to her, dad?”

“You should.”  But I didn’t.  I was scared.  I was flattered but completely unequipped to deal with it.   So I just sat there dumbly as she disappeared, never to be seen by me again.  She had expressed her interests, her heart.  I was cowardly with mine.

Years later, I don’t remember the rides.  I don’t remember a lot of the conversations I had with my family.  But I do remember that exact moment and what it felt like to be wanted by a complete stranger.  It’s a precious memory that somehow validates me in a way good grades or money or hard work will never be able to.  Someone wanted me in a purely superficial sense– and it felt great.

I bring this memory up, because it’s been happening.  Not often, mind you but it’s been happening.  I’m sitting at the Food court eating lunch by myself, and a girl slows in her walk to smile at me.  I’m sitting with my family at a play, and a girl makes heavy eye contact with me, in the theater.  Outside of the theater.  As I’m leaving.  I’m out in public, alone, and girls look at me.  Not all of them.  Not even a some of them.  But more than none, when before there only was none.  I know for women and pretty men this happens all the time, but this is a completely new phenomenon to me.

Somewhere over the last nine years, there has been this strange paradigm shift if my life that happened unbeknownst to me.  Somehow my value to the opposite sex went up ever so slightly.  I always got girls in spite of me: sheer dumb luck, an enfeebled bit of charm, and a lot of persistence.  A girl would have to get to know me, and build up a healthy tolerance to my toxicity before I could lull her into a relationship.  I was like a ninja hiding in the bushes with a pair of handcuffs, with one cuff on my arm and then *surprise!!* *click* *click* *click* now we’re stuck together forever and you can’t get rid of me.  I love you you’re my girlfriend until you hate me.

I don’t know what to do.  I don’t like being single.  I don’t want to date around.  I want my love.  My one love and that’s it.  I was completely prepared to be an old man with a routine… I had my woman that I was ready to go old with.  But now it’s all been taken from me.

And like that teenage boy of ten years ago, I sit there stunned.  Unable to speak.  Unable to do anything.