Quick! Call the waaaaaaambulance!

Okay – this is 98% whining and 2% asking for help.

I’ve been reading TVTropes as everyone knows by now.  I was reading this page which started off funny but ended very depressing.  I wondered what kind of sheltered life I led that nothing even remotely this interesting ever happened to me.  I also noted how often breaking the rules had a happy ending:  “I carelessly walked into the wrong shower and saw this chick naked and we laughed about it and then we started dating.”  WTF???  In what universe am I living then?  Because in my book, that doesn’t follow.  At all.  If some random girl walked in while I was showering, I’d (first) ignore it, and (second) probably feel so bad for her that I wouldn’t ever want to remind her of the incident.

Then I got to thinking about how many of these happened at camps, and unsupervised activities where members of the opposite sex were involved.  I can safely say that I’ve never been unsupervised, especially at school or some other sanctioned activity.  But also, if the rules say to stay away from the girls, I obey them.  This was a rule in Track and Field.  I obeyed it.  Nobody else did.  It was never enforced.  I was quite irritated that nobody enforced the rule but I obeyed it anyway.  I was there to do a job and I did it without complaint.  I wasn’t there for socializing.  I was there to work.

I got to thinking about how I need to meet new people.  My life is boring.  All I do is go to work and come home.  And go to Lodge and hang out with old men.  Granted they’re nice old men, I enjoy hanging out with them, and I learn a lot by talking to them, but I need friends my own age.  I’m 26 and haven’t had a date since high school.

What do people my age do for fun?  I haven’t the foggiest.  I do know that I tried bowling.  I didn’t talk to anyone because I was there to bowl, not talk.  I bowled 36 games and got bored and went home.  What could I have talked about?  I didn’t know any of those people.  I didn’t want to comment on their bowling game because that’d be rude.  I didn’t want to ask about bowling because I’m (a) not the least bit interested in it and (b) not a terrible bowler to begin with so I didn’t need any help or advice.  I had no idea what those people’s interests were so I couldn’t talk about those.  I can guarantee that nobody who goes bowling is interested in any of the things I am.

That’s my core problem.  I don’t do small talk.  I will gladly discourse for hours at Lodge with some of the old timers about the history of Milwaukee’s sewer system or the maintenance records of the city’s many movable bridges.  It’s fascinating and informative to have these discussions.  But I can’t imagine anyone my age remotely caring about any of that.  I don’t watch popular TV shows.  I watch MythBusters, Dirty Jobs, British comedies, and the Penguins of Madagascar.  None of those appeal to young people except oddballs like me and they never want to leave their houses apparently.

I’m sick of never having any kind of human contact.  It’d be awesome if I could get my friends to get a bunch of people together and take a trip up north or to Vermont or hell, even Disney!  I bet Disney’d be a blast with someone besides my 82 year old grandmother and my half-psychotic conspiracy nut uncle.  Or *shock and awe* get invited to a new years’ eve party.  I know the last four years my friends have made sure I didn’t know their plans for new years and one even told me that I’d ruin the party if I showed up because “it’s not my kind of thing” and “I’d have a problem with what goes on there.”  Well news flash:  Maybe I wouldn’t mind it so much if I were included in it once in a while.  That was my biggest problem in high school with parties:  I was always the odd man out watching the lameass movie by myself while everyone else went off and made out in the corners.  That’s why I haven’t gone to parties.

Lastly, there’s this:

And I even got out my adorable new netbook!

And I even got out my adorable new netbook!

I’ve had it drilled into my head so often that I take it as gospel:  Women are so insanely sensitive that any attention at all, including basic politeness, is taken the wrong way and the man gets arrested for sexual harassment.  I take things literally and follow the rules and the rules are so nebulous that any attention at all can be used in court against anyone.  Therefore, I go out of my way to avoid eye contact with strangers.  I’ve had it drilled into my head by the public school system that if a woman is interested in a man, she’ll make the first move.  Period.  Anything, including eye contact, by a man to a woman spells doom for the man as he is locked up as a sex predator for the rest of his life.  I don’t care that this doesn’t really happen – it doesn’t matter.  The potential exists because there’s nothing to prevent a judge from reading the vague law this way and I want to avoid it at all costs.

Finally, I’m just really getting tired of people telling me I need to watch what I say for fear a potentially employer might hear it.  If a potential employer takes issue with something I say, then I probably don’t want to work for them in the first place.  I know I say unpopular things sometimes.  Case in point:  My boss’ boss asked me if I thought his idea would work.  I said it was a good idea on paper but I doubted if it could be implemented in its current form – it would need to be reworked to fit in with the business processes that were already established.  He thanked me and I thought nothing further of it until one of my coworkers, who’d overheard the conversation, told me that I just cut my own throat by not telling the guy that the idea was the best I’d ever seen.  I was shocked:  Why did the man ask my opinion if he didn’t want an answer?  I gave him my honest answer and even offered to help draft an implementation strategy.  But apparently, I was supposed to tell him that the idea was golden and that I wished I’d have come up with it.  WTF?  That’s not what I do.  Any “potential employer” who wants me to do nothing but kiss ass and agree to bad ideas just because it makes him feel good isn’t anyone I want to work for.  I don’t care if I’m unemployed for the rest of my life – I won’t just roll over and play the idiot game.  I do what’s best for the business, not what makes any particular person look good.

So that’s my rant.  Let me know what you come up with.  🙂



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  1. #1 by Phillip on November 17, 2010 - 11:35 PM

    I watch those same shows. My favorite comedian comes from Britain, some of my favorite TV series are British (Doc Martin, Top Gear, and some others).

    The last time I went bowling I think we played 2 games in 3 or 4 hours. Most of the time was spent taking shots and talking. When I was tagged whilst out paintballing there was quite a bit of time to waste so I’d just start chatting with whoever else got hit. We played just a handful of games in the 5 hours we were there. I look at it this way too, small talk leads to something more most of the time. I’ve talked with strangers that would mention that they’re heading out of town and then we’d strike up a conversation about something else.

    I’ve found the opposite with women. I know I’ve personally gotten away with a ton of stuff that could possibly be construed as harassment, but then, sometimes flirting looks like that too. Sometimes something just as simple as playing around can look that way too.

    I can also personally count only a handful of times where the girl made the first move. I also know that at least 2 or 3 of the times I’ve had a move made on me they told me later that they were really nervous. So, it goes both ways. Now, they’ll do things from time to time to show that they’re interested. Trust me on this, misreading is really embarrassing; I’d rather deal with embarrassment than continually wondering about something.

    Lastly, I’m of the same mindset with you about the opinion thing. If someone asks my opinion about something, I’m going to give it. If they didn’t want it, they wouldn’t have asked.

    • #2 by Joshua on November 18, 2010 - 7:18 AM

      Bjorn and I addressed some of the small talk stuff last night on the phone. It’s something I need to work on.

      I still don’t have a good answer on the flirting->harassment thing because I’ve always been told that flirting is harassment, even when it’s desired and that women will sometimes pretend to be uncomfortable when they’re really not because they have the idea that guys like shy girls. So since, essentially, women can’t be trusted to communicate their feelings unambiguously, I need to take what they say at face value, i.e. no means no 100% of the time, regardless of circumstance or context. Essentially any attention, wanted or otherwise, is harassment whether the woman feels harassed or not. Just because she might LIKE the attention doesn’t mean it’s not wrong. Or at least I’ve been told by the public school system.

      • #3 by Joshua on November 20, 2010 - 4:47 PM

        Can someone specifically speak to this? The premise I come up with is “Just because you LIKE the attention, doesn’t mean it’s not wrong.” Or, put another way, “all flirting is harassment” and only luck will save you. Please find a way to refute that because I’ve not found one yet.

      • #4 by Phillip on November 20, 2010 - 8:52 PM

        In all the time I’ve flirted, if they’d looked uncomfortable I stopped. There were some shy girls, but they were more of a verbal/playing around kind of flirting. I mean, people around us could tell that we were flirting. And it was the same thing for more..for lack of a better word..aggressive flirting.

        But it’s not all just one person doing it either. If you’re both flirting with each other, chances are what she’s doing could be considered harassment too.

        Though, the school system was right. Most people like attention, most people don’t like strangers grabbing their asses either though.

      • #5 by Chadwick on November 20, 2010 - 9:40 PM

        Well, in Wisconsin, the legal requirements for harassment, assuming you don’t engage in unwanted physical contact, has the standard of “A repeated course of conduct or series of acts which harass or intimidate another person and which serve no legitimate (valid) purpose.” (Wis. Stat. § 813.125) So if someone asks you to get lost, or appears uninterested and you stop, you should be in the clear.

        • #6 by Joshua on November 21, 2010 - 7:52 AM

          Works for me. So I shouldn’t feel bad for flirting with girls as long as they don’t hit me / run away / tell me to fuck off. I think I can do that.

  2. #7 by Joshua on November 18, 2010 - 4:23 PM

    LOL. Nice. Remember that chick that said she’d like to go for coffee sometime with me? I just asked her what her thanksgiving plans were and she said that she’d be spending time with her family and also her boyfriend’s family.

    Why am I not the least bit surprised at this?

    • #8 by Joshua on November 18, 2010 - 4:29 PM

      I should’ve known better. Theater people.

      • #9 by Chadwick on November 19, 2010 - 7:21 AM

        Maybe you’d prefer an English major (not, sadly, that I have one lined up, this just made me think of a conversation I had with Navy Liz the other day)?

        • #10 by Joshua on November 19, 2010 - 7:24 AM

          Well that killed the mood completely.

          And the consolation is that it probably wouldn’t have worked out with Megan anyway. Her favorite TV shows are listed as Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, and Dancing With The Stars. I can’t see how she can be graduating magna cum laude from a prestigious university and still watch that crap… Escapism maybe?

          • #11 by Chadwick on November 19, 2010 - 8:41 AM

            Well, it would give her a chance to stop thinking for an hour at a time. And Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives are, as far as I can tell, an excuse to look at attractive, half-dressed men. Like fanservice shows for girls (note that I’m making no comment on their writing or other content, as I’ve got no knowledge of it).

          • #12 by Chadwick on November 19, 2010 - 8:48 AM

            So what’re your favorite shows, then, aside from the Penguins?

          • #13 by Joshua on November 19, 2010 - 10:14 AM

            MythBusters, Dirty Jobs, Last of the Summer Wine, reruns of Keeping Up Appearances and Are You Being Served?, World’s Dumbest, and Good Eats.

          • #14 by Joshua on November 19, 2010 - 4:38 PM

            And certain reruns of Animaniacs, of course, though all of them are terribly funny.

    • #15 by Joshua on November 18, 2010 - 4:33 PM

      Seriously – how much clearer about my intentions could I have been? “Are you busy tonight? Want to go for coffee?” At least to me that sounds like a date. What should I have said? I don’t mind if people just say, “no, I’m seeing someone.” Fine. But don’t agree to something that’s clearly a date and THEN tell me. That is far worse.

      • #16 by Chadwick on November 19, 2010 - 7:19 AM

        Well I thought it sounded like a date.

        • #17 by Joshua on November 19, 2010 - 7:29 AM

          Ah but Christa didn’t. In this I value her opinion more highly as male minds obviously work differently from female. What may be obvious to us isn’t to them.

          Coffee’s a good start but dinner still equals date in the female mind.

          Advice: Shanghai Knights makes a lousy date movie. It’s nowhere near funny enough to be enjoyable, it’s nowehere near heartwarming enough to make her get all emotional, and it’s not scary in the slightest. But she’s the one who picked it out, not me.</yetAnotherKarenRant>

          • #18 by Chadwick on November 19, 2010 - 8:39 AM

            Granted, but I’m just pointing out that your thinking wasn’t inconsistent with people who’ve had success.

            Also, Shanghai Knights, being not enough whatever might make it an excellent date movie, if you’d like to spend most of the time making out/having sex, and the movie’s just an excuse/backdrop.

          • #19 by Joshua on November 19, 2010 - 4:25 PM

            Yeah… that didn’t happen. I thought about trying to start something but she seemed genuinely amused by the movie so I didn’t want to ruin her fun.

  3. #20 by Joshua on November 18, 2010 - 4:30 PM

    Can I at least get SOME kind of feedback on this? Phil & Bjorn are the only ones so far. Nobody’s really giving me a reason to change my opinions here.

  4. #21 by VisualHierarchy on November 18, 2010 - 7:10 PM

    Thanks for stumbling this,

    As far as being bored, you are more than welcome come hang out with me downtown sometime. I have an art studio there which is where I always am when I’m not at work. Also downtown books is a great to walk through, which is close by to my studio.

    Secondly, mythbusters is awesome.

    Girls are very similar to guys and they are just as attracted to men as guys are to women. Girls are just able to hide it better and most guys don’t know what to really look for. Flirting is absolutely necessary if you are a guy who wants a girl. It is not wrong, it is not harassment, it is how chemistry is built between two people from the start. Flirting comes in many forms and fashions. Some are bad, some are good, but it always depends on the situation. There is no secret or easy way to start dating a girl. It takes practice, rejection, and luck.

    You must be able to talk to girls as if they were guys. Treat them as equal to you and not as some foreign creature. Approach them.

    A lot of people hate small talk because they think it is meaningless. It can be annoying if you’re trying to focus on something or are in a hurry, but it is a great way to understand who someone is. You can learn a lot about someone in a short conversation. Body language is one of the best ways to understand how a person is feeling/thinking. Do some searches on google about body language.

    You must seek out girls and approach them because that is how our society works. Flirting is not harassment. If you talk to a girl with a positive energy, humor, interest in something related to her (in laptops for example), or a creative comment of some sort then she won’t think its harassment. You must be okay with rejection and that women are not pure innocence or gentle passiveness. You have to shoot if you want to hit anything including the right girl for you.

    Its OK to touch the opposite gender. Begin to learn your own body language. You must flirt to learn how much attraction is there, something that is always in flux for all people. Consider whatever difficulties you have interacting with girls a blessing because it is an opportunity for you to learn from them. The more you learn the better you will get at interacting with women.

    Lastly, your co-worker is wrong, its good to be straightforward and honest with your boss because it shows you actually care about where you work. If your boss is upset by that, you are right, hes not worth working for.

    • #22 by Joshua on November 18, 2010 - 7:46 PM

      You said something in the above that made me realize that I’ve been repeating my answer all along and not noticing it.

      I’ve known for a long time that, like the INTJ archetype I am, I lack the mental capacity to correctly deal with social interactions. It just doesn’t come naturally to me like it does to other people. I’ve know that forever. But I’ve never DONE anything about it. Like anything, I need to learn, focus, practice. It sounds stupid but where other people need to practice piano to learn it, I need to practice socializing, reading people, etc. to learn it.

      And I’m not afraid of rejection. At all. In fact I’d prefer an outright rejection to a lie intended to spare my feelings. I used to keep a tally of rejections. Then I realized that that wasn’t helping.

      Thanks for the advice, Sean. I may come hang out at the studio sometime. As long as there are no theater people around. 🙂

      • #23 by Chadwick on November 19, 2010 - 7:18 AM

        Hmm… I think Sean may be smarter than the rest of us on this whole “interacting with humanity” thing.

  5. #24 by Chadwick on November 19, 2010 - 8:27 AM

    I dunno, man. I’ve been running this all through my head since I read your post, and trying to think what to tell you that we haven’t been over a half-dozen times. As I said on the server, I think you did well with the coffee invite…but sometimes, things just go south, and not in a good way.

    Like, I want to tell you to be not crazy, but that’s not exactly a switch you can just flip. Part of the trouble is, I don’t know much more about this stuff than you do. I’ve mostly just been real lucky, and willing to talk to girls in a way that expresses interest.

    I more or less just engage in a little low-grade flirting with most of the women I talk to, on the off chance I get a response. It’s just how I’ve done things for as long as I can remember. But even then, they’re all women that I’d otherwise have a reason to talk to. I don’t know anything about approaching them or anything of that sort.

    Basically, I’m not much better than you on this topic—just somewhat less restricted, and I’ve gotten very lucky for some reason, which I will not question.

    • #25 by Joshua on November 19, 2010 - 8:30 AM

      From reading elsewhere, I think that luck and persistence has a lot to do with it. Maybe that combined with some sharpening of my social skills might do it.

      I actually had a female acquaintence tell me that I wasn’t all that bad looking which came as a surprise, considering I’m 50 lbs overweight.

      • #26 by Chadwick on November 19, 2010 - 8:37 AM

        I’m more than that. But you’re not actually round, which means its not all bad. Besides, there’s plenty of women who’d be more interested in your eyes/haircut/beard/style of dress/etc. than your body shape (so long as it fits within a certain range).

  6. #27 by Joshua on November 19, 2010 - 4:28 PM

    Unrelated but funny: I’ve been reading rec.arts.sf.written because there’s some GREAT SF short stories and discussions. But there’s a dude whose alias is “Sir Porksword Organthruster.” Unless he’s a twelve year old boy, he really needs to grow up.

  7. #28 by Phillip on November 21, 2010 - 3:36 PM

    You know, I was just thinking about this earlier. I was out at the store and one of my friends has a sister that works there, and she’s really cute. But she did the whole eye contact and hair flipping thing. Usually I don’t take that to mean anything, but when it’s continuous I do. Or when it has the really loud laughter to go with it when I said something that wasn’t even that funny. Not that I’d do anything either since it’s kind of against the guy code, it was just really obvious.

    On that same token, I have a date in a couple days and I had no idea that she was flirting with me when she was. It was just dumb luck that I asked her, and that was more taking my friend’s advice to see if I liked her or not (the reasoning was that if I asked and she answered, I’d be able to tell based on my reaction).

    • #29 by Joshua on November 21, 2010 - 3:41 PM

      See, now, THIS is what I’m talking about. You have friends. That know people. And don’t hide in their houses all the time. These wouldn’t happen to be people I‘d get along with, would they? ‘Cause I’ve still not got a line on doing anything in the foreseeable future outside the beer tasting.

      • #30 by Phillip on November 22, 2010 - 12:56 AM

        I can think of 2 that I know you’d get along with. One works down at….Johnson Controls doing, uhm, beats me. The problem with him is getting him to leave his place. It’s kind of a crap shoot if he’ll show up to something when he’s invited.

        The other person is an engineer and will sadly become a FIB in a couple weeks. She actually leaves the house too..and enjoys a myriad of beer..tis a shame she’s moving.

        If I think about it I could probably come up with a couple more and maybe try to get them to do something.

        • #31 by Joshua on November 22, 2010 - 7:34 AM

          How far into Illinois…?

          And that’d be great. I’d be way into anything that involves other people.

  8. #32 by Joshua on November 21, 2010 - 4:48 PM

    I should really stop reading TVTropes. It just depresses me to no end. Now I need hugstiem and there’s nobody around… Unless somebody wouldn’t mind me popping in on a Sunday night? 😛

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