Do you ever feel like you're stuck in a vortex having the same conversation with someone over and over and over again? You want to break the mold, maybe talk about the weather or something, but it's as though every time you meet you're destined to engage in this Groundhog Day scenario. Just a needle on a record, no improv allowed.
Last fall, I spent a good four months making plans to hang out with a co-worker. He was going to install composition software on my computer, and we'd get good food and drink afterwards. Fairly simple, yes? Well, after about twenty versions of the same conversation, both excluding software installation and including pot smoking, and three planned hangouts that never happened because in Seattle it's the norm to flake out on people, hip even, I got a little bit tired of playing along with this farce. We weren't actually going to hang out; the beauty was all in the buildup, it gave us something to talk about. He'd say, 'Hi, what are you up to in the next couple of days?' and I would just groan inwardly, thinking 'My God, are we really having this conversation again?!'
Just as I finally shook this vortex (by way of showing him my angry Bostonian voice when he opted to take a nap instead of cancelling our fourth set of plans), I caught the other type of Groundhog Day scenario: the awkward post one-night stand conversation. To be fair, attachment can be derived from one-night stands, but they can also just be what they are: meaningless, often alcohol-driven hookups where you wake up the next morning, groan, and shove the person from your bed as quickly as possible, metaphorically speaking. Then, of course, there's always the gi-normous grey area in between the two extremes. In this particular case, there was enough fleeting interest to warrant a second hang-out and a second round in bed. I tried for about a week to hang out again before this particular pattern emerged:
Scene: Crowded bar, after hours workplace, any locale difficult to avoid acknowledging someone's existence.
Seattle Beard: [smiles genuine smile of genuine interest. genuinely.] Hey there, how's it going?
Me: [sighing inwardly] Not bad, not bad. Just a) getting my drink on. b) working my butt off. c) wallowing in free time...how've you been?
Seattle Beard: I've had like four days off in the past month.
Me: Yikes, you must be beat.
Seattle Beard: Yeah, and [for the 25th time] I'm so sorry I've been so busy...I feel like such a jerk. You must think I'm such a jerk for not being around. I'd like to hang, it's just that I have, like, no. free. time.
Me: It's no big deal. Really. [Dear God please] believe me, I know what's it's like to have a crazy schedule.
[i.e. I have moved on darling and I'm not the type to hold my breath, pining over a one-make that two-night stand]
Seattle Beard: Really, wow, I'd be kind of annoyed-
Me: [carrying on the glib facade] - No, it's ok. really, and if you ever do get some free time and wanna grab a drink, let me know...
Seattle Beard: For sure, for sure.
Me: well I gotta go, a) my friends are taking off b) I need to do work-type things c) I need to go pick my nose and fart in a quiet corner.
Seattle Beard: K, see ya later.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
You almost have to admire the ridiculous extremes to which west coasters go to maintain said facades. Nice on the surface to the death, never-ending busyness, two-hundred fifty thousand ready-made excuses. But then you think about all the energy you waste going to bed with this facade, and it's just fucking annoying. It's not going to happen, you both know it, so why bother to pretend?
I, for one, would like to be through with this bullshit. But then again, I'd probably have to avoid talking to people for the rest of my life, and that seems rather unlikely. It's just the price I pay for leaving east coast winters and snow behind. Sort of.
Created: Jan 13, 2010Document Media