Unwrapping, Not Unravelling

There’s an episode in ‘Sex and the City‘ where Carrie proudly declares to her posse of passionate femme fatales that she relieved herself at Big’s place. That revelation is met with a look of pure revulsion from Charlotte and shock from Miranda and Samantha followed by advice on how to, even remotely, never do anything so horrific at a guy’s place. So, basically never poop if you actually ever date someone is what one gets from this? Um, sorry but, I do like my Charmin time, folks and I’m definitely not going to let my relationship (when I’m in one, that is) get in the way of my bathroom reading time.

Nonetheless, this is something I’ve been noticing with girls and guys in this sea of dating, courting and everything chase-worthy, appropriately called twenty-something life. There is such a need to come off as absolutely perfect, something ethereal, positively radiating and shimmering – almost diamond-like when people here present oneself to each other, especially when it comes to dating. I understand that there is a need to put one’s best foot forward but, to parade oneself in a way that is projecting an image of sheer perfection and goodness seems a tad bit unrealistic, pretentious and frankly, off-putting (to me, at least). I get that an aura of good ol’ musky mystery and feminine coquettishness is attractive but at the same time, it is important to not get washed up by the stormy currents of dating etiquette, as this hopping about on one foot is politely referred to.

Moreover, it seems to me that participants in the dating game are equally baffled by the veneer of propriety and projected personality and are desperately trying to find out what’s really beneath the layers themselves. For instance, take the new dating app, Lulu – a way for girls to see if the guy they’re dating checks out. It’s a deeply antagonistic app, one based in so many pop culture, movie-esque and pretentious assumptions, it’s appalling to see women and men flocking to it. And, is completely one-sided, by the way – men have no option of contributing or countering their ratings/tags, etc. (I won’t go into just how anti-feminist the platform is, that is for a delicious new blog-post.) ‘Lulu’ is an example of how twisted the entire dating game has become. It’s not even fun anymore, these rules are flummoxing and retarded, to say the least. The current dating scenario is like a monster that’s just been fed everything it ever wanted and now just won’t tame the fuck down so everyone just keeps appeasing it.

Whether it’s deconstructing text messages with girlfriends or boyfriends or waiting three days before calling a girl you exchanged numbers with at a bar, there are unwritten, confusing and, ultimately just weirdly constricting  and intangible guidelines in this dating space. Take the case of HeTexted.com, a service where guys help girls decode guys’ texts. Some of the entries are just heartbreaking and absurd at the same time. The sheer number ‘Yahoo! Answers’ queries on the subject and the umpteen websites online are ridonkulous and bordering on pathetic!

Since I’ve grown up in a different country, it is funny to observe how ridiculously absurd this jungle of dating, romance and everything courtship in New York City really is. A city of eight million people, it is surprising to note that hardly a fraction is actually being real when trying to find the most real thing of all – a connection.

Moreover, it is absurd that, even when two people have found a connection, they’re still not really letting go of the facade that’s been created by them for the other person to make each other believe that they’re this, also that but, that really they’re just not all that stuff that they were kinda portraying themselves as all those other times. Huh? Girls wait before they actually even think of not caking on tons of make-up, changing six outfits and assiduously adjusting their hair-dos before meeting the guy they’re dating so that the guy finds them attractive enough.

On dates, there’s this constant and frankly speaking, hilarious guessing game of what to order and how much to eat. Oh, I’m a girl, I can’t make it known just yet, I enjoy Philly Cheese Steak and a triple sundae any day – gotta order the salad with light vinaigrette on the side and multigrain bread even though I’d rather choke on my bile than eat this hippy shmiff (new word coined!), really. What the heck is that all about? Just eat whatever the hell you want, lady plus, that hooch of yours needs wine, and lots of it – so order it. And, have some self-respect and split the bill or at least offer to pay once in a while, okay?

When you look at the guys, it’s a different ball game altogether. They’re pumping iron, working on their body to show off their pecs, abs, other rib-cage enhancer type things and what-have-yous so that they can some. Yuuuck. I mean, if you’re a fitness buff, I’m all for it but, working out to get the ladies is, umm… weird. And what’s with all these supposedly hip hair-dos? Excuse me, what is with the Macklemore-ish hair-do, the one with the shorn-off sides and mop-inspired residual foppy hair thing on top? They look ridiculous on ninety percent of the people I’ve seen them on. The movie, Don Jon, did a good job of exploring a bit of the body image and grooming styles of twenty-somethings nowadays. In fact, that movie was an eye-opener in so many ways – romance, sex, expectations, belief systems, the effects of media, pop culture, etc.

Anyhow, getting back to the point of this post, even when in some sort-of stage of a relationship, girls and guys have this weird hide-and-go-seek thing going on. Supposedly, it’s like a game, a light banter, a playful teasing, a friendly chase… Frankly, it seems a bit random and really just not fun. Maybe it is for some of you but, I’m just finding this ridiculous running around exhausting, fiendishly dull and not amusing in any way. I understand that it’s enticing to have someone be interested enough to make the effort to figure you out – like you’re a delectable gift (cheesiness alert!), waiting to be unwrapped with care. But, the current scenario just seems like everyone’s unravelling even without trying just from the sheer demand to keep it classy, mysterious, exciting and whatever else is the in-thing nowadays.

Here’s my beef, though. If you liked someone, why would you wait two to ten days in the first place to go talk to her/him? What is this hazy time-frame boundary and time-bound communication manual everyone’s following without really following what’s being asked to be done? Even more facetious is the fact that why would you not be yourself around somebody you’re genuinely excited and interested to know more about? What the hell is going around here? What the fuck is this mystery angle all about, when there’s no more enticing a mystery than being inherently yourself because aren’t people by virtue of just being themselves wonderfully intense, beautiful, fragile, wholesome goodness-filled individuals? OR AM I LIVING IN SOME FANTASY WORLD AND NEED TO GET MY HEAD CHECKED UP? No, right! Isn’t being real and just chilled out and honest to oneself and thus, to others the way to be?

Here’s what I think. If you don’t want to do it, just don’t. And, if you want to, well go after it, won’t you? Honestly, it’s better than all this running, chasing, faking, anticipating, whatever-ness. Seriously, let’s just be frank about it – he likes her, she likes him, they get together and take it from there, period. Whatever happens, happens. What’s so much of all this pretension about, anyway? Just get off your high horse, m’kay? Everyone has insecurities and they’re still likeable. And, no one even cares so much about yours, they’re much too involved in dealing with their own schmut (Really fond of the ‘sch’ sound right now, oops!), really.

Please, just go for it if you think it’s worth it. Definitely, don’t run around hiding and seeking, waiting and strategizing because that’s some sort of unspoken rule, because there is no such thing.The only time it’s okay to stave off is when you don’t feel ready, like really not there yet. Or when you think you could offer them something better or could try to make yourself better and then go at it. Otherwise, why wait?  I can’t think of another coherent reason to, really. Life’s short, go for it in the truest sense. That actually does make sense – to me, at least.

Reaction

She’d been having trouble thinking of late. Well, not really thinking but, rather, thinking straight. Her life was going not so badly, when one looked at it. She had a sparkly new semi-bearable job, which was a blessing in these hard economic times. Moreover, working for a Wall Street giant had brought her to the city of her dreams, New York City, where she’d longed to live in since as far back as she could remember.

But, something was not right. She was not enjoying herself because she was, in reality, living in the past. Not because it held such precious memories (which, it did, by the way) but, because she was afraid she’d move too fast if she didn’t hold on to the past. Seemed silly when she thought about it but, regrettably, that is where she was at. Maybe it was more than that but, she was clearly not thinking right to figure it all yet. ‘So close yet, so far’ seemed to be an apt subtitle for this part of her life.

But, today, all of that would change. Little did she know when she woke up to the shrill default alarm tone of ‘Good Morning’ she set on her barely functional ‘Samsung Duos’ for Nine a.m. on the morning of March 25, 2013 that something unexpected was going to turn it all around.

She brushed off the copper bangs from her forehead and looked at herself in a frosty windowpane as she walked into her tiny pink wallpapered bathroom. She could just about make out the Donald Duck on her over-sized night tee in the foggy pane. She cinched the tee and looked at her silhouette with the critical eye only females engage while checking out themselves and their counterparts. She’d lost a couple of pounds and it was beginning to show now. She liked that. Having had her fill of her hazy outline she turned around to look around the bath. “This fluer-de-lis pattern is beginning to get overwhelming,” she decided, as she turned her attention to the cabinet mirror.

She sighed as she picked up her toothpaste, glancing at her chipping purple nail enamel and made a mental note to go for a manicure the coming weekend. As she brushed her short, square teeth, a bit of foam flew to her freckled button nose. “Maybe I should get a nose ring, I think a black one would be pretty damn nice – it would give some color to my pale face… Hmmmn, Jeanette mentioned a place in SoHo which did piercings and tattoos. But, it’d be too much, wouldn’t it? Maybe a nice tan would be better instead. But, aren’t those potentially cancerous? Well, I guess I look fine just like this… what the hell!”

Forever second guessing herself and not fully charging into anything. That was Marianne. Her whole life had become a one-step-forward-two-steps-back sort of situation and she was slowly starting to tire of it all.

On the ‘R’ train, Marianne gazed listlessy at her fellow commuters and wondered if they too had faced an impasse such as hers in life. And, how many were, like her, pretending to get by while actually being stuck in the same spot. As she walked into the swanky building of ‘Simon & Schumster’, she wondered what the day had in store for her. Surely, some oddly tiresome jobs – that being a secretary to one of the junior partners of the equity firm was not all that time consuming, or that exciting, was one of the recent realizations that had dawned on her. “Why am I even doing this job?”, she asked herself for the millionth time in five months. “To be in New York,” was her first and last thought on the matter as she reached her desk.

Chastising herself for not having adequate enough goals, Marianne took off her comfy Toms and put on her Miu Miu four inch heels. “It’s funny how I wear Toms when there isn’t much running to do and wear these God awful heels when I have to rush during work! Aaaargh! I hate this!”, she moaned to Jeanette, who was at the work station next to her. They had become sort of work friends, bonding over office politics gossip and Marianne had developed a soft corner for the African-Chinese single mother of three. “You’re preaching to the choir, sister! I ask myself the same thing all the time!”, nodded back Jeanette as she stapled documents with the efficiency of a well oiled machine.

The big beige office clock’s brown hands ticked slowly and Marianne kept glancing at it in anticipation all day. After a bit of light conversation, about ten coffee breaks and a smidgeon of filing and paper pushing, Marianne glanced at the hands of the clock as they pointed at 5:00 p.m. and decided to call it a day and head home.

“Hey, Marianne! Wait up!” called out Umang Mehrang, her boss. She turned around praying for anything but more work, although she had done pretty much zilch the whole day. “I was wondering if you would mind terribly drafting out this letter and then sending a facsimilie to this list of people before you leave?”, he said as he handed her a two page draft of an official looking letter and a list of names which was five pages long. “Now I know it’s 5:15 p.m. on a Friday and a pretty girl like you must have a lot of fun parties to go to but, work is worship, eh?”, Mehrang genially flapped his head from side to side and  Marianne was momentarily distracted by the salt and pepper tufts of hair jauntily swaying on his partially bald head. “Of course, I’ll just do it!”, she cringed inwardly and grinned outwardly as she trudged back to her desk. “Who says facsimilie anymore? Aaargh! I can’t believe I have to sit here and type this stuff when most of these morons have left for the weekend!”

An hour and forty-five minutes, not to mention a thousand grumbles later, Marianne finally left the now empty office for home. “Oh Christ! Don’t tell me it’s raining! Aaargh! I just can’t take this anymore. I think I need a drink.” She spotted a dike on the corner of Rector and Wall Street, its neon pink letters screaming, ‘Jamie’s Tavern’ and scooted inside.

The bar was dimly lit and it took a few seconds for Marianne’s light green eyes to adjust to. It smelled of Bourbon and stale trail mix, an odd combination but, soothing, nonetheless. The pink sign outside cast the bar in a rose light and Marianne had to squint to make out the cracked black and yellowed-white tiles on the floor. The walls had pictures all over and a dart board hung in one corner as people in ties and work dresses talked over each other while sipping on their drinks and munching tidbits. Well, this would have to do – it was now raining heavily and it was far too windy for Marianne to get to the station at this point. “Where are the empty seats?” she thought to herself, craning her neck as she paid for her Grasshopper.

As her eyes scanned the crowded bar, Marianne spotted an empty stool and lunged for it. Instead of the chintz-patterned velvet cushion seat, her fingers grabbed a bristly-hair covered, calloused hand. And, that’s when their eyes met.

Just like that.

Perspective

Hey guys,

So, I met up with a couple of college mates recently. They’re a fine bunch of happy-go-lucky darlings. I feel I have been wrong in my assessment of them over the past few months. I took them for granted for way too long and caused them immense pain of the worst kind. They really stood up for me when I couldn’t bear the ignominy of being myself, or rather the fucked up version of me that I had become, and gave me something which I lack – trust.

My perspective has always been blinded by my inability to trust. ‘Tis a strange thing, this perspective. It can mold you, break you, make you and make everyone forsake you and you, them. It defines you in a way as it shows how you think, analyse and therefore react in a situation. In a way, perspective is the manifestation of past experiences evolving and molding your outlook in life. It also brings out your character. If you’re deeply suspicious by nature, your perspective will be that much narrow. If you have a bad opinion of someone, your perspective with regard to them will be more negative than, say, a vase of daisies and buttercups.

However, in my experience, perspective can always be related to incidents one has been in or those which have had a lasting impression on one’s mind. For instance, I associate these friends of mine with a deep feeling of regret and pain – somethings I was going through during that phase when I met them. Their actions, though blurred in my memory, have always seemed circumspect to me. In fact, they are not even the root cause of my perspective regarding their actions and reactions!

Honestly, I was deeply inhibited when I had to go and meet with them and was bracing myself. But, when I got there I realized how blind I had been. How cruel, selfish and inconsiderate I had been. How small and characterless I had become. It made me feel deeply ashamed of myself, my behavior and my inability to accept my loathsomeness. So, to you I say – I am a cunt of epic proportions and I deserved all the (hypothetical) raw fucking I have endured over the past few months.

I deserved to be hated back then when I was a nightmarish, boorish version of my putrid alter ego and I am infinitesimally indebted to those who did not forget who I am.