It makes sense for a person all bundled in a safe, zipped-up chest not to feel either rejection or being in love.
The human search for an other is as cliché as it is inconvenient. The end result might be all butterflies and bliss, but the journey is hoary. Ask just about any long-time single person.
As for me, I can see why it might seem like I’m on a man-crazy manhunt for a…man.
For one thing, I keep writing about it.
For another, I’m in loving pictures with a variety of different men. But if you look carefully, you’ll see loving photos of myself with many women too. It’s friendship.
Of course, maybe you’re a girlfriend of mine and your phone is flooded with pictures of another sort, those I’ve sent of the various men I seem to be constantly interviewing. In fact, your own boyfriend stumbled on them. Only after you both confusedly stared at the collection — musicians, stuntmen, vampires, Vikings, Sexy Jesuses, Dirty Viggos — did understanding dawn on you.
“Oh!” You said, easing your own and your boyfriend’s tension. “Those are just GG’s men.”
I’m only looking for one man, but it seems I have to go through hundreds to find him. If that’s a cliché, see my opening paragraph.
One would think it’d be an easy quest when the notion of good husband/father/provider means little to me. But even though my set of requirements — compassion, a measure of brawn and geek, and an overlap of mutual aesthetic — is an uncomplicated ingredient list for which to be on the lookout, time and time again, it’s my stomach that makes the decision. It does so through a series or lack of flutters. So the guy might end up being a barefoot anarchist who set fire to his mansion to go live under the pier, and becoming a couple with him would mean eating barnacles and plankton for the rest of my life.
Being me comes with a lot of rejection. An untrained eye might read that as the babbling of an ingrate with entitlement issues. After all, how dare a person who has decent health, decent brains, decent loved-ones and decent looks whine about rejection? Here’s how. First, I’m an actor, so I’m rejected as a whole person on a daily basis unless I book something. But that’s not what I’m talking about.
Being “me” is being open, expressive and inquisitive, which in turn means I constantly take chances by putting myself out there. It means because I imagine I see a flicker of light behind a set of eyes, I can scoop out a bit of my soul, cup it in my hands and extend it to some low-brow early man type as easily as I would to a worldly aristocrat. But he is often no more equipped to navigate his own emotions than the Neolithic inventor of the wheel knew to join it with an engine. What that amounts to for me, is rejection. That same pier-dwelling scraper of barnacles holds the power to make me feel unwanted. Momentarily. So yeah, I’m not likely to be torn up about there being another and another fascinating option out there. If not the Barefoot Anarchist, then the Poet Lumberjack, and if not him, then the Sensitive Skydiver. And so on.
Rejection, of course, never fails to hurt. Sometimes it’s for a minute, a day or ten. It all depends when the brain decides to crash the sniffle fest with a helping of sense for the eternal naïf that is your heart. The world swarms with subjective inhabitants with different wants and kicks, so rejection isn’t about not being good enough. It’s about what doesn’t work for someone else’s individual idiosyncrasies. But even when we know that it’s the beholder’s perspective rather than an inherent repulsion mechanism residing in the size of our chest, shape of our nose or timbre of our voice, not being prized by someone whom we prize, sucks.
It was from a 6-year-old that I learned the fact that someone rejects me hasn’t much to do with me. The child was my half-brother and about ten years ago, he had a crush on another 6-year-old whom we’ll call Babette. My brother was born in the United States, but prior to assimilating in grade school, he had adopted my father’s mode of English, which was accented, dignified and slightly professorial.
“What’s Babette like?” I asked my little brother. He didn’t hesitate to tell me.
“Well, she is quite pretty and a bit fat.” He had a way of landing hard on his T’s and R’s. “And terribly shy. She never speaks to me.”
“Because she’s so shy?”
“No,” he let out a sigh. “She simply does not like me.” He pronounced it wistfully, but without a trace of shame or self-pity. In later years, he lost his foreign accent and bookish phraseology. But the objectivity in his description and analysis, along with his acceptance of both, left an impression I haven’t forgotten.
I’d like to think people are subject to the same amount of rejecting and rejection. But there are those who proclaim they’ve never been rejected. Good for them, I say, until it turns out they are the same people who say they don’t know what it feels like to be in love. Here’s what it feels like: Opening your chest like a coat and letting in sunlight. Naturally, you’re then open for the cold elements and letdown too. So it makes sense for a person all bundled in a safe, zipped-up chest not to feel either rejection or being in love. For myself, I choose to walk coatless.
But something is off.
“What’s gone damaged in me, all of a sudden, that I don’t want the guys that want me, and pick ones that don’t?” I asked a girlfriend who possesses my favorite human traits — wisdom, humor, charm and wonder. “And why do they frighten off? Am I scary? Do I smell?”
“You’re a little intimidating, but–” began Charming Wise One.
“–me?! But I’m a clown, a monkey!”
“You put out a vibe like you don’t need anything from anyone,” Charming Wise One said. “It probably makes certain types nervous because they’re used to leveraging what they can offer.”
She managed to both enlighten and flatter me, even as she scared me a little about my future. I assured her that obviously, I do need many things from human beings, since I am one, but I also wasn’t upset about any apparent aura of unbreakability. Good for me. When you wear an open chest, a shield imagined can be as useful as an actual shield.
So as I drown in dichotomy, yes, I can see why it might seem like I’m on a man-crazy manhunt.
But I’m actually quite consistent and loyal. I want what I want and do so for years on end. If I look for alternatives, it’s only because that which I want isn’t wanting me back. Sometimes the one and the alternatives can’t tell themselves apart. This, I suppose, like the imagined shield, is okay too, because those who walk coatless can use cover now and then.
It might be a while before the sea of dichotomy lets me above water. In the meantime, I don’t mind emulating that stalwart 6-year-old who spoke with a foreign accent, and I won’t feel shame for love, loss or expressing either.
After all of that, you probably think this post is about you.
Since there are a few of you, you’re probably right.
- It’s all well and good to be “open” and “vulnerable” when you’re adept at dodging and ciphering.
◊ Thanks for your comments, shares and likes. Most of all, sincere thanks for reading.
◊ If you enjoy and want more GG, do sign up!
◊ You can also follow GG verbal and pictorial missives on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
You’re the best part of blogging
~ so tell me everything ~
WordPress informs me that below this paragraph, some random ad might appear unless I spring for the no-ad upgrade. If so, apologies.