Thursday, February 14, 2002

I Wish You Love

Happy Valentine's Day, my dears! I wasn't going to mention the V-word this year, but I somehow managed to hook into the spirit of love and affection that was once-upon-a-time the basis for celebrating Valentine's Day. Besides, I got prezzies, and that always softens me towards a holiday (Belgian chocolates and a Murano glass heart from one coworker, a pot of live white tulips from the other). So though I was just a few days ago disparaging Valentine's Day and everything associated with it, I am now wishing you a happy one. Every day there's something new for me.

Here's something else I've never done before: posting song lyrics. The following ditty is written by Albert A. Beach (oh, him) and set to music by Charles Trenet (good old Charley Trenet, where would we be without him). I learned to sing it in my recent voice class, and have always thought it was a nice sort of encapsulates how I feel about all the boys I've loved who couldn't love me back.

I wish you bluebirds in the spring

To give your heart a song to sing.

And then a kiss, but more than this,

I wish you love.

And in July, a lemonade

To cool you in a leafy glade.

I wish you health, and more than wealth,

I wish you love.

My breaking heart and I agree

That you and I could never be.

So with my best, my very best,

I set you free.

I wish you shelter from the storm,

A cozy fire to keep you warm,

But most of all, when snowflakes fall,

I wish you love.

Happy Valentine's Day

Well, now, having gotten all that sappiness out of the way, let me tell you how I really feel.

On the topic of Romantic Love, I have often wondered why I have always been such a failure in that realm. I mean, I have never fallen in love with anyone who fell in love with me, or even lust, or even deep like. Nor have I (to my knowledge) been the object of unrequited love, I have never had the burden of deflecting a love I could not return. Pourquoi? Perche? Por qué? Why-Oh-Why-Oh-Why-O?

So is it just Fate? Kismet? I'm suspicious. I always think "fate" is the lazy intellect's excuse, the trump card played when you can't admit your own part in something that happens to you. Or when you want to make something more than it really is, trying to convince yourself and others that what you want is a noble and inevitable thing, that your merest obsessive lust is a Love That's Meant To Be. In fact, I just don't believe in Fate.

Everything in this life is about choices. Yes, you are dealt a certain hand of cards by birth, your gender and your predilections and your looks, your socioeconomic status and nationality, all your many potentialities...everything you can become is given to you by the near-random accidents of nature and society that come together when you're born. But what you make of your life, what you do with that you've been given, how you live your life, what you do or don't do, which priorities you weigh in which balance, is all a matter of choice. And when our choices turn out wrong, or with different results than we desired, we blame it all on fate, as if Fate were some malignant diety pulling our strings for her own amusement. I just don't buy that.

So then there's the question of personal responsibility. Do I purposely set out to fall in love only with men who won't love me back? Do I somehow sense the other person's indifference, and act on it by constructing my feelings like a house of cards around that person in a self-destructive attempt at pre-sabotage? That requires a certain ESP that I doubt I have. Or perhaps it is that I am conscious of types who are incompatible, and purposely fall in love with them? Or perhaps I back up and run the other way when I sense that something might come of my attentions? Perhaps, perhaps.

But it's difficult to believe that I can have been so focused on self-destruction as to fall in love with six separate individuals, consecutively, who could not or would not love me back in a similar or even appreciable manner. Okay, the first two were straight, so that was just doomed anyway; the last two are still my friends (love is love, even if I can't have them like I originally wanted); in the middle are one I mishandled badly and wasted a really long period of time over and one who just sort of fizzled away before he moved to another state. But it seems to me that, over the last twenty years, I might have accidentally by pure dumb luck managed to at least fall into mutual 'deep like' with someone. Anyone. But no...I have been fully consistent in my romantic disability from the time I discovered sex to the present day. Twenty years. Jeez!

Well, while I don't believe in fate or predestination, I do believe in astrology. Not as a method by which one might plot one's course — I don't read my daily horoscopes and act on them (unless they tell me to do something I like doing, such as shopping or pampering myself) — but I do believe (to a certain extent) that some of the traits we start out with are determined by the moment of our birth, the various signs and planets under which we are born. I don't have any scientific evidence of it, except that it seems to me that too many people display traits that are attributed to the signs under which they are born for it to be a mere coincidence. It's not that I think the position of the stars affects your personality, so much as I believe that certain types of people are born during certain times of year, just as certain types of fruit and flowers bloom at specific times of year...a bit of biological programming that science hasn't completely codified yet.

So I once had my charts done professionally, and aside from finding out intriguing little tidbits — such as that my moon is in Scorpio (making me slightly nutty) and my Jupiter is in Virgo (making me slightly anal in work) — I was told that my Pluto was in Gemini at the eleventh house (or something stupid like was years ago, and I've long since lost the charts), which meant that I would not be happy in love until later in life. And so far, that has been utterly true.

But where astrology and the accidents of birth come to a halt is where I start making conscious choices about my life. I chose, after the final NO was stamped on my last romantic quest, to let it all admit defeat in Love and to just move on to other things. And in the last two years, I have made the conscious decision to abandon Romantic Love and all its many pitfalls, channeling my love and passion into my family, my friends, and my work, while devoting myself to purposeful celibacy (in the old-fashioned sense of the word, as in 'perpetually unmarried,' not in the modern sense of being sexless...I'm still a man, I still have testosterone, and I still require regular orgasms in order to be comfortable and happy). And in that time, I have learned to better do things, eating in restaurants, going to movies, travelling and sightseeing, playing cards, all the activities for which one usually wants a partner...and have learned to not want a man in my life. I don't really have time for a man right now, certainly not with my family responsibilities and my inability to share my stuff or do without my lavish amounts of free time; and even if I did have the time, I still have all my sexual hangups and personal shortcomings and general eccentricities, none of which should be carelessly foisted on some unsuspecting stranger.

The thing is, though, man is a mating animal. Although I give more credence to reason than to biology, I cannot completely escape my natural impulses, such as the reckless, pointless, purposeless yet entirely inexorable need to 'hook up.' So I figured that if I didn't want to fall into unrequited love again, and wasn't really interested in casual sex, there must be some sort of middle ground. So I thought..."dating."

Well, that was a pain in the ass...and not in a good way, either. Perhaps I went about it the wrong way? I put personal ads online in three or four places; I loved writing the ads, discovering my own personality in the process of advertising it. But out of the pitifully few responses I received, only three or four got past the email stage. And those three who got all the way to meeting me in person disappeared immediately thereafter (with one exception...I had to 'fade' on him, he was too creepy to date and too nice to dump). A most disappointing outing. Not just because I didn't get what I went after, but I also discovered that even the mildest forms of rejection have a deeply wounding effect on me.

And trying to date people I meet socially or in other person-to-person situations is even more fraught with peril. I have great difficulty expressing my interest in people, and never have gotten the nerve together to just blatantly ask someone out on a date. It's the same problem I have with casual sex: the possibility of rejection is much too present...and there is absolutely nothing, not even a painful prolonged death by burning at the stake, that I fear more than rejection. It's not rational, I know, it's a pathological phobia; but that doesn't make it any less real or any less compelling of a reason to not ask guys out on dates. (We shall pass over the glaring and painfully suggestive fact that nobody has bothered to ask me, thereby precluding my having to ask and risk the rejection.)

So with all of the above in consideration, I believe I made the right choice in celibacy, avoiding the behavior while I address the problems that have caused my past failures. And while I am fairly happy with my life, sans homme as it is, I do see and feel the lack of a Significant Other in my life's inventory. Especially around this time of year, where Romantic Love is so much discussed and fêted and made much of. I do tend to get a little bitter about the lovers I see and the couples I know. But then, I often struggle with being bitter about not being really young anymore, about not being beautiful in a Calvin Klein model manner, about not being able to dance ballet. And sometimes the sweetness and light of my preferred personality comes up against the grumbling, materialistic, the-world-owes-me-a-living personality traits I was also born with.

Well, anyway, it's nice to get all that off my chest. Happy Valentine's Day, my precious readers, and may Love and Happiness surround you wherever you go.

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