One of the things I'd like to work on this year (to call it a resolution would imply a stronger, um, resolve than I actually have) is my ability (or the lack thereof) to take a damn hint from the fairer sex.
Nearly every unpleasant thing that's ever happened to me (and there have been a lot) in my dealings with women (wife, girlfriends, friends, drinking buddies) was undoubtedly preceded by a series of hints. Hints that grew stronger and more obvious until even I couldn't help but recognize them.
Most times I can think back (I do a lot of thinking back) and clearly see the trail left behind (the crumpled grass and the bent twigs and the footprints and the discarded cigarette butts) marking the path that led me to whatever mess I'm currently in. It actually seems like the more fucked up things are, the more I should have known ahead of time. Girders do not generally fall from the sky to land on a person's head, there's almost always a warning - contruction area - hardhat required sign around somewhere.
I know I absolutely could have prevented a lot of my past turmoil if I'd just been better at seeing the damn hints.
So turmoil-prevention is one thing I'd like to accomplish with my newfound hint-spotting skills, but there's actually another (and much more important in the long run) benefit that I could gain.
Not all hints are bad.
I remember sitting in a bar quite some time (many many years) ago with a friend of mine. This person was perhaps the most beautiful person (inside and out) that I'd (up to that time at least) ever known. So wonderful was this person (and so far out of my league I knew) that (though the physical attraction I felt was quite strong) I never even (seriously) considered that kind of a relationship with her.
So anyway, I'm sitting at the bar, and (out of the corner of my eye) I keep seeing her looking at me. I'd turn to her and ask, "What?" Her response (invariably) would be, "Nothing."
This happened several times (over the course of several weeks) and I remember feeling quite self-conscious. Besides, whenever she was looking at me I couldn't be looking at her and that's what I really (craved, needed, required, longed for) wanted.
Well time passed by and as relationships (even the best ones) often do, ours eventually ended. She found a (lucky bastard) soul mate and I moved on (though not for the same reason) as well.
Some time later I was talking with a (mutual) friend about the old days and the people we'd known. He hadn't known the girl as well as I had, but he did know (or claimed to know at least) something that I didn't.
She had a crush on you, you know.
My initial (and the safest) instinct was to simply laugh this off. People like that simply do not have crushes on people like me. I'm not a male model, and I'm not an asshole. I'm neither a rock star or a billionaire, or any of the dozen other types of men that women say they're not looking for but you still see them with the same types of guys again and again.
But I digress.
I told my friend that he was nuts. He countered with some very good arguments. He told me that I'd apparently been the only person in our circle that didn't (or couldn't, or wouldn't) see that she wanted (to at least try) a deeper relationship with me.
With me, of all people.
I've since talked with a few other of our mutual friends, and they actually all agree - I did have a chance at something more with that beautiful person. Nobody (at the time) could figure out why I was holding back.
Funny (ha ha, real fucking funny, Dave) thing is, I remember seeing hints from all of my friends back then, trying to push us together. I'd thought that they were trying to push her to me but it was actually the other way around. They were trying to help her by pushing me.
I wish they'd tried a little harder. A baseball bat to the head might have done the trick. I just didn't know. I hadn't dared to hope.
I didn't see the hints then, but they were there. I can almost list them in my mind as I sit here writing this entry. The coy glances, the hair shakes, the touching. Even when she began to pull away from me and my (obliviously indifferent) lack of responses, that was a hint too. That was a hint that time was running out for me. For us.
And I still didn't see it.
I started this entry writing about a certain kind of hint. The Pain-Avoidance hint, I'll call it. I need to work on my ability to recognize those. Even more, I need to work on my ability to see this other (rarer) type of hint. The Chance-For-Happiness hint.
I don't know what my old friend is doing these days. For all I know, she's googled my name and is reading this entry.
If you're out there, know this:
I had no idea. I'm sorry for your hurt feelings, and I'm sorry for my seeming indifference. I think it would have been wonderful.