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I Love You, Let's Meet » yes, Heidi, he is still single

yes, Heidi, he is still single

Hello commenter Heidi! You asked if the writer of “terre haute cuisine” below is still available. Yes he is. He was not completely happy with how I introduced him on my blog and this is what he wrote me (reprinted with his permission). It lines up with your defense of him. Contact me if you’re still reading and interested and I will put you two in touch.

I learned something from what he wrote about how it’s hard out here for a self-pimper. I know some men must hate the datey-date gender roles crap as much as I do, so it was nice to read this. I know I don’t like it when a guy’s performing for me like he’s on Last Date Standing instead of just having a conversation and it turns out sometimes he doesn’t like it either!

I like how J_____ bolsters this good,  i.e., agreeing with me, point with lit crit in his e-mail below. I studied T.S. Eliot’s Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock in college, and never understood the last stanza, especially “til human voices wake us and we drown.” I like J_______’s interpretation as much as any. The “corrupted dance of romance” does keep people from empathy, from really seeing/hearing each other. Could Prufrock have broken through his isolation on match.com? (I imagine he’d have used the everyman site.)
Ok, Heeeeeeeeeeeeere’s J_______y:

It was a thrill, actually, to see what I wrote on your blog. I did want you to post it, and perhaps I deserved to be lampooned a little. The thing that stung a bit more than necessary, I thought, was calling it self-indulgent. I don’t mean you should go easy on me…. I’m game, you’re game, and I wouldn’t want it otherwise.

So in that spirit, what I mean is this: I think what I wrote is the equivalent of the male peacock spreading his tail feathers to attract a female of the species for the first time, fraught with the possibility of making a fool of oneself. When I sent it to you, you called it brilliant, which is a word I believe I know you well enough to think you don’t bandy about with abandon. But subsequently to call it self-indulgent, and say that the only one getting goosebumps was me, makes me feel like J.Alfred Prufrock upon hearing one of his Michaelangelo-talking women tell him “That is not it at all, that is not what I meant, at all.” Old J. Alfred does know (and I do, too) that he is “Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse/ At times, indeed, almost ridiculous–/Almost, at times, the Fool.” I felt a little of that, but I’m overly sensitive and dramatic, I’ll admit it, as is evidenced below.

But we should take heart from J. Alfred. While he finally understands that as he grows old the mermaids will not sing to him, drowning his romantic illusions, in the end he is awakened by human voices that transcend the corrupted dance of romance he’s been stuck in. He doesn’t describe the world into which he awakens, but my “high sentence” speculation, judging from the rest of Eliot’s work, is that it’s Beckett’s world of “I can’t go on. I’ll go on,” which I believe we both know only too well (I read the rest of your blog). But if I believe in anything, it’s what I said in the last paragraph of my [terre haute cuisine e-mail]: that there is a shared space of human hearts, minds and bodies that takes two (or more, according to the poly-guy) to get to.

We men are not all born to be alpha wolves, but to a large extent the typical mating rituals demand such behavior from us all. The so-called delicate male ego, I believe, is born of the anxiety arising from having to summon “the strength to force the moment to its crisis,” to an unpredictable and possibly heartrending end. In how many of Shakespeare’s plays does unrequited love play a major role? Every one that I can think of, and he makes it a hurtin’ thing, don’t he? Shit. My introspection and experience of life leads me to believe that I was in some ways meant to be one of those alpha-wolves. But a variety of things happened along the way to thwart that destiny; some days I can channel an alpha with the best of them, other days I haven’t a chance. Remember I told you I was shy? It’s the same idea.

And so, to the topic at hand. Looking at online dating through the pinhole of my own needs and experience and weltanschauung, if I may be so self-involved/indulgent/deprecating, I think it does more for men than it does for women, initially. It levels the playing field–to get in the game, women are obliged to say explicitly that they are available and what they are looking for. J. Alfred wouldn’t have to ask “What is it?” and then go and make his visit, exposing himself to being ridiculed in person for a bald spot and skinny legs. He’d search for a baldie-bean-skinny-leg-liking woman, who could also hold her own in a vigorous discussion of High Renaissance art. Whether he’d find one is not certain, but at least he wouldn’t have to play a game which would inevitably make him feel worse about himself than he already does. Feeling bad is not in itself the problem; it is the damage that this process does to the non/semi-alphas’ psyches that’s really the issue. (The “true alphas” have a different problem that yields the same result, it seems to me, but I would take a woman’s judgment on this over my own.) It too often limits or even destroys their ability to reciprocate when they find someone who could and would love them back just for being themselves. Somewhere deep inside, they do not find it credible that the woman they want and need and love could possibly feel the same way about them. Certainly there are degrees of severity, but to a greater or lesser extent, they believe their bad press and have internalized it to the point of feeling unworthy. Fortunately, as I told the craigslist woman, I’ve attended the Evelyn Freud School of Speed Therapy for the last 30 years and am able to over-analyze myself at will. You wanna talk self-whatever? Don’t get me started…

But perhaps online dating is the thin edge of the wedge for the human voice that might be able to break the bad parts of the wolf/mermaid spell. The good parts? I mean, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater: those instictual drives are not going away anytime soon, and are, to my mind (and body) part of any good relationship. But the dance is made all the more delicate because both sexes–at least of “our tribe,” as you so aptly put it–truly do want men and women to be equals in the important areas of life, yet we retain a powerful need to exercise some seemingly atavistic urges in one of life’s exceedingly important aspects….

If I were in J.Alfred’s rolled-up pants, instead of heaing a mermaid, I’d rather wake up to Mavis Staples singing to me, “I’ll take you there.” I’ve already spread my tail feathers in a presumptuous display, trying to say the same thing. But as J. A. so plaintively puts it, “It is impossible to say just what I mean!” Perhaps this is why I go on so, believing that I’ll find just the right words. At this point in my life, though, I’ve come to think that it has to be sung somehow. So I’m taking lessons.

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