And Then I Thought I was a Fish

IDENTIFYING INFORMATION: Peter Hunt Welch is a 20-year-old single Caucasian male who was residing in Bar Harbor, Maine this summer. He is a University of Maine at Orono student with no prior psychiatric history, who was admitted to the Acadia Hospital on an involuntary basis due to an acute level of confusion and disorganization, both behaviorally and cognitively. He was evaluated at MDI and was transferred from that facility due to psychosis, impulse thoughts, delusions, and disorientation.

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Observations of a Straight White Male with No Interesting Fetishes

Ever wondered how to justify your own righteousness even while you're constantly embarrassed by it? Or how to make a case for your own existence when you contribute nothing besides nominal labor to a faceless corporation that's probably exploiting children? Are you clinging desperately to an arbitrary social model imposed by your parents and childhood friends? Or screaming in terror, your mind unhinged at the prospect of an uncaring void racing to consume the very possibility of your life having meaning?

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This is the story of a boy, a girl, a phone, a cat, the end of the universe, and the terrible power of ennui.

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Tactical Error

Composed on the 1st of April in the year 2011, at 5:05 PM. It was Friday.

Another bad date. Even though we’ve moved away from the bad date scenarios, I was surprised I’d overlooked this one.

About once every couple of years, I meet a girl who is exactly like me, and if I’m single, I try to go to bed with her. I always fail, which suggests unflattering things about me, how I interpret what constitutes personality in others, and how I appear to the world and think about myself, but I’m going to skip all that needless self-reflection because it’s 1:30 in the afternoon, and far too early to start drinking.

The last time this happened was about three years ago. This was, and is, the only date I’ve gotten from an online source where my date turned out to be more attractive than the pictures she put online. Less attractive, often, as attractive, sometimes, more attractive: once. I was so stunned I said it aloud on the spot, which was probably my best ever opening line for an internet date.

Conversation was easy, and as happens when two people are perusing the city’s selection of dateables, revolved around a lot of the other people we were seeing. Suited me. I felt it got slightly competitive when we were going over our reference nicknames for the rest. I can’t remember what her name for me was, so it probably wasn’t flattering1[1] and I think my nickname for her at the time was “the hot one”, but since I can’t remember for sure it was probably something just as emptily flattering.

The first night she drove me home in a car her father had bought her in some attempt at a vicarious midlife crisis. I can’t remember the exact model, but it was the kind of two seater you buy when you’re a comfortable middle class forty something and realize you never got the chance to scare cheerleaders by giving them a ride while drinking a beer and doing a buck ten on the freeway.

The next date, we did an uncharacteristically2[2] romantic outing in the row boats at central park. I was hoping for some solid making out, but no dice. She told me about her exes, who were universally older, dumber, and nastier than I was, so I worried a bit that I just wasn’t going to be enough of a jackass for her, but hell if I wasn’t going to try.

And this brings us to the fundamental problem with me dating people like me. My breed dates for thrill of it, so we gravitate toward thrilling people, and thrilling people tend to be unstable if not insane. We are not actually thrilling in the way we date; we give off a slightly dangerous and exciting vibe, but we’re not the ones fucking up our lives for the adventure, we seek other people to fuck up our lives so we can deal with it and get the excitement yet feel like we’ve been responsible the whole time. So it’s a bit like two wolf hunters meeting on the tundra: they have a lot to talk about, they live similar lives, and one of them may want to have sex with the other one, but eventually they have to get back to hunting wolves. Or the wolves will eat them. Or something. Forget it.

Where was I. Oh, yes: making out in a school playground. We both jumped the fence before we noticed that the gate was wide open ten feet away. But hopping the fence to a playground at night means only one thing, and that’s heavy petting. Unfortunately, hopping the fence to a playground that’s still open to the public means another thing, and that thing is that a family of seven can wander in at anytime, forcing you to quickly remove your hand from your date’s pants to avoid traumatizing a bunch of prepubescent kids.

I regret nothing.

I do regret the next date. The reason this whole essay is about a tactical error is because my strategy was great. In fact, the next date opened up with us making out on top of a random car in the middle of Williamsburg, which was sort of the coup de grace in my New York City make out sessions: I’ve been applauded by strangers twice for a kiss in a bar, once had “Sex! Sex! Sex!” shouted at me by a bunch of frat kids in Manhattan, been accused of being “lewd and licentious” by a passing crazy in a park, slammed someone and been slammed against the windows at Spike Hill, probably made crowds uncomfortable at forty percent of the bars in Williamsburg, broken into a construction site to have sex, and just generally been a huge, public slut around the busier parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan. But a full on makeout on a stranger’s car on a busy street is something I have not, in fact, seen before, so it’ll be a long time before I need to get more accolades on my resume.

No, the problem was the half sigh, half question she asked me near the end of our pizza dinner at one of the few places in Williamsburg where the staff didn’t give me dirty looks. It was “So Peter. Do you want to date me?”

Here was my exact thought process: well, she talks about all these other jackasses in her past and how she doesn’t want to get in some bad relationship and she said the other day she was toying with the idea of having a rotation of dates or fuck buddies or something do I have pizza sauce on my chin where’s the napkin dammit no I didn’t what was the intonation in her voice beer where’s my beer take a drink play cool you’re too into her this is her test she wants to make sure I’m not too into her what the hell kind of a question is that.

So I said, quote, “No.” Beat. “But I’d like to stay in your rotation.

To which she replied, “I don’t even really have a rotation,” and changed the subject.

Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I believe that was the end of it. She may also have just not liked me, but girls who aren’t attracted to me or don’t like me generally don’t spend eight hours with me and let me clean their tonsils with my tongue. In the end, I think she was open to more serious dating3[3] but in my clumsy attempt to secure exactly that, I informed her that I just wanted to have sex with her and move on, and since I was the youngest and nicest thing she had given her time to in recent months, that wasn’t what she wanted from me.

C’est la vie.

Lesson: If you’re an asshole anyway, go for it, but if you’re not, you didn’t get this far by being one, and you won’t close the deal by switching tacks.

1 It could quite possibly have been “programmer guy.”

2 For me, and since she was just like me, I assume for her.

3 Although, whatever you name was, feel free to correct me if you read this.

Weirdly, I think she would be cute in the right light.

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