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Confession #11: The Missed Kiss

February 2, 2010

My senior year at Wash U, I started to get to know a girl who had a long-distance boyfriend. Let’s call her Marsha.

Marsha had been dating this guy for many years. He was her first and only everything. That had long been planning to finally live in the same city after college and get married and have kids named Marshette and Marshall.

We started flirting.

The harmless flirting grew into a harmless mutual crush, and soon–under the guise of harmlessness–we were essentially dating. We went to parties together, we held hands, we’d lay in bed and talk deep into the night.

Marsha was completely transparent about her relationship with her boyfriend. She told him everything we did, and she didn’t try to hide him from me at all either. I wasn’t trying to win her away from him, nor was I trying to have her cheat on him with me. I just enjoyed the feeling I got when I was around her, and I went with the flow.

One day we went back to my place a little tipsy after a party. We found ourselves inches from one another as we stood in my living room.

Marsha looked me in the eyes and said, “I’ve never kissed anyone other than my boyfriend, and I’m never going to kiss anyone else. But I want to kiss you.”

I wanted to. Trust me, I wanted to. But I said, “Are you going to regret it tomorrow?”

“Probably.”

That was our answer. We didn’t kiss; we never did. Eventually we realized that even without kissing, what we were doing wasn’t allowing Marsha to be true to her relationship, so we stopped.

It’s the little choices in life that I think back upon now and again, and this is one of them. I could have kissed Marsha. I know that. I don’t think it would have changed anything. Her life would have proceeded as planned.

But instead of not having a kiss that I blogged about someday, we would have had a kiss. Perhaps it’s the romantic in me that makes me wish we had that.

What do you think? Should I or shouldn’t I? Do you have a missed kiss in your past? Or a kiss that you’d take back?

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Breaking News

February 1, 2010
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A few months ago, I found out about an author named Dan Ariely. His work fascinated me, so I blogged about it a few times (How to Get Someone to Say Yes, The Power of an Irrelevant Option, and The Power of Origin Stories). I also started reading his blog.

A few months ago, Dan posted an offer of sorts on his blog. He asked readers to send in stories (fictional or true) about irrational behavior (that’s the subject of his latest book, Predictably Irrational), and he’d pick a few good ones and post them on his blog.

Today I was reading his blog, and lo and behold, he published my story!!!

This absolutely blows my mind. I’ll be honest–it’s big. 3,700 people subscribe to Dan’s blog. I don’t know how many daily visitors he gets, but to give you a rough idea, my blog has 33 subscribers, but I averaged 458 daily hits in January. Not only that, but it’s friggin’ Dan Ariely!!!

Go check out the story. It’s my first attempt at a fable of sorts. It’s a 3-4 minute read.

Fight or Flight?

February 1, 2010

Yesterday I left a party around 12:30 in the morning, walked over to my car, and saw a man with a gun sitting in the driver’s seat.

I turned and ran.

Fortunately, this was a dream I had last night, not a real experience. Unfortunately, the dream didn’t end there. I ran and ran until I realized that the man wasn’t chasing me, and then I chased after him to find out who he was so I could report him to the police. Then he chased me and shot at me, then I chased him again. And so on. It was exhausting.

The point: When I encounter fear or antagonism in dreams, I run. I choose flight over fight.

When I was a child, I often dreamed of burglars breaking into the house. The vast majority of those dreams involved me opening my second-story bedroom window, crawling out onto the parapet, running into the woods, and covering myself in leaves to hide from the robbers. Yes, the impenetrable defense of leaves. That’s what I chose.

Are dreams representative of real life? I don’t know. My theory is that dreams reorganize your thoughts in the same way that a defragmentation of your computer sorts out all those bits and pieces that your brain hasn’t fully processed.

I think perhaps that these dreams could be applied literally to my life. I have an unnatural paranoia that someone will break into my condo, just as I have an unnatural fear that I will be robbed on my street. My plan for those situations? Run. (I’m fast.) Perhaps my dreams are reinforcing that plan.

What about you? When you experience antagonism or fear in dreams, what is your reaction? Fight, flight, or something else? How does that apply to the way you live your real life?

How to Be a Male Third Wheel

January 29, 2010
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Fellow blogger Penelope is launching her newly designed blog, PenelopeLife.com, with a complementary blog entry about how to be a female third wheel. Both of us have experienced what it’s like to be a third wheel in our days as single people, so we thought it might be helpful to you other third wheels out there to know how to fulfill (and be fulfilled) in that role.

And no, we’re not talking about threesomes today.

Don’t whine about being single. If you’re not happy about your dating situation, don’t complain about it. It’s possible the couple will delight in thinking of good matches for you, but no one likes a whiner. Instead, tell funny and entertaining stories about the single life. That way the couple can live vicariously through you and your exploits.

Ask good questions. This goes without saying for any conversation, but there are some particularly fun conversation topics that can be broached with a couple. Have them tell embarrassing stories about one another or get them to talk about past girlfriends/boyfriends. Or talk about their current relationship. Don’t act like a therapist–that would be weird. But you can bring up some quirky aspects of their relationship and have some fun with it.

Space out the seating arrangement. This may be out of your control, but if you can make sure that the opposing couple isn’t right next to one another, that’s ideal. The closer they are, the more inside jokes, whispers, and caresses you’re going to have to compete with.

Don’t overstay your welcome. You know that episode of Seinfeld where George makes one really good joke at a staff meeting and then immediately heads home for the day, leaving everyone with a really good impression of him? Two words: Do that. At some point the couple is going to want to start to do couple-y things with each other, and it’s your job to cut the cord when the time is right.

What does any of this have to do with being male? Just be conscious that adding you to the equation makes the guy to girl ratio 2:1. This isn’t guy talk time. Leave the fantasy sports at home. Be relevant, be considerate, be topical. Also, be respectful. Nobody wins if you go home with the girl and your guy friend goes home alone.

All I have to say is that being a third wheel can actually provide you a unique opportunity to get to know friends who are couples in a new way. You can see a different side of those people than when they’re separate or in a bigger group.

Last, I want to say to all you people who are dating out there: You don’t need to do everything as a couple. You too can be a third wheel at times. With only yourself to rely on instead of a partner to work off of, you might just grow as an individual by being a third wheel.

For a way more entertaining take on being a female third wheel (it includes the line, “I always like to push for the couple I’m hanging out with to get laid”), head on over to Penelope’s blog.

Pet Pleases #14-20

January 29, 2010

I’ve had the following pet pleases on my list of things to write about for a while, but I can never seem to get excited about devoting an entry blog entry to any one of them. They’re still worth mentioning, so I’m going to list them here. Trevor and Bryce get credit for two of them.

14. Putting on clothes fresh out of the dryer. Or just rolling around in them.

15. Getting a booth at a restaurant. Doesn’t this make you feel like a VIP?

16. When a good yawn on a flight clears your head. And makes you feel like you have super-hearing.

17. Stumbling upon a Seinfeld episode you’ve never seen. And you thought you had watched them all.

18. Bar bathrooms that are unexpectedly clean. The opposite being a fancy restaurant bathroom that is unexpectedly dirty.

19. When a stoplight turns green at the perfect time so you don’t have to slow down at all. You just saved yourself $0.0002 of gas.

20. Having a chapter of the book on tape you’re listening to end just as you arrive at your destination. Or song. Or podcast.

Let’s start the weekend on a good note: What’s your pet please of the week to share?

Change for the Sake of Change

January 27, 2010

This past fall, I moved out of my condo for a few months. I gave about a fourth of what I own to Goodwill after I packed all the stuff I really wanted. Then I moved back into my condo two months later, still feeling like I owned too much “stuff,” but lighter and less burdened that before.

Have you ever rearranged a room just because you hadn’t rearranged it in a while? And the result made you feel good–made things feel fresh and new?

I wasn’t sure if there was any factual psychological basis for that concept until I read a chapter in Malcolm Gladwell’s What the Dog Saw the other day. Gladwell was discussing traffic laws in Sweden a few decades ago. Apparently Swedish drivers used to drive on the left side of the road, but at a certain point, the laws changed so that everyone had to drive on the right.

Chaos ensued, right? Surely accidents much have gone up after the disorienting change, right?

Not the case. Quite the contrary, really. Accidents immediately dropped by a whopping 14%. Why? Because people had to actually pay attention while they drove for the first time in forever. They couldn’t just daydream during their commute.

Perhaps you’re thinking that it’s just safer to drive on the right side. Also not the case. After a few years, car accidents in Sweden went back up to their previous levels. The change had settled in and people had gotten used to it. They could relax and daydream while driving again.

I think the point is that sometimes, change for the sheer sake of change is a good thing. It’s good to rearrange your furniture (or move, like I did) from time to time just so you can throw away the stuff you don’t need and be happy with the stuff you have because your space feels fresh and new again. I’ve even read that a good way to run meetings that run longer than 40 minutes is to have everyone stand up and switch seats at the 40-minute mark. Simply for the sake of changing the dynamic of the room and getting people’s blood moving.

What are some other examples of this? How can we apply this to our lives? In which situations does it not work?

How to Ask Out Your Waitress

January 26, 2010
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This is a quandary that has haunted me for years. Years, I tell you.

I think the quick and easy answer is that you develop a witty rapport with the waitress while she’s serving you, and she’s smiling and laughing and maybe touching your shoulder, and so it’s only natural that you slip her your number at the end of the meal and tell her that you’ll make her the best chocolate peanut butter pudding pie, way better than this restaurant’s desserts, should she ever call you.

But we all know that’s never going to happen.

Plus, not all waitresses are your waitress. That is, you may want to ask out a different waitress, not the one that’s serving you. You’re selecting things off the menu–why not select a woman to date as well! All you have is looks and general attentiveness to her patrons to go on, but that’s a decent start. Better than meeting a girl at a club and sizing her up by the length of her skirt and whether or not she can hear you over the din.

A few months ago, I thought I had figured it all out. This was soon after the breakup. Of course I’m not interested in actually dating anyone at this time, but I love the chase. The waitress in question was the hot one at Wasabi in Clayton (you know which one I’m talking about). I was wearing a distinctive tie that day (let’s say it’s a pink tie), so my plan was as follows:

  1. When the waitress is doing nothing, get up to go to the bathroom.
  2. Instead of going to the bathroom, sidle up to the waitress and get her attention.
  3. Say, “Hey, quick question. One of my friends wants to know if you’re single.”
  4. She asks, “Which one?”
  5. You say, “The one in the pink tie.”
  6. She looks over to your friends, then realizes–the hilarity–that you’re the one in the pink tie.
  7. She takes your tie in her hand, pulls you towards her, and makes out with you on the spot.

So that’s the plan. Foolproof, right? You avoid awkwardness if she has a boyfriend, and if she doesn’t, she thinks you’re clever and bold.

But there’s a problem. The problem is that you’ve taken away the greatest and least awkward excuse not to give someone your number: I have a boyfriend. You have to give her that chance after she knows who’s actually asking for her number, not before.

Why am I thinking about this? Again, I’m intentionally single and I want to remain that way. But there was a super cute and kind of alternative-looking waitress at Pueblo Solis tonight. More than cute. She was a hot hipster. Hipster is on my list of “must kiss” people (also on the list: every race except for white and Asian, a significantly older woman, a lesbian [current or former], Amy Adams, a nurse [during an appointment], and a beekeeper).

Of course, I did nothing, because I have no idea what to do and I’m not all that bold. I do know that you can’t have a friend talk to the waitress in question. Doesn’t work that way. You also can’t just write your number on a receipt. I’ve been a waiter, and you may not even know who wrote the number. Some sort of rapport or flirtation is necessary.

Is there a secret formula that I’m missing? Tell me, ladies and waitresses of the world: What is the right way to ask out your waitress?