When I meet you, am I meeting you, or the sugar-coated version of what you’d like me to see? California is the land of fakes, so I’ve grown accustomed to certain customs like this. I find myself playing the role, too—saying please, and thank you, when I mean, “go fuck yourself.” Wouldn’t we all be better off with brutal honesty than fake politeness?
A lovely woman joined me in the dry sauna at the gym yesterday. I see her all the time, but I know she’s there to work out, not be eye-raped by another creepy old guy. Still, I felt compelled, so I said, “How’s it going? Any fun plans for the weekend?”
On the surface that sounds pleasant, right? What a nice fella I am! She responded in kind with, “Maybe some beach time now that the marine layer pulled back.”
The conversation pretty much faded away at that point, but I sat there dripping flop-sweat, thinking about what lay beneath those words.
I examined myself. If she were unattractive, would I have engaged her? Probably not. So, was I really interested in her well-being, or seeing if her self-esteem was low enough to consider me a mating option?
It’s not like we’re friends or family. Why do I care what she’s doing this weekend, unless it involves straddling me? Oh, it’s small talk—just casual pleasantries that could wind up uncovering networking opportunities. Maybe I ask what she’s doing, and she says attending a Silver Oak tasting. I like Silver Oak. I wanna go. She has an extra ticket because her sister just found out she’s pregnant. I pick her up at seven, and the rest is … my fucking imagination.
I’m a shallow, shriveling sack of testosterone.
Then, I thought about things from her perspective. This is something men need to do more often. The problem is all I know about how women think is fed to me by jaded women. I get the feeling I’m being misled, based on how often I hear, “Who told you women like that?”
From her perspective, she probably thought, “Christ, has it come to this?” I’m sure she sized me up, found me somewhat attractive, but appreciated me keeping my shirt on. Her next thought was under what circumstances she would actually grant me entry.
I wonder what he does for a living. Where does he live? Does he have kids? What does he drive? What sort of follicular mess is under that baseball cap?
Or, she disregarded my mating attempts entirely and began flipping through her mental Rolodex of older friends who need to get laid. She could get my story, and pass it on to Janice, who has been a cuntius maxipus since Jared left. In that case, wouldn’t it have been better for everyone if she responded honestly: “Look, you’re not fucking me … ever. But, if you’re a decent gentleman, I can hook you up with my friend, Janice. She’s cute and single. Cool?”