28/M/NY: Behind the ASL


A few weekends ago I met a female friend I’ve known for probably 10+ years and we sat and talked over coffee for three hours. Not only do I think this girl is absolutely stunning, but so do other men who see her, some of whom I speak to. At times, I would’ve probably dated this girl in a heartbeat if she was interested but truthfully in all of the years I’ve known her, the topic has never come up. Neither has “hooking up” and neither has anything to do with us doing anything physical with one another. Zero kisses, zero hugs, nothing. You might wonder, then, what we sat and spoke about for three hours on a Friday night at 10:00? It was Ebay, you know the website you join to buy and sell things online? It was this talk and my thoughts after having this talk that are the basis for what I’m writing now: I’m not a normal guy.

This same friend, who I’m choosing not to name, runs a few businesses and one of them is setting up accounts for people on various dating based mobile apps. You send her information and she tells you which photos to use, what to write, how to fix communication issues you may have had with past “matches,” etc. It’s actually quite fascinating in a way and the market for such a thing is probably bare, so she may be on to something. I applied her skills and vision to my life in a way and pondered what my profile would say if I signed up for Tinder. What information would I include? Would I omit anything about my life? How many words would it let me type before cutting me off? Delving further, assuming I had unlimited words and someone would read them all, my profile might read like the words that follow. Additionally, after spending ~3,827 days of my life in relationships that all ended for one reason or another, maybe a display like this is the spring-board to eternal happiness that has evaded me. Imagine if we all had a pamphlet accurately describing our lives for people who meet us to read. This is mine.

Let’s start with the basics, the kindergarten-level introductions that maybe don’t mean anything but you sometimes ask people anyway. My favorite color is yellow, my favorite animals are birds, and my favorite season is Spring, for its beauty and cooler temperatures. My favorite sports teams are the Denver Broncos (football), San Francisco Giants (baseball, and yes there is a Giants baseball team too), Colorado Avalanche (hockey), and Boston Celtics (basketball). I am left-handed, I play amateur baseball where I’m a starting pitcher, and I played college-level basketball, baseball, and men’s volleyball. I went to college for 5 years and finished without a degree because I joined the workforce on a summer break and never returned to school. I opened my own business at 23 and I still run it today, switching to a LLC almost three years ago. I’m 6’3 1/4″ tall and weigh ~185 pounds with somewhere between 4-6% body fat, I go to the gym six days per week, and I take physical health very seriously. I don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs. I have tattoos on my arms and plan to get more. I listen to a wide array of music, whether it’s blasting Metallica or Avenged Sevenfold in the gym or listening to Jason Aldean as I day-dream while driving my truck.

Moving on, there are things that lie just below the surface that I might want to include, such as I have 3 children with 2 different girls. I was diagnosed with depression 3 years ago with two caveats: I don’t take medication of any sort and I’ve never had a suicidal thought, something most people associate with depression. The truth is I value life too much to consider losing it or shortening it. I listen to music and think about the meaning of the song. What was the artist thinking? I’m the furthest thing from materialistic. I drive an old beat up Ford truck and I own 3 pairs of work jeans that I sometimes wear 3-4 days in a row before changing or washing them. Sometimes I come home from work late and I’m tired so I just eat and go to sleep and wake up in the morning and get dressed and go back to work without showering. I read a ton and when I’m at work I listen to audiobooks. I have always worked on all of my own vehicles. The number of sexual partners I have had in my lifetime is a single-digit number. I don’t really pay attention to what others think of me and I’m good at ignoring and tuning people out.

I read a book recently in which a group of researchers conducted a study. For the study they gathered random people and had them view college students’ dorm rooms in order to try to accurately describe things about the students, such as agreeableness, neatness, and intellect. Believe it or not, the random people were just as conclusive as people who had known the students for years. This idea is called “thin-slicing” and it states that you don’t need a ton of information all of the time in order to make a determination. The question the book poses is this: “If you were hiring a new employee and had one of these two choices, which would you choose: 1. Spend a year with the person in order to learn as much about them as possible or 2. Spend 30 minutes walking around their apartment or home.” Most people would choose #1, but statistics and studies like the one described above prove that sometimes more isn’t always better. By this same token, if you knew me or saw me out in public you might think I’m some dumb jock or some construction worker with no mind, but what if you could see my bedroom, what conclusions would you come to then? Imagine if as a bonus to the Tinder membership you got to view the person’s bedroom for 5 minutes.

Walking into my room you’d first notice the color of my walls, a darker gray that really resembles the majority of my life and interests: boring and ordinary. My cat, Stubby, might greet you and try to headbutt your face lightly, affirming he likes you and you may do as you please. You’d notice that besides the large mirror on my dresser, I also have 2 large bookshelves loaded with books of all sorts. Some historical books, some books on diet and working out, some books from my favorite fantasy series, Redwall, books by my favorite sports personalities whose radio shows I listen to daily, books on local crime, an entire set of encyclopedias, a Webster’s dictionary that is probably 6 inches thick that I got from some guy giving it away on Craigslist for free, and plenty of construction related texts. On top of those shelves sit historically important items to me: a set of ceramic dogs that my grandmother owned; one of the first 14 bottles of syrup that the largest facility in the world made which was given to me because I was part of the crew that built it; a massive collection of “heads-up” pennies that I’ve found throughout my life; the first walk-off home run ball I ever hit in co-ed softball; and an autographed Peyton Manning Denver Broncos helmet. You’d notice my computer sitting on my desk, its desktop filled with estimates for jobs of all sorts, some finished and some awaiting homeowners’ replies. A hamper tucked in the corner with dirty clothes, my baseball gear in my bag, and audio equipment would end the viewing. What you wouldn’t see, though, are clothes lying around because I put them all away as soon as they are done being washed. You wouldn’t see any dirty dishes or garbage scattered around, either. I may have partial OCD but I never leave a mess anywhere, whether it’s in my room or in my truck I try to keep my things neat and orderly. People used to walk into my college dorm room and notice its cleanliness and exclaim: “You’d never think a guy lived in here!” Like I said, boring and ordinary.

At this point you’ll have a basic understanding of my principles and hobbies and preferences, but you’ll assuredly need more material in order to paint the full picture. Perhaps you wonder if there are things I look for in others or things I don’t care about very much at all. You’d be right. I am not impressed by material items or things other people have in life, choosing to focus more on what makes up that person’s moral and emotional state. For instance, I’m not impressed if you can drive a standard vehicle. Unless my life is on the line and the only vehicle we have is a standard one and you knowing how to drive it determines if we live, who cares if you have the skill? When I see guys who get turned on by a girl “driving stick” I kind of chuckle. I don’t care about your belongings, car, house, etc. if your parents purchased them for you. If you have $1,200.00 per month in bills and your parents pay every dollar of them, how is that desirable to me? I like people who stand on their own feet with their own effort and when they get knocked down, they know how to pick themselves up. People who have sweat on their brow to show what they’ve earned are my kind of people. I’ve been helped in my life, sure, but I’ve never had a constant influx of family money to support my lifestyle nor do I ever see that happening. I don’t care about your scantily clad photos on social media or that you can get 50 “likes” on a photo on Instagram. Attention, to me, is a crutch. My father tells me that I’ve had abdominal muscles since I was “about 7 years old” and I once overheard his friend Mike saying to him, “Man, Rob is in good shape, when he gets older the girls will be all over him” and thinking to myself, “What does that mean?” I was about 10 and didn’t understand. Obviously, I know what he meant now and I also know I could post endless shirtless photographs all over social media and get all the “likes” and comments I could dream of, but I’m better than that. I don’t need the attention or want it. I’m confident in myself and my appearance, so much so that I don’t need reassurance from others to validate it. I don’t need to engineer popularity. I think people who do are secretly insecure and weak personality-wise. I don’t care about gossip, most of all. Let your friend wear her hair any way she wants and in any color she wants. Let your friend get cheated on by her boyfriend over and over and over and let her worry about it, why should you? Let some annoying person on social media be annoying. I hate complainers and the act of complaining. The example I give all the time is of this girl who used to be a waitress at the restaurant I worked at before going away to college. She would come in every day and complain about how crappy her boyfriend was and how much of a jerk he was. One day I finally lost my mind and told her to stop fretting about him or break up with him. Think about it. The reason you’re disgruntled is directly a result of your own actions. He’s YOUR boyfriend and he’s making YOUR life worse so much so that you complain every day at work, why not make the necessary changes so you can stop whining and move on? Solutions are sometimes so simple, at least to me.

I think if you could have a briefing of someone’s life before meeting or dating them, their relationship history should be a prerequisite. Maybe not the sexual aspects or all of the dark details, but their thoughts, actions, mentality towards others, and habits should be. This may be the first platform ever that I’m performing an autopsy of my past on, but what better example for my idea than to turn on the faucet of memories for my own life? I’ve dated many different females from all walks of life, from many different backgrounds, and with many different outcomes. I’ve dated girls who my parents loved, some my parents disliked, and some my parents never met. I’ve dated recovering drug addicts, girls who never used drugs, and girls who used drugs while we dated. I’ve dated girls who I had children with, girls who moved on and had children with their new loves, and girls who I spoke with about children but never had any. I’ve dated girls who had defined abdominal muscles, girls who had average builds, and an overweight girl. I’ve had relationships that lasted 3 days, 30 days, 300 days, and 1,300 days. I’ve dated a girl who drove a station wagon, a girl who drove a Porsche, and girls who had no car at all. I’ve dated a girl 12 years older than me, a girl 7 years younger than me, and plenty of girls within 3 years of my age. I’ve dated high school teachers with masters degrees, girls who worked desk jobs, and a girl who ran a company by day and went to college part-time at night. I’ve dated girls who liked my short hair, girls who were indifferent about my look, and plenty of girls who wanted me to grow my hair out (sorry never going to happen). I’ve dated virgins, girls who had a few sexual partners in their past, and girls who others whispered “whore” about behind their backs. I’ve dated girls who thought they belonged on the Victoria’s Secret runway but had mountains of insecurity that they kept hidden and girls who exuded confidence and didn’t necessarily make every head turn. I’ve dated girls who drove me crazy and girls I was crazy about.

There are regrets sprinkled in, however. No story is complete without the pitfalls that one suffers and mine is no exception. I’ve never been engaged or married and have only ever thought seriously about marrying one girlfriend. I’m part of two “broken families” and while I know the relationships ending was best, I often hope that my children see through it and can thrive in the environments they now inhabit. I’ve had great opportunities with some girls that I let slip away foolishly. I once walked 4-5 miles to meet a girl sometime in the summer of 2008-2009 and she expressed an interest in me and for some reason I declined to pursue it and we fell out of touch. Years later when I was single in the summer of 2015, I went on a 6 mile walk with her (lot of walking for this one) and couldn’t stop noticing the beautiful woman she had become and I kept kicking myself for my mistake all those years ago. Our walk ended with a hug and a text later that night expressing that the magic was still there and she couldn’t believe all the memories I had kept so many years later but I had 3 children, and her life wasn’t at a point where she could handle that. She later ended up getting back together with her ex-boyfriend and remains with him today. Another girl I actually did date was maybe the soul mate I didn’t know I had. Every morning she woke me up with a kiss and a cup of coffee and she always did the small things. Sometimes I look back on us and miss it because I haven’t had anything close to that type of treatment since. This girl once came to one of my flag football games that was played in pouring rain and she sat in the stands watching the entire game for two hours. Who does that? That is grounds to marry a girl right there, but instead I threw the relationship away for nothing and lost a good thing. She still crosses my mind every time I listen to a Dan + Shay song. Later in the summer of 2015 I met a girl and met up one Tuesday at a “country night” hosted at a local bar and we talked for hours. A friend of mine was there and texted me later that night and she said “Are you and that girl dating?” “No,” I said. “Well you should ask her out, you guys looked lost in each others’ eyes. I could see the connection.” This girl was gorgeous, I’m talking seeing-her-and-jaw-hitting-the-floor gorgeous. Some guys might pay to say two words to her and I spoke about 10,000 that night probably. She later stopped talking to me because I was a father. As God says in Bruce Almighty, “…you can’t affect free will.” And so it was, she was gone. I’ve had plenty of at-bats that ended up in strikeouts and many scars I can talk about.

I have days where memories take all of the air out of the room or the car. Other days I’m lonely and wonder if there’s someone for me out there, but I also know that sometimes being wanted means more than who is doing the asking, so I don’t make snap judgements. I’ve been in relationships where at times I’m setting myself on fire to keep the other person warm, a mistake I try to avoid. A girl came along once that changed the dynamic of my life. She took my hand, got me up off of my brother’s couch where I was living, and showed me that there are people in this world who can love a single father of 3 with their whole heart, so my hope doesn’t dwindle. I’m not actively searching for a mate and contrary to the thesis of this writing, I don’t have a Tinder profile. I go to work every day and spend my free time trying to be a better person, a better father, a better brother, a better son, and a better friend. I don’t have many people who are close to me but those who are I’m extremely loyal to and value their company more than I can express.

Everyone has a book about their life that is constantly being written with each passing day. I’m choosing to narrate mine up to this point. The next chapter hasn’t been written yet.

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