Despite a loving, generally happy home, my brother, Jeff, and I took “sibling rivalry” to a dark and desperate level. It was a class of anarchy like no other, and it drove my mom to counseling, and my dad to a dive bar in San Jose, called The Office, regularly after work. The turmoil began the day I was adopted at a year old from the Children’s Home Society of Oakland, CA in a svelte 1967 Pontiac station wagon, by an educated, young man and a petite woman with a bouffant hairdo. I believe it was aptly named a “beehive” back then, and was typically accompanied by hip, black, pointy glasses. Upon arrival home, I was stalked about the premises by my brother, Jeff (also adopted). As a toddler, my only hobby was annoying the piss out of Jeff. I had no reason, but hobbies are like that. I was only too eager to kick down, or otherwise destroy, his latest LEGO or Lincoln Log engineering marvels, and he soon lost all patience while harboring some ill-will toward his shelter-baby brother. [Read more…] about Sibling Smackdown: Anxiety Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree
I have left many opportunities on the table with regard to meeting women in the past, until the day I ran into an “unfortunate” male acquaintance with a defective personality at a concert. I will call him, “Tim” – because that’s his real name. As I feigned interest in whatever Tim was saying, I interrupted him to point out a stunning blonde 10 yards away. While I was busy convincing myself that she had a boyfriend and was out-of-my-league, Tim was already introducing himself to her. Inadequate guys have no fear and nothing to lose – particularly self-esteem. This is primarily due to a lifetime of getting rejected by women. Since the beautiful girl had a cute friend with her, I opted to walk over. Much to my awe, Tim was soon entering the blonde’s number into his phone. Again, I convinced myself of another falsehood: that she had given him a fake number. A few days later, I learned I was wrong on this account when Tim called to tell me about his amazing date with her. I was beside myself with resentment. Within this life-altering moment, I decided it was far better to heal from the sting of quick, potential humiliation then to spend days regretting inaction. I called my new paradigm, “Regret Minimization Theory”, and was certain it would measurably increase my successes related to the pursuit of “strange”.
I was recently performing an intellectual audit of my success ratio since implementing this methodology, and noticed that though I was taking more risks while posting the same adequate numbers in obtaining dates, I was sustaining far less regret. So, overall, the return-on-investment was worthwhile. Much like fishing, this scenario is akin to throwing bait in the water more often, only to be shunned by more wary fish. And, like fishing, it is best to get your “bait” in the water in the attempt, than to not participate at all. Yes, I used the sophomoric analogy of fish bait to male genitalia. Let’s be honest, there is little difference in presentation. And, I definitely walked a little taller each day having avoided the typical regrets associated with my refusal to take risks in meeting women. Apparently, shouldering the burden of regret affected my posture and ability to walk erect. There I go again.
There is one noteworthy encounter that continues to bedevil me. It was a regular workday afternoon when a few colleagues invited me to sushi for lunch. I acquiesced on a place known for their tepid and mediocre fish. The venue was called Yo-Yo Sushi, and was the fast-food of the sushi genre. The layout of this particular venue was such that the sushi chefs were in the center of the room, with a very large sushi bar around them. The bar – half the size of the restaurant – was surrounded by chairs packed in close proximity. Encircling the sushi prep area and bar, was a slow moving moat of water that facilitated the clunky journey of a fleet of wooden sushi boats gently chained together. The water also contained some questionable floating debris.The sushi itself was somewhat protected by a sneeze guard. However, I believe the opaque, plexiglass buffer was actually used to skew the appearance of the warmish fish. At any given moment, 1/3 of the boats that passed were empty, with the remaining boats containing fish that a feral tabby would hesitate to paw. This was food that had likely been touring the bar for over an hour. Word on the street was to avoid the moat altogether, and order directly from the disgruntled chefs. Angry fish tastes better.
After being seated at the bar, my concentration went from imminent food poisoning to the gorgeous, professional brunette in a royal blue sweater directly across the sushi bar from me. Reminding myself of my new decree to never let a good opportunity pass – or, whatever I had previously decreed – I decided to create a tactic that would allow me to meet this woman, unbeknownst to both my colleagues and the other patrons in the packed restaurant. It did not take me long to craft a scheme of which any Lothario would be proud.
Since I was sitting to the far right of my coworkers at the bar; and, the circuitous water also flowed to the right, I would draft a slightly perceptible note addressed to “Hottie in Blue Sweater” with a quick introduction and my contact information, then fold it into a standing triangle and place it upon one of the empty wooden boats while letting the flowing aqueduct carry my suave, yet vulnerable, declaration. Upon receipt, I would discreetly wave or nod so she could identify her maritime suitor. Why I did not think of sending a spicy tuna roll or a bowl of edamame with a private introduction via the waitress remains a mystery. I quickly discovered that the downside of avoiding future regret, was the regret that comes much, much sooner.
I stealthily and swiftly placed my note on the next empty boat – somewhere between the discolored unagi and salmon-roe schooners – and watched it drift away from me and toward my ‘afternoon delight’. As the dinghy haplessly wafted away to the right, my heart crept into my throat. I quickly realized the error in my way. But, it was much too late. Like a drunk middle manager spewing racist jokes at the company Christmas party, my fate was sealed … at the speed of a clumsy sushi canal. This was a social suicide mission. My anxiety hit fever pitch within moments. Uneasy stomach, shortness of breath, dilated pupils, and internal terror. I promptly regained composure and focused steadfastly on appearing calm as my gaze followed that boat. Any appearance of alarm would surely draw attention to the note’s owner. If only I could deploy a mini sushi torpedo to sink and destroy the evidence. How did this ever seem a plausible idea?! Not only could one of the vexed sushi chefs mistakenly replace my message with another piece of chum, but I failed to notice the married – and, far less attractive – woman on the left of the bar in the LIGHT blue sweater. What if she errantly accepted the note in hopes her ship had finally come in?? A blue sweater is a blue sweater, after all. And, what are the Health Dept. rules on utilizing a public food serving medium as an instrument to get laid? Surely there was a statute regulating this practice.
My pulse quickened as my little love-boat passed the approximately 12 diners that separated the hottie in royal blue and me. Then the unexpected: The memo floated right past it’s intended recipient completely unnoticed. My excitement and trepidation turned to dread. This scenario never crossed my mind, nor did I have a contingency plan. My note-on-a-boat was now completing one full bar rotation, passing another 10 diners as it came left around the bend toward my colleagues on it’s disgraceful homeward stretch. My coworkers spotted the dispatch as it slowly meandered by, and deduced by the red hue of my face, to whom it belonged. My strained expression and bulging eyes begged for their silence. A logical man would have removed the note altogether, cut his losses and avoided further humiliation. But, this was no ordinary brunette. And, far greater men have been demoralized by poorer choices. Recall Hugh Grant and the street hooker, Divine Brown in 2007.
I left my chips on the table, and bid my rickety skiff another meek – though, slightly empowered – “bon voyage”. This time, for whatever reason, it seemed every patron was now focused on the passing sushi boats. Perhaps they were just hungry and out of conversation. One-by-one, each customer noticed the passing message, then chuckled while scanning the bar for the courier. Further committing to my novel “no regrets” mantra, and fueled by the positive reactions of my newly recruited audience, I no longer tried to hide my participation. I was “all in”, and pushed my anxiety aside by letting her and everyone know that I was serious in my quest to meet this woman. In my mind, if nothing else wooed her, self-deprecation would surely win her affection. Two of the girlfriends flanking her saw the note, and prodded her to grab it, despite stares from gushing gawkers around the sushi bar. She begrudgingly snatched the little paper triangle from the wooden boat, glanced at it, and stashed it somewhere – most likely the soy stained floor – without so much as a chuckle. She was quite embarrassed and disgruntled at being the center of attention. This was clearly not the lunchtime experience she had envisioned when she left her cubicle. I had annoyed her, humiliated myself, and provided impromptu entertainment for all. This was love kamikaze style – but, happily, without the burning aftertaste of regret.