So Valentine's Day is tomorrow, and ordinarily this would be the time when I recap a robust list of dating/romantic failures from the previous year. (Last year's installment, for example, is here; year before that, here; etc.) Most of these stories have involved me being shot down or mistreated in some embarrassing way. However, I'm fully cognizant of the fact that I've sometimes been a major contributor to my own misery or disappointment, either through douchiness, neglect, or (most likely) sheer towering stupidity. So instead of using this space to whine about how waaah waaah nobody likes me, I'm putting my own head on the chopping block and regaling y'all with Five Stories About How I Messed Up Relationships, Or Made Sure There Wasn't Even A Relationship To Begin With, By Being A Complete Idiot. This will provide a more vital key to the workings (and, obviously, failings) of my personality and psyche than any other single post on this blog, so, like, prepare yourself.
Flowers from Algernon (sometime around the beginning of 1993)
The first time I ever told a girl I liked her was in seventh grade, and I didn't actually tell her myself; I got her best friend to tell her, and the response I got back was the girl in question wrinkling up her nose in disgust. So obviously I was a little cagey about ever putting myself out there like that again, and it took three years for me to gin up the stones to tell another girl I liked her. Only once again, I didn't actually tell her -- I sent flowers to her house on her birthday and let her sit and wonder who they were from for a couple weeks before finally passing her a note in class one day and telling her they were from me. So here I was, a sophomore in high school and still using what was basically the "Do you like me, check one box, yes/no/maybe" method of displaying affection, only with more elaborate props. She gave me a note back saying thank you for the flowers and she just wanted to be friends, which actually was a much better reaction than I could've gotten, now that I think about it.
Every time I think I'm out, I pull myself back in (spring 1995)
I didn't start going out with my first honest-to-God girlfriend until around Christmas '94, and she dumped me a couple months later, so once I got over the misery of that rejection I dusted myself off and started casting about for someone else I could take to senior prom. I had my eye on one of the hottest girls in my graduating class: She was head of the cheerleading squad and senior class treasurer or something like that, and we'd worked on some school projects together in the past, so not only was she not completely repulsed by me, we were actually pretty friendly. And with her having just gotten dumped herself by her boyfriend, I figured I had a perfect opportunity. I made the mistake of mentioning this to my ex, though, and she got all upset-looking and told me she was still hoping I'd take her to prom -- yes, even though she'd just unloaded me a few weeks before. Instead of recognizing this completely bizarre situation for what it was, I caved and told her I'd take her. We got back together just in time to go to prom, but broke up a second time later on that summer, once I realized what a mistake I'd made. The cheerleader I'd been thinking of asking, by the way, didn't end up going to prom, or at least I didn't see her there. Seriously, if I show up at the pearly gates and St. Peter offers me one thing in my life to do over, I'm picking this.
Punting from the 1 yard line (fall 1999)
A few years before anyone knew or cared who Angelina Jolie was, her doppelgänger was roaming the halls of my high school. This girl was so hot her footprints left little scorch marks on the floor, and as a still-wallflowery sophomore, I was content merely to be able to share the same drama class with her; I knew I didn't stand a chance of every actually being able to date a girl like that. Fast-forward like seven years later, I'm working up in Lynchburg, Virginia, I've just put out the first issue of this alternative weekly I'd helped start up, and . . . I get a call from the Angelina lookalike. Her parents were living up in Lynchburg, she saw my name in the masthead of this magazine, would I like to go out and get a drink or something? Fuck yes, in fact, so we got together on a Friday night and went barhopping (this being Lynchburg, it didn't take all that long); after a couple hours at Trotter's, she suggests grabbing a six-pack or something and heading back to my place to watch a movie. Being completely naive and still in the same awkward-teenager mindset I'd been in the last time we were in close proximity to one another, I didn't stop to ponder any kind of subtext in "going back to my place," nor did I even think about making any kind of move when she took her shirt off once we were home watching "Fargo." Now, don't get too excited, it wasn't like she was topless -- she had on this sort of camisole/tank-top thing on underneath (closest approximation I can come up with is this), but still. And at some point, she got tired of sitting on the floor (I'd only been living there a couple months and didn't have much furniture yet) and climbed up into the big overstuffed easy chair I was sitting in. Did I do anything then? Nope -- I just sat there frozen until she'd fallen asleep, then realized what an uncomfortable position I was sitting in, and got up and went to bed. Alone.
The next morning, I took her back to her house, and said it was fun and we should do it again sometime. A week or so later, she actually called me up and asked if I wanted to go to a party with her that weekend, but I was going to the LSU game down in Athens and couldn't make it, so I gave her my regrets and told her I'd call her when I got back into town. The game sucked, I called her as soon as I got back to Lynchburg . . . and never heard back from her.
OK, maybe that would be my do-over.
Never mind the bollocks, here's my parents (November 2004)
I know I've related this one on the blog before, but it's just so blatantly, head-slappingly dumb that I can't help but tell it repeatedly just for laughs. At a Halloween party a few years back, I met this girl who'd just moved down from New York to start at Southern Progress, where a bunch of my friends worked at the time. She was both ridiculously cute and unattached, and when I asked her out it went well enough that I was treated to the rare but highly sought-after first-date kiss at the end of it. Not long after that, I was mentioning to her that I was headed down to Auburn for the Georgia-Auburn game that weekend, and she seemed intrigued, so I took a chance and asked her if she'd like to come with me and get her very first taste of the SEC football experience. To my surprise, she said yes, so I snagged a second ticket from my Auburn hookup and called her back a few days later. We planned out what we were going to be doing that weekend, and that was when I uttered the fateful words: "Oh, and I told my parents a few weeks ago that I'd stop by and see them in Columbus at some point, so maybe we'll go have lunch with them or something on Sunday . . . "
It was like those times when you see the car keys sitting in the ignition even as you're slamming your locked door shut: Even as the last of the words was trickling out of my mouth, my brain was screaming NO NO NO YOU JUST TOLD THIS GIRL YOU WERE TAKING HER TO MEET YOUR PARENTS ABORT ABORT ABORT. But it was too late. There was an awkward silence, after which she politely expressed a little nervousness at meeting my family for the first time; I told her it was no big deal, I could just cancel with my parents if she really felt uncomfortable about it, but she said no, it was OK, she'd go. So we went to the game (which, again, sucked, though we had a great time in Auburn otherwise), we headed to Columbus the next day, we had lunch with my parents and she soldiered through it like a champ . . . and a few days later, I got an e-mail from her saying she liked me a lot but just wanted to be friends. Well, of course she did. Haven't heard from her since, which I'm sure you all find shocking.
Don't call me Shirley, or at all (summer 2005)
Nothing fancy about this one: Dated a Hooter's waitress off and on for an extended period of time, but the turning point came when we went back to my apartment after having dinner one night and were looking for a DVD to watch. I came upon "Airplane!" and asked if she'd ever seen it, and she said no, so we watched it. She didn't laugh once during the movie, and then at the end, when I asked her if that wasn't the funniest movie she'd ever seen in her life, she said, "No, not really." At that point I realized it probably just wasn't going to work out, and we kind of stopped going out after that. Since then she's won a number of Hawaiian Tropic contests and done some modeling work with various photographers in the area, and I have it on good authority that she may be appearing in Playboy before too long. Good for her.
I hope that, if nothing else, all this will make you feel a little bit better about yourself by comparison. No, no, don't thank me, I do it for the kids.
And now the Ten:
1. Dick Dale & the Del-Tones, "Misirlou"
2. Gorillaz, "White Light"
3. Pet Shop Boys, "God Willing" (rough mix)
4. Steve Miller Band, "Abracadabra"
5. Underworld, "Air Towel"
6. Pet Shop Boys, "The Boy Who Couldn't Keep His Clothes On" (Banji girlfriend beats)
7. David Holmes, "Let's Get Killed"
8. Beck, "Steal My Body Home"
9. Röyksopp, "So Easy"
10. Radio 4, "Our Town"
Throw your own Random Tens and tales of epic romantic fail -- whether it was your fault, someone else's fault, or hell, even if it's just an unhinged screed about how much Valentine's Day sucks -- in the comments.