Monday, March 22, 2010

Missed connections, crossed wires and total delusion

The famous person wears the same size water skis as me
She's got three cars, as many years I've lived in this city
Her hair is blonde and mine is brown, they both start with a “b”
But when the phone inside her ribcage rings, it's not for me.

They Might Be Giants – The Famous Polka

The other day I went to Amoeba Records over on Sunset and Cahuenga. This wouldn't be particularly notable but for the fact that the cute girl behind the counter totally started flirting with me. She told me she liked my shirt – a Boston Celtics shirt, if you were wondering – and I told her she was wearing a very pretty dress. It matched her strawberry blonde hair. She gave me a particularly lurid look as she was taking the anti-theft devices off of my CDs. I couldn't help but notice the slight remnants of a regional accent. She told me she moved to Los Angeles from Austin about five years ago – I told her I moved from Massachusetts four years ago. We talked about how we preferred the weather out here over our native climates. After a few brief but blissful minutes, the transaction had ended. She put my CDs in a bag and met me at the end of the counter. I took it from her, and she held it for what seemed like ages. I thanked her, left the store, and in an instant our romance was over.

Let's look at the facts:
1: She was really cute.
2: She told me I was wearing a nice shirt.
3: When I told her she looked good, she didn't recoil in horror.
4: She's grew up in Austin, I grew up about an hour and a half south of Boston. Those two cities rhyme.
5: We were talking about the weather, and you know the old saying – Talking about the weather leads to talking about breakfast.

These five facts provide absolute proof that this girl wanted more than anything to run away with me to a place where we could sit and drink coffee and gaze longingly at each other. I've been combing the missed connections sections of LA Weekly and Craigslist in an effort to find true love.

Except not really. This girl wasn't flirting with me. She was being a pleasant person. She was probably interested in me in the most basic sense. I wanted to make a purchase, she was being paid to facilitate that. We will probably not be friends, we will certainly never be romantically involved, and quite possibly may never meet again – nevermind the fact that I'm married.

The barista isn't flirting with you. Neither is your waitress, the librarian or the gal at the DMV. These people are all being nice. Especially the barista and the waitress – they work for tips. I know this. I've known this for years. Every guy knows this. Academically, we're all very aware that more than 99% of the women we meet have no interest in us outside of a social context. Regardless, I'm convinced - convinced - that every time a woman is being nice to me, she must be flirting. I'm not alone.

It seems like some time around age 12, guys develop this hypersensitivity to the actions of women. They study every word, every physical cue. We're trying to gauge how interested they are in us. We take in all of the data, crunch some numbers and check the readouts. More than half the time the result is “Very Interested.” It's a confusing ouroboros of low self-esteem and narcissism. The thought process goes a little something like this: “Hm. She's talking to me. Girls don't talk to me unless they want something. I don't have anything. What does she want? Oh man, it must be me. She's totally into me. This chick totally wants me. Awesome.” Between friends, co-workers, service industry employees and complete strangers, this happens anywhere between three and a thousand times a day. It never leads to anything, but every time the cycle repeats itself. Like I said, it starts right about age 12 and ends when you die. I'm sure I'll be in my death bed, covered in my own drool thinking, “Man, this nurse brought me soup AGAIN. I still got it.”

I was talking to my wife about this the other day, and she told me that it's not just men who assume that everyone is flirting with them. “You know, when guys hold the door open for me, I sometimes think he must think I'm cute.” First of all, who the hell is holding doors open for my wife? I'll hunt them down and kill them. SHE'S MINE. Also, “he must think I'm cute” is fleeting. I'll spend hours deconstructing conversations I have with strange women – usually right up until the next time it happens. One night I was doing laundry, and it happened that another girl in my building was doing hers at the same time. We kept meeting each other in the laundry room and talked a few times while moving our clothes around. The next day, I got an email with the subject line “I NEVER THOUGHT IT COULD HAPPEN TO ME,” which, for the unfamiliar, is how each letter begins in Penthouse Forum, a magazine where guys write about their sexual encounters with strange women – usually in the laundry rooms of their apartment buildings. A few minutes later, there was a knock on my apartment door. My first thought was, of course, the girl from the laundry room. She must have found me so fascinating, so interesting, so viscerally attractive that she had to track me down. We were destined to run off together, hand in hand, into the sunset. Living on a thin budget would be hard, but the love that we undoubtedly had for each other would be more than enough to keep us warm and sustain us. Turns out it was the maintenance guy, checking to see if our bathroom sink had been fixed.

He was a terrible lay.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Yes, Mousebed is coming out of retirement on this most important of days. For the love of Franzblau, chime in!