"Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes."
-- Oscar Wilde
There was a comedy show in the 80's called Almost Live, a kind of low rent Saturday Night Live that originated from the Pacific Northwest.
It wasn't that good, frankly, but I recall one sketch about a couple who go through all the pain and misery of a relationship without ever meeting.
Instead, they keep missing each other on phone and leaving telephone messages.
Both parties misinterpret the messages and the hostility escalates, even though these people have not laid eyes on each other.
That bit comes to mind today after yet another fiasco on the dating front. Here's how it went:
Looking for Love
I saw a woman's photo on a dating site and I sent her an e-mail. We exchanged some funny e-mails and decided to speak over the phone. On Tuesday I called her cellphone number and we spoke for nearly two hours. Okay, so far so good. So we set up a date for Friday night.
Trying to act like a gentleman, I sent her an e-mail saying what a pleasure it was speaking with her and how I looked forward to seeing her in person. She wrote back saying the same thing and asked that I call her on Thursday night. I called and left a message.
She never got back to me. No need for panic, I thought, I can't expect her, or anyone else, to jump whenever I call. I was going to see her in less than 24 hours anyway.
I came home Friday night and there's a message on my phone. Not my cell, which I carry morning, noon and night, but my home phone. It's the woman, saying she can't make it, something's come up, and how am I for Saturday night?
I didn't handle it well, to put it mildly. I deliberately didn't call her back for a while so I wouldn't say something stupid. I called my shrink so I could calm down. And I thought I was okay.
But this twisted brain of mine was busy cooking up paranoid scenarios: Some ex-boyfriend called her. She's playing me a fool. I could've gone to at least three other events on a freaking Friday night, but I didn't and now she leaves me hanging.
So when I called her back to leave the message I was so obnoxious, I snarled "I've got plans for tomorrow; it's not going to work. I'll call you."
I felt like I accomplished something as I went out to the living room to watch a Seinfeld rerun. Of course, in that time, she called me, sounding so apologetic, saying her ex-husband had stuck her with their son for the weekend at the last minute and she really wanted to see me.
Later For Me
Well, I felt like a first class jerk and I immediately called her back. No luck. Her cellphone message center was full. I sent her an e-mail saying there was nothing to apoligize for, it could have easily been me backing out, given my father's condition.
The next morning I called her and said the only plans I had to swing by the Brooklyn Museum to check out the "First Saturday" event. She was more than welcome to join me, or we could do something else.
She didn't call me back Saturday, I haven't heard from her today and I realize she's rightfully written me off. There are plenty of other guys out there, and a lot of them won't act like a spoiled two-year-old if they don't get their way.
When I got this morning I realized how wrong I was, how stupidly I had acted. I wish she had called me on my cell at work; I wish she had said it was about her kid. I know she's a mother first and that the child comes before everything in her life.
I blew this thing before it even got started. I drove this woman off without even seeing her face-to-face. I don't know what the hell is wrong with me. I guess I've been out of the dating loop for so long I don't know how to act.
I did a similar thing a few years back, when I left an angry message for a woman I had dated a few times. There was a three-day weekend coming up and while I was hoping to take her out for a date, she only had time for lunch.
Well, my pathetic little ego couldn't handle that, so I ranted on her service about how I deserved more than just lunch. Oh yeah, and she dumped about a week later.
When will I learn? Why do I do these stupid things? Even if this lady from the other night was blowing me off, so what? A total stranger didn't keep an appointment--big deal. I like to think I'm easy to get along with, but incidents like this make me wonder.
Here's Your Head, What's Your Hurry?
In many ways, it's not even about her. It's about me, my happiness, and my strange ability to take umbrage at the worst possible times. I've let alleged "friends" walk all over me, but I get one wrong turn from someone who seemed nice, intelligent and attractive and I turn into Rambo. Nice going, doofus.
It's ironic that this is happening on the daylight savings weekend, where we monkey around with time, springing forward, falling back. Too bad that's just numbers on the clock; too bad we can't undo the foolish things we do.
So I'll have to forget about this one. I asked out another woman from the same site and we met today for coffee. Nice lady, very intelligent, and about a head taller than I am. She said she'd like to see me again, so I'll defintely call her. But that first one, Miss Friday Night, that's eating away at me.
The juke box in my mind has been playing a couple of songs by Tyrone Davis, a singer in the 70's. One is "Can I Change My Mind?" and the other is "Turn Back the Hands of Time." Do you sense a theme here?
No, I can't change my mind, not after the damage I've done. The early days of a relationshiop are like a jet in take-off, where any little thing is major and can send the whole thing crashing onto the runway.
If I could turn back the hands of time, I wouldn't have left that stupid, bonehead message. That's no longer an option. I won't insult you and declare I've learned my lesson, but I'm going to do my damnedest to get something positive out of this disaster.
At this point, there's not much else I can do.