Monday, August 26, 2013

You're Too Much!

I've always been a bit too much. I'm too loud, too brash, too emotional, too outspoken, and too sensitive. People will remind me of these things from time to time, and I usually reply that I am very aware. My voice was often the one that was heard above the rest, and I took the fall for the group more than once. The old Catholic guilt usually prevented me from informing the disciplinarian that it wasn't just me, because deep-down I knew that I deserved it. I don't think people understand that I know how much and how often I run my mouth. And I have dug more than one hole for myself that has swallowed me up like a Florida sinkhole. I understand I have to live with the consequences, and some of the pills I've had to swallow have been more bitter and chalky than baby aspirin.  I've tried to reign myself in over the years, but at some point you realize you are who you are. And for every person I've PO'd with my too-muchiness, there are people who tell me that I've made their day. My goal is to break even, but have a sinking suspicion there's a karmic tsunami heading for my coastline.

My current reality-TV obsession is the TLC show "Who Do You Think You Are?" It features mostly B-list celebrities digging into their past to reconstruct their family tree and answer some sort of questions they may have about their ancestors. It's basically an hour-long commercial for, but they got me. I'm all-in. So far, they have found that one of Kelly Clarkson's ancestors was a teetotaling state senator, that Zooey Deschanel's ancestor's house was a stop on the Underground Railroad, and that Chris O'Donnell's ancestor was at Fort McHenry for the defining battle of the War of 1812, when they raised the Star Spangled Banner that inspired our national anthem. I have always loved history, and it's the personal stories that get me. I've blubbered like a baby at the end of more than one episode, I'm sorry to admit. And it was during last week's episode that I finally figured out what it is that makes me so emotional. Something that all childless people have to come to terms with is that our story is not one for the ages. Anything I have accomplished or done goes with me. And it's effect will not linger long after I'm gone. But the thing that chokes me up is that nobody is ever going to come looking for me. At no time in the future is somebody going to be digging around in a dusty archive searching for the details of my life.  I will forever be one of the nameless relatives in the group shot of some other persons great-great grandparent's wedding. In an ugly green dress.

Now, there are two groups of people out there in the clearance aisle. There are the people who are childless by choice, and those that are by circumstance. At my age most people fall into the first category. I am a member of the minority second group. It becomes difficult to find people who actually like kids, but don't have them. Or who do have them and don't mind taking a chance on someone who doesn't. I never could have imagined it was this difficult to find a hidden gem in the clearance aisle. Nor would I have imagined that someone wouldn't have recognized my potential. So, I'm still out there. Wading through the sale items. You can find me pretty easily - I'll be the one laughing and talking way too loud.

I've recently decided that maybe the reason I'm a bit too much is that I only have my mortal years. Posterity won't remember anything about me, so my footprint has to be just a little bit bigger while I'm actually up and walking.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Crossing The Pick-Up Line

I don't have much of a problem talking to strangers, and can strike up a conversation with just about anyone. I understand it can be a bit annoying. An ex once grumbled that we couldn't go anywhere without me either making a new friend or running into someone I know and jibber-jabbering with them for an eternity. Having been a teacher for as long as I have, the chances that I will run into a former student who wants to catch up are extremely high. The strangest and probably best example is from a family vacation a few years ago. We had decided to take a cruise together instead of buying each other Christmas gifts. The last day on the boat was a Sunday, and I was sporting a St. Louis Ram's t-shirt. They're my team. I can't help it. I was in the elevator on my way to the sports lounge to catch the game when a guy asked if I was from St. Louis. I told him the name of my hometown on the Illinois side of the river. He told me he was from a town about 20 minutes south.We both laughed when I told him that I had taught at the high school in his hometown a few years prior. He then asked if I knew his favorite teacher. His jaw hit the floor when I informed him that not only did I know her, but she was my brother's mother-in-law. And when I told them my brother and sister-in-law were on the boat, he just about lost it. We both shook our heads and mumbled, "Small world" at the same time.

That being said, I find it extremely difficult to craft a message to someone I find interesting online. You don't want to write the great American novel, but one-liners are so tacky. And trying not to sound needy, clingy, stalker-ish, or insane is tougher than you can imagine. If you point out things you have in common, it often reads clingy. Mentioning qualities they seem to have that you are looking for comes across as needy. And a witty one-liner often reads as completely insane. I used to try commenting on something they had written in their profile, but you'd be surprised how many people don't remember what they typed in those boxes. I don't send very many unsolicited messages anymore. I figure if someone is interested, they will contact me.

My latest venture online has supplied me with an entire arsenal of cheesy, ridiculous one-liners. Which sets one to wonder if guys actually think they work. I've picked out a few of my favorites. First we have, "Is your name Internet? Because you have everything I've ever searched for." Really? You can tell all of that from a 4-sentence self-description and my list of favorite books? Get some self-esteem and maybe we'll talk. Then we have, "What does it feel like to be the best-looking person in the room?" Which room are we talking about exactly? We're online, moron. I did reply that it was extremely difficult and thanked him for understanding. Another favorite was, "I lost my phone number. Can I borrow yours?" Nope. If you're so dumb that you can't remember your own phone number, then I'm not interested. How about "Do you know CPR? Because you take my breath away." Um, no. And you should probably carry an inhaler if you have that much trouble breathing, Mr. Smooth. And the gold medal goes to "I wish I were DNA helicase, so I could unzip your genes." I guarantee that guy couldn't spell DNA correctly, much less tell me what it is for. Guys, I really want you to pay attention here. Don't use these. It doesn't work. Ever. And you don't want to catch the girls that would fall for that crap. You're welcome.

I once messaged a guy who listed "To Kill A Mockingbird" as one of his favorite books. I told him it's my favorite too, and asked who his favorite character was. He replied that he had never read it.