When I was a little boy, my family members, especially mom, grandmas, and other female members, got in the habit of telling anyone who would listen (and those who wouldn’t) that I would one day become a ladykiller. “Look at those eyes,” they would say. “Why, he’ll be married before his older brother” (who is significantly older). And silly though their exuberant encomiums were to my precocious ears, they somehow persisted, even into the troubled teen years when the wheat is separated from the chaff with the jagged thresher of social order and reality slaps you around for fun.
Fast forward two decades, and their compliments now sound like feeble charity, if not downright fraudulent. You lied to me, Mom, you lied! On the eve of the holy day of Atonement, when the power of history and guilt compel even infidels like yours truly to refrain from casting aspersions on the ones we love, I cannot but look back on their pollyannish prophecies and shake my head. What the FUCK? Where are all those conquered hearts?
Here I am, thirty-two, somehow miraculously single, blogging about my online dating misadventures—the short victories and crushing defeats. Small bubbles of evanescent joy popping at the surface of a cauldron boiling up with disappointment. Has Cupid’s arrow missed so many times, piercing friends and foes alike in his eternal crossfire with fate? Where is that lothario spirit the parents had been hinting at for so many years? Am I to join the Hall of Shame along with the other legendary busts of my time—Greg Oden, Michael Olowokandi, and Darko Milicic? Where is that kavorka? What empty curse is this? What unfulfilled promise?
No one has a way of accounting for the future. The child who hears his parents boast of wildly unrealistic feats must one day take responsibility for his own life and his own identity—warts and all—and accept what he is and what he is not. He must navigate the inimical terrain of dating and relationships and all the bullshit they introduce—personalities, awkwardness, infatuations, attraction, availability, rejection, chemistry, and not least of all, timing—without learning to hate everyone who doesn’t give him his way while gaining the confidence to push aside anything that gets into it. He must never forget how good it felt when it was really good and embrace it when it comes again. And he must keep going, because life does not stop for whiners.
Whatareyagonnado? I look back on my twenties, most of which were spent fretting about what was to come. And, you know what? Things aren’t too bad. As my brother once said, “You still haven’t made any major mistakes.” Sometimes that seems hard to believe, but then I’ll wake up, find a tray full of peanut shells on my bed, and don’t feel the least bit guilty about it. Sure, in the back of my mind, I keep hoping my scot-free days of singledom will one day soon be behind me, and I’ll suck up the last incriminating shreds of bacheloresque indiscretions with my cordless hand vac, but that won’t stop me from enjoying my freedom while I have it. One day soon I’ll happily hang the chains of coupledom on their familiar grooves and swing them as I whistle down the street. And then, suddenly, my parents won’t be liars anymore. After all, one mom’s ladykiller is another woman’s lovable dork.