A few months back I'd been deluged by season pass offers from the same club and had rung them exasperated. "We do not nor do I foresee us purchasing season passes in the immediate future,” I pointedly inform the forlorn sounding account rep who’d been sending me emails. “You might be better off focusing your efforts elsewhere, if something changes I’ll call you. Till then I wouldn’t even bother if I were you. Good luck.” Was there anything else he could do to win the business he asks hesitantly in a last attempt. I give him a resounding no thank you, and hang up. I’m pretty sure I heard a whimper as I put the phone down.
Cue to the present and now I need the damn passes. I decide whoever I’d reduced to tears the last time should at least get the chance and ring up the club. “Can I speak to Jason or John or J-Something for season passes please? I spoke to them a few months ago.”, I inquire. The cheery male voice gamely attempts to sway me, “Maybe you spoke to me?”
“And your name is..?,” I ask languidly. “Stuart,” he chirpily answers. I find his oblivion to the specifics of my first request irritating, typical non-listening male behavior. “Hmm,” I reply, “Stuart, I find it hard to believe your name could ever be mistaken for anything that starts or rhymes with J. Now, why don’t you pass me on to that person, I’m sure they exist even if I’m not getting their name right.” I could see Stuart’s thought bubble flashing a neon “Bitch” sign as he sighs petulantly with a “Oh fine, hang on” and hands it over. I get an incredulous sounding “H-h-hello, this is J” on the other line. “Finally!” I exclaim, “I knew it was a J-name, now what can you do for me since you’ve been pestering me since Xmas?”. J scrambles, I get discounted passes and a whole host of other perks as he confesses he’d been listening to me handle Stuart and couldn’t believe I’d looked for him.
Naturally, I flirt with him which is par for the course in trying to get this sorted. He tells me he’s from Kentucky, I tease him about dueling banjos and precisely how well he knows his sister, and somehow, we start talking about midgets. I tell him I have the funniest little people fight on youtube, he makes me promise to send it to him, which I do putting “Hey, Kentucky” on the subject line. Now call me cold, but I thought that was it.
It seems however, I’d stirred the horses. Kentucky emails me the entire day and we end up e-bantering humorously. “You’re so funny,” Kentucky marvels. “That’s because I’m really a clown,” I calmly reply. He quietly confesses to a deep fear of clowns after having watched “It” as a child, was he trying to bond? The contracts for the passes which normally take 2 days to process he gets ready in 10 minutes, since I said I might pick them up. He throws in tickets. Then VIP Club passes. He asks me if I’ll see him on Saturday’s game. All this time I’m wondering why it seems that every guy I’ve sent that midget video to ends up asking me out, well, sort of.
But I digress. I get to the club office and ask for Kentucky. “Whom might I say is here?,” the receptionist asks. I tell her my name, “but please tell him it’s Homey the Clown, he’ll know who it is.” She cracks a smile and calls him. Kentucky comes out. He has the fresh good looks of the wholesome South, or at least when later asked by Carmen San Diego (my normally itinerant gf I’d roped into attending the game with me) I describe him as looking like a full sized Little Prince. More than full sized at 6’ 3”. While the exchange was pleasant, and I breezed in and out in a cloud of laughter, later coming back to the office to find he’s already emailed me again, I feel unsettled.
I’d been loudly complaining to anyone unfortunate enough to listen or read me about my state of Deep Revirginization, yet here, now, in the face of what I can only think of as a Meet-Cute, I’m almost.. uninvolved. I liked the attention, of course. I enjoyed the exchange. Even more so I can’t even begin to say how much I appreciate how organically this came about, since the modern world has left us the internet as our hunting ground. But I’d approached meeting Kentucky with such detachedness that I can only admit to a fear I’d barely conquered.
Kentucky to me, is everything “normal” out there. I can imagine him back-dropped by a sitcom like family, he would have a Nana, cousins, family picnics, even tail gaiting parties. All of it with the sheen of beautiful wrapping paper, crisp and bright. I become even more aware of this feeling when Carmen San Diego and I run into Kentucky on Saturday’s game as we get up to the VIP Club for after-game libations. The entire club which offered a very PG 13 buffet dinner suddenly morphed into a full on sports bar. Multiples of Kentucky-like men come in, tall, well-built types still with the smell of wind and grass on them. Slim young women are everywhere, flashing teeth and hair, bouncing about. It all looks like the pre-cursor to the 2.5 kids most of them will have after this entire ritual yields the inevitable pair ups.
Carmen San Diego is from LA but had left it to wander the world (hence the name), later settling in the Southern Hemisphere. She’d moved back here for work. I was from a mixed Eurasian family and was born in the Far East. Yet we knew that even in those respective parts of the world, neither of us had been part of rituals of a like version. Here was a template I found daunting. A mold I could hardly fit into. While it would’ve been enjoyable to so many, it would’ve felt wooden to me. The half-drunk repartee, the group dynamics, a live Bud Light commercial - or for the more tasteful, Stella Artois. Even while both Carmen and I were from huge families, our backgrounds didn’t so much suggest Mayberry as it did the Borgias. I exaggerate, but you get the picture. It had instilled in me, and I suspect in Carmen as well, the loneliness of being independent but fortunately, also the compassion.
I’m sure the stories of any of those people we watched carousing the night away are far more complicated than what’s obvious at first glance. Whatever those stories are, it still made them comfortable in this participation. Maybe it’s my nature to embrace the outside I’d known for so long. Much as I’m often mistaken for having been born and raised here, I’m not. Inside, I have a few worlds going, and while I’ve lived here for over a decade and a half, I’ve never quite lost the foreigner in me.
If anything, it’s made me more acutely aware of nuances in interactions. I wonder, precisely when Kentucky will ask the inevitable question, “What KIND of Asian are you?” usually accompanied by the confusion of placing me with every other one he may’ve already run across. And because it makes me wary that male interest is more curiosity in the exotic than a fascination for what’s beyond it, I step back before I fully give myself to the experience.
And of course, there was the Sewer PTSD, residual fall out from having been with a man my sister nicknamed Beelzebubb, also known as my four year stint in the Underworld. That had loaded me up with an app for sussing out all sorts of darkness, even from anything initially so positive and light. I’d learned to take things in step, if only to be able to focus on what’s in front of me. I try to enjoy what male company can give me, but really don’t look too much further until solid evidence of something more presents itself.
Needless to say, I had to give up on fairy tales and start writing my own. These are not the days of Rapunzel being sought out in the tower against all odds. These are the days of people making a deliberate choice not to get involved due to a zip code differential and the staggering cost of fuel. I think perhaps that’s what I relate most to that bar scene, that it still is in many ways being driven by belief in a fairy tale. Is it telling that my favorite one is Alice in Wonderland? A lot more Girl Explorer than Damsel in Distress.
I know for certain I’m not unique in this perspective. That we’ve all as women, at one point or another, found ourselves on the outside looking in - and usually, scarred and a bit worn by then. We’ve loved all sorts of men, good, bad - or the very worse kind, the good that turns bad when they love you but really don’t want to. I also know that it’s inherent in us to still yearn for them, their natures are so very different from ours and yet somehow so essential - if we can admit it. Even a Queen is not immune to this.
I suppose this is what comes from being older. Perhaps it’s not the outside we’re looking from, but the inside we’re looking out of. There in the place where we know only too well the wounds and welts behind brave faces, specially our own. Yet still we smile. We love. We enjoy. It may be tempered but we still hope.
While the innocence of youth is given, ours is earned. We are the Mona Lisa and we are worthwhile. Not a bad thought to take away for after a soccer game eh?