Tag Archives: aloof engineers

Fools Rush In

26 Dec

fuzzOn the scale of coincidences, with zero being “total disconnect” and 10 being “amazing cosmic intervention that could cause one to drop everything and change one’s life,” I think I just had a 10++ event.

Just a moment ago, I opened my laptop to write a whiny post about how the wrong guys fall in love with me, with some incisive analysis of the horrible realization that leapt into my mind the other day: “There is nothing worse than someone wanting more from you than you are willing to give.” For appropriate musical accompaniment, I clicked on a WNYC link that carried me safely to the bliss of jazz standards. And when the stream began, it was mid-song, precisely at the moment at the end of “Fools Rush In”, when the singer sums up the whole scenario for us. Awestruck by the serendipity, I started typing immediately, transcribing the lyrics as they came, and not knowing how many lines I’d get before I could stop:

Fools rush in
where wise men never go
But wise men never fall in love
So how are they to know?

When we met, I felt my life begin
so open up your heart
and let this fool rush in


And that was it, exactly the right amount of information to help me see my damaged heart more clearly. All those truths, laid out right in a row for me to contemplate immediately upon my attempt to discuss the inner convolutions of my heart. Suddenly, I seem to have retired my status as the fool in favor of being the wise girl, rejecting two perfectly nice suitors because “there wasn’t any chemistry” and “I just wasn’t attracted to him.”

Let’s parse the facts. Wise people never fall in love because they’re wise, and hence they protect themselves from a long list of harmful effects, including, but not limited to:

• Comfort and understanding
• Affectionate regard for one’s wellbeing
• Having someone to lean on/cling to/miss/long for
• Romance
• Thrills and surprises
• A date on a national holidays (When Harry Met Sally)
• Assistance and support for personal and professional pursuits
• Rides to and from the airport
• Someone who can hold your coat/purse/popcorn/heart
• Thoughtful responses to trifling problems through to major life crises
• Flowers

Wise indeed. In the past, when I whimpered and moaned, “You could have called me,” or intoned, “If you’re stressed out, you can come over here and I’ll help you,” I actually had no idea that the aloof anyman on the other end of the conversation was in fact well aware that he had the option to take succor in my presence. He just had absolutely zero interest in taking me up on it.

Now I know how he felt. Feels. Is doomed to feel forever in an independent hell of one’s own making.

Until love can run tackle through my wounded heart, I’ll just have to get used to being the fool. Chasing aloof men is easier than being the strangely complicated wise girl.

I Didn’t Want to Have to Do It

28 Sep

princeSeveral hundred years ago, when I was very young, my college boyfriend used an unusual tactic for the third of our four eventual breakups. We were on one of our long-distance phone call dates, and he played a newly discovered hip-hop cover of probably my favorite jazz standard at the time. “This is Always,” as sung by King Pleasure. He played the entire song down the line, and my heart was so thrilled. We were a very romantic pair, and were quite sentimental about music.

Then he changed the subject to how things between us weren’t working.

This may have been the first time I merely flinched and internalized the questions and pain associated with a romantic kick in the stomach, rather than asking the question aloud: “Wait, why would you play me my favorite love song to set the scene for ending our relationship?”

Thus began decades of my never asking the right question in the moment, and instead opting to seethe and wilt alone in some desolate field somewhere, whimpering to a crowd of my friends instead of interrogating the violator on the spot.

So, last weekend, when my current affliction played me what sounded like a romantic song, but had the lyrical quality of a breakup song… I just kinda twisted it around in my head. I mean, he said the song made him cry in the shower when he first heard it the day before. And when the song began to play a second time that evening as he played record after record for me, he pulled me close to him and held me tight.

I guess I knew then what I know better now. Like everyone, he hated having to cause me pain, and when it was becoming evident that he could not be as present in my life as I would like, he knew he was breaking my heart. Now, a week later, after I spent the past 72 hours calling for a decent end to our flailing exchanges (in a not-so-decent manner, I might add; I got a bit sassy via text message, as the written word is my weapon of choice), he was finally convinced that “shitty timing” had struck again. Oh yeah, the timing excuse. Come on, kid. We all know that if you wanted to, you’d find time. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you for about two months.

So maybe this will be a neat and tidy end, now that I’ve made it abundantly clear to this guy that he really did have to do it, because I really did hope that I was involved with someone who might inquire as to my wellbeing when I informed him that I had an MRI for my headaches this week. Try to write that into a love song.

Even though I didn’t have the chance to ask about the record he played over and over while we diligently tried to resuscitate our moribund… what do you call a non-relationship? Anyway, neat and tidy aside, let me reassure you, dear reader, that when my headaches start to subside, and I feel better and stronger, the Affliction will hop right back into my life. Maybe this time I’ll listen to the lyrics first, and look for someone more willing to sing “This is Always” instead of “I Didn’t Want to Have to Do It”.

Utter Desiccation

22 Dec

I dreamt it so much worse than it really was. It was one of those horrible iPhone dreams, where your constant use of same has entered the permanent vocabulary of your subconscious. The screen filled with words redundant to a previous missive, but this time they were excessively harsh in their assertion of the same facts previously reported.

I was what only the English have properly defined as “gutted”, feeling the pit of my stomach inflect at the assault. As in all of my dreams, there was meanwhile a barrage of activity all around me, so my realization and pain were immediately hidden beneath a socially acceptable exterior.

Lending others, specifically men, the power to validate or strip me of worthiness is a specialty of mine. Classic Freudian stuff, of course. But I guess that doesn’t make it any less prominent in my experience.

Every time my subconscious loans me a bit of favor in my dreams, it’s always with a short and tenuous lease. A man falls desperately in love with me just before I leave for the airport. Or if he has loved me in the past, he reappears to eradicate that approval. Better yet, men who seem to love me in real life suddenly unravel that security completely.

It’s astounding that in my waking life I smile and smile, and make good friends, and rarely experience rejection except at my own hands, and in my imagination. Is there any proof that the subconscious can also bolster our spirits? I suppose I’ve had one dream earlier this year which did just that—I was in New York City and meeting a whole bunch of people who were changing my life positively, and then I confidently tried to hail a cab in the rain (impossible, as you might know). That was months before I made the move in real life, and yet it appears to be a verifiable premonition.

Dear inner soul, how about some more positive programming?


Bookshelves and the BBC

4 Dec


Yesterday Bunky reported live from the field several astounding rides from low to high, all in rapid succession. It was an emotional rollercoaster of epic proportions and we go now to a fireside chat with Bunky to reveal all that transpired:

Q: Bunky, you were quite exhausted when you arrived home last night, and you could scarcely read three pages of the trashy paperback novel you read alone at home, where no one can see your less literary self, before you had to go to sleep. What wore you out so?

BH: Well I had to do an interview for a story up at Rockefeller Center and I learned of some terribly sad news about my interview subject. Then, disoriented by the drama and drowning in pain from a headache caused by hunger and my having been forced to stare into incredibly bright lights around the giant Christmas tree for hours, I took a train downtown. Next, I got lost in a section of a neighborhood I should have known well, and I was so hungry I became irrational.

Q: Oh no, Bunky! The horror. What did you do to cope?

BH: I was so distraught, I was unable to select a restaurant worthy of my dining there and cheap enough to match my new NYC budget. Spinning endlessly, block after block, I sent a message to HIM.

Q: Him who?

BH: Him Manhattan Man, Luke Warm. The guy who lol-indeeded me into silence two weeks ago.

Q: (gasp)

BH: I asked him for a restaurant recommendation. Then I was flailing along 23rd street, thinking hopelessly about who I could possibly call to aid me in my moment of trauma. I sought a shoulder to cry on. Someone to listen to my sequence of events and talk to me until I could safely transport myself to a favorite pizza joint near my office.

Q: You have so many people to call! Who did you choose?

BH: That’s just the thing. I had no one to call! No one, single person is obligated to answer my call and listen to me whimper.

Q: (Silence, awkwardly looks at watch.)

BH: So I looked up at the big building-filled sky and said out loud, “who do you call when you’re alone?” I could think of one person.

Q: Unrequited?

BH: No, no. Well, sometimes, yes. But no on this occasion I chose Chicago. I left him a rambling message with the most romantic pronunciation of his name at the start of it. I was unafraid to show my true desperation. After all, Chicago suffers from hypoglycemia and texted me in quite a state himself when he was similarly stranded in SLC recently.

Q: A voicemail. That must have left you forlorn.

BH: Yes, so I was entranced by my phone, tangled in a nightmarish quagmire of utter despair, when I stepped in front of an angry commuter man who under his breath said saucily, “mmmmHMMmm” like I was such a terrible phone-toting walk-interrupting criminal. I shouted, “Yeah, you got it!!” without looking up at him. Didn’t he recognize a hangry girl when he saw one?

Q: I had to learn that ages ago. Do you need a granola bar?

BH: No, too much sugar. Anyway, I called New York Friend and he actually answered!! I started to list my drama, but he was on a train and I felt terrible being the squawky phone voice that his seatmate would have to endure. So when the other line beeped, I saw Chicago and I just ran into his arms.

Q: He was in New York?

BH: No, I was speaking metaphorically.

Q: Right. You were literally speaking metaphorically.

BH: Don’t do that.

Q: Right. Okay. So did Chicago help?

BH: Yes! So much. So much comfort just in our normal conversational cadence. He doesn’t console me, he can’t do that, but he can make me laugh and make me feel close to him.

Q: From Chicago. Don’t you find it problematic that you cultivate so many intimate relationships with men who will never be able to fulfill your real emotional needs?

BH: I… don’t want a relationship. Apparently. Apparently not, no. You said it yourself, I have so many people to call. Why would I narrow that down to one person? (Looks forlornly toward any bit of scenery nearby.)

Q: Bunky, you’re lying to yourself.

BH: Lol indeed.

Sun Shower

15 Sep

sunsetAs per the dictates of my romantic existence, I fell thrice for striking male specimens in the past two weeks, and 1.75 times I was defeated. I might be able to develop a new-new math based on these principles. Meet, fascinate, suffocate.

Really, there should be charts. I watch the male human glow with the prospect of having found a stunning, interesting woman who has a good job and actually writes for a living. They like my jokes. They like my observations. We become immediately intertwined in profound conversation (that’s not a euphemism) and then there is that very specific crinkle of tungsten snapping and the light goes off.

One of these guys was definitely a shark, definitely “opportunistic,” as my therapist put it. So I should be fine with the sudden and total disappearance. One was a devoted, kind, sweet soul that I trampled all over in pursuit of the shark. And the third was an acerbic cynic who has perfected the available/aloof ratio so that I’ll never be able to relax into either forgetting him or obsessing over his every syllable.

We’ve gone over this before. I don’t need anyone right now. I don’t. But I am definitely examining the proofs that lead to these invisible numbers. It’s a science to me. I want to know what factors lead to select results.

So I look at the shark, and I picture how he actually moved incredibly swiftly through industry parties at a conference last week, really living by the dictate that should he stop, he’d die. I could see him from far, far away, and he was always looking fiercely ahead, scanning his peripherals in a manner undetectable to the average human but very apparent to me. He knew which conversations he’d have with everyone in the room, and he was choosing which ones he might stumble into and which to avoid. In short, he was exactly like me. And is, probably, still just like me. Probably he isn’t past tense.

What could I possibly do other than see this as a tantalizing challenge? I had to be the one person who was worth his time, worth capturing his gaze. And guess what? I absolutely achieved that, almost immediately, and to the extent that the nice, sweet, good guy who met me one night later actually mistook the shark for a very old friend of mine. Oh no, we just met last night. Then I shoved him aside and left him alone on a moonlit beach to get a drink with the shark.

I ask you, fair reader, who is the real shark in this scenario?

Then the third, the third… oh how he will factor in this story. He is… wait for it… an aloof engineer!!! Oh, oh, me. He’s my favorite kind of conundrum, and conveniently dwells in New York City, so of course I am already planning picnics with him at the symphony in Central Park next summer. He is exactly my favorite kind of equation: Impossibly smart, and quite enamored of me, but a complete master of the touch and go interaction. Sweet, polite emails suggesting we speak soon about a work thing we’re doing together. Then loads of missed calls and his apologies and more sweet emails and silence for days in between. How long have I known this one? A week. And already he’s got me on the ropes for life. Nice work, fella!

When presenting this data according to the mandates of the scientific method, we can draw only one conclusion. The nice guy finishes last.

Boxed In

7 Jul

sturm and drangThe envelope arrived unbidden. Tangled with grocery store circulars and an infinite supply of enticements from local dentists, the red rectangle semaphored false comfort. A new movie! Tear, tear, rip, open, GASP! Crumple, papers falling to the ground, heartbreak-induced coma achieved.

It’s a movie that capital H-E chose. He watched it one night and said you should see it. Gamely, you added it to your queue, forgetting it instantly, and then months passed before you finally returned another DVD and triggered the unleashing of this horror. This condescending, pretentious, and self-absorbed depiction of a breakup that you can’t even finish watching because it’s so bogged down with “Pity me, pity me, I’m a complicated artist who couldn’t treat a beautiful woman well enough to keep her, so she left me, and now I am wretch, but I crave the status and inspiration that accompanies misery, so leave me alone to die here at the side of the road.”

Clicking “stop” and “eject” in rapid succession, and then quickly and determinedly sealing the return envelope, you storm to the mailbox and send this last vestige of romance gone wrong back to the fury of its origins. Away, away, ye harbinger of all that made it impossible for him to love you. Apparently he really wasn’t over his ex, and this damn movie was his sweet succor.

But worst of all is this. You can’t relate, in any way, shape, or form with the crummy protagonist in this film. It’s been so damn long since you broke up with anyone who left any sort of aching vacancy in your life, you can’t empathize with someone moaning, “I don’t want to love you anymore.”

The agony of loss is lost on you. And you wonder, is your heart dead? Is that why the Gentleman has yet to trigger any trembling? But in truth, you’re just adjusting to the tempo of a life not dictated by the whims of the broken-souled. Good people treat each other well, and the turbulence subsides. What you often mistake for passion is actually the push-pull of withholding versus need. And that horrible movie could have been your life. But instead you’re opting for the next film in the queue.

Collect Them All

17 Jun

peabodyHe was standing there so tall, so tall against a backdrop of themed entertainment. Leaning back, arms crossed, pressing into concrete to extend the distance between us as much as the laws of physics would allow.

“I’m simple. I’m just simple. I like complex people, and I like having them around. But I’m just a simple guy. I just want a house, a happy family…” and he shrugged into the distance.

What prompted this declaration was my gentle request for elaboration on his statement that “creative people are obsessed with time.”

We were reading the first of T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets under the ugly outdoor lamplight of a terrible Orlando bar. Biding our time until this trade show night would fade into another trade show morning, we tracked NBA finals scores and discussed literature.

Lightning flickered over dark patches of swamp between parking lots and chain restaurants. I unwound my own arms and tried to stand with open body language. Tried to look way up there into his eyes and ascertain why he was suddenly telling me that I am complex, and that he likes having me around, but ultimately finds me repellent.

It took a few days and then the wise observation of a friend to roll a thunderous revelation to answer the lightning. I wasn’t the repellent one. He was feeling sheepish, didn’t have an answer, couldn’t further the discussion, froze up, and then claimed simplicity by way of cover.

But it’s not simplicity when you are able to describe the interior inhibitions that make it difficult for you to walk into a room, or how you would never let Hallmark dictate plans to see your family. You are finicky and precise, and you can’t stand how similar you are to the little bespectacled over-thinker who looks up at you now.

And a real, audible sigh presses me past it. They call me complex, and they pull away, because they cannot stand their own unacceptable complexity. It’s so unpalatable when a girl is clearly troubled by overstimulation that dissipates her strength and forces her needs to the surface.

“You can’t turn it off, can you?” He asks, turning an invisible switch by the side of his head.

I only nod “no”.

Neither can you. But you will claim simplicity to make it clear that I am the strange one here.

I am too complex for the single ones. But I am infinitely appealing to the married ones bored by simplicity. What the tall one doesn’t know is that a married one is sitting nearby, actually watching and waiting for me to collapse to the ground so he can pick up the pieces. It’s what he promised right before the tall one walked up. “If he leaves you here, I’ll come get you and make sure you get back to your hotel. I can do that for you.”

And thus trapped between the gaze of an obsessor and an aloofer, I live the lines from Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”:

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

I walked away from that wall with the tall one that night, back to a hotel bar to watch the last quarter of the NBA game. He stayed up with me, sipping bourbon, until just before his early morning flight. He gave me a real hug goodbye, and smiled at me more genuinely than I’ve seen in a long time. He requested a text missive to let him know that I was safe in my hotel room. But in the morning, I requested pickup of my pieces just the same. Sometimes you want someone to want your complexity. Even if they can’t do anything with it.

Laconic vs. Loquacious

21 Dec

prufrockI count words for a living. I can estimate the word length of an article based on column inches in a magazine, or I can inside-out that idea and envision the page space required by a collection of on-screen paragraphs prior to formatting. Syllables form a picture for me, and the question is always wrapped around “enough”. Do we have enough words to fill the page? Do we have enough page for all these words?

Does he write enough words to me? Did he echo my enthusiasm with an appropriate reciprocation of vowels and consonants. Well, if our dialogue was a two-page spread, his half would have run short and mine would have had overset.

Let’s talk about it. Paragraphs and paragraphs and so much leaky, earnest, passionate expression, and all finely crafted to exhibit wit and insight and consideration and have you recovered from that cold? (End with a question to prompt response.)


Oh, never you mind, I will find another thread to pick up and weave around some anecdote to stimulate you into commenting once again.


Right, you are so right! Such an interesting way to look at it. I had never thought of it that way. You are so smart and I am so captivated by you!


Long pauses followed by witty comments that distilled my pages of text into one brief and perfect punchline. Long pauses followed by the occasional question to maintain some semblance of interest, which I interpreted as a marriage proposal. One pre-dawn in Spain after a significantly long pause I mistook a clever reference to our favorite book as a personal insult. Blame jetlag, but I was one damn vulnerable girl.

One, damn, vulnerable. And still, here I am.

When I look at the grotesque imbalance of words I sent and said compared to his unsaid, I wince in the exact same way I crumple when I can feel my mother’s pleading eyes beckoning me from the edge of my periphery. I refuse to look her direction, but she tugs at me with such raw, open, desperate, pleading, unbound love. She loves me completely, and when I am grumpy she just loves me more. Patient through my pauses, she awaits my next feat of brilliance. And the expectation and neediness strangle me, lock me in a choke hold that have me coughing and gasping for escape.

When did love start to feel like asphyxiation. I best fix that if I ever think I can measure out my love in proportionate portions for somebody in the future. Right now I just burst forth with enthusiasm, and we all know that no man can withstand the strength of my enthusiasm.

Elevator Operator

21 Dec

The taupe moving blankets gave the elevators a disheveled appearance rather than the sought-after chic degree of casual. Probably their color, she considered, after realizing they weren’t protecting walls from the transport of construction materials or large wooden crates packed with antique furniture. Far too innocuous, like the pleated khaki pants that obscured so much manhood from view in the U.S. They were hung there, poorly tailored for the space, in a limp heap of faux urbanism.


She’d lost the battle in that elevator the damn night before. Riding upward to their separate lofted rooms, he’d confirmed her floor number from memory of check-in earlier that day and pressed one button and then a second. She gritted her teeth, awaiting the usual lame “Should we have a drink in my room?”

But it didn’t arrive. A flicker of relief and then conundrum when the doors flung outward to eject her. She turned and silently requested a hug, was donated a charitable encircling, and then the doors closed.

“Oh, I’ll get it on the way back down,” said and meant it, staring at the traces of adhesive remaining on the metal doors from bad marketing once removed. No shenanigans necessary.

He left her alone without pause and she pressed and lit the button again for her floor one story below. The taupe chuckled around her. “You’re as plain as us,” huh, huh, “as ill-suited to his height and stature as we are to the enormity of this fake industrial elevator. Get outta here.” Doors opening again and purple-striped carpet smirking her pathway back to isolation.

Elle Pleur avec un Parapluie

3 Dec

These blue eyes were made for crying. Little puddles of ready-made emotion just looking for a trigger. Chance of precipitation is high, with clouds reducing visibility to nil. Travelers should be cautioned that a lack of sleep and another delusional quest for affection has left Seat 1A battered once again. That first-class snack basket best offer up plenty of shortbread today. Bunky feels better with butter and a bit of bourbon.

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