Over the past year, I’ve had an energetic back-and-forth with someone who I’ve grown fond of. A year ago, I didn’t even know what she looked like, though we were FB friends for a couple of years (I wasn’t even sure if “she” were even a “she”…that is, was this an “alternate account”?). So our FB relationship has grown and evolved; right now I play the part of a clueless, infatuated, socially awkward male who constantly gets rebuffed…but still doesn’t learn. This has generated a series of memes, and here is one of the latest ones:
I admit that I like this one as I am a fan of “over the years” photos; I’ll post another one as a “PS” to this post.
But behind all of the joking is the idea of “unrequited love”, which the Main Ingredient sang about so well:
And this has been a big part of my life, albeit NOT in terms of human relationships. Oh sure, many (most?) of those I had a crush on did NOT have crush on me. But hey, that is life for most of us. I am thinking more along the lines of my life and professional aspirations.
Yes, for most of my young life, I really, really, really wanted to be a professional athlete. And I did all of the “right” things: I ran wind sprints, lifted weights, practiced my football drills. And it paid off: I stared two years of JV an one year of varsity football in high school.
But, well, college competition was a different story, and, in all honesty, I didn’t have even enough ability to play Division III ball. There just isn’t a market for those who take 5.8-5.9 to run a 40 yard dash (to put this into perspective, linemen usually run 4.8-5.0, backs 4.3 to 4.5).
So now, yes, I do hear from professional sports teams….when they have ticket specials. 🙂
But this has a happy ending. You know all of that running and weight lifting I did? Well, I am still doing it, albeit at a more age appropriate level. I grew to love working out, and I still do.
So, sometimes unrequited love really does have a happy ending. In my case: no broken body (though I have a few aches and pains…that is normal for someone in their late 50’s), no concussions. No athletic performance either, but I can still run a 5K at 8:30-8:40 mpm (yeah, that used to be 6:20…but never mind) and I can still do sets of 10-15 pull ups.
Workout notes: easy 2 mile jog on the treadmill (22:15). I just had breakfast and am waiting for rush hour traffic to lighten up a bit before getting on the road.
Weird FANS note: I did one lap with Centurian John Greene. He is also a math professor; he was working this years event as a volunteer. We..talked math.
He told me about two of his published results. One was about unique factorization domains (UFD): his result showed that every UFD has an “almost Euclidian algorithm”. His other was about the trace of 2 x 2 matrices and how the trace behaves under matrix multiplication. It turns out that when 3 matrices are multiplied (in various orders), a certain property is obeyed with probability . Note: the assumptions is that the matrices have real entries and that the entries are selected via a normal probability distribution.
Now how cool is that? I had a moving mathematics seminar. 🙂
Note on yesterday’s baseball game and today’s hotel stay
Yes, I had club seats (splurge, though I paid a discount price). I was uncomfortable with all of the service (being deferred to by attendants, etc.). I ate breakfast at the hotel. I got the “full” breakfast and ate..what I normally eat. My tummy just can’t hold that much anymore. I don’t like trying to drive while stuffed.
For me, luxury (middle class luxury anyway) is a big waste of money (even when purchased at discount rates), or at least these luxuries.
I’d never cut it as a Republican. 🙂
Accepting defeat and moving on
This result stung. I won’t pretend otherwise. I was struggling 1/3 of the way into the race and that is not a good place to be, at least so early on. I’ve thought about what went wrong, and it is possibly one of two things:
1. I didn’t do enough of the “right kind” of training (e. g. monthly 6-8 hour training sessions) even if my total weekly milage was ok.
2. I just can’t do these events any longer.
And yes, there is a bit of envy when I see the successful basking in the glow of their successes …my thinking “dammit, that used to be me”. Well, it is not me any longer. When it comes to sports, you are what you do…that is, what you CURRENTLY do, not what you did 10-12-15 years ago.
But there is still plenty of time for redemption. I have some ideas for a math paper (more important than my sports), and I still am on track to attempt to run a marathon this fall, hopefully in less than 5 hours. My “long run pace” is right as is my training mileage, and this weekend’s event didn’t set me back. So I have goals to work toward, and striving for these, rather than envying others or longing for past successes, is the way to emotionally heal. Nurturing resentments doesn’t help.
And there is my home. My wife: yes, I am glad that the fitness bug bit her in a minor way. This should add some quality of life for her and I want to remain encouraging. But: last night, she listened to my whining for about a minute or two and then wanted to know if I remembered her text about what SHE did…parked 2.5 miles away from lunch, walked to lunch, and walked 2.5 miles back. Yeah, I know, my first marathon and 50K were very slow (7:12, 8:40 respectively, but remember I was going at my “I hope to go much longer than this pace”) but in my current emotional state, it is hard for me to work up much enthusiasm for my wife’s “feat”, even if she got a ton of “likes” for it on Facebook, way more “likes” than any of my marathons/50 milers get. 🙂
But that’s how it works. A “I got an A on my calculus test” gets more attention than “I published another math paper”; it is WHO you get the kudos from that counts.
Disjointed “stream of consciousness to follow”:
It is Valentines Day Eve and I often see:
1. I’m lonely posts
2. I don’t need a man posts (from hetero females)
3. Syrupy Oh, I am with the most (wonderful, awesome, beautiful, handsome) person in the world posts.
I see the reason for all of these posts.
Right now, my spouse is away on vacation and won’t be back until February 28’th. It is almost a month long trip.
I’ve had time to think…ok, to catch up on work (sort of) and yes, to play. In some sense, while I still work full time, I’ve gotten to play quite a bit too, albeit in a colder, less exotic location. So we’ve both had vacations of a sort.
About to the title of the post: my personality is described a bit by Mitchell and Webb. Mitchell plays the best man in this speech:
“Being slightly deluded in each other’s favor”…
And that is where I run into trouble.
Do I think that my wife is the “only one for me”? Yes and no: “yes” in that I intend to stay sexually and romantically faithful to her, but “no” in the sense that there are many other women I could have had a happy love/romantic relationship (even marriage) with. I think that is just a statistical fact. I can’t bring myself to say that she is the only one out of 3.5 billion women in the world that I could have been happy with.
Now, of course, that doesn’t mean that the percentage of women that I could be happily compatible with is large; it isn’t. I won’t belabor the list of attributes, but my wife is attractive to me, she is intellectual, well read, well informed, fun, and compassionate. She has stellar people skills and had a career that I am very proud of; she received well deserved promotions and awards. And it appears (at least after almost 20 years) that our respective flaws (yes, she has them, as do I) aren’t toxic; in some sense they are offset by the other’s strengths.
Oh, yes, she appears to like me too; that helps. 🙂
But it would be madness to claim that somehow she is the only one who has the attributes that I like that would also be attracted to me.
Yes, the latter is important..and sometimes doesn’t happen:
Now, if for whatever reason, I were to become single again, well, I’d put up with the anxiety of dating (“OMG, I hope she doesn’t stand me up! OMG, I am bombing on this date..she doesn’t like me! OMG, she didn’t return my IM right away!”) and yes, the women that I would seek out look, well, remarkably like those I have as “do friendship stuff with” friends. Yes, it is one of my flaws that I tend to seek friendship with those I am proud of (this applies to both men and women) and…well, that is pretty much what I have at the moment.
But when it comes to the traditional romantic stuff, she’d have to be ready for:
1. “You are attractive enough for me…I find myself stimulated by you..” (which morphs to “I love it when you wear your yoga pants” or “I love it when you bend over to pick something up” when I’ve gotten to know her better)
2. “I think that we might be compatible; you are one of the small percentage of women that: 1) I like and am proud of and 2) Haven’t rejected me outright from the get-go….so will you go out with me?”
3. “I think that we have a 70-80 percent chance of being happy together…given that I am deluded in your favor it is probably more like 50-60 percent, so will you marry me?”
In short, for me, finding love is to find some promising candidates, and then take a chance and then try to make it work. It is less about “making the optimal pick” (if such things can be optimized) but about working with the one who you picked AND picked you. And like anything else, sometimes the ride is bumpy. But for me, it has been worth it.
Now how much to expect? Yeah, I’ve read the relationship quizzes and even took one. I answered honestly and got:
Sorry, but I think trying to get too much from your spouse is unhealthy. Yes, I’ve learned much from her and I think that has helped me in relating to other people and in the classroom. I got “marked down” because of the first 3 questions. When it comes to “being able to accomplish more things” due to my partner, that is mostly not true. What IS true is that I get more joy out of accomplishments because of her. Well, the quiz is short and interesting.
I’ll start with what I think is the underlying principle.
Here are a couple hypothetical questions:
1. You and someone else apply for a job opening. You are told that there is one opening. What stings worse:
a. The other person gets the job and you are just told “no”.
b. The other person gets the job. Then you are told: “we are sorry..but we do have this lesser position that we’d like to offer you.”
Now I know that when money is tight and one really needs a job, one might see option “b” as preferable. But what “stings” your ego more?
2. You are single (unattached) and have a romantic interest in someone..or at least are attracted to them. There is an outing/event that you are interested in. What stings worse:
a. You ask them out and they say “no”.
b. You ask them out and they say “yes, but only as “friends””, making it clear that they have no romantic interest in you.
c. They ask YOU to the event, but only as a “safe friend” because they don’t have to worry about romantic feelings getting in the way (or for some other reason, say, their first choice turned them down).
At least for me, it is pretty clear which stings less (“a”). (Remember, I am talking as a single person; as a married person I have female friends whose company I look forward to and enjoy at things like hikes, yoga classes, runs, sporting events, etc.)
Now this is illogical, in a sense. Isn’t “we want you for this” better than “we don’t want you at all”? Isn’t companionship with someone you like better than none at all?
And, in this case of a monkey, isn’t a piece of less tasty food better than no food at all?
Evidently not, at least to this monkey.
What brought on this train of thought: the joke
From time to time, I post a photo of a handsome guy for my lady friends. And once in a while, just for fun, I’ll open myself up to be “roasted” (I call it a “goat roast”, because my online persona is a ornery, dimwitted, smelly goat).
I got a few “politically correct” “awww, I’d hug you instead of the hunk” responses, which was fine. I got one “I’d hug you because you probably smarter than that moron” type of response (from a scientist)..ok, I liked that one. I admit that I’d rather hug a plainer looking but smarter, accomplished woman over someone who merely looks “hot”. But that is me, at my current age.
But ONE response …actually angered me even though it was intended to be part of the joke (I think): it was “oh, I’ll hug the guy on the right but I’d give the one on the left so much more..”
My immediate response wasn’t like it was with the others “sorry buddy, but he is hotter than you” responses. I’m too polite to reproduce some of the thoughts that I had…and that was over a frigging joke!
But I think that I had nightmares of the old “dating/friend zone” stuff all over again, so many years …wait, make that decades ago (early 80’s?)
Anyway, my reaction surprised me..and then I remembered the monkey inequality experiment.
From time to time, I listen to single people talk about loneliness and how they’d love to find “Mr. Right” or “Mrs. Right”. If the person is female, I remind them that they could have it much worse: they could be married to me.
So…now I am seeing people post photos of their decorated Christmas trees. That reminds me of Christmas 2006, when Barbara was spending Christmas in India and I had my daughter over. I didn’t put up a tree, until she cajoled me into doing it. So I went to find our decorations …and could only find our box of broken ones.
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