I am a heat-seeking missile. With hugely bad aim.
I know that SCUD missiles have a fair amount of precision, as do Patriots. But my heat-seeking precision level is somewhat on par with those Styrofoam planes you can buy at Kansas/Colorado border truck stops. The ones that if you launch real nicely into the air with your right arm, swing around fast and lodge themselves in your right eye.
This could be because I throw like a girl. But it’s probably because of my aim. And as any single girl with Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I am naturally taking stock in my aim.
I am not one of the bitter ones. You know, those who will actually lay out their clothes tomorrow night and gauge them for appropriate level of blackness. I will not spend that day burning photographs of old boyfriends. I will not buy 15 pounds of chocolate to consume all alone in my darkened house while watching “Boys on the Side.” And I will not spend that day hating men. But I will lament my aim.
Single girls nearing their mid-to-late 20s begin to experience a slight panic. It’s not that we don’t think we won’t ever experience the apparent joy that can only come from waking up next to the same person day after day, year after year. If you press us, very few of us actually believe we’ll be alone for the rest of our lives.
The panic sets in because we have to explain ourselves. And our singlehood. Even if you feel that one’s personal life is really one’s own business, you will still inevitably be asked about your status. And then you really have one of three choices: you can be rude and actually bite the arm of the elderly woman at church when she asks if you’re seeing anyone. Or you can graciously say, ‘Not at this time. And I am so glad because student teaching is keeping me hopelessly occupied.”
Or you can do what I do, and actually remove your brain from your head and kick it hard across the floor until it slams into a bloody heap against the wall. That seems to be the most entertaining for everyone. Because I am a sucker for the panic. My panic usually manifests itself in awkward situations. Usually around boys. Any boy.
And it usually goes like this: Say I am getting some keys cut at a store in town, and a really nice guy says, “Hey, don’t you write for the Collegian?” I could choose to answer with poise and grace. The way my best friend would. The way I should. Instead, I turn into some Sunset Boulevard Bette Davis freak.
Nice Guy: Don’t you write for the Collegian?
Bette: Yes, yes dahhhling. You have a magnificent memory.
Nice Guy: You have a recognizable face.
Bette: Yes, yes dahhhling. (I am ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.)
The nice guy finishes cutting keys for me. I am now at a crossroads. I could choose to be really charming. But luckily, good old Bette steps in. I’m beginning to thin she’s my one true thing.
Nice Guy: I just want to say that even though I don’t always agree with you, I respect you standing up for your convictions.
Bette: Thank you. (To self: That probably means you’re not a Republican. That’s ok. You can cut keys. We’ll work on the politics later.)
I glance at his name badge. It says, “Jan.” I knew a Jan in high school. His family was Scandinavian. I think foreigners are nice. Especially if they cut keys.
Bette: Thank you, Jan.
Jan: It’s Ian. The “J” is actually an “I.”
Bette: Thank you, Ian. (To self: I am an idiot. Of course his name is not “Jan.” What the heck are you doing, you stupid freak? Quick! Salvage! Salvage! Release the hounds!)
Bette: I’m going to pay for these up front. (To self: Nice comeback.)
Ian: (Awkward stare. To self: Nice comeback.)
I paid for my stuff up front. And Bette and I walked out.
This Friday, the only person I have a right to be bitter at is myself. If I really took John Mayer seriously, I would never speak up again, starting now. But I don’t really take him seriously. I’ll just hang out with people I know love me, eat some Greek food, and analyze my lack of precision. Which sounds like a pretty nice night to me.