Rubbernecking

Whenever I listen to the album “Happenstance” by Rachael Yamagata, I am reminded of a guy I dated who belonged to the big social group that I mentioned previously. We bonded over our love of all things music (with the exception of Christian, contemporary country and rap) and at the end of one date we sat in my car and listened to the album from front to back – he was impressed with the range of styles of songs included on that one disc. He was a recruiter for a small music and sound tech school. The only way I can describe his appearance is that he looked like the love child of Chris Farley and Guy Fieri; henceforth I will call him Chris Fieri. He was mostly bald and the remaining hair he had he dyed fluorescent blonde. He was outgoing and enthusiastic – sometimes without being aware of social cues. I thought it would be nice to date someone who was inherently social rather than introverted because I love to get together with various personalities and it would be great to not have to worry about him wandering off to a corner by himself.

Chris Fieri and I went on a series of dates over the course of a few months. I even made him a part of my birthday celebration, and the best gift he could have given me turned out to be absolutely fantastic camping chair that I have now used for years to go to outdoor concerts. We went to movies and dinner dates, and then joined back up with other people from the group for shows and bar outings.

One time he invited me to the Wrigley Mansion to watch his friend play a show. This friend was a guitarist and it was a great night for music; also included in the audience were a few others including the former drummer for the Gin Blossoms. At one point it was eight guys and myself in our little group. However, I could tell that this crowd ran at a different pace than I did – most of guys had well-groomed eyebrows and the same style of button-down shirts with embroidered designs over one shoulder as if they had an elaborate underlying tattoo that could not be contained by fabric alone. I am more the type that I am not constantly concerned with my appearance and can only truly relax if others around me are confident in themselves rather than overcompensating.

The Wrigley Mansion’s stage was tiny, only enough room for the guitarist and a percussionist. The Mansion’s version of packed is not your normal night club’s capacity; packed for them would be 75 bodies. As the set progressed, more of Chris Fieri’s friends showed up, including a shorter guy with a gorgeous girlfriend. The guy looked like he got into fistfights all of the time fending off his girlfriend’s admirers. The original eight guys of my group found excuses to be near her and compete to be the loudest/wittiest to get her attention. It was strange to watch because she did not give any one person attention, but instead found another guy in the bar and repeatedly turned and smiled at him while her boyfriend wasn’t looking. I kept thinking to myself, “How could Shorty be missing this??” Finally, more women made it into the bar area to check out the music. Well, Chris Fieri gave up on trying to get the one girl’s attention and went tripping after the other girls. And when I say “tripping,” I mean tripping. He launched himself at them without having a solid concept of inanimate objects like tables and bar stools that were nearby, and hooked his foot on the leg of a stool and almost did a full frontal body splat.

All of his buddies saw this too. A few of them turned to me, looking uncomfortable, and said, “I thought you two were together.” They could tell I wasn’t thrilled. After the end of the second set I was at the foot of the stairs leading up to the second floor of the bar area, and Chris Fieri came over to me and put his arms forcefully on my shoulders as if he was trying to drive my feet into the floor and sloppily kissed me. I couldn’t easily fend him off because he outweighed me by at least 150 lbs, but I did wipe my mouth with the back of my hand as soon as he was done and told him I was outta there. Immediately he went on the defensive and said, “Are you mad because I talked to other people??” I knew that trying to reason with a man who had had about five drinks too many would be a challenge, but I told him I wasn’t bothered by that, I was upset that he was trying to pick up other ladies right in front of me. Then his Chris Farley voice came out and he started bellering that everyone was talking to other girls and that he only did what everyone else was doing. So I said, “Fine, pretty sure you don’t need me here for that,” and I retrieved my car from the valet.

The next day he called me and told me the same thing – that everyone else was trying to pick up women, so he was just doing what they were doing. I told him even his friends were embarrassed by his behavior and it wasn’t my imagination. I didn’t go out with him again, even after being pushed by another group member who had taken pictures of us together and posted them on MySpace – and strangely enough, four years later again on Facebook – with the caption, “Where are these two?” I had to ask him numerous times to take down the pictures. It was obvious that Chris Fieri was trying to be “cool” like the rest of his buddies.

It’s human nature to notice attractive people around you. We are drawn to those who have perfectly symmetrical features, just as we subconsciously recognize symmetrical patterns in spider webs and leaves that grow on plants. However, the way that you handle that attraction is what sets you apart from the rest of the animals. Chris Fieri learned the hard way that it doesn’t matter if everyone else is rubbernecking; he’s not going to win points from me for tripping over furniture to chase down other women while I’m standing next to him. I can’t imagine the woman with the shorty boyfriend lasted long in their relationship either; she was obviously a trophy, and he was clearly someone to pass the time while she looked for a better option.

A fellow blogger posted thoughts this week on disconnecting from social media; she found that she was much more likely to multi-task or have online ADD, jumping from one project to another without completing one first. She also lamented the fact that she didn’t have the attention span required to read a whole book like she used to, but instead sought out short  and efficient text. How does this relate to dating rubbernecking? It’s everything. We like short paragraphs in personal ads, we cut off a date after 30 minutes if we feel zero attraction, we look at other people and mentally undress them while distractedly answering “Yes” or “No” to the dates sitting across from us.

It’s a lot harder now to not rubberneck. Our constant state of distraction is the bane of our love lives.

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