Sunday, January 23, 2011

Attempting to be social: Success

So, storytime and rambling observations. I was at Dorian's Parlor, something like a cross between a steampunk/neovictorian cabaret an a miniature con. I was there with friends, and feeling like I wanted to confront my fear that I'm a big giant unattractive mess of socially-inept, and the corollary fear that my decision to be abstinent until remarried is moot because I couldn't get any anyway.

Rook's husband the Progressive Gun Fan, who's been there several times, started out showing me around the place and introducing me to people, many of whom were very flirty women, which was very nice of him but I figured that wasn't the way he wanted to spend the whole evening. I faded out to let him go flirt (open marriage) and started talking to an acquaintance I don't know well, then graduated to trying to make friends with a complete stranger. I spotted a pretty woman hanging out by the wall alone. So, I went over and complimented her dress and struck up a conversation. We hung out watching the performances and chatting for the next two hours or so. I eventually explained a little about why I was not looking for a relationship and apologized if I'd been wasting her time, but I didn't get the vibe that I had been. Especially since we exchanged email addresses and phone numbers at the end of the evening. I told her about my need for volunteers to help me practice my old Swedish massage techniques, and it turns out she's studied too but also never went to the time and expense to get certified. (Certification/licensing in most states is basically a matter of going through some fairly brief training, then paying an instructor to watch you work on people for hundreds of hours more, 600 total in PA.) So we've been in email contact and are going to get together Thursday for a practice session.

I had totally forgotten until this that my ex used to say I was charming, many years ago.


Earlier in the evening, The Progressive Gun Fan introduced me to a very touchy, very conventionally attractive woman. She kept taking my hand or touching my chest, so apparently she found me attractive; I didn't touch back because 1) abstinent and 2) near total stranger. She has an interest in entomology and told me her theory about how ants were more advanced than humans because of the way they work together to promote the good of the colony. I pointed out how the worker ants were all sterile and their only opportunity to promote their own genes was through promoting the colony. At that point she wandered off, either because I was totally into the conversation not her body or she was a bit offended by my disagreement on ant motives. Hey, some of my best friends are human. Humans are actually a totally awesome species and tend to get put down by means of bad science all the time, like this ant comparison. Humans, I've got your back.

I noticed that when I was introduced to women, the women who I'd think were above my league were pretty flirty and the women who I'd think were in it were pretty reserved, even giving a subtle defensive vibe. It's possible I was causing this by being more forward with the ones I thought were in my league, but I don't think so. I think I was seeing the mirroring of something I used to do; I took this sort of "I will NOT make myself a fool for you" attitude when I met a woman who struck me as so hot she was hard for my brain to deal with. This has not happened to me in a very long time.

In honesty one part of my brain says I was one of the best-looking guys at the event, and another part says "no you are completely unattractive. Remember how your ex reacted. You are overweight and one of your eyes is higher than the other and the end of your nose is bulbous and only women can really be attractive etc."


If you are a man finding yourself at a steampunk event and can bring off bowing and kissing the air above a woman's hand naturally, when you are introduced, do it. It goes over very well. You do not actually kiss the hand or get all that close, a few inches is about right. It probably helps that I do this kind of thing, not because it goes over well, but because it's the kind of thing I always do in a venue that lets me get away with it.


BTW, if you're ever at an event and see me, please introduce yourself. I would be fascinated and honored to actually meet a reader. Please, though, as my meatspace friends do not know me as Mousie, just mention you read my blog rather than the name of the blog or my name.


  1. Forgive me if this comes off as conceited, but I lived my single life as a woman men thought was out of their league. That may have been the setting (I DID work at a comic book store while I was a dancer for school).
    It was annoying. I wanted to be talked to, not ogled or put on some kind of pedestal. So I learned to be a bitch and manipulate the stupid guys that treated me that way. But the thing was, whenever one would get up the nerve to talk to me like a human being and ask me out, I'd generally accept or at least appreciate the conversation.
    The point here is that the only people that are out of your league are the ones you treat as such. Either that, or they are conceited bitches that weren't out of your league in the first place.
    I'd love it if we ran into you someplace. Don't worry, your secret is safe with us.

  2. It doesn't come off as conceited. Someone was that "out-of-reach" woman, and it was you.

    You're right, league thinking is dumb. I think the women I mentioned who seemed defensive think I'm out of their league. I would have thought ant girl out of my league. One time in college when I was talking about the concept, and already dating the woman who was to be my first wife (who was not present at the time), I mentioned an attractive female friend as an example of a woman who was out of my league. She said, with some real bitterness in her voice, "You never asked."

    Another reason league thinking is dumb is because everyone has their own scales that don't match. Once, about 15 years ago, I had to work with a woman who just happened to press all of my appearance-related hot buttons. Most men would have said she was pretty but maybe no-one else would have said she was stupefyingly stunning. But I had to stare at the top of her head every time we talked just because I could not look at her face and be coherent about the work project. It was enormously embarrassing. I don't seem to be suffering that kind of thing anymore. Knock on wood.

    I hope to quit the league thinking. I am at least reducing the effects.

  3. Thanks for sticking up for humans. We need all the help we can get.

    I really admire your commitment to your beliefs. I hope God gives you your perfect match when you're ready. She'll be somebody that you would think is way out of your league but you won't be thinking that way when it happens.

  4. Thanks, Clint!

    I don't know if you and Penny ever find yourselves near the Philadelphia area. I also don't know if you're geeks like me. But I'm going to keep mentioning events I'm attending; if you ever see one that you're attending too, let me know and we'll figure out how to get together for a beer.

  5. They say people are more-or-less good at estimating their own value in the relationship market, so you usually see people of more-or-less the same level of attractiveness (is that a word?) together.

    If I had a cent (OK, a dime -- inflation...) for every time I saw an exception to that rule, I'd be rich by now. :-)

    A lot of what counts as attractiveness is self-confidence, I think. If you feel OK in your own skin, as they say in French, said skin will look a lot better than you might expect. Maybe because our lack of confidence somehow comes across as hiding something. "Why would such an attractive guy behave as if he weren't one? Maybe he's hiding something horrible about his body or himself that would totally gross me out if I knew what it is!..." (This is something I actually heard from a woman I ended up hooking up with many, many years ago. I still smile when I think how awkwardly I behaved in that particular event, where we met. She claimed she started talking to me because she wanted to know what my horrible secret was. :-)

  6. You're correct, but it's important to note that there are all different kinds of self-confidence and people have different levels in all the different kinds. Ant Girl I would have thought to be too conventionally attractive for me, and I wouldn't have approached her; that's one kind of self-confidence. But in the end I don't really care about that, I'm too flexible in my tastes, and that presents another kind, that I have. But I don't like being touched by near-total strangers no matter what they look like except when the circumstances warrant (doctor, massage therapist, martial arts training partner). That's a lack of confidence of a sort. I have considerable confidence in my ability to take care of myself if things get ugly, and that's another kind that I have.