u n a p p r o a c h a b l e
I did a lot of traveling over my ten-week hiatus. I flew to Austin and back, to Florida, to Chicago, and back to Los Angeles. I did a quick mini-trip to Vegas. When traveling, I try to make it a point to never check my bag, preferring to fly with a single carry-on.
On each flight, no one ever asked me if I needed help stowing my bag in the overhead compartment. Men asked women, young and old, tall and short, weak and strong. But they never asked me.
I returned and did my grocery shopping, stocking up the refrigerator as I had been gone almost a month. Checking out, the bagger asked both people in line ahead of me (a man in his 30s and a woman in her early 20s) if they needed help carrying out their groceries. When my turn came and I checked out, the bagger remained silent. I pushed away my cart and headed out the door and then decided to turn back.
I approached my bagger.
"Something wrong?" He looked worried.
I paused, trying to figure out how to phrase my question.
"Why didn't you ask me if I needed help?" I asked.
"You just look like you could take care of yourself," he responded. He looked at me. "Do you need help?"
"Nope, just wondering." I left the store. And wondered some more.
When I go out to bars, to dinner, to the movies, I never get hit on. I am rarely bought drinks, or asked to dance or for a phone number. Fat or thin, it hasn't mattered.
I am unapproachable.
C. once told me that he would never have come up to me at a bar. His words were something to the effect of I looked like anyone who would dare hit on me better have their shit together.
I thought back to past boyfriends. How did this small selection of men have the balls to approach me?
And then it hit me: they didn't.
I asked out M., my first boyfriend. I took the first step with G. I met K. and C. when I responded to online personal ads they had placed. I emailed L. for a copy of his book and things exploded from there.
I am 28 years old, and I have never been asked out on a date.
I have never been pursued. I do the pursuing. It doesn't matter whether it's life, love or my career - I simply pick out what I want and go after it. It's never occurred to me to sit on the sidelines and let things happen. I have never relied on luck. I create my own.
I queried friends who have known me forever, and friends who have known me a short time, and they all have the same answer: I'm intimidating.
My mother always told me, when I didn't get asked out in high school, that boys were intimidated by strong women. She said things would get different as I got older. But she was wrong. Men don't like strong women.
I polled a few male friends on what they look for in a woman, and strong and independent are two words bandied around. But the same men who use those words don't date strong or independent women. These same men also complain that women never ask men out. When I replied that I had asked men out before, one of the men confided to me that he wanted to be asked out to know what it felt like. Because if a woman had to ask a man out, clearly there was something wrong with her.
The bagboy pinned down my the downfall of my romantic life in a two second sentence:
You look like you can take care of yourself.
It's weird that you work so hard to be strong, mentally and physically, to be capable, to be independent. You keep your body and mind in shape, have self-confidence and a healthy self-esteem and it's scary to the opposite sex.
My unapproachable nature seems to extend to the online world as well. Very few people use my firstname.lastname@example.org email address. Emails I get say things like
I'm sorry to bother you.
I feel weird writing you. I'm nervous.
even though I include my address on my site for that very purpose - so I can communicate with the people who read me. So I can get feedback. I spill my guts week after week, and hear nary a peep. It's weird. I know people are reading. Six thousand hits a month. You're out there.
I guess now that I truly know what the problem is, I have a choice: I can change it, or quit bitching. I could tone it down, be more demure, less outspoken, less . . . me. But why bother? So someone can be attracted to something I'm not? So I can spend my entire life pretending?
I've made my decision, for better or for worse.
If you have everything, why should you need anyone?
But wanting someone?
That's a whole different story.
t h e s l a c k m i s t r e s s