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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tougher Than the Rest

All of us like to think, or at least portray, we are strong willed, tough minded and capable of overcoming adversity.  Never show fear or weakness. Be tougher than the rest.

The reality is we all struggle with the same insecurities and emotional issues. When you've been hurt, as most of us have at some point, including myself...eventually, we turn inward to build various walls that protect us from further damage. But how effective really is this mental Teflon?

Sometimes, it's just easier to fake it.

In addition to this blog, I'm in the middle of producing a documentary called 20 Questions where I'm asking 20 women ranging in ages and backgrounds the same 20 Questions about men, love and dating. The idea behind the film is to get women to open up, show some vulnerability and ultimately, express the truth, not just about their feelings toward men, but on how they feel about themselves. The questions themselves reflect what all men think and talk about when it comes to women. In effect, I want the 20 questions to reveal as much about men as the different answers from the 20 women do.

Last week I asked a bartender to do part, because she's beautiful and naturally receives a lot of attention from men...but also, as I sat there watching her work, while trying to talk with her, I found myself slightly intoxicated in ways I haven't been in some time...and not from anything I was drinking, but from her and how she spoke to me. How a woman talks to me is as big a turn-on as how she looks. The more time passed the more intrigued I became with her personality.  I wanted to know where the "real" her and the artificial front she more often portrayed started and ended.

Her defenses rose almost immediately as I approached her with the idea for the 20 Questions...skeptical about my real intentions behind such a request and even more disenchanted with my qualifications to write this blog...which I chose to tell her about as well. If you've read any other entries in this blog you're well aware full disclosure is not one of my problems. As for her qualification question. I told her, like I tell every woman, I'm a man. And while I'm not claiming to speak for all men, as a man, I'm fairly confident I understand men more so than women do. No matter how close you, as a woman, are to your male friends and no matter how much you think they share with you there are some things only men say to one another. And I'm sure it works the same amongst women. Not to mention, regardless of  the degree to which other men agree or disagree with my thought is indisputable....we (men) all engage in a common pursuit: Women. And that, above all else, are the ties that bind us.

It was amazing to see this cool as ice woman slowly relax, engage and seemingly, warm up to me. Even if it was only a slight crack in her window, the glimpses of sweetness she offered was enough to stoke my interest further. She made it easy to love her charming vulnerability, yet at the same time, her tough as nails balls up exterior made you want to punch her in the face. It was a similar feeling that probably entered Mia's mind right before she punched Hank in the face. While Hank and Mia are merely fictional characters from my favorite show Californication it's a show that everyone should watch....everyone who cares about love that is. While I do admit to thinking about the must actually go to my buddy who let the words spew from his crass mouth. Of course, he meant it as a joke and she laughed it off as such while she admitted, "I've heard that before."

What was clear was that she had been hurt or seriously disappointed by someone (just like Mia) and now seemed to be pretty much fed up with how men act. She proclaimed them (us) to be "pussies". Her words, not mine. I can't say I disagree with her on that one. Most men are pussies, especially in LA.  She went on about not enjoying always having to be in control and certainly it seems that's something she seldom allows herself to relinquish even though she claims to not want it.  That's her inner battle.  Nevertheless, her "real" man continues to evade her.

By the end of the night we were still laughing off some playful banter, even making up some dirty limericks. My buddy was convinced she was into me, but I wasn't as sure, and chose to keep it all about my blog and my 20 Questions.

A few days went by and I couldn't get her out of my head. Admittedly, I was curious to hear her thoughts on my blog and, if she, would in fact, do the 20 Questions. This time I went in solo.

Her reaction was...I'm not exactly sure how to even describe it..  At first she appeared slightly enthused to see me...although that's not even entirely accurate....but after greeting me she went on a break without mentioning it and I thought maybe I had scared her off, or worse, she had been totally turned off by the blog. The only reason I came in to the bar in the first place was to hang out with her and get to know her a little more. Unfortunately it was super busy and she just left me sitting there high and dry sipping on my drink, feeling like a half an idiot waiting on her return. This was not a good start.

A good 15 minutes later she blew back in with a cool breeze.  She claimed she didn't really like the tone of the blog nor did she agree too much with what I had to say on how men thought. She's got 3 brothers and a lot of male friends.  She also thought it was a bit much in terms of my personal details and gratuitous nature..."over-sexed" is what she said; which in some parts, I readily admit, of course it is! That's the point! Be bold. Be honest. Sex drives men. Not necessarily this man...but 95% of us out there.  Yes. I write about it because that's what consumes men and that's what this blog is about...what consumes men.  For me, it just no longer affects me like it use to. Partly because I've made a conscious effort to focus less on it.  Make no mistake, sex continues to drive other men for reasons I've discussed in a previous entry that explain the reasons why....reasons that have very little do with sex. The irony is that something I'm trying to avoid is now directly in front of me by my own choosing...and the reason is obvious...I find myself incredibly attracted to her.

However, the bigger question is does she find me attractive? Cause if she doesn't I'm done. If she's just trying to figure me out, that's cool. But, I'm not one of those guys that sticks around and waits for the girl to suddenly become attracted to me. It's either there or it isn't. I've had plenty of women tell me they never initially found their current boyfriend or husband physically attractive and then one day, unexpectedly their switch got turned on for them.  Sorry, nice to meet you. Not for me.

Back to the bar. So, I hung in there and eventually we talked a little more and again she warmed up once again as time went by. She's not an easy fish to fry. Our exchanges and conversation kind of reminded me of the ones between Sienna Miller and Steve Buschemi in the 2007 film Interview, a film that showcases two people's quest to mask the truth from one another through deviant flirtation and manipulation over the course of a single evening, most of which took place in Sienna's character's apartment. Buschemi played a journalist who was to interview Miller's character for one of those celebrity puff pieces. The constant push and pull between the characters leaves the viewer never quite what sure what to believe.  I wish I had seen this film before my 2nd encounter with the bartender.  Instead, I happened to catch it the very next night. More irony.

Because of this never ending tug of war we seemed to be playing, I suggested we start the evening over. She seemed appropriately confused by that request, but I persisted.  As sincerely as I could, making sure not to break eye contact, I said, "You look very nice tonight." Which she did...extremely so...not that she didn't look extra nice when we first met a few nights back too. Her hair was different....down tonight...instead of the ponytail the other time. She may have been wearing more make up as well....whatever the case...she still looked hot.

In between our brief flirtatious exchanges I befriended the couple next to me. They were in fact having some relationship discussions as well. I told them about the blog, the 20 Questions...and of course my budding fascination with the bartender. I kind of acted up the "I wasn't really getting anywhere" part and how her heart could use a scarf. Lol. She came over and I repeated the scarf line for her...she laughed out loud. While this cat and mouse, back and forth thing we had going on passed the time...I'm not sure what, if anything, it was accomplishing, other than getting me nowhere. I thought about just telling her enough fooling around and that I wanted her number...but it just didn't feel right...and not that I was waiting for any green light go signal from her....that didn't matter....I guess I felt she wasn't quite getting me in the way I wanted her to..or that she should. I'm not the easiest guy in the world to figure out so maybe I should give her a break.

As candid and provocative as I write...and think...I'm also sincere and sensitive...and enjoy walking along holding hands and having a great conversation as much as I do throwing you against the wall and tearing your clothes off.  She'd probably be more surprised to know I love Fabulous Baker Boys and Definitely, Maybe, two of my favorite matters of the heart movies. And I can't wait to see the new Muppetts how's that for some more enigmatic assertions?

I caught another girl who was drinking about half way down the bar lean into her while they both glanced down to me and ask curiously, "What's the deal with the guy at the end of the bar?"  I saw her look at me a couple of times when I was talking with the bartender so she was clearly paying attention to us. I had her busted and made sure to let them both know I heard. My bartender came back to tell me that she told her she didn't know what my deal was...that she didn't know me and was still trying to figure it, me, all out. She said she wanted to be honest with me.

I told her I wanted her to tell me what was the most interesting thing about her. She laughed and said something to the effect of I'm not telling...ooops, back up went the wall. The girl next to me overheard and said her "thing" was sexual and that's why she wasn't saying....and I thought she just wanted us to think that...but this girl was pretty insistent on it...which only made me think...Why then am I the one being called out in my blog for being overly sexual?! Double standard here? Hmmmmm. Maybe.

Look. Just because I may or may not want rip her clothes off doesn't mean I can't also be a respectful gentlemen about it.

A couple of years ago I was going through some issues with a woman who I had the kind of connection with most people only dream about, let alone, actually experience. I shared a lot of the details with a friend of mine and how it was affecting me and he commented  how he couldn't believe how much I was willing to expose to him, let alone potentially share with this woman...and I asked him "What? You don't think like that too?" And he said "Of course I do! But I'm keeping that stuff to myself!"

I can totally hear this friend in my head screaming at me now, "She's a bartender! What do you expect?! Give it up!"

This blog is all about truth and honesty because that's the singular foundation for any relationship. In life you can't be afraid to tear down your wall. The thicker the wall you put up the harder it is to reach what beats heavily on the other side. And we already know a blocked heart is very unhealthy. What we don't think about is that an unreachable heart is also an unhappy one.

When I signaled her to close my tab I motioned "cut it" across my neck and she quickly replied, "What you want me to to slash your throat?" Funny. I still wasn't sure where I was leaving things with her...and then...unexpectedly she cracked open her window once again. She called my name and then asked for my Sign. When I made her go fishing for it she seemed certain I was a sign that I wasn't. I think she was prepared to name every sign in the Zodiac except mine.  When I told her I was a Libra she seemed even more shocked and confused. She's a Pisces. I joked about our astrological compatibility which I knew nothing about at the time, but I knew she knew everything about.  I really had no idea...until I went home and looked it up. Apparently we couldn't be more compatible in love, romance, relationship and friendship.  Extremely so actually.  Ha. Guess I got the last laugh. Now she's really got something to think about.

She thought she had me figured out...but, now she doesn't. And that was never my mislead or confuse her. She just doesn't trust who I am....yet.

Bottom line.

Emotional toughness is not measured by how much you keep out, but rather, how much you let in.

After the Zodaic inquiry I felt a little better about my prospects. I want to get to know her more...and need to do so outside the bar.  And I want her to get to know me more. The count is still 0-and-2, but at least I had a couple of good swings and just fouled off the pitches. I still got another strike to play with.

In honor of the man who inspired this this song just happened to be playing on Sirius when I first flipped open my laptop to start writing this entry (trust me, it was)....Here's Bruce Springsteen's "Tougher Than the Rest."