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Saturday, June 03, 2000

Pluses and Minuses

I booked a flight back to California for the summer through Megacorp travel. The price looked unpleasant at first, but after shuffling the dates around a little I got it down to my usual fare. Most people in my position wouldn't care -- Megacorp pays for it anyway -- but it's my nature. It has its pluses and minuses.

In the end I got the flight on fairly short notice, but the seat was a middle seat. I tried for a new seat when I checked in, but there were no windows or isles left. She offered to move me to a middle seat in "Economy Plus" as a concession. Sure, why not? I got to board early, a plus of Plus status, which was good since I have two carry-on's this time (trying to leave as little behind as possible in case the school dissolves and we are uprooted while I am away). And, believe it or not, there's actually enough room in front of me that I can open my PowerMac and type! On the down side, this section seems to be a favorite of those traveling with small screaming children. Perhaps they should call it "Economy Plus and Minus".

I'm deeply depressed lately, and simultaneously curious about the future. It's an odd state. Forget roller coasters -- imagine wandering through the emotional carnival and coming upon a ride called The Paint Shaker. Think twice before you hand over your ticket -- the ride has its pluses and minuses.

When Garrett* dropped me at the airport, he said "Three months? What's going to happen to my brain while you're gone!?" "I have it here in my bag" I reassured him, "I'll bring it back when I return." Maui is sadly lacking in any form of intellectual stimulation, dare I say challenge. Then I step off the plane here in San Jose; my throat was burning within ten minutes. The air here is so toxic; how do people live here? Pluses and minuses.

Another woman stumbled upon my personal ad on the net. She devoured my web page before saying a word and then introduced herself with a lengthy and marvelous self-portrait, though with that platonic caveat that she is "not looking" at the moment. We transacted a few emails in short time, and with each she sent me unsolicited photos betraying both good character and a healthy appearance. I told her about Michelle, gave her my assumption that this was not an issue with her since she is "not looking", told her Michelle would most likely want to meet her too. She sent a toned down reply saying of course she'd like to meet my friends. No photo attached. I replied to her letter, answered her questions about Michelle. That was over a week ago and I haven't heard from her since.

This is a pattern, and what it spells to me, right or wrong, is Women Suck. "Friends first", "platonic relationship", "liking someone for who they are" and all of the other manipulations used by the curvier gender are conveniences of the moment, self-delusions or white lies, or black. I get the distinct impression I am required to dump Michelle if I am ever to have another female friend. But that's just inane -- the labels aren't in my head, they're in everyone else's. Michelle is Michelle, I am me, we are to each other what we are, and there no amount of labeling can create new absolutes or certainties in that. What it really comes down to is fear and misplaced empathy (fear of wanting something that might not be available; empathy for "the other woman", as if to withdraw is going to cure anything?).

All of these women, if they were in a relationship, would have no problems having friendships with other men. Most of the women I know have found some if not most of their boyfriends as friends overlapping prior relationships. One relationship breaks down, and hey, here's so-and-so who they know and like so well. But they do it all with the impunity of denial, so ever convinced out of fear or gendernetics that the one they are with is the only one they will ever want or think of. But then one day a switch is thrown and the black-and-white feminine logic turns night to day, day to night, and everything that was inescapably true yesterday was suddenly never so. I watched it in action two days ago when Samantha's best friend transitioned from True Love Forever to "neah, we were over months ago, but let me tell you about my new boyfriend" in twenty four hours. Hello? Reality check? Women have their pluses and minuses.

Before I left, Garrett* asked me about "what ever happened to that girl who used to call you". Another net connection (no, there aren't zillions -- three to be exact, two of which are defunct, and you've heard of them all now). Garrett* remembers her because he thought she was cute and also we tried to hook him up with a friend of hers who'd been impressed by his web persona (don't worry Samantha -- that was before you!). I still talk to her on occasion; I hope some day to meet her. She's pretty cool, but she's anchored to Kentucky for the foreseeable future, playing professional best-friend and trainer to a Bengal tiger.

For every plus, there is a minus. Sometimes I wonder if it all adds to zero.

Epilogue: Isn't it interesting that by social standards I sound like an asshole... when the difference between me and Samantha's best friend is that I am honest and aware, and she is deluded? Delusion is accepted, and all crimes committed under it as well, but for he who is self aware suicide is the only socially acceptable action.

Fortunately, I value myself more than the entire rest of the universe, so I'm far more prone to genocide than suicide. Unfortunately, the existence of the human race has its advantages to me as well. Damned pluses and minuses.

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Simon Funk / simonfunk@gmail.com