Thursday, April 9, 2009

The 'teddy bear' gives up -- for now

Yesterday I made a decision. I'm suspending my six-year search for a spouse, at least for the time being.

This is not to say that I've given up on marriage, even at my advanced age (48 next week) because I still believe I have something to offer a woman. But I was reminded earlier this week why I don't see myself doing things in the normal way. So I won't be going on any Internet introduction sites or approaching a woman I'm attracted to but don't know.

What happened? Well, I took a Facebook quiz, "What do people think of you at first sight?" -- and came up with a shocking answer, "You are cute," complete with a photo of a kitten with its head cocked to the side, indicating vulnerability. That may not sound like much until you consider my relationship history.

Weeks after I entered the fifth grade in a Christian academy in suburban Pittsburgh, a first-grade girl, apparently starved for attention, became very attached to me and treated me like a teddy bear (and never having experienced that, I didn't know how to respond). And she was not the last one to do that -- over the years dozens of women, mostly younger, have similarly demonstrated that they felt extremely, extremely safe around me. Cheerleaders fawned over me as an eighth-grade basketball player; during my senior year as an otherwise unpopular member of the high school band I won a school instrumental award and the first people who gave me a standing O were younger majorettes; once while having dinner in Pitt's dining hall during my junior year a freshman woman I had not previously met invited herself to sit with me. I've got stories galore about those kind of experiences.

Yet all that attention has rarely translated into dates -- it's almost as though I'm not a normal guy supposed to be attracted to women. One other woman I met during my immediate post-college days in the mid-1980s who would sleep with someone else at the drop of a hat loved curling up with me but said that she would slap me if I "tried anything." Even to this day women I'm friendly with display some surprise when I ask them out -- even as an escort for just one evening.

So what do I plan to do? Well, nothing, and that's the point. I think there's a message in it for me -- that, even with my frustration, I'm still obligated to treat women as princesses. After all, they are created by God in his image and not my toys to be thrown away when I'm done with them. I could be actually ahead of the game when it comes to marriage, which does require warmth, tenderness and communication -- all of which I do well.

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