Sometimes I got gifts I didn’t really appreciate. Not talent gifts like memory or the ability to touch my tongue to my nose; I’m talking presents. My mother gave me a Klutz Juggling kit. It came with a book of instructions with illustrations and arrows describing how to juggle. It’s like reading a book on how to ride a bike. The book, along with the bean bag blocks, was discarded, but I became a juggling pro… in life.
Few things are more frightening than juggling clowns or mimes. There’s slow circus music scary (read: freaks with painted faces, odd shoes, and gloves when it’s warm outside), and then there’s s.c.a.r.y., as in… I can’t believe you’re a mime. Who the hell is a mime? Strengths: juggling, creating imaginary walls to hurdle, and always looking sad without communicating. Welcome to The. Men. I’ve. Dated.
Women do it too; forgetting which story we’ve shared with whom is only the beginning. Try asking, “So is your mother feeling better?”
"I told you last time she died when I was 18, so no; she’s not.”
Then I lean over and inconspicuously remove the dangling shoelace from my mouth behind a wall of white napkin.
Madness? Maybe. Manmess? Absolutely. But there’s more where that came from. Birthday parties, big ones, with evites and guest lists sometimes create manmess, especially if you’re dating. I didn’t show up to a party of a guy I liked once upon a time because I worried I’d show up to a display of talents. Her dancing tongue, his roaming hands. I decided it was best for me, along with my hunch, to sit that one out. He was the kind of guy who’d be inviting all his possibilities into one room, letting each of us believe we were special with a wink across the room or a squeeze of a hand. It’s like dedicating a song to a collective you. “This one’s for you.” For me? You find yourself asking as you look behind you.
As a guest, there’s the task of finding the right date (or in my case, not taking one so I can actually enjoy my friends & photograph without leavebehind guilt). There’s a lot of social juggling. I never like my own parties, so it’s my chance to enjoy the girls and meet their boys.
Some people are expert jugglers; they do it without guilt. Admittedly, I’ve been known to enjoy dating, mostly for the new stories and expressions (save for the foot in mouth moments as mentioned above). I delight in learning and listening. I love new. Who doesn’t love new? But at what cost? At some point it’s hard to feel close to someone knowing they’re feeling close to someone else the next night. Or, more pointedly, it’s hard to feel close without feeling like a scab when you know you’ll be out with someone else the next night.
Others don’t like having to remember which story they told to whom (ahem, I’m doing the ooh, yeah, that’s me, the girl in the back. Oooh.) once they find someone that seems like a fit. You’re dating, but then when you meet someone you’re kind of crazy about, time spent elsewhere, on other dates, seems moot. It’s like eating salad just so you eat less of what you really want.
When I meet someone I like, I don’t stop dating other people all together because I’m scared. I’m not trying to keep my options open; it’s called protection. It’s safer to use the stairs than the diving board. Eventually, over time (insert cliche about slow & steady winning a race *here*), you spend more time with the one you’re crazy about and the rest of the balls drop… so to speak. The juggling then changes… you’re not juggling dates, you’re juggling schedules and friends… but you’re doing it together… with someone who kisses you when you happen to make a clown of yourself.