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Journals of an Insane Genius -- June 1998

Once again I find myself drinking in poor company, which is to say alone. I'm staring at the constant red light on my answering machine which I have started referring to as 'the unblinking eye'. Either I'm doing something wrong or else single life is just not as exciting as it appears on network television. I can't believe that getting a date hasn't gotten any easier since junior high school.

And don't ask for advice.

I remember when the only thing I went to the grocery store for was food. Things have changed in the last twelve years and apparently now the supermarket has become a place to meet potential dates. Unfortunately, all of the advice I've received has made shopping for groceries a baffling ordeal. I asked some of my single guy friends what I should be doing. The unanimous response was that before anything else I had to go to the liquor aisle and put a bottle of anything in my cart. I decided that I should get some confirmation on this advice, so I began polling single females whether this had any influence on their grocery store encounters. The response was about fifty fifty on this tactic. I decided that this must be the strategy to use if you're trying to attract another alcoholic, or at least someone that's never enjoyed the pleasures of living with one.

Eye contact was extremely important according to the females. They pointed out that you tend to treat most people in the grocery store as background noise, so you have to do something to get noticed. As with any skill that you're trying to acquire this takes practice. The manager of the Safeway threw me out of the store after three complaints, two for giving the 'Evil Eye' and one for the even more dreaded 'Stink Eye'.

A strategy I heard repeatedly was that I had to appear helpless. So I wandered around the meat department holding up a 22 pound frozen turkey asking, "How long are you supposed to fry this thing?". Aside from parents instructing their children not to make eye contact this technique had little effect.

I was later informed that I shouldn't have attempted to appear helpless in the meat department, I should have been in the produce department. The problem here is that if I do catch the eye of an attractive female I don't want her to get the impression that I wouldn't recognize a ripe melon if I managed to get my hands on one. I also wouldn't want her to think that if I noticed that the melon was past it's prime I would be so indiscreet as to mention it.

As depressing as shopping has become, it is still preferable to 'the fix up'. The only true piece of advice I've heard about the fix up so far is that I shouldn't worry about it because it will never actually take place. Apparently this just gives your friends and coworkers a chance to critique everything about you under the guise of helping you out. Here's an example of a recent conversation I had with two coworkers:

"We want to set you up with someone, but maybe before you meet her you should get a haircut."

"Yeah, do you cut it yourself or what?"

"Maybe you should grow a beard."

"No, a goatee! You'd look really good with a goatee."

"And your glasses, you really need to get some better looking ones."

"Have you ever thought about RK?"

"You mean I have to have surgery before I can meet your friend?"

"No, no, that's not what I meant. Just let me know when you've made an eye appointment so I can go with you to help you pick out your new frames."

"Get some new shoes too."

"Yeah, some nicer ones, you can afford it."

"Oh yeah, one more thing. Err... Umm... when you meet her, don't tell any of your, you know, jokes or anything right away."

"But I thought I was supposed to be myself."

"Look, do you want our help or not?"

The result of this candid appraisal was that I bought new shoes, grew a goatee, and was never introduced to anyone. As for the advice, as near as I can tell growing facial hair did not elevate my status in the herd enough to appreciably increase my chances of successfully mating so I shaved it off.

So it looks like once again I'll spend the evening staring at the unblinking eye while enjoying 'Soup For One', 'Salad For One', and beer for three.

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