I remember being about 18 or 19, couldn't remember which, and coming back home from work on multiple occasions to see if my answering machine (remember those?) was blinking or not. The reason I was hoping for it to blink was that countless times before I had either given a girl my number or called a girl I had meet at the First Avenue Dance Club, and was hoping they had called me in return.
Of course, I think literally all of 3 times I may have gotten a call back out of what must have been at least a hundred numbers exchanged, but at the time I was still idealistically hopeful - or at minimum, logical - to think that if a girl said, "call me" or said, "what's your number" there would be a better than 75% chance she would call me back.
Now this was of course 1994, over 15 years ago, and over those 15 years men naturally become wiser and frankly, just stop listening to what women say in regards to dating. Not that we don't listen to what they "say" it's just we don't believe it, or at least incorporate it into our thinking or any part of our dating strategy. So common was it to get a phone number from a girl, set up a date, only to have her bail out at the last minute or just plain stand you up, I developed the Law of 505025 at the extremely young and cynical age of 21. And so much time and effort and hopes and energy had we put into these never-to-materialize-dates, that our brains, purely out of the rote-rehearsal of getting stood up, were psychologically conditioned to never "bank" on the date even though we "had a date."
Ergo, it was common to schedule an activity with "the guys" at the same time you had a date, because frankly, the chances of actually going out on the date was laughable. It even got so bad that your beloved Captain on MORE THAN ONE OCCASION forgot he had a date, was en route to hang out with the guys or work an extra shift, until his date actually called him reminding him of the date they had which he obviously promptly forgot the second it was made.
Now this was during my younger 20's and was quite some time ago. And as time goes on the whole idea of dating and marriage and all that loses its appeal and you move onto more noble pursuits. So much so that I don't think I've gone on a "date date" in probably 4 years. Oh sure, I run into girls. And there has definitely been some kissy kiss and smoochy smooch, but I haven't verbally asked a girl on a date in a long time. The whole game and theatrics is no longer even a part of the psyche or my daily life.
But fast forward though 15 years, and visit the Captain if you will this past Friday, and history has a tendency to repeat itself.
Last Friday I was requested by some former students to attend a salsa dance. This was a new venue and to help the new owners succeed, they asked if I could rally my troops (students) and bring them out for a night of salsa dancing. Happy to accommodate them, I said I would.
So I show up with not only 6 students, but 5 of my friends, all of us dressed very spiffy, all of us having a good time. The girls of my crew, all impeccable dancers, demanded I take on the mantle of "dance whore" that evening where I promised each girl two dances. Unfortunately, though, it was one of the rarer instances where there were VERY few men and a TON of girls. This meant that the floor was never crowded and what few men were dancing were then obviously the center of attention on the dance floor. This then triggered some odd behavior, especially on the part of all the single women at the dance.
For the first time in almost 10 years I was asked by a complete stranger if I would like to dance. Then her friend asked me to dance. And soon a third stranger DEMANDED I dance with her. I could barely meet my previously established "dance-whore-quota" when it was demanded again by stranger #3 I dance with her.
Admittedly, these are problems you wish to have, and I was not complaining, but soon a student of mine pulls me aside and says, "I have to talk to you."
Apparently stranger #3, who was quite a comely lass, had followed my student into the girls room where she then proceeded to interrogate my student about me, what I did, who I was, how old I was, etc. etc. She said, "Captain, you have to look out. This girl TOTALLY wants you!"
Which, though I am spoken for, still gave me a little bit of an ego boost and a smug look on my face in kind of an "awww-shucks" sort of way.
The night proceeded and I continued to dance, but not before being interrogated myself by stranger #3. She was a nice, sweet girl, a little young for me, but still nice and kind. She wanted to know where I taught, if she could learn, how to sign up, what did I do, etc. etc. I said, "How about this? The easiest thing is to just e-mail me and let me know what you want to learn and what town you live in and I'll let you know the closest classes in your area." Of course I was smiling inside because here was this 25 year old babe hitting on old me, which was flattering, but the only thing I could do was help her find a class. So I give her my card, the night ends, my crew and I take off and your Captain returns to the bachelor pad to drift off to dreamland.
Fast forward now to last night where your Captain was having dinner with some of the guys. We were talking about business, the economy, a friend's birthday and general standard guy stuff. I hadn't thought about Friday night and was focusing more on installing a wood burning stove for winter, but then the topic of conversation turned towards the salsa dance on Friday.
One of the guys, the pilot, had mentioned he had talked to this cute financial analyst at the dance and was supposed to meet her for kareoke. She didn't show up, but he didn't much care because he had other stuff going on. Another guy, Spartan, was mentioning how he had fun at the dance and hadn't seen that many girls in quite some time. They asked me if I had a good time and then BOOM!
It hit me.
96 or however many hours it had been, and I completely forgot about stranger #3.
Not only did I forget about stranger #3, but now that I thought about it, I hadn't received and e-mail or anything from this allegedly enamoured girl. I was almost certain she would contact me, yet hadn't.
Upon my return home I checked my e-mail and sure enough, nothing.
Now I found it interesting that despite 15 years later, things hadn't changed. Girls, no matter how interested they seemed initially, still would never call or return a call. And I, rapidly aging and becoming decrepit still had the embedded psychology of forgetting or purging any memory of meeting any girl.
Now many of you are asking "why did I just spend the past 10 minutes reading this lengthy bragfest of the Captain?" But the reason I bring this up is an important one, because we often forget how many young men there are inbetween those ages of 15 years ago and just what kind of a hell they're going through. So permit me a lesson couched in the above story for all the younger male aspiring, junior, deputy economists and that is a lesson in flakiness.
I, along with millions of other men, will attest to the literally billions of hours we wasted chasing, pining or just plain wishing one of our calls would be returned. And not only did we waste precious hours, if not weeks of our time trying to score a number or two, we wasted a lot of energy worrying/hoping the light would be blinking when we got back to our apartments. Worse still was wondering whether we should call them twice or thrice at risk of being a "stalker." Worse more than that was the time we spent or set aside for dates that were never to materialize, and even worse than that was the overly-self-critical torture we put ourselves through asking "what did we do wrong."
The answer is "nothing."
For whatever reason, young women have a tendency to flake out. There's no rhyme, there's no reason, you can just plain expect the majority of your calls to go unreturned and unheeded. You can also fully expect, especially in your teens and 20's that the majority of your dates will be cancelled or end up with you calling your "would be date" to see if you're "still on for the evening" while she never returns your call and you're left in a 3 hour lull on a Saturday night. Again, I don't know why, I don't know how, it just "is." But regardless of why, you have two ways you can approach this;
1. Blame yourself and worry about what you did wrong.
2. Realize you did nothing wrong and there's nothing in your power you could have done.
A perfect example and why I wrote about this is stranger number 3. Rarely will you get a girl interrogating your female friends about you. How much more of an ideal situation could you want? How much more guaranteed of a date could you get?
And what happened in this particular instance?
Even when it wasn't about romance/dating, just setting up a dance class, the girl still flaked out. I know, I know, women will say, "well, she was probably just shy" or maybe "she was too drunk to remember." Sure, that may be the case, but the "why" doesn't matter, all that matters is "what is" and the guy standing there on a Friday night with a hand full of flowers wondering why he got stood up will not understand that.
The larger point, as is many things in this life, is how you respond to this. Understand you DO NOT control the outcome. You do not control, arguably even influence whether a girl calls you back, goes out with you, or stands you up and flakes out at the last minute. What you do control is your response and your response should be that of forgetting and indifference. Your response is deciding to do what you want to do and what is within your power to do so even before the date occurs. Your response is to expect nothing, and when something is delivered, to be shocked.
Understand this attitude is not something that you can "will." I do believe it is a conditioned psychological response to where you really do forget about the drop dead gorgeous girl that talked to you at church. You really do forget the drunk girl at the bar who was making out with you. Or you really do forget about stranger #3. You just need to be stood up and led on a couple hundred times for this attitude to manifest and sink in. But in due time it will happen and when it does it will make you immeasurably better off.
You will no longer have to deal with the stress of worrying about whether you will get a date. You will no longer waste time setting aside time for dates that will never happen. Better yet, you will save COUNTLESS hours not going out to bars and clubs in the first place, permitting you to pursue more productive pursuits such as a masters degree or just working a little bit more. And although this "epiphany" takes time to realize, the key to hastening your understanding this epiphany is to realize the statistical likelihood of actually going on a date is VERY low. Out of 100 girls that said yes to a date to me in my 20's only about 7-8 of them actually followed through. And frankly my younger friends, life is too short to play those long odds.
So take it from Uncle Cappy Cap. When you get a girl's number, understand it's like getting a check from a dubious source - it's doubtful the check will clear, therefore don't "bank" on it.
This PSA brought to you by Captain Capitalism.