Two’s Company

I have a new roommate. Well, not yet.

But next weekend Scott’s moving in. It’s only for a while, till he finds a new place.

So why did I say yes? I thought of plenty of good excuses to say no that would probably not offend him (and some readers sent in some of their own), but the truth is, I couldn’t justify saying no with the mission of this Project. I’m trying to be a people person. I haven’t had a roommate since college because I liked being alone, but now I don’t like being alone so much and maybe it’ll be nice to make a connection with another guy. You know, make an actual friend.

I talked to Gunther and Monica about this weekend and Monica especially agrees that living with someone else–especially someone you don’t get along with 100%–is a good test of maturity. Besides, Scott already hooked me up with Marny, and though that’s probably not going to last forever, Scott knows a ton of people.

Marny, Meet Amanda. Amanda, Marny.

Went to the movies again with Marny today, this time to see “The Expendables” (the quid pro quo for “Going the Distance”).

We stopped by to see Scott who has to work at Take a Bao this weekend. I told him I looked at his lease and I’m not sure what he can do to prevent his landlord from evicting them. He thanked me anyway and gave us some free s’mores. 

Then, as we were leaving the food court, we saw Amanda. Yeah, that Amanda. My girlfriend from last year.

She smiled and said hi in a big cheery voice but I could tell she was really eyeing Marny. I found myself suddenly holding Marny’s hand and pulling her in close, subconsciously saying, “Yes, she’s with me.”

Now Amanda is pretty, but more in a cute way. She’s short and I guess you’d say “spunky.” But Marny is very pretty and tall and looks like maybe some sister of hers could be a model. Amanda was surprised. She said I looked good. I didn’t return the compliment. I just introduced Marny and said, “Good seeing you.” Then we took off.

As we walked away and I explained to Marny my history with Amanda, I should have been on top of the world. I mean, isn’t this every guy’s fantasy? To have his ex see him with a much hotter girl? But seriously, sometimes I think I can never just be happy–all I was thinking about was, I wish I was there with Elevator Girl instead. Then she’d really be jealous.

Everything Happens for a Reason

I was all set to break the bad news to Marny. I picked her up after work Wednesday and took her to dinner at Birds in Los Feliz.

Couple of things about that. First of all, I always think of a date as including dinner, but Marny seemed especially surprised and psyched to be going out to eat. I think maybe she doesn’t eat out that much or that the guys she dates limit her to the Super Value Menu. Whatever the reason, she was very appreciative of my old-fashioned ways. Second, Birds is really far away. I hope my next girlfriend lives closer to me.

Anyway, like I said, I was going to break it off after dinner. I was going to say something about how we don’t have anything in common. How I don’t want to lead her on. But during dinner, she said something that made me actually start to like her.

I was talking about how weird it was that we met through a guy I met at the mall and she said, “Yeah, well, everything happens for a reason.”

If you haven’t been following from the beginning, this is exactly what my old girlfriend Amanda used to say and it always bugged the shit out of me. But just as I was about to launch into a tirade, Marny laughed and said, “God, I hate people who say that.” Then she went off on stupid “spiritual” people who believe in mystical forces like fate and destiny. She summed it up by saying, “I guess everything does happen for a reason, if you include random chance as a reason!”

And suddenly, I liked her.

I guess I should have given her a chance. Not everyone makes a great first impression. Sometimes it takes some searching to find something likable in a person. The old me cut her off too quickly. I made up my mind without getting all the evidence. But the new me likes people. And now I like Marny.

So there you have it. Marny and I are officially dating.

Amanda

Why did Amanda and I break up? Well, the consensus is that we just grew bored of each other. I always assumed that it was just something that happens in relationships.

Some molecules simply unbond due to the infinite complexities of quantum physics. In other words, there’s nothing you can do about it. We just drifted apart.

But something occurred to me today. Maybe it was talking to Janet, or more accurately, listening to her go on and on about her stupid tattoos. Maybe it was our fault that we broke up. Or at least what I’m trying to say is, that I was partially to blame. Maybe we could have saved the relationship.

Maybe if I was more observant like I was with Janet. Sure, I was kind of bored, but Janet was really happy after our talk. She was practically beaming. If I took more of an interest in Amanda’s life–her interests, opinions, her daily battles with her stupid boss–maybe that would have been constantly refueling the relationship. (Of course, it would have helped if she did the same in return, but that’s another story.) The point is, maybe relationships aren’t like molecules whose fate is determined by quantum physics, completely out of our control. Maybe you have to keep reapplying the glue that keeps the molecules bonded. Or relationships are like fires that you need to constantly refuel. Okay, I’m on the slippery slope of lame analogies here–next stop: relationships are like gardens–but you get the point.

If and when I ever get another girlfriend, I’m going to have to think long and hard about maybe paying attention to her.

I Need a Girlfriend

It’s Saturday night and I’m sitting here watching the fucking “Transporter” on Spike. I checked in with Paul, he’s going to some party and didn’t exactly say, “Hey, come along.” I sometimes hang out with my friend Neil at work but it’s usually just with a bunch of work people.

I know a few more people obviously but it’s not like I am entertaining offers here.

What’s wrong with me? I am an interesting guy. I’ve been told by girls that I’m good looking. I’m not fat or bald or weird. I make good money. I live in a decent apartment in a cool neighborhood. So why am I sitting home alone 9 out of 10 weekends?

I feel like this whole Project is a good idea in theory but in practice, it’s feeling more like a so-what. Yay, I talked to the dude at the mall. Ooh, gee, how is my life going to change if I talk about the weather to the old lady in the Pinkberry.

It was so much easier when I was in school. In high school, duh, the girls are just throwing themselves at you. And in college, there’s classes, activities, parties… I mean, the whole place is set up for meeting people. But no one tells you when you get out, you’re on your own.

Looking back on it, I feel kind of dumb for wanting to graduate so badly to go out and be independent. You know what? Being independent sucks.

I met Amanda through Paul’s sister. Maybe I should ask him if she’ll set me up. I don’t know. I just don’t want to be some loser on awkward dates I met on Match.com.

I need to get over the fear of talking to hot girls. Who knew the Blue Eyes incident would have such lasting trauma. I mean, it’s not like I am going to pick up girls in bars, but I think I should be able to talk to cute girls without being creepy. I’ve got some degree of game, don’t I? It’s not like I want a girlfriend who likes the guy from a dumb movie who has some sort of line that’s so cool it’s not even considered a line. Whatever, I don’t even know what I’m talking about anymore. I just need to stop being a complete fucking pussy and talk to some girls who might turn into something more significant.

It’s not like I’m just saying this because I’m horny. I mean, yes, I could use some lovin’, and I know this is going to sound sappy, but I really just want someone to hang out with. Some companionship. I guess I’m just lonely.

The Talk to Strangers Project Begins…

What’s the opposite of a “people person”? A hermit? Misanthrope? Sociopath? I’m not a sociopath. I don’t torture cats or disfigure prostitutes. What I am is an average looking, 28-year-old guy, living in L.A., who just doesn’t like people.

Face it. Most people are boring. The average person you meet has a boring job, a boring family, and a boring imagination. If you asked them what’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to them, you’d get a boring story about winning eight grand on a scratch-off lottery ticket or meeting Shaquille O’Neal in the airport one time.

And it’s not just boring people I don’t want to associate with. I also despise stupid people. Like my last girlfriend Amanda who believes that “everything happens for a reason.” And needy, low-self-esteem, TMI’ers who tell you in the first ten seconds of meeting about their ADD, sex addiction, and irritable bowel syndrome (these types are inextricably drawn to reality TV).

But the list doesn’t end there. I also hate: people with shifty eyes, people who Tweet, early adopters, people who refer to professional sports teams as “us” or “we,” people who drive Priuses, people who misuse the reflexive pronoun “myself,” sweaty people, people who talk about golf, reality stars, cat people, people who wear sports jerseys with athletes’ names on them, people who play Farmville, audiophiles, people who don’t signal, people who memorize baseball statistics, car guys, people who started playing poker recently, people who wait until the last minute to merge lanes, people whose mouths are open at rest, people who post links on my Facebook wall, frequent flyers, people who get really mad when their team loses, people who write novels or screenplays at Starbucks, and outdoorsmen.

By now you are thinking, This guy is a dick. What makes him so great to dump on practically every type of person in existence? Fuck him and his holier than thou attitude. To that point I can only respond by saying, “You’re right.” I’m not so special. I’m not better than all these people. Well, maybe I’m better than a lot of them, but I’m sure there are a lot of things about me that people hate, too.

After all, I always correct people’s grammar. I can’t help it. I could see why people might find that annoying. I especially hate when someone makes a grammatical error in the very process of trying to sound more grammatical, like when someone says, “Please return the questionnaire to either Jimmy or I.” That really bugs the shit out of me.

Look, there’s a lot of other things wrong with me which I’m sure I’ll get to in time. My point is, I’m no great prize either. That’s why lately I feel like things have been getting worse for me. People grow up assuming that life is just going to keep on getting better and better. More fun, more friends, more sex, more freedom. But since college, I have a lot fewer friends. I haven’t had a girlfriend in nine months. And my job… well, I’m an associate at an i-bank, and I can’t imagine that this is my career. I mean, this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life? Look at spreadsheets all day?

But even more than that, for the first time in my life, I feel disconnected. Isolated. Alone.

I want more friends. I was pretty popular in high school. I’ve had hot girlfriends before. I’m capable of forming close relationships and my friends would probably describe me as not-at-all psychotic. So why can’t I meet new people? Different kinds of people. Expose myself to some new things I never even thought about before, like, I don’t know, bowling or something. I want to have hobbies. I used to like all different sorts of things but now I just watch TV every night or play PS3.

In high school, I used to be surrounded by people all the time. Every class was filled with a different cross section of my school. But now, I live in my little apartment by myself, go to work in my air-tight car, sit in my cubicle, and basically not interact with any human beings.

So I’m sitting here, home alone on a Friday night feeling sorry for myself, when it occurred to me. Maybe I don’t really hate people. Maybe I just need to get to know them better. When you’re five and you meet someone on the playground, you just say, “Hi, I’m so-and-so. You want to be my friend?” Why can’t it be that simple as adults?

The only problem is it’s pretty tough in L.A. to meet people. When you’re out of school, there’s no natural way to make those connections. And I’m certainly not the type who gets girls’ phone numbers in bars or walks into a cocktail party and  introduces myself to strangers.

But maybe I could be. Maybe I could be a people person if I tried. And maybe if I became a people person, things would change for me. Maybe things would get better. Maybe I wouldn’t be so bored. And negative. And lonely.

So I decided. I’m going to go on a journey of self-exploration. I’m going to talk to strangers. Maybe not everyone, but a lot of them. People I run into in my daily life. I’m not going on a road trip here. I’m just talking about meeting the dry cleaner guy so we know each others’ names. I’m going to write about it to chronicle my ups and downs. I’m going to keep it anonymous for now, because I don’t know where this project is going to go and the last thing I need is to get fired because someone at work finds out something weird about me.

But what I can tell you is that for the first time in a long time, I’m feeling optimistic. Like this just might be the best idea I ever had.

So that’s my plan. I am going to start talking to strangers.

Wish me luck.