Water or a Woman (or a Coping Mechanism)

In 2008, I was a much bigger man. I don’t mean that I was bigger like your mom means when you were bullied in grade school and you wanted to punch the other kid’s face in, and she told you to “be the bigger man/woman/whatever (insert appropriate pronoun).” No, it was definitely not my morality that was big, though my largeness probably contributed to a faux-morality in some ways (like the ways that involved the ladies).

In 2008, I was also in college. It was the first summer of grad school, and it was probably right around the time I started writing on napkins to begin with. And if I’m honest, this particular night, I was writing on the backs of receipts: one from a haircut (I had a little more hair then) and one from an ATM machine (I had a lot less money).

I rambled on these receipts for a while about the on-stage talent at Charley O’Corley’s that night–a guy by the name of Scar Dirty:

I’m so drunk I don’t know if I’ll remember writing this. It’s a strange sensation to make letters faster than your mind can. There is a guy on stage rapping. He used the music from “Jack and Diane” for his first song. It was fun. I want to talk to him about art. I wonder what art is to a man who recycles something created by someone else.

I was still pretty happy about the whole situation. I remember that my friends had stepped outside, and I was having a bourbon and coke.

What started as a manifesto on sampling in hip hop and the merits of that practice as an art form, soon began to unravel into a much more interesting moment:

This is a larger receipt. Maybe I can write more on here. I couldn’t finish my bourbon and coke. I started feeling sick. I need a water or a woman to talk to. I don’t know if I’ll find a girl worth talking to in here. This guy has a pretty good flow. These white people are crunk. I wish I had the balls to talk to one of these girls. 

 Now herein lies the problem with college-aged Shane. Herein lies the problem with any man (or really…any person) not in a relationship. In the second chunk here, 22-year-old Shane says three distinct things about women, and they all tell almost-28-year-old Shane a whole lot about his younger incarnation.

  1. “I need a water or a woman to talk to.” In other words, despite how (painfully) few women I talked to in those days, I still had the desire to talk to them. I still wanted to approach them. I wanted to spit smooth game and kiss them and buy them drinks and probably do really dirty things to their bodies. 
  2. “I don’t know if I’ll find a girl worth talking to in here.”  This is just bullshit. The law of averages dictates that someone in that bar was worth it. They may not have been relationship/ brunch/ one-night-stand material. But that brings us to another important point. Goal-oriented action in these settings is the worst. Give people a chance. Walk up and say “hi.” Someone is going to surprise you.
  3. “I wish I had the balls to talk to one of these girls.” Here is the realness. I was scared. I was afraid like a lot of people are afraid. When I was finally able to cast that fear off, I was able to meet a lot of interesting people (who were all, in their own ways, “worth it”). No one is going to come to you. 

I never did talk to any women that night. It took me a while to grown that particular part of my backbone. But I did manage to talk to Scar-Dirty about art. He gave me a really profound definition: “whatever can come from your mind.” He also said some bullshit about paving the bride that John Cougar Mellencamp built. We were all pretty trashed by then, though.

I’m pretty sure that’s the night Bobby’s blood sugar plummeted. That’s not a tease. I just think it happened.

Until next time!
-Shane

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