Wisdom in Stupidity

I've always found it an interesting, whether intentional or not, parallel that the The Transformers: The Movie Soundtrack contains both Stan Bush's ”Dare” and ”Weird Al” Yankovic's ”Dare to Be Stupid”. The latter always seemed an odd fit among the other instrumental or ‘80s metal/rock songs, but it did play a very specific role as the theme song for the Junkions, a race of robot motorcycles who inhabited a planet of junk and whose leader was voiced by Eric Idle. Since the Junkions spoke in television lingo and other pop culture jargon, the wacky Devo-inspired lyrics and tones were a perfect fit. I often listen to the soundtrack as a morale boost, or to get myself psyched up about something, and it's been in my car's CD player quite regularly during my past few weeks of a failed romantic misadventure that I'm not dwelling on. I'm not.

I did find myself listening a lot more closely to those nonsense lyrics though, and finding some sense and inspiration in there. I may never know how I went from “She seems interested; she asked about you” to writing this girl for a few days, to having her stop replying when I asked if I could call her to talk more, and the not knowing is the bit that will nag at me for a while no matter how much I say otherwise. At this point, I wouldn't even mind a negative response, so long as I got one. With my track record I could use some constructive criticism so life would stop pulling the football away everytime I went to kick it. But it's not as if I've never been guilty of anything similar. About a month ago, a woman from my old job e-mailed me when she heard of a job opening in my company, begging me to put in her resumé and telling me her sob story of being out of work for a year. I wasn't unsympathetic to her plight, but couldn't in good conscience recommend her to my boss without destroying my own credibility. The way this woman had left my old company was to storm into her boss' office, slam the door, and proceed to curse him out loud enough for everyone outside to hear. Whether or not this particular boss was the type of person to provoke that kind of verbal assault is a separate issue(he was), because under no circumstances is that the professional way to handle such a situation. I couldn't recommend her; wrestled for a few days with how to respond, and before I knew it weeks had gone by and I ended up ignoring her. I couldn't say “yes”, I didn't have a diplomatic way of saying “no”, and I already had more qualified friends vying for the position. That example alone should give me some empathy toward my new friend’s deafening silence.

So the question is no longer the “why” she didn't respond or the “what” I could have done differently, so much as should I have even tried at all? Was it stupid? All the times in my life that I didn't act on my feelings, it wasn't rejection alone that I feared. It was awkwardness, even mockery. Would I be pathetic for having feelings that weren't returned? Would she and her friends be giggling about me every time I walked by? When I was about 7 or so, my father was playing with a polka band in a dance hall, and some pushy lady thought it would be cute if I danced with her granddaughter. I was super shy, and ultimately ended up hiding in a phone booth in the lobby for the duration of the dance. In some ways I never left that phone booth. If I could do it all over again, I would have danced with that girl. Opportunities are rare; regret is common.

“Weird Al” does parodies, and his talent lies in mockery. While the similarly titled Stan Bush song tells us that “You can win if you dare”, the Yankovic song may not be all that different. There are a lot of nonsense lines like “Burn the candle at both ends/Look a gift horse in the mouth/Mashed potatoes can be your friends”, but his ultimate conclusion is, “The future's up to you, so what you gonna do?” I took a mathematical approach to my recent situation, and have been doing this with a lot of my decisions these past few months. I simply played out the scenarios. If I asked the question, I could get a positive response, or a negative response. Something would happen, or nothing would happen. At that point, it was a 50% chance of either outcome. But if I played it “smart” like I usually do, then there was a 100% chance that nothing would happen. There would be no repercussions, and life would continue as it had before. No risk=No reward, so in the end I regret nothing. I'm not going to beat myself up over this(for much longer). If I had to do it all over again, I might have been more aggressive sooner, or perhaps waited a little longer, but sooner or later I still would have acted. I would not change the action. Sometimes you have to “Squeeze all the Charmin you can while Mr. Whipple's not around.” Sometimes you have to “stick your head in the microwave and get yourself a tan”.

The future's up to you.

What are you going to do?

Dare to be Stupid.

(Sometimes. Just be smart about it....)


Anonymous Krispy said...

Dude, there's been a lot I've wanted to comment on. I haven't said much because, well, I'm the last person who's advice anyone should take. All I can really tell you about for sure is how put together a chain of divorces.

I don't write much about my own current personal situation at my own blog because my stat counter shows that my most recent ex lurks there. Which is creepy.

I'll tell you this, I'm almost jealous of you for a weird reason: I wish I had someone I was interested in enough to actually care as much as you do. I've been casually dating again since last December. I've gone out a few times with one woman in specific. She's smart, attractive, successful, funny ... and she asked ME out the first time. I still can't figure that out. I finally decided to have dinner with her just to try to figure out what her angle was. We've gone out a few times since and I still can't figure out what she wants from me. Part of me thinks I shouldn't be so paranoid, maybe she actually just enjoys my company. This other little voice says "Man, she's got an angle. They've ALL got an angle." And I just CANNOT convince myself to let my guard down and see what this is and what it might become. So it won't go much further, I know, and I won't regret it until too late.

Remember that advice Conan gave the other night about not being cynical? Great advice ... but far easier to agree with than to actually follow.

Anyway, sorry, I know this is of little value or bearing. Just know that you ain't the only guy out there still trying to figure 'em out after all these years. Hang in there.

1/28/2010 4:08 AM  
Blogger MCF said...

Thanks dude, that actually IS of value and bearing. Past experience makes us wary. My last serious relationship several years ago, she pursued me initially, came up with excuses like "I'm new in town; can you give me a tour?" and I took her on a tour and bought her dinner and thought, "I wish this girl wanted more than a tour guide." Dense. A week later she was calling me to tell me about how the local movie theater had a discount movie night. I was busy with friends that night, but invited her out for the weekend, and gradually I let down my suspicion, guard, and incredulity that someone like her could actually like someone like me. Turned into a pretty awesome 2.5 years.

You're wary because of what you went through. I tend to be wary too. My 2.5 year relationship ended a few months after she moved 4 hours away for a new job. This potential new girl is only a little over 2 hours away, but because of my past experience I was initially wary of starting a long distance relationship when my friend suggested her. And whatever reason this new girl suddenly stopped talking to me, it could range from something I said to some outside factor like another guy to her OWN wariness from past experience. I keep coming back to Conan's speech too, and I know cynicism from bad past experience could prevent ANY of us from being open to new possibilities.

Usually experience is a good thing that makes us better at what we do and capable of anticipating a course of action sooner. But a negative experience in the past can definitely color future decisions, as it's doing with you right now, and as it might be doing for this girl. It could have prevented me from even making a move, so again I don't regret that I went against my natural cautious instinct and tried. It's just the curiosity that's eating away at me.

I also remember that Seinfeld episode where George gradually becomes more and more enamored of a woman because she DOESN'T like him--"She just dislikes me so much Jerry! I have to have her!" So I realize this thing could very well be magnified for me because of that reverse psychology angle. And after 3 or 4 days, her silence could have been an intentional move to increase my interest, which worked. I went from casual take a shot attitude to a "why don't you like me?" obsession. And the one thing I DO know from past experience is that I absolutely can NOT ask "Why don't you like me?" in any shape or form.

But it's been TEN days now, which leaves only one disappointing conclusion that will get easier and easier to accept. If there's a next time with someone else, or if this girl miraculously does another 180 and comes around, I'm going to keep that "no cynicism" thing in mind. It's pretty much that or stay alone and end up a demented old man in a nursing home who never married, like my uncle. I know that's the road I'm on, and I need to change that.

1/28/2010 8:00 AM  
Blogger MCF said...

Oh, and despite everything that's ever happened to me, and what I know your experience to be, from an outside perspective and the description you provided, it sounds like you could let your guard down, just a little bit. We're so suspicious when they actually show interest, but when it's rare we can't afford to be.

Dare to be stupid. :)

1/28/2010 8:04 AM  
Anonymous Krispy said...

I appreciate the input, and I think you're right. There's a fine line between self defense and self defeat. And, yeah, self doubt really can become self absorption after a point. I guess any kind of obsession with one's self, be it based on positives OR negatives, really does come down to vanity. One of my favorite qualities about people is if someone seems to be totally unaware of themselves. My stepson, for instance, seems oblivious to what others might think of him. He's just far too interested in far too many other people and things to care about his own image. That's one of the reasons I love the kid.

If I could let my guard down and just live in the moment I'm sure I'd actually enjoy more of the moments I live in.

Usually experience is a good thing that makes us better at what we do and capable of anticipating a course of action sooner. But a negative experience in the past can definitely color future decisions

You're right. Experience is supposed to teach us what to do, not how to do nothing out of fear. It's tricky, and I really haven't figured it out, but we have to keep growing and learn to embrace the random. We each have to be our own order among the chaos, if that makes sense. Embrace the chaos, but don't become the chaos. Sorry, I'm disappearing up my own butt now, but the point I'm trying terribly to make does relate.

1/28/2010 3:49 PM  

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