How is it that young men can be so clueless? Earlier this year at a shop, the manager and I began to talk about girls and boys and the pains they undergo in their early dating relationships. The woman was just flustered. Her granddaughter is a particularly beautiful young girl--stunningly so. The girl had been hoping that the boy she carpooled with would ask her to the school dance. Long story short, he did call her--to get her advice on how he should ask out another girl. The grandmother, in her infinite wisdom, counseled the girl that these things happened when she herself was a girl, too. Boys can be a little short-sighted, she said. But the woman and I just shrugged. I'll never understand it myself. Boys can do many strange things.
This past year, one of my step-daughters was invited on a date by a man in his mid-twenties--old enough to be more mature, right? When she arrived at the theater to meet him, he told her to wait and that he was getting them free tickets from his pal in the projection booth. The whole thing felt very juvenile as he scampered off. Mae told me that even if he was so cash strapped he couldn't afford tickets, he could have at least procured them discreetly before her arrival without looking like a kid about to rip off a candy store. Mae gave him a chance at a second date and then ended things. The ticket incident had only been a red flag about his lack of maturity with other choices.
Mae's sister Juju was flustered over bizarre behavior herself at least a few times this year. "If everything is going well and we are having fun together, why does the guy suddenly drop off the planet?" She has asked this question more than once. I told her that often, the guys act according to what they think their friends will approve. And it's disgusting, really, as I see the sweetest (and prettiest) of young ladies get their hearts broken. I told her that sometimes the guys come to their senses, but more importantly we need to just move along and forget about them.
Easier said than done. In high school, before my date and I were old enough to drive to a dance, my date told me he wanted to rent a limo to take me to the prom. This was a new concept in my parents' world and they said no. My dad offered to drive us. The boy was too cool for this, so he dumped me instead. I'll never forget that feeling, and my parents, of course, were wise enough to tell me the boy was not worth my time if he were to treat me that way, but I didn't believe it. I had to learn it over and over. Apparently, I was 35 before I really learned it.
Over the years, I was dumped for not being a heavy drinker (at least twice). I was ignored because I wasn't in a sorority (countless young men in college years). I was treated badly for wanting to talk about the last book I read (Harry the Jock). I was cast aside or treated shabbily for many unknown reasons. I remember why I initiated my break ups as well: one young man had a terrible case of pathological lying, another was consistently 45 minutes late for each date and entirely rude about it each time (oh, that would also be Harry), and other dates just never "gelled" comfortably. I do remember one very nice boy that I said I couldn't see again because he stared at me the entire time and it was so off-putting--while he was driving, while I was watching a movie, while I was eating. I have never quite had anyone do that so blatantly. It's like he couldn't believe he was actually with a live, two-legged, teenaged female. There are the break ups for reasons you know, but the worst ones, like Juju says, are the ones that leave great questions.
Once, I was hopelessly in love with a potter that kinda-sorta wanted to be with me--but I wasn't allowed to receive any affection in public or meet his friends. I was lovesick, clingy, and even more hopeless and pathetic when he suddenly fell off the planet. I actually looked him up on Facebook one day to tell him, because I believe I had been a bit of a stalker, that I was sorry for not having just broken things off cleanly. The response was surprising. "I'm the one that should apologize," he wrote, "for having been less than mature." He said kind things, remembered me far more kindly than I thought possible, and wished me well. He and his wife have just had their second little boy this year.
Maybe, there is hope for some young men after all.