Once again, this is mostly memoir. I’ve changed the names and rearranged a few things to protect the guilty. I realize upon re-reading it that I might come off as a person who dislikes women. Not at all. I really like women. It’s just that I’ve been burned a few times. Refer back to the Charlie Manson reference in Sharing Christmas.
In case you haven’t heard the term before, schizophrenogenic basically means ‘crazy making’. I think the title is apt for this memory.
“If I live to be a thousand years old I’ll never understand women.” I heard my father say this time and again growing up. In my life I have found this to be so true. I know all the men are from Mars, women are from Venus crap, but we’re all the same species. We should be able to communicate. It’s like we speak the same language with different words. It would just be nice if I knew what the heck was going on in their heads.
A case in point – Miranda. Back when I was between wives I got a little lonely. My job consumed a large amount of my time and I wasn’t meeting women. I got depressed and looked at the Independent personals. It was a big thing at the time. After a few weeks I found one message that seemed relatively sane and it seemed we had some things in common. I left her a message and in short order she replied and we set up a date. On the day of the date she cancelled, complaining of a migraine. I have had migraines and understood. So, I figured she either was blowing me off or really sick. The fact that she offered to reschedule made me go with the latter. As the time for our rescheduled date approached she called and said she had found someone and couldn’t go out with me. Okay, I understand. But she said she had a friend who was looking and she had passed my number along to her. She hoped I didn’t mind. Actually, I did mind. I minded a whole lot. I wasn’t into being called up by some random woman. But since it was a done deal I just told her it was fine.
A day or so later the friend, Miranda, called. It seemed we had similar types of work; both in human services. We were both mid-thirties and single. Aside from also both being homo sapiens there didn’t seem to be many more commonalities. We decided to give it a try and made a date to see a movie. She recommended “The Piano”, a kind of artsy film. I’m not an artsy film kind of guy, but what the heck. Well, it was probably one of the worst films I have ever seen. I don’t mean “Plan 9 from Outer Space” or “Attack of the B Movie Bimbos” bad. Those movies are so bad, they’re good. This movie had good production values and decent acting. It was just an awful movie. Most of it was so dark you had trouble seeing what was going on. After the mean husband got killed everyone dressed in white and all the windows were open and you could actually see what was happening. Why not just hit me over the head with symbolism? We took a walk and talked about the movie. She wanted to see it as a deep artistic statement but eventually agreed that it was really a dreadful movie. Now we had something else in common.
So, we continued seeing each other. I discovered that she liked dancing. Seeing as I’m an accomplished dancer, this was a real plus. We went to a number of dances. She was a fairly good swing dancer and could do some ballroom. That should have cinched it, but it didn’t. The whole thing was just missing that spark, that special chemistry when two compatible people find each other. I eventually invited her over to my apartment for dinner. I’m a good cook and she was impressed. She returned the favor and invited me over for dinner. As we ate she served wine. After the first glass she offered me more. I declined saying I had to drive. She countered that I could always stay the night. Whoa, whoa, whoa. When did we get here? Whether she was talking about hooking up or just sleeping on the sofa, I was in no way ready to be here. I gracefully declined by saying I didn’t usually drink more than one glass. It’s true. I’m a cheap drunk.
During this time, I had been going to a local country western club and learning to two step. I was getting good at it and had developed a cadre of partners, or since it was a country-western club I guess that would be a posse. One Sunday night a new lady asked me to dance. This wasn’t exactly unusual. She said she had seen me tapping my foot in time to the music and took that as a good sign that I could dance. Or at least had rhythm. Her name was Lena and she did exceptionally well in the swing. We followed up with a two step. Also very good. I noted that I needed to remember to add her to my list of regular partners. As she was coming down the floor with another dancer I looked at her to be sure I memorized her face. As I was watching, her partner said something amusing. She smiled and her face just lit up. It nearly glowed like an old Renaissance painting. Very nice.
Still unsure how to proceed with Miranda, I did what most men do. I procrastinated. I called her up one week and said I was going two stepping on Saturday night, did she want to go. I phrased it that way because that’s what I was planning to do, she could come or not. She replied that she didn’t care for country music. I just said that was unfortunate, maybe we could do something the next week. I would call her.
Saturday night I was at the nightclub and found a number of my friends to dance with. Lena also showed up. She decided to sit at a table with me. We both danced with a variety of people, but danced together a number of times also. I found I truly enjoyed dancing with her.
About an hour after I got there, in walked Miranda on the arm of John, a guy I kind of knew, peripherally. And she was all dolled up. Hmm, I thought. That’s interesting. She proceeded to ignore me for the next couple of hours. Okay, I can deal with that. Then they left. What was that all about, I wondered.
The next day, around noon, I got a call from Miranda. She demanded to know who was “that woman” I was “all over” last night. Okay, first, I wasn’t all over her. Second, who was with whom? She redirected any mention of John back to me and why I danced with “that woman” all night. I saw this was going nowhere so decided it was time to pull the plug. I told her I was sorry she felt that way and that I hoped we could always be friends. That did not go over well. At all. But as I hung up I felt a bit relieved. Problem solved, bullet dodged. But speaking of schizophrenogenic, what the hell was that all about?
As kind of an odd coda, John and I became closer friends. He later told me she had called him and asked him to take her to the club. He had no idea why. By the time we were friends, he was steadily dating Betty. One night John and Betty and Lena (who I was dating by this time) and I were sitting together at a dance. In walked Miranda, alone. She came over, sat down at our table and proceeded to stare at us. Discretion always being the better part of valor, I decided it was time for Lena and I to dance. As I hit the floor I noticed John and Betty right behind us. After a couple of dances we skulked back to our table. Miranda had moved on.
Miranda finally found Phil and they became serious. I would see them at dances and finally decided that us avoiding each other was just ridiculous. So I asked her to dance. We made nice with each other. Once the tension was gone, we found we got along. I married Lena and last I heard Miranda had married Phil. I’m happy for them. She found a good man, and they dated long enough for him to know what he was getting into. But looking back at that time of my life I still have one question: what the heck was going on?