Tuesday, September 30, 2003

The Confessions of A Geek Part I

Of course, there is the argument that most of the institutions that helped our parents and grandparents meet are largely things of the past. In popular parlance, the “Bowling Alone” syndrome that has gained a certain amount of attention in recent years. The parish, the tight knit neighborhoods, and fraternal organizations have either dissolved or have mutated into something other than their original meaning and have made the "malling" of America an inhospitable environment for courtship. If only the suburbanization of society were the answer, it would at least absolve me of my personal failings in this department. There is no place to meet, ergo no one to meet.

Well, people are still meeting or as the kids say, “hooking up.” I am willing to take some personal responsibility for my inability to meet “quality” people.

In my youth I developed some rather disagreeable habits, the worst among them is a serious reading problem. Even though I have spent most of my forty-nine years in the flickering blue glow of the most pernicious invention of the twentieth century, I never took a healthy interest in the two dimensional world of my fellow countrymen. Perversely, I chose to read Jack London rather than join my sibling for the antics of Jethro and Ellie Mae on reruns of The Beverly Hillbillies. It wasn’t long before I started hitting the “hard stuff” – Orwell, Dosteovsky, and Yeats. In a very short time, as stated in the handbook of the American Literature Abuse Society (ALAS), I was abusing literature:

“Abusers become withdrawn and uninterested in society or normal relationships. They fantasize, creating alternative worlds to occupy and daydream about “castles in the air,” while neglecting work, friends, and family.”

Where were my parents? If only they had intervened! It was already too late when I discovered that my mother had a serious problem herself – it was in her room that I found a dog-eared copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. By the time I left to go to college at eighteen, I had a two to three book a week habit. Like all addicts, I consoled myself with erroneous notion that “I can put it down anytime I want.” Within a year, I had sunk to the lowest depths of degradation, throwing away my life and hopes, to study literature and become an English major.

Of course I tried to stop. I drank, smoked pot, played hockey (try, if you will, to imagine the perplexed looks of the opposing defensemen when I shouted “a pox on ye, ye lap-eared cur!), all the while feigning an interest in keggers, pornography and undergraduate pranks – but to no avail. Falling for the biggest lie, I convinced myself that I could “wean” myself off the stuff. I started reading Brautigan, Vonnegut and the Beat poets in the misguided belief that this wasn’t really literature. The day of reckoning came when my then girlfriend discovered me, disheveled and bleary-eyed, reading the back of the corn flakes box trying to pick out the metrical patterns. She left me for an illiterate Forestry student and moved to Wyoming shortly thereafter.

I was in a bad way.

To be continued…


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