It was 10:30 on Saturday night and Carl was in the passenger seat of Aaron’s car, talking to him about some of the troubles he’d been experiencing. It was dark outside, doubly so because of the intense overcast in the sky. The black clouds viciously circled above, like snakes waiting for the opportune moment to strike their prey.
Carl was recently dumped by a girl in favor of another man. Normally, he wouldn’t call his best friend for advice, but the number of times it was happening to him was starting to wear his confidence. It wasn’t that simple, though. Carl had a girlfriend once, briefly. And she left him because he wasn’t serious in their relationship. A few years prior to when he met her, Carl stumbled across some helpful self-improvement material to help his dating life. He’s able to get three or four dates with many girls without issue now, but that’s about it. After that, girls just grow bored of him.
He traced his fingers along the folds of his palm in Aaron’s car, listening to the thunder countdown the impending storm.
“I’m tired of girls,” he said. “Every girl I date strings me along with a fleeting sense of security when, in reality, every one of them is fantasizing about the other guy they’re seeing behind my back.”
“Girls aren’t easy,” Aaron agreed. “But it’s no reason for you to get depressed because another girl didn’t like you.”
“No, it’s not, but I’m just losing faith, man.” Carl looked up from his clammy fingers and wiped them on each leg of his jeans. “Most of these girls think I have no idea about these other guys, even though their eyes reveal the shattering truth about how much of a regular guy I am to them. These girls make their choice and all the other men they’re seeing are forgotten like smoke in the air. I become the man these ‘better’ guys never were; alone, hopeless, grim, depressed. Then multiply that feeling by every single girl you meet. It wears on a man.
“And then these girls boast about seeing their men and how great they all are individually while me and all the other guys like me sit at home thinking about how another girl we liked lost attraction for us in favor of this prick we don’t even know, but hate everything about. And when they boast, it’s about ordinary things like a funny joke or a nice restaurant they’re going to for dinner. Ordinary things men like me are more than capable of and succeed at doing while we’re seeing these girls.
“It bothers me that girls can openly tell their dates that they’re seeing other men to spark competition and can choose among who she finds more attractive,” he continued. “It bothers me that if a guy dated two or three girls, he’d have to keep it secret from all of them because if he was honest, every girl would just lose interest. Plus, he’d just be labeled a player. He’s not keeping his options open like she is, he’s just an untrustworthy player. I’ve been on both ends of this. And it’s only one of the many double standards I’ve experienced.
“Then there are the guys that were too nice to their girlfriends so the girls leave them for ‘alpha males’ that know how to make her loins tingle with desire. Guys that only care about tomorrow night’s lay. I’ve been the asshole. I’ve been the nice guy. Neither one seems to win out. And I can’t be myself because the real me is too sensitive, boring, insecure, and lacks conversational depth – every quality girls, and everyone else on the planet, gets grossed out by. That’s why none of them maintain attraction. So what the fuck am I supposed to do?”
“What can you do man?” Aaron asked coolly. “Just keep your head up and keep fighting.”
“I’ve been trying.”
“You haven’t been the same since Sandy left you,” Aaron said. “Don’t try to word your way around it, but that’s what this is about. You feel like you got lucky because you met one girl that liked you. She was your first major fuckup.”
“You imply that there’ll be more.”
“I can’t handle more fuckups. I’m just giving up hope man,” Carl said. “Sandy and I were great together and I made the foolish mistake of not opening up my feelings to her. Sure, it’s a mistake I’ll never make again, but fucking a. Why couldn’t anyone just teach me more about relationships instead of just the goddamn pickup, which covers the span of dates I can hold a girl? Or how to handle things better? I can’t keep learning how to do things the hard way. It just hurts too much. What really bothers me, though, is that these girls that boast about their men are really cute. The girls that do treat me that way aren’t as physically attractive, so why should I feel like I have to settle for less? Men instinctively want good looks and I’m not about to surrender my masculinity when these other guys aren’t.”
“There’s more to it,” Aaron said. “We’re alone in my car in a Montclair parking garage. You’re too afraid to go outside because the world has hurt you so many times. That’s why you never go out. You’re missing out on a ton of opportunities to meet new people. That and you never chase your hobbies. There are girls in every profession except browsing the fuckin’ internet by yourself on the weekends.”
“We’re 27,” Carl said. “All around me for the past few years girls and guys our age have been getting married left and right. Most are totally happy. Most know what they want out of life and already built the foundation for it. I’ve had one girlfriend and it lasted a few weeks.”
Carl was an attractive guy too. He was tall, with blue eyes and always walked confidently with his shoulders back and chest out. He certainly felt like he deserved more with good looks, a stable job, and his own apartment, but things never found his favor. He grew angry with his age. Resentful. Worse yet, he knew he had to hide those feelings from everyone because then he’d just be viewed as misogynist or sexist. How was he supposed to get a girl to even like him, let alone be attracted to him, when he was in so much pain? It kills him that he wakes up alone every morning while every girl he ever wanted to sleep with is off in bed with other guys.
“Sandy’s downside was that she was slutty,” Aaron said. “Sluts move on fast and they don’t care about the wreckage they leave behind them. Sandy’s been with over twenty guys and she’s in her early twenties. That’s like five or six guys a year if you consider when she lost her virginity. Eventually her fickle attitude would have ended your relationship anyway.”
Carl knew that wasn’t true. In his time with Sandy, he found that she was very aware of her past behaviors and was actively working on ending them. That’s why they were even in a relationship to begin with. He saw the very self-improvement process he was going through in her. That’s why he always had faith in her. “Does that mean she’ll never get married or find someone to love her?” he asked.
“It doesn’t matter right now. She disappeared. You need to find someone who will love you.”
“Maybe I already did,” Carl suggested. Sandy said he loved him before he found the chance. And then she dumped him the very next week. It couldn’t be more obvious to him that she just grew sick of the jokes. He looked out into the looming storm. “I’m sick of Hollywood lies. Every movie has a happy ending. Every guy gets his girl and vice versa. Everyone achieves their goals and accomplishments. But what about those of us with harder lives and worse luck? I’m not gonna live under their conceited fantasy. People fuck up. Mistakes are made. In today’s short attention spanned society, we throw away what’s broken instead of fixing it. And so that agony endures until time claims either it or you.
“Like you said, I do feel like I got lucky,” Carl said, “Sandy slept with me on the first date, from the rebound she never told me about. And she kept coming back for more until she realized I was a pretty likable guy. But is it true? Did I really get lucky because she used me in lieu of what she concealed? Am I truly unattractive to girls?”
Outside the parking garage, the first sheets of intense rain began to fall and pummel the ground below. Carl stared at it derisively through his eyebrows, then turned back to Aaron who continued his effort to soothe his friend’s struggles.