For the last couple of years of my life, there is one statement that I have heard constantly from people -- male and female -- that I swear to you if I wasn't such a pleasant human being, I'd have cold-cocked them.
"You're such a nice guy, I can't believe no one would want to be with you."
It's taken me this long to finally believe that maybe I am a nice person. I've never always believed that. But to not be with anyone? Hey, that's a choice I've made.
Besides, I'm already married -- I've just never said, "I do" to my spouse "directly."
Yes, I am married -- to the work I do five days a week. As a matter of fact, me and my spouse have had a love-hate relationship just like real people do.
* We fight about how and when things should be done.
* We fight about the other people in our lives trying to dictate us.
* We fight about when we have time for ourselves.
As a matter of fact, "work" left me for 16 months in the early 2000s. Boy I missed work badly. I was a zombie without it until work came back to me and we have been inseparable since.
Sure, I can joke all I want about it. But work is my lifeline. It's what keeps me focused and out of trouble and off the streets. It's what gets me a paycheck. And it's also what allows me to enjoy my "travels." I have a traveling job from time to time. My job has taken me to events in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Connecticut, New York and Delaware as well as my native New Jersey and current home state of Florida.
I enjoy "work's" company. Me and work are together ... for better or worse.
You see, only once has "work" let me down. And, quite ironically, it was two incompetent human beings in April 2002 who separated us for over a year. As I said, it took 16 months to "re-find" work, but work has forgiven me for not being there for those months I was away.
I can't say the same about me forgiving the idiots who let me go.
But while most people in life have found that balance between work and relationships, I've never mastered it and I've pretty much given up on the balancing act.
First off, it was my bloody luck that every woman I was with was not a full-fledged sports fan. Well, my ex-fiance loved the Florida Gators. She loved football. She went with me to spring training baseball games in Viera and Dunedin. And to this day, I still think she did that because she was "putting up with it."
My failure as a human being in 28 years in this business is the fact that no woman can stomach being around me for a sufficient amount of time. No one. I simply don't make it easy for them either by being my stubborn self. I'm too much into what I do and into my job to really appreciate the person I'm with.
I've tried. Believe me, I have. I'm just not very good at keeping a woman happy. Making her happy is one thing -- sustaining that happiness is another.
And frankly, I've given up. Came to the conclusion after my last breakup over two years ago that no woman should be with me. Not on a full-time relationship basis, that is. I won't shun them away entirely. But I won't exactly make the effort to say, "Hey, let's do this again tomorrow."
My job is, as I've found out, my mistress, my wife and my girlfriend all wrapped into one. And if she ever abandons me again, I'm not sure how I would feel or react. Let's say I'd be absolutely miserable ... though it'd leave me a lot of time to go date.
And that's another thing ... dating. Uggggh! I'd rather have a root canal than be starting all over again on another "meet-and-know" date. I've done that recently and actually enjoyed the time with the women I've seen. But time is a very tough thing to negotiate. Sure, if you are into someone, you make the time. But the women I've been on dates with are usually about a good 35 to 40 miles away from where I live. And unless you are 25 and under here in Podunk, I really have no interest in the single women.
Let's just say I'm not attracted to any of them and haven't been since practically day one nine years ago.
I told a close female friend of mine when I was up visiting in New Jersey last May -- one that I'd seriously think about dating if she wasn't so far away, but would rather cherish her friendship and never ruin -- that I was not going to just "settle." That was soooooo out of the question. I'd rather be alone and miserable than be with someone who has the potential to make me miserable. At least when you're alone and miserable you have no one to take it out on right there.
I knew when I was 13 years old I was never going to be a parent. You need patience, a good temperament and understanding to be a parent. I have none of the above. And I don't have it in me to be a parent 24/7 the rest of my life. So I like my "me" time. And people say I'm crazy when I tell them my favorite sound in the whole wide world is silence.
I'm used to silence. My world has been about silence for the last six years of living alone and two years of not having a significant other. And I admit, I'm very selfish about my "me" time. I have lots of it, so I cherish it. And yes, there's that absence of intimacy, but believe me, you learn to deal without having it.
The truth is, I've put up with enough crap in my life from the opposite sex that I've pretty much convinced myself that they're all bad in some way. Yes, it's an unfair accusation I admit. But six years ago after my ex-fiance walked out under circumstances that still make my blood boil to this day, I rejected every woman who came within earshot of me. There must have been over two dozen women who wanted to be with me and I pushed them all away.
Why? Because I was convinced that they may love me today, love me tomorrow, love me next week, love me next month even love me next year. But somewhere after that perhaps they'd fall out of love with me and walk away -- just like every other woman did.
My heart could not handle another rejection again. It closed up. But there was one woman who was persistent enough to try and break through that. I didn't give her a chance at first. We were very very close, yet I still felt she'd fall out of love with me even when she said she loved me. She gave me an ultimatum that she needed "to move on" with her life and that she was not going to be just "a piece of ass." I didn't want to lose her friendship and yes, I loved her, too. So we decided to give it a try. The problem was all the things we did before we became boyfriend/girlfriend we couldn't do anymore. And we began after a while to see less and less of each other. Being 125 miles from one another takes a toll.
And my job meant more.
There, I said it. I could've gotten a job at a newspaper where she lived, but there were only two that fit the bill -- one was at the Orlando Sentinel, which I've sent five f*cking resumes for various jobs over the last nine years and those idiots haven't even recognized me. So that was out of the question. And the other paper was Florida Today ... a Gannett paper. I've worked under Gannett rule. No thanks.
She saw the writing on the wall, the same wall I saw the writing. We should never have gone out together. I knew it could be possibly a bad decision. But we tried it and we enjoyed whatever time we had together. That I will always cherish. Ultimately, though, she fell out of love with me just like every other woman did that I ever was with. I just joked that I should come with a warning label saying, "Don't fall in love with him ... he'll disappoint you!"
I've been a disappointment. I just stopped. I just didn't really care anymore. And any woman I was interested in had no interest in me anyway.
So my relationship with women is pretty mutual -- we agree to disagree about almost anything and everything. Casual? Yes. I still treat women with the same respect I would want to be treated with in return. But a serious relationship with the opposite sex? I don't think so.
My work has always gotten in the way of me. I know work has the wedding band on its finger, though I refuse to seriously acknowledge it. Still, it's what keeps me from truly ever having a balance. I fight to work so I can actually do what? I don't even take time off from work for me anymore. My one true vacation I take every May doesn't involve a signficant other going with me and I'm thankful for it. It's to go see my family up in Jersey. Whatever joy I do have is bent around helping with a high school county softball tournament which I have for years. So in a sense, it's still a working vacation.
I'm happy for the time I spend with my friends, but really, that's about it. Even my friends have a life so I don't try to invade their time.
It's now to a point in my life where I wouldn't even know what to do with my time where I am now. And I accepted a long time ago that I may die alone. To me, it's OK. I spend about a good 120 hours a week in my car alone or in my apartment alone. And, sure, it's easy for someone to say, "Get out of the apartment and do something!" Quite a few things have money involved in it, though, and since I don't have a whole heck of a lot of money to begin with, I just don't go out. And as I've learned in my nine years here in Podunk, there ain't a whole hell of a lot to see.
So work masks a lot of the "me" time. It's what keeps me busy and actually around people that I like being around. I'd really go insane if I didn't have work.
I trust work far more than I would a female. Sad, I know. And I'm pretty sure there are plenty of females who have no trust in the male gender, too. I've always told a woman if they didn't want to have anything to do with me because of past transgressions with the male population, I'd actually empathize with them. They usually tell me no ... but the door is always open to walk away.
I love my job and what I do.
I'm pretty sure I can't say the same thing about the opposite sex.
Yes, very sad for a "nice guy," I know.