Dispatches from The Land of Stupid Men Doing their Ready Best
By Peter Kremidas
I have this friend. Let’s call him Hot Pie. Hot Pie gave me permission to talk about him, as long as I used a fake name. I choose Hot Pie. Not because it has anything to do with the real life person it represents. I only choose it because, despite how you may feel about the conclusion of the TV series and the monsters who wrote it, or George R. R. Martin’s writing process that apparently involves carefully whittling each letter out of a rare sacred wood, Hot Pie is one of the greatest character names in all of narrative fiction.
So, I have this friend, Hot Pie.
Hot Pie went on a date. Hot Pie doesn’t get a lot of dates. He is, after all, named Hot Pie. Not a sexy name like Trent or Cliff, or even an invisible name like Brian. Nobody seems to have any strong feelings one way or the other about Brians as a demographic. I have found Brians to be perfectly lovely people. It’s large groups of Brians that are apparently the problem.
But Hot Pie is a Hot Pie. By which, in real world terms, I mean “a hot mess.” This is an even better reason to name him Hot Pie and I totally did this on purpose.
He’s a hot mess, not actually named Hot Pie. And the mess part is the barrier to his love life, not his actual name. His actual name isn’t Brian either, so at least he isn’t dealing with those day-to-day stereotypes.
But a Hot Pie’s a Hot Pie, and a Hot Pie is not, in general, a great attractor of women. Women whom he, if I’m being honest, has had a pretty shitty attitude toward and about before
On one hand, he often lands in this headspace that he sucks and nobody could ever love him. On the other, he has a history of landing in a different headspace where women are unfair, deceitful, and exploitative of the power they know they have over men.
Don’t worry he got talked out of that a long time ago. He’s embarrassed by it.
I have found Brians to be perfectly lovely people. It’s large groups of Brians that are apparently the problem.
Now look. I gotta defend my Hot Pie here. Hot Pie is a good dude. He’s funny, loyal. He is one of the kindest people I’ve met. He’s honest and you always know where he stands. He’s stubborn, but I’ve seen him change his mind the right way. There is a good chance that he might have less than he deserves. He feels bad over things he should feel bad about.
However it is also true that Hot Pie does not have great hygiene, nor great confidence. He tries, but can’t seem to get out of his ruts. In fairness, his luck is abysmal. He also has this grating tendency to talk down to people, especially when he is annoyed, and he does not possess great patience. If you were to describe Hot Pie as lumpy that would not make you a liar. He smokes exorbitant amounts of weed. He smokes cigarettes. His apartment is a mess.
I promise you, as much as he may deserve it, you don’t need to be real hard on ‘ol Hot Pie. Because he knows. And he tries. He honestly does, and he’s actually getting better at shedding the weight that circumstance can lay upon an innocent mind. He might be too good at accepting responsibility for the pain he alone is responsible for in that he is way too hard on himself, so actually not real good at all. In a way. For all his bullshit, I wish more people would be half as self-critical as Hot Pie.
So Hot Pie went on a date.
The dates Hot Pie goes on are almost always first ones. So Hot Pie doesn’t get all weird or excited about it.
Well, buckle your safety belts because this time Hot Pie, for the first time since, according to him, 2016, made it to a third date. He’s been cool about it. I know there was a time when his over eager thoughts would have consumed into an anxiety ridden paralysis.
Like I said, he tries.
So HP and I are playing Warhammer: Vermintide 2 online and chatting (he lives in a different state, this is how we interact), and he gives me the news. On date three, Hot Pie and the lady in question meet for some drinks and, ho ho ho, wouldn’t you know it she wants to go back to Hot Pie’s abode.
“I didn’t want to assume she was being spicy,” explained my boy HP.
She comes over. They watch an episode of Cheers or whatever. After they’ve been hanging out and talking for a bit, Hot Pie went for it. Leaned in for a kiss.
We’d talked about this. When he should do it. If he should. When? How would he know when? In this instance, before his little anxieties and doubts and need for certainty got a hold, his better natures eventually won out when he concluded, according to Hot Pie, that “You know what, actually? It’s, like, actually no big deal when you think about it. Like if she ends up being my friend, like, the fuck’s wrong with that? I like friends.”
He says this but I suspect there’s a sting to it, too. To be sure, he keeps his friendships that started out as dates. I think his relationships with women give him an emotional outlet that I suspect he doesn’t feel safe having with men. He sure seems to be good friends with these women, anyway. Doesn’t bring up romance or physical stuff to them again (Admittedly, this could be out of fear as much as it could be respect. I have my suspicions.). But I get the impression that he sometimes sees them as evidence of his own inadequacy as a romantic partner. A tally of his failures.
But he went for it. He walked me through it like a QB describing what he saw on the field before making his throw. “So, okay,” he said, “we, like, we locked eyes for a second and there was a moment of silence. You know? And I just, like, felt it? And so I just kinda did it before I could think myself out of it. I guess.”
“Nice,” I replied as I focused my arrows upon an incoming horde of human child-sized rat soldiers intent on preventing my escape from their underground lair. After a longer silence than I probably perceived (My mind was, after all, occupied with killing human child-sized rat soldiers), I noticed said silence and asked how it went.
“Hold on. I’m out of ammo,” he said.
Then he said her reaction made her look like Mitch McConnell.
I had a question. “What?” I said.
“Like, when you push your face back and it looks like you don’t have a chin?”
“Ah. Yes. Okay. So she wasn’t into it.”
“Yeah she also laughed and shook her head no and stuff.”
“I’m not done,” Hot Pie said.
Hot Pie said she started apologizing to him because she didn’t want to be cold to him or hurt his feelings.
“Cold?” I asked, knowing full well what he meant. But we had just escaped the rat lair and I wanted to telegraph my interest and willingness to listen.
“I’m not done,” said Hot Pie.
Hot Pie, according to Hot Pie, said “Oh. No worries, those are your boundaries. I mean, right? What are you worried about my feelings for? That’s, like... I mean that’s about you... not, like... okay. I mean my feelings... I mean, why should they matter with that, right? Your boundaries are... I mean yours.”
“Uh…” said she, according to he.
He said her reaction made her look like Mitch McConnell.
“You know, like, okay,” explained Hot Pie as we upgraded our weapons and gear in our home base, “Like, whatever my feelings are they aren’t, like, more important than, you know, like, your... uh... you know like how she wants to be touched or not touched or whatever. You know?”
“I mean, cool. Nice. But that’s also pretty bare minimum stuff, you know? I don’t mean to dog on you but, you don’t exactly get a pat on the back for—”
“I’m not done,” Hot Pie cut me off, impatient, “And plus, yeah, I know.”
He explained that after he had clearly backed off she looked at him like he “Had three fuckin’ heads, dude.”
“Uh… yeah. Thanks… Wow.” Hot Pie said she said, “With the pauses and everything.”
They watched a movie. She fell asleep on his couch. When she woke up he walked her home. The end.
“Okay, so? On to the next, right?”
“Well, yeah but also that’s not the point?”
I processed, “Was that a question?”
“No, the point is that, look, like she said ‘wow’, you know? Like... I totally agree that that’s... I mean... I don’t wanna kiss someone who doesn’t want me to, you know?”
“So I’m not, like, impressed with myself for not kissing someone who didn’t want me to. That’s not the point. What I’m saying is... I mean that is the point. I mean, all I did was, like, respect... uh... you know... I took no for an answer, like BFD. And that’s all I did and she gets all surprised and says ‘Wow’?”
“I get it,” I said, as I felt I was pretty close to getting it.
“Like how fucked up is that? Like, how do guys usually respond to that? You know? That ‘Cool, okay’ could be, like, a surprising answer? You know? Like it shouldn’t be like that, right?”
“Right. S’fucked up, man,” I replied, because it is.
“Right? Yeah. It is. Totally fucked up. That’s exactly what I thought.”
We entered the next dungeon. We slayed beasts in silence, until, halfway through our quest, Hot Pie spoke up again as if the previous conversation had never ended.
“So, but that’s like an encouraging thought right? Because, like... okay, think about it... if other guys are so bad that just, like, not forcing someone to make out with you gets a ‘Wow’?”
“Is that a question?” I need a new punctuation mark for statements that end with a rising pitch.
“So, like, I mean if that’s what most guys are like then I don’t even have to be that great to get a girlfriend. So that’s cool.”