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art theplaceThey fascinate me the most — in a way that is captivating and haunting, ancient and mysterious.

Women. The opposite sex. The basis behind all great art, music, literature, war and unanswerable questions we never seem to stop asking. They are the reason many of us get up in the morning, why we think twice about our appearance and life choices, all the while subconsciously dictating our daily interactions, reactions and distractions.

I was always aware of women, or “girls” as we called them back in the day of monkey bars and childhood antics, but it wasn’t until I hit middle school that I found myself utterly mesmerized by their presence. Though I noticed them, I doubt that notion was reciprocated. I was a nerdy, scrawny kid back then. The kind of Coke bottle glasses wearing, hair parted to the side with too much gel adolescent that was stuffed into lockers and mercilessly ridiculed by my peers. 

And yet, even with all my social shortcomings, there were a handful of girls who took a chance on me. Those girls who didn’t mind that I had braces when we made out behind the bleachers in the gymnasium or that my attire was a generation behind, not to mention my overkill on the cologne and deodorant. 

High school fared a little better. I discovered that I was really good at running, and soon become the captain of the cross-country and indoor/outdoor track teams. I was in student council, cleaned up my appearance, wore the “right” clothing and assimilated into the upper echelon of the social circles. Thus, those girls that didn’t pay me any attention just a few years earlier were now asking me to slow dance with them or actually excited to go on a date. It was quite the emotional conundrum for someone like myself. I always felt I’d be found out, some kind of fraud that would be caught and sent back into exile from the “beautiful people.”

The last two years leading up to graduation I dated my high school sweetheart. It was an incredible time together, truly. We had the whole plan nailed down — graduate, go to a local university together, graduate, get married, have kids, etc. Of course, like for most of us, that idea came to screeching halt around Thanksgiving (or “Breaksgiving”) of our freshman year at college. 

So, back to square one. Back to licking my wounds and moving forward, pushing ahead until the next one caught my eye. And there were many, for good or ill. My 20s were a road lined with endless bad breakups and missed opportunities, but also innumerable memories of passion, pleasure and purpose, all held tightly between two people trying to prove the world wrong that their love was a just cause. 

Towards my late 20s, I just gave up completely on dating. Nothing serious, all fun. With my 30th birthday knocking on my door last year, I felt the odd internal urge to make something meaningful happen in my love life. Taking the plunge with a girl back up in New York, we tried our best plate-spinning abilities to make a long distance relationship, well, go the distance. Eventually, the plates fell down, and we walked away, back into our separate lives.  

And yet, now three decades headlong into this endeavor of existence, of trial and error, I’m still enthralled by women. Whether it be the unknown girl at the end of the bar, the brunette sauntering by down the dairy aisle, the blonde two rows up at a friend’s wedding or the redhead at a house party — curiosity killed the cat and sometimes I feel like I have more lives than three felines out to explore their surroundings. 

This is not to say I don’t have respect for women. Are you kidding me? I worship at their alter. I tried for years to make things work in serious relationships all across this great big country of ours. They all either blew up in my face or disappeared into the night as if they never were mine to claim in the first place. 

Sometimes I wonder if my purpose with females is to simply show them the respect and love they all deserve, but never seem to find from John Q. Public. I like taking them out. I like making them laugh. I like showing them beauty in the world either unnoticed before or merely forgotten since. I like making them feel special, because they are just that — incredible specimens my fellow man will spend eternity trying to figure out.

So, here I am, still strolling down this rugged path I chose those many years ago, when my options were to do what everyone else does, or to do something different, something wild, where my mischievous flashlight of irresponsible enlightenment casts a bright light on the unknowns we all are afraid of, yet all secretly desire to immerse ourselves in. 

Who knows? Maybe I’m just full of shit. Maybe, after all these years, I simply don’t know how to hold together a monogamous relationship. But, maybe I’m just a guy out to take the world by storm, a whirlwind of admiration and adventure, eager to connect the dots of humanity and pure intent. 

Who knows? It’s Friday, and tonight is another chance encounter with fate and femme fatales.



Hot picks

1 Bluegrass legend Peter Rowan will perform at 7 p.m. April 21 at Cataloochee Guest Ranch in Maggie Valley.

2 Mad Batter Food & Film will have a one-year anniversary Burlesque Show at 8 p.m. April 18 in Sylva.

3 As part of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the stage production of “The Actor and The Assassin” will be at 7:30 p.m. April 17-18 and 3 p.m. April 19 at the Haywood Arts Regional Theatre in Waynesville.

4 An Empty Bowl fundraiser will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. April 24 at The Community Table in Sylva.

5 Country/southern rocker Joe Lasher Jr. will perform at 7 p.m. April 18 at the Colonial Theatre in Canton.

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