It was 4th of July weekend and plans were set. I suggested icecream; that was a “safe” bet for our first, possibly last, meeting. I opted out of Plan A: meeting him for dinner. Dining with a stranger might pose a problem.
What if my blind date looked like Jabba the Hutt, that Star Wars character?
Ice cream was smooth, easy to “suck down” and fast, but a full meal? That wasn't a safe option. If I wanted to flee The Galactic Republic and ate too fast, I’d be following dinner with the Heimlich Maneuver instead of a sweet desert. Most importantly, I didn't want to ruin a perfectly good blouse. So, we made plans to have icecream.
Ah…the beauty of blind dating…
It was a sunny afternoon, and as I pulled into the parking lot, I saw him waiting for me by the stand. Instantly I knew, even before I had parked my car… I knew. I was there to enjoy good ice cream and there wouldn’t be any connection.
He was very nice, educated and had a lot going for him. What was missing was that mysterious "chemistry”; the illusive combination of physical attraction and natural pheromones.
So, I enjoyed my root beer float (I chose a float over a cup of ice cream; much faster to consume), our short conversation, but knew I didn't want a second date.
When the “date” was wrapping up, he asked me what I had thought about our meeting (Translation: He wanted to know if I would want to meet again) and I fumbled for the right words.
“Uh…um…you’re very nice…I don’t know…what do you think?...” (How could I tell this nice man that I wasn’t interested? I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.) And his response:
“I don’t think there’s a connection.”
Phew! I dodged a bullet…but, heh! Just wait a minute…HUH???
We’re talking Beauty and the Beast here (okay, maybe I’m exaggerating) but what he had just shared came as a complete surprise.
My immediate response: “Oh, good…I feel the same way….”
But I was baffled and couldn’t help myself from probing further:
“But if you don’t mind, what’s your reasoning?…I'm just curious…”
That’s me; transparent like scotch tape.
Most people would want to know the why behind someone’s thinking, but be too afraid to ask. I was comfortable in my own skin and didn’t care what he thought. I wanted to know and so I asked.
His answer: “You’re a great catch …but I sense...a vulnerability...”
So, I bid Jabba ado and drove home.
I reflected on our conversation and my impressions of the man. He had struck me as being a “tight shirt”, closed, guarded, and maybe camouflaging his true self. Let’s just say that he didn’t have “fun” written on the front of his t-shirt.
And how did I come across? Who knows…I really didn't care. I was just being me; authentic, open, fun-spirited, natural and his opinion of me didn't matter.
We were definitely a mismatched pair of socks.
We were completely opposite in style and demeanor. And although I was happy and relieved that I didn’t have to be the "bad guy" and say; “I’m sorry, we’re not a good fit”, his remark bugged me and I began to wonder:
Is being vulnerable a bad thing?
In some contexts, maybe it is; if the person is setting himself up for an attack or injury (like repeatedly choosing the wrong partner, ending up in an abusive relationship, or repeating a pattern of behavior that is destructive, unhealthy, damaging to his/her own ego...). By that definition, I didn't see myself as being vulnerable at all.
So, what did Jabba mean?
“What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.”~ Brene Brown
According to the Tiny Wisdom Blog’s article on being vulnerable:
“To be vulnerable is to be free. It gives you a break from trying to pretend you’re always right and you don’t have any flaws. It gives you permission to show your authentic self and stop taking responsibility for the way other people perceive you. It allows you to try new things and take the risk of feeling awkward or uncomfortable. It also opens you up to the possibility of pain. We never know when we let our guard down that other people won’t hurt us, unintentionally or otherwise.”
Mathew Hutson, in his article, Social Life, Mind Meld, considered vulnerability to be a good thing and one of five catalysts for building a strong connection; the other four being proximity, resonance, similarity and shared community.
“Vulnerability; Opening up to others by sharing personal information, admitting to an embarrassment or even just expressing an opinion or emotional reaction immediately deepens the interaction.”
Ken Page, LCSW, is a New York based psychotherapist, author and lecturer specializing in the search for intimacy. His insights about the search for love have been featured frequently in the media. He wrote, How to Love Yourself First , an article on the topic of becoming your authentic self.
“In my favorite Chipmunks episode, Simon falls head over heels in love, but has no idea how to win the (chip)girl's heart. Dave exhorts him, "Just be your-self." In response, Simon wails, "I tried that already!" When our authentic self doesn't work in the world, we create a false self which lets us feel safe and accepted--but at significant cost. The great psychoanalytic theorist Donald Winnicot said, "Only the true self can be creative and only the true self can feel real." I would add that only the true self can bear the risk of deep intimacy.”
In my opinion, finding a genuine person, open to real intimacy, is like finding a buried treasure…
It takes some digging, luck and is never easy to uncover. If Jabba perceived me to be direct, open, honest and completely comfortable in my own skin, then yes; he was quite accurate in sizing me up and stamping me vulnerable.
Adlai Stevenson wrote: “We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil; all committed for our safety to its security and peace; preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work, and I will say, the love we give our fragile craft.”
"If we all are riding on the same space craft, doesn’t that make each one of us vulnerable?"
And maybe....on that beautiful summer afternoon in July.... if a connection had been created by pixie dust...spawned by the mysterious union of physical attraction and compatibility, that only occurs when every lunar star in the cosmos lines up perfectly and magically, like the fireworks on the fourth of July ....maybe on that particular day...
Jabba wasn't ready for love at all
According to Joyce Brothers, the American psychologist, television personality and advice columnist: “Love comes…When you dare to reveal your true self fully… When you dare to be vulnerable”
For what it’s worth, being vulnerable is alright with me.
Jabba, if you're out there...
If you happen to land on this post, floating and sparkling in a virtual cosmos called blogs, I hope you will consider my point. Vulnerability isn't a flaw, in all cases. Like a rough diamond, without polish, it's beauty is real and cannot be re-created in a lab.
Oh... and one other important point... maybe use less starch in your dry-cleaning.
Happy Fourth of July!