That don’t impress me much

I think in many ways, Western Ideology instills in many of us at an early age, a belief or desire to impress others. We can witness this with children as they show off, or act up, often in an attempt to impress the other children or adults around. By the time I graduated and was headed off to college, I had my eye on impressing one particular group, women.

Now these are my experiences and certainly do not apply to everyone, and certainly not all women. But perhaps there may be a nugget or two of wisdom you can take with you into the world young man (insert YMCA theme song in your head here). Or if you are a woman, maybe you will enjoy a story or two, of foolish attempts made to impress your fellow womankind. To protect those involved in these stories I will use code names, and for those that know me well, you may easily figure them out. Enjoy!

Lesson #1 – Can’t buy me love

During my first year of University I was in an Introductory Economics class, and had been watching this extremely attractive blonde woman Miss N. for about two weeks. She was completely out of my league, but for some silly reason I felt compelled ask her out. So before class, I downed about 3 shots of tequila, and asked her out. And she said, yes. Actually, it seemed too easy… I had spent the past two weeks worrying about it and she simply replied “Sure, where do you want to go?” Being young and dumb, living on KD, student loans, and a fixed budget, I responded with a moronic “Let’s go to the Keg.”

Now I did have a $50 gift certificate to the Keg, provided to me as a gift from my father, so I thought I was set. Until about two minutes into the date when she ordered an $80 bottle of wine, then an appetizer, followed by a Steak & Lobster entrée. I sat there listening as she talked and talked and talked, about herself, looking bored, and barely touching her food. I felt like a complete ‘tool’ as I sheepishly excused myself to go use the washroom.

As I stood there looking at my foolish self in the bathroom mirror, something happened… I splashed some water on my face and wet my hair. First I got mad at myself, mad that I had been so stupid, then, I got mad at her. Seriously! She ordered an $80 bottle of wine, appetizer, and entrée, and then barely touches her meal… it is not like we met in the bar, she was in my class, she obviously must have known I was on a fixed income… but did she care about this fact, apparently not. As I exited the washroom and came down the stairs, I glanced over at the table and could see she hadn’t seen me. I quickly slipped out the side door, got in my truck, and drove off. Arriving back at the University Residence, I proceeded to share some drinks and laughs with my friends, and then simply adverted eye contact with Miss N. for the remainder of the semester.

Lesson #2 – I could have been in the X-Games…

No I could not have been in the X-Games, but a former acquaintance/friend of mine Mr. C mentioned this once to another former acquaintance/friend of mine Mr. BJ, whom happened to be holding a skateboard at the time during one of the college Keg parties I was hosting. Mr. BJ informed me that had he been holding a tennis racket Mr. C would have told him how he could have played in Wimbledon.

Mr. C was a chronic liar. Everyone new this about Mr. C. Mr. C also drove all of my roommates’ nuts, he irritated and annoyed them so much, I made sure to invite Mr. C over every week (I had some passive aggressive tendencies when I was younger). Like clockwork, Mr. C would show up at our place around 7PM, 6 pack of Growers in hand, itching to go to the bar and pick up women. I on the other hand would usually be looking to pre-drink until about 11:30PM before heading out, remember, I was a starving student.

Upon arriving at the bar, Mr. C would begin strutting around, often sporting a white undershirt to show off his many tattoos. Mr. C also suggested, almost daily, that I should be acquiring multiple tattoos. For this very reason, I believe a part of me today, avoids getting another tattoo as the recommendation that I should, came from Mr. C. When Mr. C. would approach a woman, he would begin staring at her over intensely… creating an uncomfortable state right of the hop. He would then proceed to make up some bullshit story about himself. One time I overheard Mr. C. talking about when he was in the Greek Army and they used to fight in the streets like Spartans; I believe this was around the same time the movie Gladiator was released. At another point I recall Mr. C. talking about having to get some rest and not drink too much, as he would be competing in a motor-cross event the next day.

The funny thing is, I never once heard Mr. C. mention to a woman that he played guitar. Truth be known, Mr. C. was one of the most talented guitar players I had ever heard. He owned about 5 electric guitars, over 20 custom foot pedals, thousands of dollars in audio equipment, and had re-built a customized guitar from scratch with a built in kill switch. Mr. C. tended to play a lot of hard rock, and industrial style music. Yet he never told anyone about this talent. Amazing talent, that stand alone, would impress pretty much anyone, and yet he chose to make up bullshit stories that ultimately impressed no one.

So what can we learn from both of these above examples. First, when you use things like money and status to impress someone, don’t be surprised if it works, and you get taken advantage of. Even though Miss N. behaved poorly on our date, I believe I had subconsciously permitted this behaviour to be allowed, by foolishly trying to ‘buy’ her affection in the first place. Second, made up lies and tales are never as interesting or entertaining as reality. There is a big difference between spicing up a true story with effective delivery, and making up some tall tale with so many loose ends and vague events, that the only person you are fooling, is yourself.

I have some hilarious stories from my college years where, my memory is vague, and the stories combine recollections of the fellow individuals present, and hallucinations experienced while socially experimenting with mind altering substances. For example; one time I was in our back yard and I turned around, only to have the BBQ begin talking to me, advising me that I needed to switch my major. Though the BBQ in our backyard never ‘really’ talked to me, when I frame it in the context of being ‘high’ on a mind altering substance, the story becomes funny and entertaining. Note: if I don’t originally set up the frame or context of this story at the start, I will likely end up spending more of my time in padded rooms.

People enjoy stories of real events, and everyone loves to be entertained. You can present the most mundane and boring life events to someone, and if you can deliver your message to them in a funny and entertaining way, you will captivate their attention.

If you don’t know how to do this, find someone who does, read a book on the subject, take a class, and practice, practice, practice. Mr. C. never acquired his 5 guitars, 20 custom foot pedals, and amazing talent overnight. He worked at developing his skill every day over the course of several years. Being an effective storyteller and a conversationalist requires continual practice as well. My introverted self is certainly a work in progress at best, and like anything, I continually put forth daily practice and deliberate effort.

It is easy to sit back on the sidelines, but that is not where the game of life is played. Life begins on the field, outside your comfort zone. Feel that rush of fear… that is life beckoning for you to participate. So bring your God given authentic self up to the plate, and take a swing. If you strike out, keep playing, stay in the game, and maybe you will succeed the next time. Stop caring what other people think of you, as that is none of your business. Hold your head up high, and quit trying to impress anyone other than yourself.  Instead impress upon yourself that you are an individual of value and worth and that you are deserving of all that life has to offer. You will then have silenced the biggest critic and judge of them all, you. Now that is impressive!

-Wes Paterson

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