And Then I Thought I was a Fish

IDENTIFYING INFORMATION: Peter Hunt Welch is a 20-year-old single Caucasian male who was residing in Bar Harbor, Maine this summer. He is a University of Maine at Orono student with no prior psychiatric history, who was admitted to the Acadia Hospital on an involuntary basis due to an acute level of confusion and disorganization, both behaviorally and cognitively. He was evaluated at MDI and was transferred from that facility due to psychosis, impulse thoughts, delusions, and disorientation.

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Observations of a Straight White Male with No Interesting Fetishes

Ever wondered how to justify your own righteousness even while you're constantly embarrassed by it? Or how to make a case for your own existence when you contribute nothing besides nominal labor to a faceless corporation that's probably exploiting children? Are you clinging desperately to an arbitrary social model imposed by your parents and childhood friends? Or screaming in terror, your mind unhinged at the prospect of an uncaring void racing to consume the very possibility of your life having meaning?

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This is the story of a boy, a girl, a phone, a cat, the end of the universe, and the terrible power of ennui.

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The Comedian

Composed on the 30th of January in the year 2011, at 2:38 PM. It was Sunday.

I like short girls. I like tall girls too, but I like short girls more, probably because I feel more manly around them and I don’t have to stand up straight. I also like red headed girls, not for any real reason, really just because I’ve never slept with a red head, and I feel gypped about that. Most important, I like funny girls.

So when I get a message on a dating site from a 4’11” red headed stand-up comic, I can hardly believe my luck. We set up a date immediately, and she shows me some you tube videos of her work, which include her in an improv comic singing group. Improv comedy is hard. Improv singing is hard. I have no idea how hard it is to make up four part harmonies that are funny on the spot, but I imagine it’s pretty hard. She’s the real thing. She also keeps a pretty fabulous blog, not unlike the one you’re reading now.

“This is going to be fantastic,” I think.

The first problem

Remember that bit about short red heads? Well, as soon as I see her, I remember that part of this comes from the fact that I had an on and off relationship with a 4’11” red headed girl in college, whom I treated very badly and who died at 18. It took a long time to get over it, and after five years I just bottled up the remaining emotions and tried to stop thinking about it. Most of the time, even around short red heads, this doesn’t come up, but this girl looks almost exactly like her, which hadn’t registered in the pictures I’d seen online. Even moved like her, which was probably the trigger.

So upon shaking her hand, I’m flooded with memories and suddenly questioning why I’m here and why I’ve been checking out short red heads all these years. Fortunately I have the presence of mind to not open up the date with, “Wow, you look like my dead ex, and I am consumed with confusion and guilt,” but that was just about all I could think about for the next four hours, even after drinking as much and as fast as I could (which wasn’t much; see below). I should have gone home immediately, but my brain solves most confusion, guilt, and death issues by getting horny and trying to have sex with someone.

So the date went on.

The second problem

One of my friends works doing radio shows with comedians, and he dropped this bit of wisdom about a year too late: “You know, I love comedy. Comedians not so much.”

This makes sense when you think about. You know when you’re out with your friends and you all start telling jokes, and everybody’s laughing? You notice how hard it is to tell a really funny joke without laughing yourself, at least after the punchline? You know how if you see someone laughing it’s hard not to laugh yourself? Comedians are people on a stage telling really funny jokes, and they’re not laughing. Laughing is a hardwired form of human bonding, and comedians train themselves not to do it so they can make other people do it. They analyze people laughing and calibrate their routines to make people laugh at certain moments, and judge themselves on how effective they were at manipulating other people’s bonding reflex.

In other words, comedians tend to be dark, antisocial, and weird.

My date was no exception. She didn’t laugh. At all. Not once. She smiled exactly twice. It was like being on a date with a talking turtle. I realized I was working to entertain her, and she was off the clock, and had no interest in laughing or telling any jokes. When I didn’t feel like she was examining me, I felt like she was wondering if I’d give her any material, and mostly thinking, nah, not much here. The few times she told me something funny, I had to laugh, because it was great, and she just stared at me, which made it funnier, but not the kind of funny you want on a date.

The third problem

She was a non-smoking vegan lightweight.

I had to sneak cigarettes during bathroom breaks, which was probably futile, but I did it anyway. I couldn’t really drink at the rate I wanted to, because people start to notice when you’ve had five whiskeys on ice and they’re a third of the way through their first martini.

I’m not what you’d call a heavy drinker or a heavy smoker. I do both too much, but not in the way that’s going to kill me before fifty or sixty. I don’t wake up drunk, and I haven’t thrown up off drinking too much in years. However, I do consume single cigarettes and beverages about twice as fast as most people. Since I was having almost as little fun as it’s possible to have on a date with a guilt inspiring ghost from my past, I really, really needed to drink and smoke, but had to do both at an inconspicuous rate, so every time I got a new drink, I’d finish it in about two minutes, then wait half an hour to get a new one. Since I wasn’t smoking, I spent a lot of those intervening minutes trying to figure out what to do with my hands.

By the time vegan rolled around1[1] I knew this was a failed experiment. There was no way I could sustain this sham long enough to get her clothes off, although since the quiet weird girls tend to be freaks in bed, I was still sort of trying. But the thought of another long and emotionally confusing night of not smoking or drinking or eating meat was too much.

I bailed and let her walk to the subway herself. I would have been more gentlemanly, but I desperately wanted a cigarette and had to get to another bar.


Because I was hard up, and because I’m a fucking idiot, I did half-heartedly try to drum up another date a little while later. I wrote, “Hey, I had a pretty good time if you want to try that again.” She replied, “Well, I guess I’m glad to have been a part of your pretty good time having. I’ll call you when I get back to the state.”

She hasn’t called.

Lesson: Don’t date comedians.2[2]

1 Because taking eggs from chickens is still hurting the chicken. Clearly my usual response, “who really gives a fuck about a chicken?” was not going to go down well.

2 Full disclosure: I’m going to try really hard to violate this rule if I think I can get a chance with Maria Bamford.

I want to get a poster of eyes and tape it to the outside of children's bedroom windows.

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