Ghosts of Different Days (Joce)

About the only thing that’s perfect about me is my vision. I haven’t taken an eye test in years but it’s never tested lower than absolutely flawless. As a kid, I thought I was really missing out on an accessory opportunity by not getting to wear glasses or bright blue contacts (keep in mind I was also jealous of the girl who broke her leg because she got to wear a pink cast.  Everybody signed it!). I’ve since come to realize that the additional expense of a medically required accessory leaves a little to be desired (sunglasses are more than enough) and I’ve reallocated my jealousies to wishing I had perfect hair, or perfect skin or a perfect ass. Even more unfortunately, there isn’t a glasses equivalent for the ass - that accessory that remedies the less than perfect characteristic. Unless you count Spanx. Which I don’t. Spanx are way less cuter than a pair of specs.

Supposedly hindsight is 20/20. Mine isn’t. The further I get from the past, the harder it is for me to recall what happened, what was going on, how I felt, what I said, how I reacted. I’ve never been one of those people that could recount, word for word, a conversation. Or remember a date, an anniversary. I’ve had lifelong friends that I can’t remember for the life of me what their birthday is. What year did I graduate from college? Good question. What was I wearing? Probably, likely, something cute, but, unless there’s a picture from the moment in question, your guess is as good as mine.

I’ve been going to a counselor lately to work on some life strategies. Clearly, I need some new tools for my toolbox. And he’s been asking me a lot of questions about the past, past relationships, past lives in past places. And, I don’t have a lot of details to give. He asked me the other day about Bryce, “what attracted you to him at the beginning?” (I’d asked him to help me figure out what attracts me to bullies, manipulators, tough and mean guys, so I don’t do it again, HALP!) Honestly, I couldn’t remember anything, anything except the basic timeline. I had to go back and read some emails, my blog, my diary, to fill in the details, to clarify.

 After that, I realized that Bryce was well-spoken, interesting, driven, not to mention, actively pursuing me. Mostly, he talked a good game. And I’m such a good listener that I didn’t bother to notice that he didn’t follow the talking up with action. He told me exactly what I wanted to hear, using the best possible words and he presented an elaborate façade that distracted me from who he actually was. He hid the hoarding part, the ‘roid rage, the pet abuse, the shifty financial situation. Until it was too late and I was so over my head that I was afraid to back out. I’m the kind of person who tends to put my money where my mouth is. If I say I’m going to do something, I make a concerted effort to do it. In other words, I’m a man of my word.

And, I tend to take a man at his word. Which is why, perhaps, I ended up with Bryce. And Ken. And Malik. And Conover. And, of course, Rocco. Each of these men presented a self, at least in the beginning, that was far different from whom they actually ended up being. They all said the right thing, talked a good game, but had a much harder time walking the walk. Each of them sold their refrigerator to an Inuit (me), but then couldn’t figure out (or never had the intention of) delivering a unessential major appliance to a remote destination.

My counselor has suggested that I actually get to know the next man I fall in love with. That I give them enough time to follow through with action (and repetitive action) on their grand claims. This seems like it might be a good idea. But…how long is long enough? How long until someone’s true colors are revealed? What if he’s the next Clark Rockefeller and I ended up getting schemed for years? A decade?

So, I’ve decided, hindsight is only making me more nervous, less confident of my ability to judge character, and terrified that I’m going to make a bad choice, for the 1,450,000th time. What I need is some forward vision! A crystal ball of sorts.  I need insight into the true personality of the men I date. So, I’m turning to The Secret Language of Birthdays: Personality Profiles For Each Day of the Year. A book by Gary Goldschneider and Joost Elffers (Penguin Studio, 1994). And as proof that there actually might be something to this, I present you some entries (abridged) of those who have come before…

The Day of the Modern Irrepressibles (Bryce)
“With great nervous energy those born on this day push themselves on, seeking perfection, but their need to eliminate all faults from what they do can be a bit extreme...their highly critical focus places strain on family, friends and co-workers.

Typically, [these] people are alternately dynamic and contemplative. It may, therefore, be difficult for those who live and work with them to know when to approach and when to stay away. Should they catch [this person] in the wrong mood, they may be sorry indeed. [They] are not the most patient with those who misunderstand them.”

The Day of the Scrambler (Malik)
“…born fighters and thus tend to find themselves involved in struggles of all kinds. Often controversial, their ideas and personality invariably become a focus of discussion and scrutiny. It is generally due to the extreme nature of their views and their forceful manner of expressing them that they arouse antagonism. Rarely will they tone down their rhetoric. Indeed, they would rather fight than switch.
Both men and women born on this day do have an excitable nature, however, and are quite capable of having fits when they are repeatedly frustrated.

Those born on this day often display an interest in antisocial activities, illegal practices and borderline business operations of many types.”

The Day of Uncompromising Vision (Ken)
“…extremely forward, rarely mitigating the effect they have on others. For this reason the can arouse antagonisms and obstacles which stand in the way of their tremendous desire to succeed. They may fail time and time again in their endeavors to reach personal or social goals, but remain undaunted…[they are] very intense. Because relaxation does not come easily to those so driven, they can wear others out with their unflagging energy.

Sometimes in extreme cases, the personality of these driven people becomes so deeply submerged in the flood of their activity, that it almost seems that they have become forces personified rather than flesh and blood human beings.

In relationships, those born on this day can be extremely demanding. Those attracted or already involved with [this] person had better be prepared for almost anything.”

The Day of the Aerialist (Conover)
“…[they] have a tendency to become isolated; if they spend too much time alone, they can wrap themselves in a kind of personal cocoon completely insulated from the cares and concerns of the world.
Often in their desire to avoid being categorized or pinned down to responsibility, these people become adept at eluding those who wish to ground them. Avoidance can quickly become a device they use to defend those positions they maintain that do not stand up under close scrutiny.”

The Day of the Encounter (Rocco)
“These people may be known as confrontational types because they rarely, if ever, avoid a challenge or back down in a disagreement for the sake of comfort or convenience…Their real strength lies in defense, with the threat of retaliation their most potent weapon. Others instinctively feel that these are people who, like a wasp’s nest, are better left undisturbed.

Not surprisingly, they can make dangerous partners in love relationships. They are hardly lacking in charm or sophistication, but such attributes often hide a more volatile interior than anyone would ever suspect. This side of their character may be revealed suddenly and by surprise, occasioning great alarm.
With startling speed and secrecy, those born on this day are capable of appearing and disappearing like a will-of-the-wisp in the night. Those who value security may be taking a chance choosing such a person for a love relationship.”

And, if should there be any remaining question about the books accuracy…

The Day of Undying Loyalty (Joce)
“The highly dependable individuals born on this day display an unusually strong sense of loyalty which can manifest in relation to their family, friends, nation or perhaps a higher cause. Those born on this day tend to hold the object of their passion in the greatest esteem, even to grant it adoration or worship. Rarely if ever will they forsake their own commitments once they have given themselves fully.

But it is precisely their unswerving loyalty that can present problems for them. It can be pretty uncomfortable at times for others to be the object of such feelings, in fact, care, concern or devotion can both be a source of great security and inhibition to those involved with them.

[They] are often unable or unwilling to disentangle themselves from commitments when things begin going in a bad direction. Though in such “no win” situations, they may well find a way to turn this around, the sacrifice required can be great. On the other hand, should everything ultimately fall apart, those born on this day are likely to move on fresh, perhaps to a completely new area of endeavor. Win or lose they are secure in the knowledge that they have given their best.”