I remember once, in the old days, when I was in a deep depression. I went to a club to listen to music, but I couldn’t get excited about it. I ended up sitting on a couch.
A woman sat next to me. It was loud. I guess she was talking to me. I didn’t have the energy to respond. Suddenly I realized she was hitting on me. I said some version of no.
She stood up and began screaming at me. “You just think you’re so much better than everyone else! You won’t even let me buy you a drink? Seriously? Like how hard is it to accept a drink from a woman! My God!”
Finally, after about ten minutes of her ranting, one of her embarrassed friends came over and escorted her out.
I remember another time I moved in with a woman who I thought was merely looking for a roommate. She eventually threatened me with a gun when I refused to have sex with her. It was the only time anyone’s ever threatened my life over the issue, but it is one of several times that my overly-literal, autistic self just didn’t understand that sex was assumed to be “part of the deal.”
I also remember a pastor I knew who always seemed very angry when he preached. It was unclear to me why.
One day I was talking with another member of the congregation. We were discussing the angry pastor. I mentioned that the pastor was opposed to gay marriage, but the religious organization he was a part of had chosen to accept it. The other member responded, “So he lost.”
Yes, I realized. He lost.
Later on his behavior started to make even more sense. The church had, over 20 years previously, bought a piece of land. Supposedly the land was intended to be used for senior housing. But 20 years ago, they had been told that it could not be zoned for that purpose.
Finally the church decided to sell the land. The pastor was enraged. He was upset despite the fact that the church had done nothing with the land for two decades, and had no plans to do anything in the future. He was upset despite the fact that the church really needed the money. He was upset despite the fact that no one wanted to take care of the land, and it was mostly an eyesore where people dumped garbage. He was upset despite the fact that selling the land meant low-income housing could be built there, which the surrounding community desperately needs.
But selling the land was admitting defeat.
Twenty years seems like a long time to cling to something you don’t need, just to avoid admitting that you lost.
Coronavirus has given me plenty of time to reflect.
Lately I have been shocked by how much it still affects me when I lose at an online video game. Recently, I dreamed about losing at my favorite game.
Those who know me know how seriously I take dreams. So this is how emotional, on a deep, even subconscious level, I get about losing? Yikes.
And so I look around at my friends. I’m watching business-people, who know how to be successful, running an idea into the ground by making the same mistakes over and over again. As far as I can tell, they had a painful argument about their big concept and they can’t stand to admit that they were wrong. So now they just put more and more effort into something that’s never going to work, throwing good money after bad. That can be an expensive habit, clinging to old arguments.
I watch friends stay in relationships that are obviously dysfunctional or emotionally dead, partly because they don’t want to admit they made a bad choice. I watch people spread rage and anxiety through gossip because they are mad they lost some status competition, seemingly unaware that they are destroying their friendships with the very people they vent to.
I watch people madly pursue things they don’t care about or that would be outright detrimental, mostly because they started pursuing–and now they can’t stand to lose the race.
In different ways, it’s as if I’m watching people curse at reality itself. Like that woman at the club, except that there’s not even anyone left sitting on the couch to yell at. Just some embarrassed friends, wondering if they should intervene.