"Never settle, Josh."
That's what she said. I'm being completely serious. We were standing in a bar, our usual after-after hours haunt and she was somehow slipping in sacred guidance before the first round even arrived. This was many years ago, mind you. I'm not sure why I'm bringing it up now. It was one of those nuggets of conversation that never left me. Even if I did end up getting smashed that night, I'll always remember her saying that. It sounded really stupid then and it sounds just as stupid now. "Never settle, Josh." What the fuck does that even mean? That's the problem when women take psychology courses, I guess. You find yourself cornered in a situation like this.
I used to fuck this girl. Years ago. It ended badly I suppose - I wanted to keep fucking and she did not - but time passed and the residual emotional energy was eradicated. That is a beautiful process in itself but it still did not stop the conversation I was now having from happening. For some reason, we were out together again. Sharing that mutual dead space that people 'who used to fuck' usually do. Banal, polite conversation that isn't supposed to veer into anything too serious. Yet there she goes dropping inane statements like "never settle" and I'm left completely dumbfounded. And I wasn't even drunk yet.
We must have been talking about dating or the people both of us were currently fucking. I had long since passed the stage where I cared about who she was with, so I don't even remember what she said. I must have spouted off about some girl I was half interested in - leading to her eventual comeback of 'not settling' as it were. This left me confused because advice like this sounds heavy, in theory. Like the person listening to you actually thought about your emotional state and doled out their best possible wisdom. I knew this girl didn't give 2 transparent fucks about my emotional state. Hence, my bewilderment. She was just shitting words out of her mouth and for some fucking reason...all these years later...I remember them and they still irk me. God damn it.
Listen. Listen to me very carefully. Despite all you have heard from the likes of Emily Dickinson, the women you love will never feel as lonely or betrayed as you. These are beautiful women with a lifetime of being lifted up on to pedestals. They live in a different world. At any given moment they have lines around the corner of men wishing to entertain them for an evening. They can have this every evening. Meanwhile you will sit in your room, no one calling you on your phone and you will stare at the walls. You will continue to stare and contemplate suicide every fucking second. Not too seriously. Not like an overly emotional teenager. You will coldly think about to all your life experience and compare the victories to the failures. For every grand night you won, there were a thousand spent like that. Staring at a wall.
These beautiful women never had that. Yet here she was saying "Never settle, Josh" as if she knew something I didn't about the human relationships, human fate. The narcissism was sickening. The tone. The eye contact. The charade. It was enough to make you wish you were back in your room, alone and staring at the wall again. The walls don't lie to you like that. They tell the truth. They offer nothing but silence. Their tomb is the real meat of existence. Some fucking women offering you dating advice from her lofty social balcony is not. It's not real. None of it is. The thought that I once looked forward to fucking this girl every night was revolting now. The thought that I actually missed her when she was left was worse. The hollowness of the human condition is never more apparent than in that circumstance.
That said, look at me now. Still standing around the same bars making idle conversation. Still staring at four walls waiting for them to cave in. Still not being called on my phone while I watch the beautiful women of the world dance around in their palaces of attention and ease. They have the liberty of imagining their own dramas and tragedies. They come and go as they please.
And yet here I remain.
I never settled, Lauren.