On Friday I joined a hiking group for a trek through some trails at the Indiana Dunes National Park. I gave a ride to a guy who'd posted that he was looking to catch a ride from my neighborhood.
There are certain social dynamics that repeat on these outings: there are lots of single women who are truly out to simply socialize. They chat with one another, with everyone, and their objective is actually the outing itself. There are couples who enjoy hiking together.
And then there are the single, middle-aged men who reek of desperation. Men who enjoy hiking but who really at the bottom of it just want to find a woman. They try way too hard.
I am a magnet for these men.
I am also a magnet for drunks. I had the pleasure of both on this trip.
The thing is, these men clearly think I'm cute. Then they have a conversation with me, and they realize I'm not cute. I'm smart, I'm acerbic, and I'm nobody's mommy. I'm their worst f*cking nightmare, someone who would flay them alive the minute they tried to lay their problems and broken lives at my feet to fix; I am exactly what they DON'T want, and I make sure they realize it before the "oh, look at the short, adorable energetic single woman" look on their face is five minutes old. I do feel sorry for these men, but the thing is, a woman like me isn't looking to fix their lives; I'm looking for a man who has his shit pretty much together before he asks me out. The only project I want to work on these days is painting my kitchen cabinets.
The minute I picked up Ride Guy I smelled the booze. Not strong, but there, and his face read Lifetime Alcoholic. I could sense he was lonely, and I did feel sorry for him; at least until he started on a game I'll call Let's Impress This Woman By Being a Boor.
I'd like to know where the guy is that tells all the other guys, "Hey, women really dig being condescended to! Be a pompous ass, and you'll have them eating out of your hand!"
He talked about wine, and beer, and hikes followed by keg parties. And drinking. And keg parties. And drinking. During the hike another woman and I talked about how we didn't drink that much, and I mentioned how expensive alcohol is, how much food one bottle of wine would buy.
"But what would give you more pleasure, a bottle of wine, or a bag of potatoes?" he asked, smirking.
"Hell, a bag of potatoes!" I said. His smirk gave way to the expression of an android asked a question that throws it into an infinite loop of logic.
On the way back, he made racist allusions, repeatedly reminded me what road to take, and each time I went through a toll told me that I should really get an I-pass, explaining what it is and how it works (this despite my explaining that I know what it is and how it works). As we passed Navy Pier and the Ferris Wheel:
"People don't realize that there is one extant original Ferris Wheel at the Prater in Vien."
I swear to God, he said Vien. Over and over. Why? So I'd ask him what Vien is, of course. Men like this always assume I'm stupid, because they need to feel superior.
"It's in Vien, is very large, and has actual train cars for passengers --"
"I know. I saw it last month."
"You were in Vien?"
"Yes, I was in Vienna last month."
"I spent most of my time in Vien at the Biergarten."
A big surprise, that.
On the bright side, the day was gorgeous, the trails were nice, and I met some nice people. I also caught up with a woman I'd chatted with on previous hikes; we had a nice long conversation while we hiked and Booze Man trailed a woman with a dog.