Wednesday, July 22, 2009

And Yet Ryan Miller Is Still Not My Husband

My mother has a habit of collecting magazines from the girls at work.  She takes their O magazines and Cooking Lights and Real Simples, and she puts those in a pile with her own Better Homes and Gardens and Country Homes, and when she's done reading them, she puts them in a giant box and gives them to me.

When I came home at the start of July, she hefted a box into arms.  

"Here you go," she said.

"I haven't finished the last box of magazines," I said.

"Take those magazines!" she said.  "Bye bye!"

So I did.  And because I didn't have the last box of magazines she gave me home, I dipped into the new box.  Last night I was in bed, tolerating Jimmy Fallon only because Alec Baldwin was on, and I think Alec Baldwin is some sort of comedic genius--seriously, that episode of 30 Rock where he channeled Tracy Morgan's father? AWESOME--and the two of them were actually being pretty funny together, and I was ignoring the fact that I think Jimmy Fallon is sort of a tool, and I was doing all this while flipping through one of Oprah's magazines.

When I got to the back, where there are a slew of inspirational, motivational articles, I got sucked into one about making your own luck.  Most people who consider themselves lucky, the article argued, actually make their own luck.  They approach life with a charming, outgoing attitude that appeals to other people, thus opening seemingly "lucky" opportunities with very little effort on their part.  People who consider themselves unlucky actually make themselves unlucky, and they often walk by amazing opportunities that could be blossoming before their eyes.

The article centered around the story of a psychology professor who had been trying for tenure--she'd worked nonstop for, like, four years and then finally got her tenure--and the day after she was awarded it, she woke up and realized she had no life.  So she made a promise to herself.  She was going to get a life.  She was going to enjoy things more, and she was going to try to make herself appealing to men.  She was going to be more outgoing and spontaneous.

A few hours later, she pulled into the drive-through dry cleaners and handed off her clothes to the man in the store.  They flirted.  She gave him her number.  He called later that evening.  They fell in love and eventually got married.

The article advised this: if you think it, it will come.

And I started thinking about that.  I wondered if maybe I'm always setting myself up for being unlucky.  It's not that I think I'm unlucky in everything.  I think I've been very lucky in lots of areas of my life--family, friends, and especially work--but I seem to be the resident sad sack when it comes to men.

And maybe I do talk myself into being unlucky in love.  Maybe I always start off poorly.  You wouldn't believe the level of neurosis brewing in me at the beginning of a relationship or even when I've decided there's a boy out there I think is cute.  I immediately start making lists in my head, and at the top of those lists of things that make me unappealing to men is this: my teeth.  This guy will never like me, I think, because I have jacked up teeth.  I look like a jack-o-lantern.  A beaver.  A woodchuck.  I look like a beaver or a woodchuck carved into a jack-o-lantern.

Before I left Maine for Buffalo at the end of June, my office-mate and I were discussing the possibility of me doing some Internet dating, and I said if I decided to do something like that he was going to have to be my profile editor, my picture approver.  I said, "I'll have to make sure I have a close-up picture that shows me with an open-mouthed smile."

"Why?" he asked.

I smiled for him, to show off my gap.  "Because of this," I said.  "Guys need to see that.  It's a pretty big part of my face."

"Because of WHAT?" he asked.  He narrowed his eyes to peer at me.

"My gap."

"Oh, give me a break," he said.  "I didn't even notice it."

I told him he was a liar.  I told him it was impossible to miss the gap, which used to be much bigger before I had braces, before they did the frenectomy to eliminate the flap of skin that caused my teeth to sit so far away from each other, before they added resin to my two front teeth to make them appear even closer together.

"You have a beautiful smile," he said.  "I don't want to hear anything more about the gap."

"Just the same," I said, "if I ever do this, I am going to make sure my profile picture has an open-mouthed smile just so the guys aren't shocked when they meet me."

He thought that was a whole bunch of worrying about nothing, but then I told him stories from when I was in middle school, when my arch enemy, a boy named Dallas--he nicknamed me Beef because he thought I was chubby and ugly--leaned across the table in science class and stuck a pencil between the space in my teeth.  He laughed and jabbed that pencil at me while I shrieked and tried to get him to stop.

And then, of course, there's that night from grad school, years after anyone had made fun of my teeth, when a drunk girl harassed me about them and made me feel like I was eleven years old again, and I spent the night gluing my lips together so no one could see my teeth.

And while those are compelling reasons to be nervous about how I appear to the opposite sex, maybe (definitely) I dwell on them too much.  The author of the article would probably say that if I changed my attitude, if I really believed it, felt it, wanted it, if I woke up thinking I was going to meet a good man, a nice man, a man who doesn't care how different my teeth are, then that would probably happen.

But you know what? Telling an author to visualize something, to really live and believe the things in her head, is like instructing an accountant to spend the day using her addition and subtraction skills.  I'm a skilled visualizer.  I've pictured it and hoped for it and--the article said this step was important--prepared my mind for the potential opportunity every day of my life.

And yet Ryan Miller is still not my husband.  

To be fair, I've spent a lot of time over the years preparing myself for what it would be like to finally get it together and get a good guy in my life--even guys who aren't even celebrities; guys I went to school with or worked with or met through friends--but none so vividly as Ryan Miller.

My Ryan Miller love clicked along at a healthy pace that year I came back to Buffalo after graduate school.  That year while I was adjuncting at the big university in town I was driving the 40 minutes each day and spending a lot of that drive time, which was happening during the Sabres' seriously hot streak, imagining ways I could somehow happen into Ryan Miller and make him love me.  

Everywhere I went, people were telling me stories of how they bumped into Ryan Miller or knew someone who bumped into him or knew someone who was the sister of the girl who was dating Ryan Miller.  My students said they saw him at one bar.  My friends said they heard rumors Ryan liked to be at another bar.  People were full of advice that was given to get me a chance at glimpsing the goalie who looks so good with stubble and a winter hat.

But I never did get to see him.  In person, at least.  (Well, okay, except this time.)  On my drive to school each morning, I constructed elaborate plans that were surely going to get me close to him.  Generally, my daydreams--my visualizations, my mind preparation--involved my friends and I going to some swanky bar, wearing swanky clothes, and drinking swanky drinks when a few of the Sabres happen into the bar.  One things lead to another, and Ryan Miller--shy, uninterested in scoring with one of the blonds throwing themselves at the team--will be introduced to me by one of the other guys, who decides I look smart and savvy and like a good match for their thoughtful, brooding goalie.

Don't judge me.  I was bored on those drives.  I was scared I would never get a real job and that I'd be an adjunct forever, stuck trying to teach students some of the most important things they'll ever learn, all for $2,500 per class.  I was angry with the Wily Republican and fairly certain I was never going to love anyone as much as I loved him.  

I was cranky.  I needed an active fantasy life.  And so I busied my mind.  I prepared for the potential opportunity.  

And yet, yet, yet.  No Ryan Miller.  Still no Ryan Miller.  

I think lucky people are still just inherently lucky.  The article said a person who thinks she's unlucky will never see a twenty dollar bill on the sidewalk as they breeze past, but I have a good streak of finding lost money--one time my father and I found something like fifty dollars scattered in small bills in an Old Navy parking lot--but I can't find a man who will stay to save my life.

But even so, this doesn't mean I'm giving up the occasional Ryan Miller daydream.  Sometimes during a particularly rough day on campus, I'll glance up at my bulletin board, where there are two full-color spreads of Ryan from the Buffalo News--and I'll think, Christmas break.  I'll be at a bar.  We'll meet.  We'll talk about the musical loves we have in common.  I'll give him good books to read.  A few months later, the cameras will cut to me during the game--I'll be sitting with the other girlfriends and wives--and the commentators will talk about me, about how Ryan Miller has been especially on, especially good, especially precise since he started dating that college English professor, and aren't we all lucky that happened?

It's not a bad daydream to have.  And if it in any way gets me closer to a hockey husband--or, hey, just a good guy who will love me and my jacked up teeth--then fine, then okay, then bring it on.

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