While working today, I fell head-first into a romantic fantasy (a PG one, mind you) involving a woman with whom I’ve recently been infatuated. (By the way, as you can see with the previous sentence and the title, I’m trying to do my best to not end any of my sentences with a preposition!) Naturally, I could not focus at all for a good while, so I took a lunch break–not only to eat, but also for my favorite pastime: overanalyzing my life to death.
Let’s call this particular woman Oakmont. On this lunch break, I was specifically wondering why my dreams only involved her. To solve this problem, I tried to recall my vast history of lovestruck daydreaming in order to find any patterns that stuck out. This got me nowhere for a while: there was too much data I had to deal with, too much complexity. I was fumbling around in my mind and narrowed my thoughts to this dichotomy: (1) Do I enjoy romantic daydreaming and then simply choose a woman (e.g. Oakmont) to think about? or (2) Is there a woman (e.g. Oakmont) who stands out and then inspires the enjoyment in romantic daydreaming?
To answer this question, I tried to remember instances when I had no interest at all to love-dream. And I found an abundance of times when I was not particularly busy and yet was completely indifferent to recreational love-dreaming. So (1) in the dichotomy above was proven false; love-dreaming possesses no inherent value to me–a woman must inspire it.
This realization helped me gain credence in idea (2), so I then began to think about what made a woman stand out to me. Bam. Just like that, I had a lightbulb moment. There were two conditions that had to be met for me to start mentally fawning over someone.
I must find her attractive. [Note: When I say attractive, I considerably take personality into account; I’m not a totally shallow jerk.]
I must have a shot with her.
This sounds super obvious! And in fact, most philosophical realizations tend to be super obvious when made, but this was quite revolutionary when I discovered it because the criteria explained so much. Let me explain.
There’s another female friend of mine: let’s call her Fiskdale. In general, I definitely perceive I have a shot with her, but I’m not attracted to her one bit. So I normally don’t love-dream about her ever. However, for ten seconds when we were hanging out together, I thought she was an exemplar of callitude. And for those ten seconds, I thought about going on a date with her. But immediately after that duration elapsed, something inside me abruptly found her unattractive again and the fantasy ceased.
There’s another woman: let’s call her Penfield. Quite cute and very nice. But she lives all the way on the other side of campus (a spot, it suffices to say, I rarely visit), studies a major completely unrelated to mine, and I see her once a year. I don’t even have a chance of befriending her let alone pursuing a relationship with her, so I don’t bother exerting whatever limited thinking capacity I have on daydreams revolving around her.
But Oakmont. Oakmont is gorgeous, but not too beautiful to be out of my league and (seemingly at least; I don’t know her quite well) overwhelmingly kind. She lives extremely close to me, and I see her twice a week. If I were to invent a metric to calculate a woman’s score based on attractiveness and I-have-a-shot-ness, Oakmont would rank first. And that’s why she captures my imagination so fully. She’s the prettiest woman with whom I have a shot.
A quick Wikipedia check would verify that my two criteria do blend hypotheses articulated by psychologists and social scientists regarding relationship formation (e.g. the matching hypothesis where people tend to fall in love with others of approximately similar attractiveness to minimize chance of rejection [which factors into both my attraction and shot-ness criteria], the propinquity effect where people who see each other more often have a higher probability of forming a relationship together [which factors into both…but more into ‘shot-ness’], etc.).
Alas, I should head back to work. I sped off to my laptop to jot these thoughts down before I forgot their details. It felt great to rationalize all this, to peer into who I am and why I do what I do. I hope it helps any of you guys/gals with similar concerns and questions. As always, feel free to present your thoughts on the matter.
Fourth of July Regatta at Oakmont Boat Club, c. 1910s
The photographer snaps a picture of the boats preparing for the start of the regatta from the Allegheny River with the Oakmont Boat Club in the background. The Oakmont Boat Club was founded on July 4, 1903, which makes it the oldest inland yacht club in the country. The Boat Club was visited by many illustrious figures, including Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s. C.V. Tiers, the founder of the club, gathered together a number of his friends to begin the club. The first fleet consisted largely of rowboats. The clubhouse of the Oakmont Boat Club, today known as the Oakmont Yacht Club, was located at the bottom of Washington Avenue. The porch afforded a fabulous view of the Allegheny River, which made it a popular spot from which to view the club’s annual regattas. The previous so-called clubhouse was a houseboat that required constant attention to keep afloat. One of the initial requirements of being a member of the club was to sleep aboard the houseboat, so that the bilge pumps would always be manned, since the boat frequently took on water. [University of Pittsburgh Digital Archives]
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I’m counting down the hours until 2014 and going back through all my photos from this year. My favorites are of the new golf courses I got to play - Laurel Valley, Oakmont and Maidstone. My favorites of the golf courses I played before - Stanwich, Bayonne and Bethpage Black. Cheers to another great year on the course!