I like to think I'm a good spectator. I pay attention and cheer when appropriate. I understand rules and get emotionally involved so that I'm gleeful when scoring and heartbroken when scored upon. But I always hate the aftermath - the point where the vanquished must face the victor and shake hands or tap gloves or even nod with some semblance of manners after the skirmish is complete. I mean, one accepts the potential of defeat when entering a game, but to have that possibility realized - to face that you tried and failed - and then to have to look at the happiness that comes from trying and succeeding? It makes my stomach hurt, even when watching it on television.
Perhaps it's that a younger Katie was never athletic (well, I'm still not but I no longer care) and often heard 'Good try!' after being miserably embarrassed over not running fast enough or hitting far enough or ducking one too many times to avoid being hit by the ball. It was not a good try, I would think, annoyed. I'm terrible at this and any sort of lame encouragement is only adding to my sense of ickiness. Because while I understood - even in high school - that kick ball was not going to make or break my chances at future success in life, it still hurt when that ball smacked me in the leg as I was running to the stupid mat that served as a base. And it was not a good game! It was a rather sucky game, actually, and if I could have devised a way to avoid it completely, I would have.
Such, I think, has been my approach to dating and subsequent sex. My skills are meager at best and my confidence - at least in this area as I'm nearly egotistical in others - doesn't really need the additional hits. Still, I'm trying. And doing so happily for the most part so forgive me a temporary lapse here.
I took a long walk with Chienne today, moving around the longest of the paths through the forest and taking deep breaths and attempting to think through what to do next. And I'm preparing, silly as that sounds, with buying lingerie and taking extra care shaving my legs and smoothing on lotions and brushing on powder so I can feel pretty and confident and secure.
"I like processes," I told someone. "The first step leads to the next and then the one after that. And if I don't know what to expect, I feel uncomfortable and afraid and just want to opt out because I can tell I'm not good at this."
But in opting out, I don't get to play. And the feel of a man's lips on my neck, the slight scrape of stubble on my shoulder or his hands slowly moving through my hair are delicious. Biting my lip while slipping the button from the hole in his jeans seems sexy. Reaching to hold his hand while he touches my breasts or finding the pressure with which to touch or taste him... all worthwhile activities, right?
Still, there's this awful potential of failure. Of the moment where I realize it doesn't feel right. That I may not connect. That it may be more interesting that arousing. That I cannot, in fact, stop overthinking things. That I may very well play and lose and end up curled on my loveseat in the darkness being embarrassed and alone and sick with the sense that other people find this easy and fun.
But I remind myself that even a lonely Friday evening spent in pajamas is better than a brightly lit locker room where I struggle out of an ugly red uniform and into my clothes while still sweaty at ages 14-18. And as I finish the last of my glass of Riesling and glance around at my pretty house and wonderful life, I realize that sometimes an honest effort is all I can offer. And even when it stings my pride and hurts my feelings, all that's left to say, perhaps with an apologetic shrug and a nod toward getting better with practice, is, "Good game."