Because “Lisa” Wasn’t Interested In Him

We flew to America on Saturday…

On landing at Newark Airport, we headed to Pennsylvania for a night to visit my dad. My birthday is in September, but I hadn’t seen him since August. He surprised me with a couple of belated birthday presents.

Setting up Alexa has proven a bit more challenging than I’d expected:

More traditionally, a paperback. Of course a Cooper biography, right? You know why…

[Photo by me, 2017.]

My dad has never been a talker or one to share “feelings.” But growing up I knew he possessed a strong sense of right or wrong. And he knew how to impart that to me in a few sharp words.

For example, the father-son “girl” talk. It came out of nowhere from him when I was fourteen. He walked into the den on a Saturday morning, sat in his armchair (my father had his chair we didn’t sit in), and turned to me seconds later as I lounged on the sofa. I was watching a cartoon in my pajamas and having a bowl of Fruit Loops when he caught me completely off guard:

Dad: “You know how girls get pregnant, right?”

Me: [Surprised and embarrassed.] “Uh, yeh, sure I do.”

Dad: “Good. Don’t do it.”

And that was that. The reason for it was my first girlfriend had appeared. Yes, we had kissed (awkwardly); but it was mostly about hand-holding and going to the Mall. (The whole idea of “more” kinda terrified me. And her father REALLY terrified me.) I guess it’s also called being fourteen. His “talk” so stayed with me, I fictionalized it in one of my novels.

[Excerpt from Frontiers. On Kindle for iPad. Click to expand.]

We left Dad on Sunday to travel up here to the Catskills. The house is fortunately still standing. This is “home” to me in many ways…

I recall that teen memory of mine with my dad because we have all heard by now about sleezy film producers and other prominent men in entertainment, business and government, accused or revealed as having behaved over the years as everything from sexual juveniles to outright rapists. Catching up with my father back on Sunday morning, we talked briefly at his kitchen table (feet away from where my mother died in the dining room in 2015, and which is now a virtual shrine to her memory) about those men and their behaviors. As we reflected upon those pointed to as offenders, I found myself remembering high school – and that first girlfriend of mine.

Talking about the present, Dad and I began to wonder aloud: most of these men aren’t exactly “handsome”. We came around to conjecturing that back in high school/college most of them were, well, likely not wildly “popular.” They probably couldn’t get as much as a look from the prettiest of girls with whom they wanted so desperately to “go to the Mall.”

It is possible they just never got over their teens to perhaps early-20s “rejection” experiences. However, several decades later, they’d become immensely powerful in their fields of work and young women not much older than high school age were suddenly “interested” in getting their attention for their own professional purposes. And those young women were usually very attractive as well.

In that powerful man’s “subconscious,” he is still nevertheless the awkward and insecure “16 year old” who admires the prettiest girls in school – but those girls had never reciprocated. And he never forgot that. Maybe he was himself (and this is not to excuse his behavior now, only to think on its possible roots) even bullied by guys who dated those girls he believed should have been with him instead.

Although still teenager-insecure inside, due to how much he had come to “matter” in entertainment, business or government, he develops a massive superiority complex and overblown ego. Now on a personal whim he may accept, reject, or even demean those same types of girls who he believes had demeaned him in school. The tables are – he feels – deliciously turned.

[Stock Photo.]

For he still resents how when he was “age 16″ those girls had never paid him much attention. Inside he evidently believes given his stature and power he can no longer be ignored by them. Indeed he can even prey on them as – in his mind – a measure of revenge for the fact that back in high school or in his first year of college…”pretty Lisa” went out with “Chad” and not with him.

Sadly, though, it is difficult to see how this issue can ever be solved entirely. Yes, those men are now being “named and shamed” and their careers ruined. But currently, below the media radar, in high schools around the world another crop of teen boys who will someday be important in government or entertainment are, as always, being similarly “rejected” much the same way by similar “Lisas” – which those girls are fully within their rights to do, of course.

And those boys’ “rejections” will also remain with them – submerged, but there nonetheless. It may even scar them and impact their whole outlook towards the other sex. It seems inevitable that decades from now other attractive young women on job interviews or acting auditions will be sitting across from those now middle-aged men who are still bitter about being “rejected” by “girls like them” back in high school…