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in life... we all have our obsessions.

in my life? I Obsess, therefore I am.

now, I'm not talking about passions – as many of us have for music, sports, art, theater, etc... I'm talking full-on-garden-variety-newyork-neurotic obsessions. You know, the bizarre little fixations that make us the quirky and (we hope) lovable people that we are. I think may be just about as New York as you can get to obsess over even the tiniest of things in your life.

Some friends obsessions take the shape of a particular band, famous, signed or not. They know every published detail of their existence (and even more non-published ones). They know every lyric to every song, have profound opinions on the cover art, dream of the complex chord progressions and rare encores constituting of "the b-side from that mildly successful single off their second album". They've collected set lists, are first to own the new album, ep, import, are always front and center at every show (unless of course they fancy the bassist and stand off to the left... which they would know to do because they've memorized the stage set up). Listening to a new album becomes a religious experience, live shows are all consuming, adrenaline-spiking events... sightings on the street reduce them to deer-in-the-headlights, giggly schoolgirl tears.

In other cases, it's baseball. (ok, or football – but I hate football, so I'm going to pretend that I don't have friends obsessed with teams full of roughnecks) More specifically with my friends & family, it's the Yanks or the Sox, with little deviation from those two teams. In this case you get two obessesions for the price of one. Your home-team fixation spawns a counter obsession with hating your team's arch rival. This level of "fandemonium" involves not only having an in-depth knowledge of your own team - it's players, their stats, team records - but also a vast history of the rivalry at your fingertips. W-L records at home or away, instant recall of a pitcher's success rate against various players, number of WS titles, pennants, division series... you name it, they know it. Grown men weeping for joy after a victory, women swooning over a no-hitter, fans clobbering each other for the chance to throw back a loathed enemy's homerun ball - trust me this is obsession at it's All-American best.

Since the dawn of time, single women will obsess over men. We fixate on every phone call, every text message, hell - every facial tick... we keep track of who started each conversation, the look on his face when he first sees us, which friends he's introduced us to, all of it. We're consumed with the need to figure out their intentions before they do. Probably yet another exercise in self-preservation... after all, if we can grasp that he's not in it for the long haul we can bail before we get hurt. Sorta. Maybe. Ok, so not even half the time... but that doesn’t stop us from dedicating far more waking hours to racking our brains trying to figure out "him" than he deserves.

In my case though, it's goes beyond dating or bands or baseball. It's a little of each, and occasionally none of them – but it's always something. Some may say this is because I'm rather prone to obsession as a way of deflecting my attentions from the minutia of my own life, others may suggest that I'm just a tad OCD... but whatever it is? It's clear that I have a natural inclination towards tunnel vision. Today's fixation was on these, which really is quite odd for me. Unlike Carrie Bradshaw and the legions of women who related to her Manolo addiction, I don't normally have such an emotional reaction to shoes. But I absolutely adore these shoes – I have a CRUSH on the goddamn shoes. I saw them and knew instantaneously that I needed to have them. I immediately began a fantasy that started and ended with my wearing these beautiful shoes every day this summer. And then I noted the price tag. ouch. four bills? Are you kidding me? How could these shoes that I need be so ridiculously out of my price range? How could anyone, let alone poor little me (barely getting by paycheck to paycheck) justify spending $400 on a pair of shoes! My heart sunk... I will never wear these shoes I whispered dejectedly to myself. Even if I could afford them, I could never bring myself to actually buy them. And so it is, I will never know how it feels to jaunt down the street, lacquered wedge heels clicking beneath me, beads jangling at my ankles... then all of a sudden it HIT me. This is how it feels to love a man you can never have. This is how I can finally explain that concept to my heart. I know this must be sounding incredibly bizarre, but hear me out a moment if you will...

Up until last year, I was unfamiliar with coveting unavailable men – I just never had any interest, or I don't know, never ran across one? To put it mildly, I was rather spoiled. I never met a boy I really liked, or perhaps more accurately, really lusted after that I couldn't, or didn't, have. Hold up with your filth-mongering minds. This is not a confirmation of my mysteriously garnered and wholly unwarranted reputation for bedding down half the LES. When I say "have" I'm not talking biblically in all cases – in fact, more often than not, it's been limited to a little harmless tonsil hockey. But nonetheless, there haven't been a whole lot of unrequited crushes in my past... at least not physically. [sidebar: this should also not be taken as some sort of arrogant stab at self-aggrandizing. Being able to kiss a boy you like and being able to date him are two very very different things] Enter my immersion in this crazy indie-heavy music scene... suddenly this is no longer the case. There are things in this candy store I can't have, and I'm simply not used to that! See it, want it, have it... and now you're telling me no!!? My brain didn't know how to process that concept at first, or actually my brain had it down, but my heart couldn't quite grasp it.

But here it is in a nutshell... you see him, and you're attracted, so you investigate further. You examine his exquisite detailing, and decide you need to have him. You begin day-dreaming about your happy life together: how he'll be the perfect fit for you, how incredibly sexy and fabulous he'll make you feel, how you'll want to eschew all others for him... and then? Just as you're ready to ride off into your imaginary sunset? Out of the corner of your eye you spot... her. She's the price tag. The one that says "you will never have him". And maybe you curse him for even being IN the catalog with a price like that. But eventually? You resign yourself to the inarguable truth that even if you could have him, you could never justify being with him as long as the price remained. And you know it's true... partly because you could never live with yourself if you made that kind of decision, partly because you could never fully enjoy having him all the while knowing how costly he had been, but wholly because it's who you are. Of course this in turn generates a round of self-doubt that is often focused to a rather fine point - on the price tag herself. Or rather (in this rapidly unraveling metaphor) on this woman who has the ability to set such a desirable object so far out of your price range. And we're off to the races with how's and the why's, the inevitable comparisons, and the "why aren't I the kind of woman with $400 shoes?", and it progresses from jealousy to envy, and even occasionally to idolatry... but normally can only end with – can you guess?
A new distraction to obsess over.

btw? runner up songs for todays title:

Elvis Costello - (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes

Animotion - Obsession


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(Deleted comment)
Apr. 27th, 2005 09:59 pm (UTC)
Re: blah
I wrestle with that same thought every day of my life. And yet? can't drag myself away entirely
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