Thursday, July 19, 2012

Oedipus, Fate, and Second Chances

I don't usually post about my dating life, nor to I usually talk about Greek literature; I think today's a good day to break both of those precedences.

Last month, while at church, I saw a cute new girl who looked awfully familiar. After talking to her for five minutes, I figured out that we were both art majors at BYU at the same time. I figured that I had probably worked as a figure drawing model in one of her classes, but later that week, it dawned on me where I knew her from...

Three years ago, I was introduced to one of my favorite things ever: Incredibly Strange Movie Night. A guy in my character design class invited me out to it, and I thought that it sounded like a decent date idea, so I asked out a girl from one of my other classes. It was a great time, laughing at bad movies, but then there was the most awkward private performance ever:

This guy. In a room of nine people. And my date. You might think he's a hilarious parody of rappers, but that's not an act; it's as good as he gets. Shortly after this date, the girl tells me that we should just be friends. I blame Bee Money.

Fast forward to present day, I have a date with this same girl, and she has absolutely no recollection of the fact that we went on that date three years ago. All she knows is that I look vaguely familiar. Fate has given me something truly unique - A Second Chance; not like the second chance that you ex begrudgingly gives you when you want to make up, but a legitimate clean slate.

I start thinking of all the things I have going for me right now that I didn't have before: salient similarities, money, a car, and more confidence. When the date rolled around, I learned from my previous mistakes. I make some lasagna and decide against watching an episode of MST3K with her, as that would be in the same category of incredibly strange. Conversation goes really well, but at the end of the night, it happens again. She tells me that we should just be friends.

At first I'm mad at myself for screwing up twice in a row, but then I wonder, "if I could groundhog's day that date over and over, is there any possibility that it would end with 'let's just be friends'?" And I'm reminded of Oedipus.

You see, one day Ed's mom and dad went to the Oracle to ask what their son would do with his life. Oracle's answer: kill the dad and marry his mom. Being good parents who don't want to kill their kid just because he might commit murder and incest, they decide to be humane and ship the kid really far away, so he won't be able to do that. The result: he kills his dad and marries his mom. And why did he do it? because these ugly wenches decided that he would.

So basically, the moral of Oedipus's story is that if the fates decide something's going to happen, you're kind of screwed. I've never been a fan of this line of thought, but my second chance date made me realize that some things in life can't be changed. The fates decided that this girl was going to tell me that we should just be friends, no matter how or when I asked her out.


Adam said...

Q. What kind of human being tells another that they should just be friends after the first date?

A. One you're better without.

Elvia said...

...and from thus do we obtain wisdom.

Anonymous said...

"... as that would be in the same category of incredibly strange."

If life gave you a second chance to do things differently, why would you do it the same again?

Sandi Gonzales said...

That's how most people interpret Oedipus. I look at it like this: Oedipus became a tragedy because his parents are selfish.

They leave him on a hill *to die*, so he is raised by parents who actually love him. He leaves home to avoid killing his father and fornicating with his mother.

So why did Oedipus end up meeting his so called fate? Because his parents were selfish. If they had taken responsibility and raised their son the tragedy would have been avoided.

Fate is a creation of human actions. Sure, it sucks, but it also is incredible sometimes.

Sandi Gonzales said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim's doodles said...

But would he still have killed his dad and married his mom if he grew up at home? My comparative literature professor says yes. The Oracle predicted it. It was decreed by the fates.

Mariah Winder said...

You're right, Jimador. The whole point of fate is that no matter what you do, no matter what your intentions are, your future is already decided and there is no other outcome. Doesn't matter if his parents 'weren't selfish' or whatever.
And this girl is CLEARLY insecure. Unless you were being a pig, but you're not, so the only other reason to friend zone on the very first date is because there's a problem with her.

Sandi Gonzales said...

Your literature professor just regurgitated the most common literary analysis of Oedipus Rex; however, any literature teacher worth his/her salt should tell you that any conclusion based on text evidence is correct. If Oedipus had stayed with his birth parents, and they had responsibly raised him, he would have recognized his father; therefore, not thinking he was some jerk he could kill without consequence. I'm also quite confident concluding Oedipus would have recognized the hideous taboo of sleeping with his mother if he had only known who she was.

Yeah, if you believe in fate there is nothing you can do to control your existence. Everyone is destine to take the had he or she is dealt and there is not a damn thing to do about it. If I believed that was true I'd quit taking my medications and die a slow and uncomfortable death.

As for why the girl rejected you, I guess there's no telling, unless you'd like my to kidnap and hold her head in a bucket of water until she agrees to tell me why she acted as she did.

Jim's doodles said...

If I had to guess, I'd say that she has unrealistic expectations for what first dates ought to be like. For me, as long as there's attraction, good conversation, and a lack of red flags, we're clear to move on to the second date.

I replayed it in my mind a few times, and there really wasn't anything big that I could have done better the second time around. It's as if fate had already decided ahead of time the we ought to be just friends, and by fate, I mean the chick I went out with.

Sandi Gonzales said...

She might have had unrealistic expectations, but I think she just did that thing people do to be polite. You asked her on a date, so she said yes to be nice. I really hate when guys do that to me 'cause I feel like crap afterwords.

The decent thing for her to do would have been to say no if she had already decided y'all could only be friends, but people are seldom that considerate. I concede she created a bit of fate you could not control.

Now then, the instructions at the top of this comment box instruct me to: "Give Jim some love," so Jim, you are a fantastic person. I've twice driven halfway across Texas just to hang out with you because you amuse me. You might be the most delightful person I know. You treat me with kindness and respect and make me feel important. You are intelligent and ridiculously talented.So talented.

Frankly, I don't know you all that well, but you have earned my respect which is no easy task. I'm supercritical and judgemental, yet I find you trustworthy.

When you see Fate walking step aside and choose a new path that makes you happy.

Adam said...

"...any literature teacher worth his/her salt should tell you that any conclusion based on text evidence is correct."

This is ridiculous. Any conclusion is correct? Then Jim's teacher's conclusion was correct. This is a self-defeating argument.

Sandi Gonzales said...

Her conclusion is correct; it's just not the only viable interpretation.

Literature is extremely open-ended. If one doesn't like it, study math.

Adam said...

Let me see if I've got this right:

Oedipus would have killed his dad and married his mom if he grew up at home.


Oedipus would not have killed his dad and married his mom if he grew up at home.

To quote another Greek dude, "One cannot say of something that it is and that it is not in the same respect and at the same time." I learned that in math class!

Jim's doodles said...

Schrodinger's Oedipus

Sandi Gonzales said...

Yep, Adam, they are both correct answers. This is why sometimes I miss teaching math. English has more possible answers than stray dogs in an alley behind a catfish restaurant.

Adam said...

Aristotle was not a quantum physicist