I am afraid of women.

There, I said it.

I’m not proud of it, but it’s true.

Women terrify me. I’m only afraid of two things in this world, and one of those things (things is not the right word, god damn my stupid man-ape brain) is women. The other is clowns. Clowns grip my heart with hands made of ice, with their dead eyes and their bone-white skin and their oversized shoes and fiery red hair. *shivers*

But I can live with my fear of clowns — it’s called Coulrophobia, and it’s a real thing — because I don’t really care if they like me or not.

But I do care what women think of me, and maybe that’s the problem. But I’ll never know, as I’m too afraid to ask.

I’ve been scared of women since I was thirteen when I began to realize that there were certain differences between boys and girls that I really found appealing. I had this epic, four-year-long crush on this girl named Gini, who was this blonde cheerleader in my grade who had the sweetest brown eyes you ever saw.

Every day at school, I’d plan my route from one class to the other in hopes of walking by Gini. Every once in a while, my cunning ruse would work, and there was Gini walking down the hall, doing the various things that beautiful girls do.

I’d hold my breath and my heart would start pounding and I’d say “Hi Gini!” and make eye contact with her as we crossed paths.

Gini was really nice. She’d always say hi to me back. When she did, I’d bust out this ridiculous grin that would stay smeared on my face for a solid hour.

I wrote a novel when I was in high school, because I was a dork with limited people skills, and I dedicated it to Gini, because in my mind that was how you got girls. But that is most assuredly not how you get girls.

Anyway, the book took me three years to write. It was trash, but not many high school kids write novels, so the local paper did a story on me and I got this big scholarship to go to college.

And I really did dedicate it to Gini, who thought it was really sweet, but by that point, I was so anchored in the Friend Zone that it would have taken a team of oxen to drag me from it.

I never did get to date Gini, and I certainly never kissed her. But the book did produce a scholarship, which afforded me the chance to go to college, where I got to have all sorts of calamitous interactions with the opposite sex. So I had that going for me. Which was nice.

I should clarify a few things. I’m not afraid of all women. My Mom and I are cool. I have three sisters, and they’re okay too I guess. Older women don’t scare me, and neither do little girls. If I’m being honest, it’s just the women I find attractive. Holy crap do they give me the creeps.

And I was married, too. For a long time. I got engaged again after that marriage fell to pieces, and things were fine for a while until suddenly they weren’t. And those are really the only two relationships I’ve ever had of any significance. Because I’m terrified of women.

When it comes to women, there are two basic scenarios that frighten me. The first is the part where you meet them. In my life, I have asked a woman for her phone number exactly once. It actually worked just fine, but for some reason, I’ve never been able to work up the courage to do it again. I see guys doing it all the time, but for me, you might as well ask me to navigate a high wire naked over a pit of sharks.

The second scenario is the degree to which women can hurt me once I’ve somehow conned them into marrying me, or being engaged to me, or otherwise dating me in some respect.

Some men have a fear of being burned alive or being eaten by zombies. For me, it is being hurt by the woman I love.

I am not a coward. I’ve been working with dangerous people — violent offenders, pedophiles, meth addicts, gang members — for several years. They don’t scare me at all.

But that’s because they could never hurt me quite the same way a woman can.

Maybe it’s that I don’t really care what those people think. Maybe it’s because I figure physical wounds eventually heal. I do recognize the contradiction, though. And it bothers me. I mean, who the hell is afraid of a beautiful woman?

I need to be fair to myself. I’m not afraid of women all the time.

Mostly, it’s the part where you go up and talk to them in a bar or wherever. Sometimes I do the online dating thing, which is a form of masochism best not discussed in polite company. I don’t have any problem asking women out on forums like that.

In-person though is a different story.

Here’s a common scenario. Let’s say I’m at the gym and I spy the woman of my dreams doing cardio. I’ll stand at my station like a drunken baboon for what seems like an eternity, trying to figure out how best to make my approach. And then I’ll start entertaining these scenarios.

What do I say? Is it okay to compliment a woman, and if so, what can you compliment her about? I don’t know a damn thing about her at this point, so really I only have physical things to reference. Which is not good.

I’m a sucker for gorgeous eyes, but does that make me sound like a serial killer if I acknowledge their beauty? Hell, I don’t know.

Is it okay to compliment them on their bodies? They are, after all, at the gym. If I had spent years perfecting my shit, I’d be flattered if a woman told me I had nice legs. But these days, saying things like that is both offensive and weird.

So I stand there like an idiot, planning my approach vector. Meanwhile, my throat begins to close and my tongue gets really dry and spongy. So then I’m worried I will literally not be able to speak, but maybe that’s okay, as apparently whatever you say will be taken as a mark of offense.

Then I end up not going because to introduce myself is to invite ridicule, judgment, and contempt. By holding off, I avert all the rejection and humiliation and I get to stay single and lonely, where nobody can ever hurt me the way I’ve been hurt before.

In recent years, my strategy has been to get my female friends to introduce me to their female friends, as I figure that takes all the guesswork out of the whole I saw-you-at-the-gym-cold-call-scenario. But that strategy has yet to bear fruit because not surprisingly, many beautiful and intelligent women are already betrothed to another.

I’d like to get past my fear of women, but to do that I really need to, you know, start talking to them. I met both my ex-wife and my ex-fiancé through mutual friends, so my current strategy seems sound, despite the monkey shit-fights that were my marriage and my subsequent engagement. Sure, those ended horribly, but I doubt it had anything to do with how I met them. Or did it?

Christ, I really don’t know.

I’d really like to do some research about this, maybe interview some women and get their point of view. Except I’m scared of women, so that would probably be a disaster. But I need to get to the bottom of this, and soon.

If you enjoy my writing, feel free to visit my blog, Blunt Therapy. I’d be happy to have you as my guest!