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My friend Pete has a theory he refers to as “Deep Regret.”
By definition, Deep Regret is the acute anxiety or inevitable apprehension trigged in the average male by the sudden or unexpected appearance of an immensely beautiful girl he innately knows is way out of his league. This girl is so gorgeous, so exquisite, so stunning, he becomes instantly enamored beyond mental functionality and can barely keep his eyes from popping out of his head, let alone bring himself to speak to her. Her beauty and elegance, her feminine mystique are so intoxicating, so staggering, his knees involuntarily go weak, he becomes unreasonably inarticulate, and as a result, just stands there like a n00b with his jaw on the sidewalk.
Naturally, she takes zero notice of him and doesn’t even acknowledge his existence as she gracefully strolls away out of sight, and ultimately out of this life forever. It’s not a conscious thing on her part; she’s not being discourteous or mean by any stretch of the imagination, she’s just that sweet, innocent and utterly charming. She simply has no idea.
Okay. Never for a second have I pretended to have the ever-elusive female charm all figured out, but I can certainly speak for the impending inhibitions that we shy males must deal with. I’d tried to give this crazy phenomena a suitable title for a long time until Pete finally hit the nail on the head. Deep Regret refers to the irresistible longing a boy has to approach and speak to his dream girl even though he cannot physically or emotionally make himself do it. He is trapped in inner turmoil. Stricken by quiet chaos. Utterly helpless. Paralyzed. Despite the inner machine gun spray of stinging desperation, he watches her walk away and spends that night staring at the ceiling wondering WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED had he found the strength to fight back the nerves long enough to say hello. His chance is lost, she is gone, yet he still replays the scene in his head, wishing he wasn’t such a jellyfish around pretty girls. Who knows what might’ve happened? He kicks himself. The wondering alone could choke a moose.
That, dear friends, is Deep Regret.
We opened for John Mayer in Houston a few months ago. Myself and good pal/monitor engineer Micah were hoofing down the quarter mile stretch from the venue to the bus after soundcheck. The sidewalk led us around the perimeter of the grounds before intersecting with a long line of fans waiting to get into the show. We were minding our own business, talking about nothing in particular when suddenly, it happened. I glanced off to my right and my heart literally stopped dead.
It was electric. It all happened in slow motion. There in front of us was a group of girls in their early/mid-twenties, walking and chatting amongst themselves on their way to the show. One of them turned to say something to her friend and I almost had a heart attack. I literally, physically couldn’t breathe. Everything about her was gorgeous. Her eyes, her smile, the way her hair fell across her face, the way she laughed, the way she walked. I was immediately struck by the Stupid Hammer as my frozen charisma melted all over the sidewalk and I stood there gaping like a ridiculous imbecile.
Allow me to pause for a moment simply to clarify that this was NOT a beastly, primal, overly-rugged masculine emotion that took hold of me. I did NOT slobber all over myself via lewd desire like some impudent, lustful, arrogant bro. I did NOT jump up and down and inwardly scream "Woah, that girl is hot!" because it is my personal opinion that the word “hot” has been weighed down by so many repulsive, disrespectful connotations (all thanks to modern media), that it has ultimately become a rather derogatory adjective with which to describe such pure and blameless beauty. It has a devious way of cheapening it and that tends to bug me. Deep Regret and the stunning quality of such unpolluted beauty is far too exquisite and innocent to be associated with such brash crudeness.
Whew. Glad that’s all cleared up.
She was beautiful. Actually, beautiful doesn’t even touch how graceful this woman was. I was utterly smitten. My mouth went dry and my heart beat around inside my chest like a dull jackhammer as the butterflies in my stomach strapped on rusty ice skates and raged in thunderous fury. My malfunctioning mental faculties shuddered and turned over a few times like a cold engine in a winter morning before promptly shutting down. It was the first time in my life I’d truly felt stunned by beauty.
I was speechless. She was Cinderella.
As I stood there incapacitated, she glided by and continued on down the sidewalk, just being totally sweet and innocent. We never made eye contact, she didn’t happen to look up or notice me. She had no idea I was even there. I instantly knew what had happened because it hit me like an iron bell in an empty church.
DEEP REGRET STRIKES AGAIN.
This is where I tell everyone how I’ve never fancied myself a terribly romantic person, and just like anyone, I have my fair share of rough edges. However, during this particular scenario in Houston, had I kept my wits about me and somehow found the nerve to approach Cinderella, I suspect I would’ve merely blabbered a load of silly rubbish via a doomed attempt of acting “cool” or “outgoing” or “fun,” only to fail miserably. Of course, I still wonder what would’ve happened. Alas, the world continues to turn, life continues to endure, and Deep Regret continues to strike like a viper.
Despite all of this, there is hope, endless amounts of the stuff, and that’s my favorite part.
This is where I swallow an overdose of optimism, leap out of my chair with my fist in the air, and shout from the rooftops at the top of my lungs, "Life must go on!" for this I truly know:
She is out there. My Cinderella. She is real. She exists. I pray for her constantly. May God satisfy the desires of her heart, draw her close, consume her. May He claim her passions, her identity, her refuge, her hopes, her strengths and weaknesses, every fiber of her being. May she treasure and cherish her Savior more than anything of this world and cling to His will with every ounce of her stamina. By all that she is, does, and strives to be, may He draw near to her and she to Him.
A mental scene is suddenly vivid. The midday sun beats down on a dirty saloon town. A showdown is taking place in the middle of a sweltering dusty street. Back to back, Deep Regret and I pace off as the clinks of our spurs split the deafening silence. At any moment, we’ll whirl around and face each other, gun metal blazing like fire. Our shots will ring through the empty buildings, shatter glass storefront windows, and only one will walk away alive.
At present, the sunset deepens in the dusk and we are still pacing, Deep Regret and I. Muscles tensed, senses alert, counting, waiting, ready to lunge for each other’s throats like wild animals. Though it hasn’t happened yet, the moment will surely arrive when faith and fear collide like a double train wreck and that’s when I’ll spin around and pull the trigger with such deft aim and vehement resolve, a silver bullet will rip through the air and I won’t even have to stand there and watch it spiral in slow motion… because I’ll already know… I won’t miss.
That’s the cool Wyatt Erp version.
Perhaps the Cary Grant version is a bit more refined. Perhaps I’ll be wearing a crisp tuxedo when I meet her (highly unlikely). I shall approach Her Highness, bow, and graciously introduce myself. She’ll offer me her royal hand, reveal her name to me, and we shall chat pleasantly whilst swirling around a ballroom of dreamy splendor. Our friendship will grow and blossom, and neither of us will ever have to write silly (and rather verbose) blogs explaining what Deep Regret is because it’ll just feel right and perhaps even meant to be.
It’s a cozy thought. Yet one I prefer to casually think about over long flights to Japan rather than wish upon a star right this second.
Time. There is much time left and lots of life seasons. There is much to see, to do, and to be.
I am a happy clam. I must take it all in, give thanks for it, and treasure reality with a heart crammed full of content as life continues to play out day-by-day. Should I do simply that, I shall finally rest assured knowing the next time Deep Regret rears its ugly head, I’ll be waiting with semi-smug confidence, ready to act swiftly.