It seems as though I have been wrestling with Cupid ever since the first pubic hair reared its ugly little head, moving girls from the category of 'icky' to just plain wowza!

Most of us overcome our initial shyness, meet up with someone we synch, and there is a moment where they look into each other's eyes and see eternity. Or maybe two people find companionship and then realize they can't bear to be apart. Whether eros precedes agape matters little, the point is that at some point two people realize they are right for each other, that they have found something worth struggling and working for.

That's how families are born. They aren't born in the back of a pickup, though drive-in movies may play a role. They aren't about drunken debauchery, though life partners should debauch a bit. You can't import one from Eastern Europe. Families are born when two people commit to each other, and agree to bend themselves because they become more as two than they were as individuals.

I have seen them in my life. I remember two aged couples, with Alzheimer's Disease and incontinence, holding hands, reluctant to be parted. I have seen it two men, as one sat by his partner's dying bedside. I have seen this in some of my friends, how they attend to each other, how the presence of their spouse seems to brighten their face. They are not two, they are a team, and there is no 'I' in team.

I have never been one of those people.

I have fallen four times in my life. The first time was with Lisa. She was tall and wore tight jeans, tight rugby shirts, and never a bra, which showed her eternal pokies to great effect. She was brilliant and outrageous, and she fucked everyone but me.

In fact, my relationship with her could hardly have proven more humiliating. I was a virgin back then, never dated, utterly clueless about women. I made one pass at her, slipped my arm around her to caress the small of her back. She stiffened. I interpreted this as 'no' and stopped.. She turned to me, said, "If you aren't capable of good healthy sex" and ran fast as she could back to her dorm, leaving me shaking my head in confusion.

Two weeks later we were at a bar. I was with my friends. She was with her date, the man who had asked her out because she put out. Buzzed she came up to me, sought me out, found me, and asked, "Why do you like me? Why do you care when I'm such a shit?"

I wish i had just grabbed her and kissed her. Instead I tried to logically explain my feelings. She ran and a few minutes later she was in her date's arms, his tongue down her throat. Once again I found myself crushed, utterly confused over what had just happened.

I didn't understand until years later. Back then I didn't know what abused people looked like. I now realize Lisa didn't know what real love looked like. Her father had just left her mother for a new, status wife. She was hurt, bitter and deeply angry. She lost herself in sex and drugs to fill a void in her heart. I understand her actions toward me. I represented danger to her, because I actually cared. If she got involved with me, her feelings would follow, and in her experience, love hurts.

I hope she became a Jesus Freak. This was in 1977, not long before AIDS appeared on the horizon. The path she walked lead to death, either by disease or suicide. I fear she has died.

Next I loved Karen, the first woman whom I had real chemistry with and returned my attention. But she was wiser than i. I wanted too much from her. She left the moment i used the 'L word".

Then I loved Stacy. She wanted a boy toy. Instead she got a romance at a time of her life when romance had become synonymous with pain. I wanted a wife. We parted for years, but now we're friends. Friends with some special memories that aren't unpleasant for either of us.

Finally, I loved Elaine. I met her at a science fiction convention one week after she left her husband. She was beautiful, intelligent, feminine and the first year was magical. She was the only woman I ever brought home to meet Mom and Dad. But that too failed. She is the reason I call myself Transitional Man.

In June i met someone new. A widow. Brilliant. Articulate. Passionate. We spent the first day we met playing footsie. I'm older now and know enough not to get my hopes too high. But I had real hope.

But Cupid once again reared his ugly head and bit me. Soon after Stacy I dated a woman named Tara. She came to my house with a cold sore on her lips. I asked about it. She replied "It's just a sore. Don't worry about it and kiss me."

To my eternal regret, I did kiss her. Repeatedly.

Since 1991 I have suffered from periodic outbreaks of oral herpes. Never have I passed it on. When I feel the 'tingling' begin that signals the start of an outbreak, I declare myself a 'smooch-free zone". I didn't pass it to Elaine, or H, J, L, or D, or any of the other women I have been with since that time.

But my new girlfriend has had an outbreak. Even though we did not kiss at our last meeting, though we certainly did touch. She thinks it came from a towel or something. Now she's rethinking the whole relationship.

I can't blame her for being frightened. I wouldn't wish this on anyone. Perhaps her hopes are are less high than mine, despite our obvious chemistry. She is more liberal than I. I camp, but at race tracks rather than campgrounds. There are a million reasons to break up with someone, and only one good reason to stay together. Maybe we could never have made it.

Such thoughts are little comfort when irony strikes with a red hot poker.