Will's Coffee House

John Dryden, Dramatist, Critic, Poet Laureate, and my ancestor, frequented a coffee house called Will's almost daily, where he would hold forth on sundry subjects with great wit and aplomb. Same deal here, only without the wit or aplomb.

Location: Large Midwestern City, Midwestern State, United States

I am a stranger in a sane land...

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Yet More Night Thoughts

You know, I've suffered from a number of the more unpleasant emotional states related to romance: bitter break-ups, heartbreaks that stretch on for months--even years (I'm somewhat self-indulgent in this respect--as in many others), terminal loneliness, the grim stasis of the dying stages of a long-term affair, unrequited and unrequitable love (both sides of that issue--neither is much fun), and so forth. Right now I'm suffering from several, none of your damn business which. But in the dark of the night, I am struck by a thought that, while it does not warmly comfort, takes the sting down a notch or two:

Inasmuch as I'm in no sense ready to be with someone right now--Thank God. Because if I were, I'd have to genuinely, fully, really, honestly Date. And dating sucks. (I believe I'm quoting Rochefoucauld on this point.) Spending time with someone to see if you want to spend time with someone? What? What?! Isn't that like eating food to see if it makes you sick? True, you never know unless you try, but...failure is just so...morbidly unpleasant. Oh, I know, I know--there's no alternative, and all we can do, if we don't want to be alone, is grow a pair and go out. And that'll happen. But...urgh. She gets in the car, you get in the car (you have opened the door for her, because you are polite), and then...awkward moment of silence, prompted by the realization that you don't know this person, and here she is in your personal space, and what the hell, man?! Then you start the car up and drive. And talk. If you can. If not...more silence--and the evening will be full of them. Waitress takes your drinks order, leaves, and you have to look at each other. Awkward moment. Movie ends, lights come on, each of you looks to see if the other is one of those people who sits through the credits. Awkward moment. End of the evening, and...oh, man, AWKWARD MOMENT. Must we? Surely, there must be a better way? No? Really? Damn--no wonder people stay in otherwise dead relationships--at least the silence in comfortably welcome...


Blogger Jehanus Bleak said...

Are you purposely inflating the difficulties of dating, old friend? Of course, corrupted as most of us are by cinematic romances that lead to "happily ever after" within 120 minutes, on some level we *can* think of anything less than slavish devotion by one's date as a sort of failure. Let's turn the tables a little though: who really wants slavish devotion in the long run? Although I find culinary analogies to love and courtship a tad disturbing, let's follow yours. Must a date end with the larder empty and one picking idly at one's teeth? Or is it a better strategy (and a better analogy) to follow a whiff of something exotic to its source, and perhaps learn a little of the dish being prepared before even considering tasting it? What if the delightful aroma turns out to emanate from puppies roasted in a pie? What if the ingredients may be wholly acceptable, but the spicing far too much or too little? What if both may be at the edge of one's tolerance, and require some further exposure to determine whether or not a plate might be worth trying? Or, to put it another way, wanting to go on a date with someone presupposes an interest in some aspect of the other person. Perhaps s/he seems intelligent, or funny, or good-looking. What's wrong with a moment of silence to bask in the presence of someone you find attractive? And if the silence does become oppressive, surely you of all people can find enough literary grist for the mill? I fall back on the beauty of nature, the interconnectedness of all life, reconstructions of ordinary lives in pevious hystorical periods, and mysteries at edge of science. With a little prompting, almost anyone can relate experiences somehow relevant to these categories. Heck, careful analysis of the phraseology and construction of these stories yields all sorts of insights into the speaker's personality. You must know how to get people talking about Dickens; so ask dates about the importance of _A Christmas Carol_ to their childhood experiences. I daresay that careful attention to such a response might yield buckets of information about a woman's materialism, idealism, family relations, spiritual inclinations, ability to read and understand literature, memory for details, etc. People can be infinitely amusing if you let them.

1:29 AM  
Blogger phd me said...

I've been pondering this post and I suppose my deep thoughts come down to two simple sentences: Dating sucks. The alternative sucks more.

I've never actually been on one of those "first time speaking to each other for any length of time" dates, since I've always ended up dating guys I've known for some time first, and I've still had plenty of awkward moments and odd silences and blank stares. Yeah, dating is awkward and I'm scared to death at the thought of doing it again - not helped at all by my married friends who loudly proclaim they would never go through the whole dating scene again for a million dollars - but I'm more frightened of not having a date again. I'd like to think there's a possibility of social interation with the opposite sex at some point in my future.

You do, too. You're just not, as you point out, quite ready for it yet.

9:53 PM  

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