A Cautionary Tale

Date a girl who reads. Better yet, date one who also writes.

Date a girl who reads, so she will naturally analyze every word that escapes your lips, pick up on every single nuance in your speech, notice every single change in your tone of voice. She will analyze all of that and try to determine if you are happy, angry, sad, apprehensive, etc.

Date a girl who also writes, so she will take all those thoughts that often border on paranoia, and perfectly express them to you. She will ask you why you said a certain thing in a certain way, and whether or not she did anything to cause you to say that certain thing in that certain way. Don’t be taken aback. The girl who writes is hardwired to ask such questions, to ascertain the five Ws and one H in every situation.

She may go on a bit when she communicates with you, because of the countless thoughts in her head, most of which revolve around you. Be patient; hear her out and think carefully before you answer, but never lie. Never be dishonest, because she will find out, and when she does, she will wonder why you felt the need to be anything less than straightforward with her. She may think you deem her incapable of handling the truth, or that you don’t respect her enough to be honest with her. Either way, never lie or tell half-truths to her.

The girl who reads is likely to have a vivid imagination, so don’t be surprised if she gets slightly panicky when you don’t reply to her messages or return her call for days — if anything, she’s worried because she gives a damn, and her worry is usually exacerbated by her colourful imagination.

She will share with you her favourite poetry verses by Keats, Byron and Frost. She will quote Shakespeare, Wilde and Austen to you. She will wax lyrical about Nabokov, Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. She will show you her endless library, with everything from Dahl and Marquez to Lim and the Brontës within. All these will tell you something about herself, and how she feels about you.

The girl who also writes will take time out of a busy day to send you a sweet email. When she has more time, she will take pains to write you letters and notes, showcasing the best of her penmanship and literary prowess via her affection for you. These will come randomly, whenever inspiration strikes. But she loves you, and inspiration strikes often. Tell her you love her and want nothing more than to be with her, and you may even get a book written exclusively for your eyes only — a handwritten, hand-bound book whose contents run the entire gamut of emotions she feels for you, and captures every single significant memory she has shared with you.

Take the time to feel flattered by these overtures. Realize you are the centre of her universe. Let a few months pass. Notice that her writings to you have gotten more sporadic. Stare a little too long at the discolouration and fine lines under her eyes, lines that were not there before. Ask her about them. Listen as she tells you she’s been up late writing, and wonder why you haven’t been getting notes and letters as a result of these late-night literary excursions. Let her tell you she is working on her own project, and rushing deadlines for several publications. Feel your inflated ego sag ever so slightly under the weight of her career and dreams.

Feel yourself grow increasingly annoyed as she shows up late or misses her appointments with you because of urgent deadlines, or because she only managed a small fraction of her usual forty winks the night before and so ended up oversleeping. Have her apologize profusely to you and try to make it up to you in every way possible. Blame her for being unable to follow a strict schedule.

Arguments will ensue. Apologize to each other, kiss, make up. Have make-up sex; it will work for a while. Once both of you have realized that it does indeed bring you closer, pick your mobile phone up as she sends you cheeky text messages filled with double entendres and sexual innuendo. Chuckle to yourself as you appreciate how her way with words extends far into the gutter. Go home. Have more sex. Be happy again for a few months.

Arguments will still occur. Let them escalate into shouting matches, name-calling, the exchange of insults. Don’t speak for days. When you finally do, try to one-up her when hurling verbal and written barbs at each other. Immediately regret dating the girl who writes, because her sarcasm and vitriol knows no bounds. Tell her she’s obstinate and has a serious attitude problem when you simply can’t win the war of words. Let her reply to that allegation with even more sarcasm and vitriol. Feel your anger and frustration compound.

Tell her things aren’t working out. Be perverse and even a little sadistic — break up with her on a day of significance, because you know she will remember it and be absolutely crushed. Her birthday, Christmas day, the anniversary of her father’s death, her cat’s birthday, New Year’s Day…any of these will do.

If you want to be written about, break the heart of the girl who writes. Break it as painfully and dramatically as you can manage. Watch as she stares right past you, stone-faced, tears slowly streaming down her porcelain skin. Prepare to have your inbox flooded with livid, biting emails from the girl who writes. Wonder where she’s gone when she disappears for several months, but allow your pride to prevent you from contacting her.

Stumble upon her new blog, where the legend of how you smashed her heart to smithereens has been immortalized. Feel a strange combination of indignation and pride wash over you; you’ve been written about once again, albeit under vastly different circumstances.

Realize that she has maintained her way with words, her sense of humour, her unique perspectives, her ability to think critically and go for the jugular when necessary. Then realize that all of that is now tinged with a subtle yet unmistakeable air of cynicism. Wonder why you ever dated the girl who reads and also writes, with all her intelligence and articulacy and creativity; those very qualities that made her expression of love for you so deep and wonderful also made her take-down of and retaliation to you so sharp and hurtful.

Stew in resentment for a while. Promise yourself you’ll never again date a girl who reads and also writes. Whine a little — or a lot — to anyone who will care to listen. Stay single for a while. Then date a girl who, like you, neither reads nor writes. Have an unremarkable relationship. Propose and get married. Have unremarkable kids, and an unremarkable life. Think every now and then of that girl who read and also wrote, with whom you shared a life once upon a time. Wonder how she is now, but allow your pride to prevent you from contacting her. Tell yourself you are happy.

Die an unremarkable death, and maybe — just maybe — finally read a fucking book before you go.

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