Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Skipping Ahead

As a kid, I hated when people would spoil the end of a movie or book for me.  I had friends who liked to read the last page of a book before starting so they knew how things would end.  I was the opposite.  I wouldn't even skim past a particularly long, descriptive paragraph to get to the action-packed sequence at the bottom of a page.  And, if, by accident, I did happen to read the action-packed sequence at the bottom of a page before trudging through the paragraphs before it, I was just neurotic enough to go back and soak up the words I skipped.  Occasionally it was worth the effort to go back, but most of the time those paragraphs were just boring filler.  But still, I always went back.  I just didn't want to miss anything in the off chance that those unread paragraphs contained something magical.

Now, with dating, it's the opposite. I usually just want to skip ahead.  First dates can be especially painful what with the forced job interviewesque questioning, the constant pretending like you're interested in what the other person is saying, the feeling that your date is evaluating every word that comes out of your mouth.  I fully admit to having a first through fourth date persona myself.  It's a censored, watered-down version of me, like what you would give someone when you don't think they're quite ready to handle the Real Thing.  But after a while of only showing part of your true personality and only getting to know someone on a superficial level, it's like, enough already.  Can't we just skip forward to the comfortable stage when we're not worried to be ourselves?

'F' and I kind of did just that - we skipped ahead to the I-don't-care-if-he-sees-me-without-make-up and he-doesn't-care-if-I-see-him-in-his-dog-covered-pajama-pants stage.  'F' never really saw my first through fourth date persona - poor kid had to deal with the Real Me pretty much right away.

On one hand, skipping all of the pretending has been nice.  'F' hasn't exactly been a picnic, but at least it's less exhausting in that I'm not tip-toeing around his feelings or worrying about showing too much emotion or whatever.  I can be me - mean me, crazy me, mad me, indecisive me - all the mes that I try to hide from other boys I date.  But while it's comfortable, it's not entirely familiar.  I realized recently how little I actually know about him.  Sure, I know all the basic stats.  I know what time he wakes up.  But do I know all the intangibles?  What he wanted to be when he was a kid?  Whether he and his brother are close?  If he had a dog growing up?  When you go on those awkward initial dates, the uncomfortable silences force you to talk about these things.  To fill the silence with random stories about your life.  Slowly the stories help to paint a picture of an entire person, bit by bit.  Slowly the gaps are filled in.

I suppose that's the problem with me and 'F' right now.  There are entire chunks missing from my picture of him.  But honestly, I'm a little afraid to go back and try to fill in what we skipped.  What if it turns out that it's just boring filler?  I guess it's a risk I'm going to have to take.  In the off chance that it turns out that there's something magical.

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