Him: I like Baroque music, what about you?
Me: I’m a bit more into Baroque-n Social Scene.
An exchange that encapsulates the oddity of spending lots of time with a lovely bloke who is pretty much the Anti-Lauren. Entertaining, sure, although unlikely to end all Paula Abdul-ly.
A key difference centres on mental health. Whereas I’ve always maintained a very Springsteenian [“who am I to ask you to lick my sores?”](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/For_You_(Bruce_Springsteen_song) approach to my melancholy, he’s quite comfortable talking about his.
Admirable, sure, if not something I relate to.
Predictably though, contact with him has me dwelling on it.
By the end of the week I’ll have set up camp in North Carolina for two months. The last time I was overseas solo for a length of time and there was plenty of sores-licking. It’d be sensible for me to remember this.
I’m keeping a text message from one of my best friends that reads, “here’s hoping you find a sexually adventurous non-practising Klansman for entertainment!” Her well-wishes, of course, won’t materialise without proper effort on my part.
Last year I was visiting the salubrious offices of this publication and one of the editors asked if I’d be attending their Christmas/Easter/Somesuch party (I’d neglected to RSVP). I furrowed my brow, “Oh no, no, I’m waaay too shy for that.” It took some convincing because generally I appear kinda normal. And I am normal one-on-one or behind a lectern. It’s just the Christmas/Easter/Somesuch party thing that feels quietly horrendous.
I don’t know how to meet strangers.
So following last night’s dinner and talk of my sojourn with Anti-Lauren and I went home and signed up to an American on-line dating site. Not a casual sex person, no, but I’m thinking if I can just pepper my time with a handful of awkward diner dinners, isolation - a trigger, let’s be honest - will be broken.
I’ve written on on-line dating from a regulatory persective before, but it’s not a topic I’ve thought much about personally. Naive, sure. Had I, and I’d likely have been better placed to fill out the bloody questionnaire.
What the hell does spiritual mean? Does it involve candles and the Gregorian Monks? Much worse was the question about how good I am at bringing romance to a relationship.
Over one meal, Anti-Lauren and I were talking about this very topic. He used the phrase “making love” in a sentence: completely unironically. I winced - quite violently - and he asked why. I painted a terrifying scenario where a bloke in a robe lights a few dozen candles with one of those gun-oven-lighter-things and cues up the Michael Bolton.
Each egregious detail I offered and he seemed more and more offended. “Oh I’m sure it’d work on some women,” I tried to assuage, patting his hand. “But there’s no room for me in that picture.” Come on, surely he knew this already; it’d only been a week since he held the passenger side door open for me and, on getting inside in - on seeing more red leather than I’d seen in a lifetime - I suggested, “it’s like getting into a giant vagina.”
I don’t do reverence. Least of all in matters sexual.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate romance, truly, I’m just not sure that my definition is shared.
Off the top of my head, my five favourite romantic things that blokes have done for/to/near me:
- The bloke who could be seen from my carriage window reading a book while he waited for my train to pull in. He’d later admitted he wasn’t really reading but wanted to look composed. Swoon.
- The man who I made laugh so hard that he vomited after I sang a few verses of Chris de Bergh’s Lady in Red. Swoon.
- The gift of mix-tapes. Every one. Even if the music is awful. Much more so when Thunder Road is on it. Swoon.
- The guy who picked up a giant diamond ring-shaped paperweight and proposed to me in a New York book store the day after the… deflowering. Swoon.
- A week’s worth of quiet and exhausted after-midnight car rides from Melbourne’s East to the CBD during February’s heatwave. Swoon.
For my part, I’m all about the grand gesture. The sticking point however, is whether my gestures would be considered palatable - romantic - to the good folk of North Carolina. Because when I think of grand gestures I think, for example, of that week I spent tracking down nappies that would fit the lover who had that vague infantilism fetish. I felt I was being romantic at the time.
For the record, I ticked “somewhat important”.
At present I’m marketing myself as a non-drinkin’, non-smokin’, very liberal 33-year-old. I’ll save the vegetarian/feminist/smart-arse bit for dessert. Swoon?