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Courting Adversity

December 21, 2011

After a few testy weeks on OKCupid, I had a big idea: adversity dating.

You know how it usually goes: people meet each other, they look into each others eyes and get a little crazy, they get obsessed with each other and bore other people by injecting mention of their fairy love in every conversation, they go places together like restaurants and the beach, they concoct all sorts of fantastic stories about each other and repeat them to other people, followed by more trips to the beach, the bed, the restaurant, the couch, eventually the hardware store and hospital, at which point they begin to get disenchanted, tell disappointing stories about each other and break up.

In my scheme — which promises to rock the world of unattached men and women the world over — it would be the inverse.

Instead of a sexy restaurant, the first outing would be to a cruelly lit hardware store to buy a light bulb, a screw of a certain length, and a can of paint in a tricky color.  I should mention neither of you is looking your best, and the lighting does not help.

But the gods are merciful: you had a good breakfast and you still have your wit.

The second, it’s twilight and  rush hour in the suburbs; you are peckish, lost, looking for a place to eat. I should mention the GPS is not working. (You are starting to lose your wit). I understand if you have to tune out; I myself am twitching in my chair just writing about it.

Here, have some almonds. I have in my pocket some dark chocolate; would you like a piece?

The third date would be an evening of taxes on a weeknight in early April, to a soundtrack of children squabbling in the bath. You have had dinner but it was middling take-out,  and the cartons are still on the table. The smell of leftover green curry is wafting over the tax forms. In the next room, a child lets out a piercing yell.

Excuse me, would you like an espresso? I am making one for myself to get through the next sentence.

Take a breath. Here, I’ll draw you an imaginary bath while I tell about the prize.

IF you manage to squeeze some funny stories out of the first three hurtles and still enjoy each others’ company, guess what? You get to design a fancy outing for yourselves (restaurant? beach? theatre? outdoor concert?) — to be interrupted at the most delicious moment by a phone call: your father’s been taken to the hospital.

Here are the last of the almonds: take them. I mean it.

Remember, you are just going to a studio. This is only a game. But if feels so real!

Your wit is long gone, you’ve thrown your perspective under a bus, the dog is barking (had I mentioned the dog?), you stub your toe and you forget IT IS ALL A GAME.

How’s it going?

Relax! This is just an experiment! Lucky for you these things do not happen ever.

Stay with me. Look out of the corner of your eye and check:

Are you having the least bit of fun? Are you having some cake? Could you spend a whole day together at IKEA from the foyer to the cafe, past the endless living room vignettes, through the basement aisles to the checkout and the loading dock?

Could you do it with children? in a crowd? with a bad leg? on a few hours’ sleep?

Let’s waste no time. We’re not getting younger, or better at love.

Let’s bring to dating what has worked so well in war: the charm of adversity.

In this set of trials we’ll quickly learn: when things get tough, what do we have on hand?

Do we carry mischief up our sleeves? resilience? a tin of biscuits?

Can we think on our feet?

To coin my last homely metaphor, I’d say dating is to marriage what seeing a movie is to sweeping up the popcorn.

We all like movies. They’re easy to like.

But if you’re in it for the long haul, you want someone who will like the movie AND be the first to pick up the broom.

So skip the trailer, skip the movie even, and get right to the popcorn on the floor.  You know it’s there.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. December 21, 2011 6:19 pm

    Damn.

  2. December 21, 2011 7:49 pm

    Reblogged this on DIY Romance.

  3. Ruth permalink
    December 21, 2011 9:10 pm

    So great! We gotta catch up sometime soon….

  4. December 21, 2011 10:57 pm

    Love this. So true. Am going to share with my friend who is young and starry eyed!

  5. Jan Baiden permalink
    December 22, 2011 6:52 am

    Brilliant!
    Jan

  6. Joann permalink
    December 24, 2011 12:42 pm

    Love this.

  7. January 1, 2012 1:56 am

    I think it’s a great idea. Even if you find Mr/Ms Right, he or she rarely keeps the title for the reasons you thought mattered when you were dating (cute, witty, charming, sexy, smells nice and wears good shoes). After 10 years of marriage, I would place the following items–previously not even ON my mental checklist–right at the top: reliable, helpful, flexible, easy-going, calm in an emergency, and consistently hardworking (for that popcorn on the floor, among other things). Plus, of course, a sense of humor, for those days when you have to choose whether to laugh it all off, or collapse in a pool of tears. 🙂

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