Here’s a conundrum, a demonstration. Consider it.
There was a period of your life (not recently) where you had a coupla one-night stands in quick succession (you, not me) and then a couple weeks later you had this date with someone you met through an app. You began to like this person.
But there’s a catch.
This person is swamped with work, crazy ambitious, pursuing something respectable, reliable, difficult. This person’s forecast is different from yours.
You pursue the affair thinking, This will probably only be for fun, which is fine, except maybe I’m looking to try a serious thing?
That’s what you’re thinking.
And yet: because you are old enough to appreciate the rarity of these things, and to know the grace and good fortune of even just being able to touch a beautiful moment as it passes, you will conduct yourself accordingly. You will make no demands, you will temper your requests. Ask not what your person can do for you…
You’re resolved to this.
But that’s whatever. What we’re here for is the demonstration.
So OK. Now. Let’s look back at those one-night stands:
The first was, let’s say, with a person you’ve known peripherally for the better part of a year. This person is pleasant and attractive, but the two of you don’t really have anything in common. Conversation is more like you each take turns telling stories, or explaining things about your respective jobs, because there’s no common ground for like pingponging exchanges. No debate, no commiseration.
Just friendly patient back-and-forthing. Laughs. And that’s a very fine thing on its own.
Second person (and I promise there’s a point to all this, just stay with me) the second person is someone you’ve known for like fifteen years. A dear friend who, like yourself, is fairly recently sprung from a long relationship and isn’t savvy about dating. They’ve got their life and friends and job and hobbies — this person has a way of life now. Doesn’t wanna go out and do any of the standard performative First Date things. Gets tired even thinking about it. The two of you have a lot to talk about. You share a past, for one thing, and now you’re both in the same situation, datingwise. You get along real well and you find each other attractive; you always have.
This all happened a long time ago, by the way.
Let’s say you meet up with both of these latter two people at bars on separate nights and they wanna go home with you afterward.
Back at your apartment, over drinks, the pleasantries continue until eventually, in your room, there’s a kiss and you think, Ah, OK, sex is happening.
Now stay with me cuz this is where it gets tricky: we’re focusing on the Kiss with either of these two people. The Kiss happens suddenly and then it’s progressing, progressing, and something like a strategy comes into play. You’re thinking, OK, where are my hands? and Where do they go next? and How long before I start fumbling with garments?
The Kiss is the initiation of a process. Pleasant on its own but you’re very much in your head through the whole thing. It feels functional. You’re tryna get somewhere with it.
And that somewhere is Sex.
OK so let’s carry on with our breakdown of this purely fictional situation you’re in, or that you were in a long long time ago, and flash back to the item we started on, about the person with whom you’re feeling a spark, the new person you met through the app. The Person of Interest.
At the end of a second date you’re in the car with this Person and there’s a Kiss — and if you’ll recall the kindsa thoughts that came to mind when you kissed the other two people, the ones with whom you spent just a single evening (thoughts like, where do I put my hands, when do we move to the bed, etc), I want you to compare those mid-Kiss thoughts to the ones that come to mind when you’re kissing this new person.
Cuz there aren’t any. It’s like staring into a flashbulb. You’re blank. When Tom Waits talks about the music at a circus he calls it “electric sugar” and you’ve always found that clever but now you know what it means.
Whereas the Kiss in those one-night stands was like the starter pistol in a race toward orgasm, the Kiss here, with this person you’re crushing on, is The Thing Itself. The vibrating centrepoint of a shapeless thing that you can’t quite describe except to say that it encompasses you.
This is a very simple and self-evident truth that you’ve seen talked about in TV movie books since forever (intimacy is more rewarding if it’s romantic and fraught with emotional risk) — but now, feeling and articulating it offa the basis of your own experiences as an adult (an adult who’s still kinda feeling around in the dark for what (s)he wants), it seems revelatory.
You wonder why it took you so long to learn this and then figure that maybe, like heartbreak and grief and betrayal, it’s one of those lessons you never quite learn. The best you can ever hope to do is I guess just recognize it.
It’s a powerful thing and, like most powerful things, it gives you the fuel to create shit. Do your artsy thing and then share the artsy thing on a platform where, hold it, the Person of Interest might see! They’ll know they made a splash, they’ll mark the disparity of interests, they’ll freak and bail and spread rumors about your zealotry.
And so the catch is this: by creating a buncha art about this experience involving another person, you’re likely to alienate that person, and therefore put the kabash on ever enjoying said experience again.
Howevah! An experience this good and interesting almost doesn’t seem worth having unless you can create shit about it and then put that shit out in the world where this Person of Interest might or might not see and be turned off by it.
What’s the point of having a nice thing if you can’t ruin it?
So your assignment (and here’s the tricky part) the assignment is this: you have to kinda keep those feelings and ruminations to yourself. You understand me?