On the 30 – 50% Rule and the date.

“People only listen to 50% of what you say,” I tell J.

We think about that for awhile. Half of what you say, you’re saying solely for yourself. That’s alright, because 50% of what you say isn’t being processed by your audience.

It’s the 30-50% rule.
And it’s awesome.
You never have to worry about what you say in front of people, because it doesn’t matter. Chances are, they weren’t paying attention in the first place.


“You’re not at all like I expected you to be,” he says. 

“How so?” I ask.
“You wear a lot of black…You’re not conventional at all. You look like you would be. You don’t even have any tattoos.”  
Inwardly, I groan. I hear the “not conventional” bit so often that I’m not sure it’s even a compliment any more. 
Outwardly, I laugh. “I have two,” I tell him. 
He’s got me pegged: “Such a strong personality coming from such a petite girl,” he says. “People don’t expect that. I bet you don’t get along with girls.” He’s not wrong. I don’t. They scare me. 
As last night wore on and the bar got slowly more and more crowded, I found my eyes wandering. I love to look at people, to watch them shift uncomfortably, embrace happily, stand still sipping drinks. I watched the businessmen come in, all shiny shoes and Oxford shirts. I made eye contact, then shyly looked away.
He was telling me stuff about his passions, his dreams, his art, and I was listening, sort of.  Conversation was good, time passed easily. I got tired – it’s the vicenarian curse. Adolescence slips away and all we’re left with is the hope of eventual maturity. I’m doomed to be tired from now until the day I die.

It wasn’t as horrible as I’d predicted. In fact, it wasn’t horrible at all. He would like to see me again. I will. But I’m not sure I’m feeling any sort of promise, any sort of legitimate future frisson. As we said goodnight, I wondered what it’d be like to kiss him. Then I realized I didn’t want to.

It got me started thinking about sparks. Instantaneous sparks. There are great moments in life when something beautiful begins. It begins with a look across a dark bar, a chance comment at a party, the fortuitous arrangement of time and place. Sometimes it begins with an internet email. A first date gone well.

I’ve never forgotten those beginnings. That couch on Carmen St. That New Years’ Eve. That party in the snow in Chicago. That night we walked around the city. The night in Cape Town at the pool hall. The road trip where we stayed up most of the night. The first date that never ended. The first time you feel the frisson, the slow curling inside your stomach, the safe knowledge of feelings. I’ve not known those for some time now. Am I doomed to stir up those memories in the hopes of never losing that feeling?

That feeling is what I crave. And what I’m determined to wait for. Patiently. Or at least until I’m 25 and I get on match.com, whichever comes first.


Today’s song:

West Coast by Coconut Records


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