Saturday, April 26, 2008
I once went on a date with this guy many years back. On paper, it was perfect pairing. We had many friends in common, most of whom we're shrieking with delight when we announced our intention to start, well
, seeing each other. Plus, we were both academics: I taught literature, and he was in town to pursue his master's degree in marine biology. He had seen me around campus for some time, and I'd seen him around as well. There was no missing his close-shaven head in Dumaguete, but what attracted me most was the mischievous/melancholy air he had around his handsome Spanish face. He was tall. He had deep-set eyes. His mouth looked strong, pinkish and supple. He was also absolutely funny. Witty to death. There's nothing like humor to get straight to somebody's fancy. And so we set a date. A Thursday evening, 8 o'clock. In Chicco's, that European diner along the Boulevard. When we arrived for our rendezvous, we greeted each other with bottled expectations, began digging into our food, began gossiping about our friends, furtively searching into our eyes for something...There was absolutely nothing.
Nothing. No attraction, no chemistry. Nothing.
Despite both of our best efforts, there was absolutely nothing there, and an hour or so later, we parted right outside the diner's entrance, wishing each other good luck and God bless. Good luck and God bless?
I hurried home feeling somehow amused as well as ravaged, the way one feels when magic evaporates and all you have left is the stark reality of a dull ache. I'd been on dates before where everything was dreamily effortless, as if things were grinding towards a foregone conclusion that two selves must meet and somehow connect. I'd been on dates before where I knew just the right words to say at every given moment, where every chance at touching the other's skin -- accidental brushes with elbows, hands, back -- would set off a thrill down the spine, confirming an inevitability.
We've since become good friends after the fact, Rick and I, but I have to say this: that was probably the worst date I've ever had. It was so uncomfortable, you could balance an elephant in the wooden tension between us.
I don't know why I'm writing about this now. Perhaps I've been thinking about the laws of attraction since I started rereading my Brett Easton Ellis books again, to prepare myself and get into the mood of the story I'm currently writing. The old truth resurfaces: you can't force anybody (much less yourself) whom to love, or to be attracted to. And sometimes you realize that the thing you thought was attraction is merely a flicker in the fog, or the light of dead stars*: there's nothing there except illusion, temporary tempests in a teacup easily stilled when sanity comes back to calm you.
And all that's left is sadness, really. Because for one brief moment, before you realize there was actually nothing, that expectation, that kilig
was something.*to paraphrase Paz Marquez Benitez
Labels: life, love
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