Black

SG was talking about her dating life the other day and how she wasn’t sure if she was actually attracted to someone. She generalized this and said that at first she frequently doesn’t know. (She figures it out, sometimes months later.) She thinks they’re cute or interesting or into her (or all three), but she isn’t sure if she’s actually into them.

When I don’t know if I’m interested, it means I’m not. There’s a very obvious moment when a person goes from “someone I know” to “someone I like.”


(This title is a reference to “My Moment” by Rebecca Black, which is even more insidious than “Friday.”)

I am, in reference to myself, using the terms “interested” and “like” pretty loosely.

Sometimes these momentary interactions are pretty dumb. There was this guy at a party who said that Teen Titans is his favorite DC series (this conversation happened in 2008), and I knew I was taking him home that night. While I am no longer in the practice of taking people from parties home, the ridiculous triggers are there.

Sometimes these are things you could extrapolate from: someone is a bike messenger, uses the term “free” instead of “open,” dumpsters, wants to live in a structure overtaken by plants, plays mandolin, fiddle, or banjo, has a favorite tree, abandoned building, bridge, or bike route to the ocean. Generally, the kind of people who have a favorite tree–either specific or species–notice trees enough to have thoughts and opinions on them probably cares enough about trees to care about other things I think are good or just notices things enough to have a favorite one. There is also the parallel that could lead to possible negative extrapolation, such as “is Russian,” that still hit the “attractive” switch.*

There are also these small, intimate moments and when we’re in them, something more changes. A person isn’t just appealing, they’re a person. Liking Teen Titans is not actually very meaningful in any particular way. I could argue that it is, but it doesn’t also cause the transition to show that someone is more than a like of a particular comic I also like.

There are moments when I’ve seen people smile like I’ve never seen them smile before. When they open up about something that they’re giving to me in confidence. When we have an experience together.

Once I was making dough with a friend of mine. We’re been mostly quiet during the process. He was kneading dough on the counter. His sleeves rolled up and flour covering his hands, specking his lower arms. He looked intently on his process. He closed his eyes, testing the dough with his hands, feeling the smoothness and tension. At that moment, I knew I was lost.

*This is meant to humor and offend friends of mine, not Russians at large.

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Young

I am a twister version of a person who only reads romance novels. That is to say, I only read young adult romance novels. That’s not entirely true, I do read other things: sci-fi, history, fantasy are in the current crop. However, the vast amount of what I read can be summarized as thus:

Female is strangely attracted to male (or male A and male B). She develops strange powers. As she comes to terms with them, she discovers she is at the center of some crazy plot that leaves the fate of the earth/universe/galaxy/species in the balance.

And I read this. Voraciously.

There’s no good reason. I could make some up. It could easily relate to my nearly encyclopedia love of the X-Files, my fondness for bad horror movies (not campy bad, but bad bad), and the works of J.J. Abrams–there’s a comfort in the familiar. YAR (young adult romance) is like the Friday’s of the literary world. It exists wherever you go and it’s guaranteed to be mediocre. There’s no need to take a risk in something that may be worse, and there’s something good about a menu with the same things wherever you go and a plot that always ends with love winning.

It’s not just about love winning, it’s about a nearly Hollywood methodical plot progression. Within the first few pages, Girl had landed her eyes on Boy and finds herself unnaturally attracted to him. Girl is fairly normal, she may or may not have a close friend, she may or may not be a little strange. She has had a boyfriend, or none at all, but no more than that. In truth, she’s never really been all that attracted to a boy before. Someone near her, a boy, wants her, somewhat desperately, and she doesn’t really know what to do with that.

After she meets Boy, something happens–usually he’s a jerk in some way. This frequently has to do with him being unnaturally attracted to her as well and not knowing how to deal with it. Their relationship progresses. Her unnatural tendencies come to light, she casts off her former life and former friends and embraces the otherness while Boy embraces her.

And that’s kind of how they go.

These have become wildly popular because, I believe, of the comfort they provide. We know what will happen and we know how it will end. We don’t have to fear what will happen, because we know what will. We know they’ll survive. Instead, we can get caught up in the ideas behind the story: that there is more to the world than we see, and that we don’t have to be alone.