I’ll often meet a handsome man who, after exchanging a few friendly words, gives me a strange compliment. Or, at least at first I think it’s a compliment.
He says, I can tell you’re a smart girl.
Up front, his observation makes me want to bow to past teachers, revered writers, and great artists, without whom I would have never found my passion. And honestly, for the next five minutes I am pretty pleased with myself for coming off as a knowledgeable and pretty girl.
Be that as it may, the conversation between said gorgeous man and I suffers past the point of mere casual conversation. We hardly get beyond the part where we discuss hobbies, college majors, and favorite foods before I feel the need to face-palm myself. I can feel the awkward tension growing between us once I tell him that I don’t care about television shows, and after he tells me that his favorite book is something he read in high school.
I know that asking what a person’s favorite book is is far more intimate than asking them what they watch on Netflix, but that’s what I want to know. If I am going to allow a man a date, or even spend a night with him, I want to know the last book that stood in the way of him and a well rested night because that’s severely interesting.
I most definitely don’t want to hear that I’m smart for enjoying novels because I would like to be combated with the same amount of interest in giants like Kurt Vonnegut and Virginia Woolf.
When I walk into a man’s room, I look around for any traces of books. I scan the room for used bookmarks or peeping Simon & Schuster spines. I’d like to say that if I don’t see any, I walk out because after the tiresome conversation we had, this was the last straw, but I’m not that cool.
My observations have lead me to suspect that college boys don’t host books that they don’t need for class. Moreover, I briefly saw someone who told me he was a novelist and poet, however when I surveyed his room, I saw no signs of any books. And in that moment, I posited to myself: Is this a sign from the universe that even writers don’t actually keep books and that I should get over my desire for a man who cares about such things? Or maybe this writer has a Kindle somewhere under messes?
Obviously, I have kept hope.
There is a kind of peace and sincere human connection that exists between a reader and a book that I love to see in others because its beautiful, and also because I instantly feel closer to people who commit to books. However, the route toward fascinating conversation doesn’t solely depend on whether or not people allocate time in their day to read. I’d be satisfied with an ounce of cultural conversation that spreads beyond my eighth grade Social Studies and Art class.
In the year since my last relationship, I’ve probably come across two men who know something about van Gogh other than his violent decision to chop his ear off.
In the few times that someone has held onto my attention, he has usually appealed to my interests. Sometimes, though, he fervorously talked about his own interests that I knew nothing about. For instance, I once ordered a second serving of ice cream just to hold onto the dinner table in a busy restaurant just to listen to my date as he eagerly talked about a self-created app. Never mind that we didn’t go on more than three dates, anyone with that much passion and drive deserves to be heard and appreciated.
Plainly put, smart and interesting people are more attractive than those who use “fuck” to describe absolutely everything. Here’s a little tip, reading develops strong vocabulary skills.