I had trouble writing today. I gave up and attempted to go for a walk in woods, to fill myself back up, but that didn’t end well either. That ended up at a construction site — very, very far from my car.
I’ll accept responsibility for my inability to find my way out of a paper bag, but I’m going to go ahead and blame my bad writing day on the guy and girl one table over. Although of course that’s not really fair. It just sits far better than any alternative I can come up with, at the moment.
They were on a first date, those two. I know this because I was eavesdropping (they met on Tinder!), and because they were doing the getting-to-know-you dance. You know this dance — it’s the one that often doesn’t look like anything like a dance at all. It’s the one that tends to look (and sound and feel) more like a job interview. Unless, you know, you’ve really lucked out.
Anyway, they were about my age. The girl was steering and the guy was trying desperately to keep up. It took about thirty seconds for my heart to go out to him — I never could dance either.
The girl was a bubbling brook. She had him hypnotized in five minutes flat.
I sat there, pretending to write, and wondered if they’d wind up being two of the lucky ones. If one day, they’d sit somewhere else, and take turns telling about the time Grandma talked Grandpa’s ear off in a coffee shop, and he called her the second he got home. I also couldn’t help but wonder if Grandma would let Grandpa get a word in edgewise, even then.
Of course, I have no idea whether or not they actually hit it off. They weren’t perfect, and their date didn’t go perfectly, by any means. A couple of times, I could have reached right over and plucked an awkward silence from the air. She blatantly didn’t care much about cars, and he clearly could have done without the baking 101 — but I’d like to think that they did. Like each other.
They were both so sweet, I thought. So eager, so open. So ready to overlook each other’s more obvious flaws.
I’m afraid I won’t ever be ready. Not to overlook somebody else’s flaws — but to expose all of mine. Thumb’s up, thumb’s down.
You’re probably thinking that I seem to do that relatively easily, on here, but you have no idea. Besides: it’s different, somehow, when you write.
You can remove yourself a little bit, you see. This is probably precisely what a good writer would tell you not to do, but don’t listen: you can. You absolutely can. If you’re just not feeling up to it, you can call in the third person. Angle away the spotlight. You have an unlimited plan; you can do this whenever you feel like it.
You are in complete control, you see. Which means you can also elect to use props. To help move things along. At a loss for words? Try shoving some pasta in the picture, next time. Trust me: nobody will complain.
You are exposing yourself, when you write, but only as much as you want to. No one can see if you are squinting, sniffling, or smiling. Or, possibly: looking exactly the same way you did at age four.
No one can see you, at all. It’s a safe way to open up — writing. And I’m afraid it might be the only way, for me.