Why does it feel to me as if life wants me to choose between interesting and solvent?
Either I get the slightly desiccated professional with the quiet despair and the khaki pants, his SUV and his inability to keep my interest beyond the first course. Hell, he lost me at hello. Yes, he can pay the cheque – but does he read? Anything, even Dan Brown, I don’t care. Dan Brown can be the threshold drug that leads to the hard stuff. But he doesn’t, and he’s sweet and kind and a gentleman, and it’s going to take a bucketload of Chenin to help me make it to the Crème Brule, honey.
Or I get the Kerouac-quoting , Nic Cave listening, ripped-jeans wearing dropout whose mother, I am sure, despairs of grandchildren. Still hanging onto the dream of rock superstardom, he dresses the part and still calls you babe. His inability to pay for anything is legendary – but man, does he read! Ok, he might still think ‘Catcher in the Rye’ is awesome, but he has an opinion, and he is interested in books and music and hey – even you babe! And he reads, oh god does he read….
Why is it so impossible to find just a little melding of the two, just one little grey area where abstraction and reality coexist, where thinking and doing have a nodding acquaintance. Look, I’m not looking for Viggo Mortensen here – I don’t expect miracles. I just want to know, which came first? Did the nine to five suck the very life out of my precious dinner date, or did the interesting guy take one look at corporate life and run a mile?
And am I destined for only two categories of dating for the rest of my life, until I give up totally? Khaki or leather, chicken or fish? And every time I walk into that restaurant, its Schrödinger’s Cat all over again. Once, just once – please let this be a live one!
On the other hand – who am I kidding? That poor kind man didn’t stand a chance. Like the souls in the outer reaches of Dante’s inferno, he is destined to keep circling the block in his SUV, never quite reaching second base. No, truth be told, I have always had a soft spot for the tattooed renegade, to give him a kind moniker. Who could run their tongue over his fading tattoos and not feel, at least, a little thrill at the actinic aftertaste of that youthful bid for immortality, for otherness? Who doens’t have a slight pavlovian drool response at the sight of black leather-or is that just me?
I love their vagueness, their utter disregard for the day of tomorrow. I, who labour at my middle class existence, who have long ago ceased to dream of greatness beyond making the school run on time, I admire this. I love the fact that they will arrive unannounced, in all their tousled glory, and expect their very existence to be justification enough. Watch as they muse over your books, and pull out that obscure volume of middle European verse that you love so much. Go weak at the knees as they spontaneously start reading aloud, as they exclaim over a favourite. Watch in bemusement as the finish all the good red wine. Oh, the possibilities are endless.
Yes, I admit, I have become my own khaki-clad contender, in the great corporate race. I pay my own bills, disregard my own dreams, and try desperately to reach the dessert in one piece. So let me have my rock stars, my poets, my misunderstood dreamers, let me have my readers of verse. Cheque please!