If you’d like to read “The Quiet Ones, Part 10,” click on the title
To Kari every man she met was a potential boyfriend. She could complete a first pass evaluation in the amount of time it took most people to order their favorite latte at some overpriced coffee bar. It was a simple, two category system: maybe and no freakin’ way.
The criteria Kari used to make these determinations would surprise, and perhaps confuse your average Barbie doll. It had little to do with earning potential.
Her “type” was confident and laid back. She had a difficult time relating to stuffy professionals in their suits and granddad shoes. She could tell that most of them spent way more time on their hair than she did. That was reason enough to eliminate them, but she doubted they would be interested in her anyway. She couldn’t imagine she would have much to talk about with an uptight dude like that.
It wasn’t that she thought they were smarter than her or “better” than her in some objective way. They’d just made different choices about what was important in life. She was into individual expression. They were into conformity. Like most people, she was extremely well versed in some topics – 90’s grunge music, fashion and human anatomy – but completely clueless about others. In the event he wanted to talk about the stock market or sports, the best she could do was bite her lip and feel like a complete idiot.
She might have had a decent connection with a doctor. When she was a child her father picked up a coloring book for her at a thrift store. He was quite pleased with himself because none of the pages had any color marks on them. What he didn’t realize was that it was actually a biology text book called, “The Human Anatomy Coloring book.” Presumably some “expert” decided that the act of coloring a femur blue would forever imprint its location on the young and impressionable minds of college students. That or some bored textbook writer decided it would be funny to make future doctors engage in an activity intended for toddlers.
Kari found the book fascinating, and drug it around with her for the next four years, during which she not only colored all the pictures, but also memorized all the bones in the body, the parts of an eye, and the locations and functions of all the internal organs. Biology was the only “core curriculum” class she’d made an “A” in during high school, and she didn’t even really have to try.
She probably should have done better in school. When she bothered to tune into what the teachers were saying, none of it seemed particularly hard. She just got bored listening to them drone on, and her mind wandered. There were so many more interesting things to think about than algebra equations. Pretty soon she’d missed a key point and the rest of the lecture didn’t make any sense.
She had roughly the same problem with her system for evaluating guys. She was all business during round one, but as soon as she decided a guy really had potential, her imagination got to work creating the story of their soon to be relationship, complete with an idealized profile of the man himself. He would be funny in a sweet, not mean sort of way. He would be indifferent to sports. Most importantly, he wouldn’t be embarrassed by all the cutting edge outfits she wore, in fact he would really appreciate her ability to express herself through fashion. And, of course, he’d have a car. She would be thrilled to meet a man with his own transportation – make and model didn’t matter to her, so long as it was relatively clean.
She’d imagine them going to plays and concerts, followed by dessert at Chez Zee. They’d visit Mount Bonnell and the Loop 360 bridge after dark with a six pack of beer, and try to enjoy the view without becoming a statistic (several tipsy visitors per year fall to their deaths). They’d watch every sci-fi TV show and movie that came out, and maybe even go to Comic Con. They’d stroll down SoCo visiting the shops and getting enjoying a food truck lunch. When they finally got bored with Austin, they’d drive to every big city in Texas to check out the restaurants, museums and night life.
It was a whirlwind of fun and perfect comradery. Her ideal man would drink just enough beer to be fun, but not enough to be that drunken asshole she had to take care of for the rest of the night. He would always be ready to go home at the same time as she was, and he would never ditch her at a party and spend the night talking to other girls (who were “just friends”).
He would take care of her when she was sick, and love her, without condition, when she was well. He didn’t have to be perfect – no one was – but his flaws would be as endearing as his strengths. He could have cute ears that stick out a little or a tiny bit of a lisp. He might enjoy cheesy James Bond theme music from the 70s and eat 7-11 hot dogs. All of these were acceptable.
In the end she realized that her ebullient fantasies made real life romance pale by comparison, and she tried to rein them in. Just where did one draw the line between the problems that could be endured and resolved in a relationship, and those that ought to mark the end? She was smart enough to know that the relationships she observed growing up were not healthy, but had no clue how to create one that was.
While her mind wrestled with this puzzle, the impulsive, emotional aspects of her nature had free reign over her body.
If you’d like to read “The Quiet Ones, Part 12” click on the title.
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