Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I Finally Managed to Speak to Her

This is a poem that makes me glad that I don’t have to go through the nonsense of dating anymore. Not that I ever really had to, seeing as how I married my “high school sweetheart” and all; but still, watching all my single friends do the whole dating thing makes me want to vomit. (Lovely image, I know.)

By Hal Sirowitz

She was sitting across from me
on the bus. I said, "The trees
look so much greener in this part
of the country. In New York City
everything looks so drab." She said,
"It looks the same to me. Show me
a tree that's different." "That one,"
I said. "Which one?" she said.
"It's too late," I said; "we already
passed it." "When you find another one,"
she said, "let me know." And then
she went back to reading her book.

This poem illustrates just how hard it is to meet someone. If you’re an introverted person, like the speaker, you have a hard time striking up a conversation with someone. And when you finally do find an opening line, it’s usually quite meaningless and trite. An observation about the trees or the weather is so banal that it puts the intended audience on defense, thinking, what does this weird guy want???

But at least the speaker in this poem finds someone who will (a little bit) play along. Rather than just saying “uh huh” or “okay,” she actually responds with a question and a half-joking statement. That indicates that she is either a very nice person or that she is maybe interested in him too. But either way, she goes back to reading her book, so the speaker obviously thinks that he failed.

When I first read this poem some time last year, my friend Scott had just changed jobs and was working in the city. He took the bus there and had a two-hour commute every day. Sometimes he would call me from the bus while he was riding home (he had to do something to pass the time, I guess). Every now and again, he mention a beautiful woman that was sitting near him, or a “hottie” who was near him on the subway. But my friend is just like the speaker: way too nervous to know what to say to a woman to whom he is attracted, and so, every time, when I asked him “did you talk to her?” he would respond with some excuse as to why he couldn’t have gone up to her this time. There was always an excuse.

So to see this speaker make the move makes me think of Scott on that bus heading home from the city. I always wonder if anyone is looking at him thinking the same thing; I guess that’s human nature though.

Thank god I’m not part of that nerve-destroying world.

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