We went to a cozy little Italian place with wooden windows and few exit routes. I started to get what Hunter S. Thompson would call “The Fear” –- that feeling that we had entered a ride that could not be shortened even if the car tipped over and flung us out.
We began downing the wine, and I began to like this girl.
She wore an oversized jumper and plastic yellow sunglasses. She had a certain type of temperament that made me think she'd be good with dogs.
“What I'm looking for is someone to like and someone to laugh with,” she said at a serious point. “Someone who isn't a f*ck.”
“And, I don't know,” she continued.
“What?” I nudged her.
“You know, I feel like its kind of time I found the ...” she let it trail off, like she was embarrassed to say.
The One. I had to stop myself from cringing. And when I do that, I put on this big dorky smile that'll explode and blow my cover if I'm not careful. I wouldn't have a good time tonight, not anymore. I knew myself well enough to know that.
I know where she's coming from. I do. But I have a real problem with this concept of The One, in Big Capital Letters like it's a proper noun.
Not to get all academic, but let's acknowledge some facts. Human reproduction is predicated on three main factors: proximity, attraction based on either extreme similarities or differences of appearance or status and random chance. Look at every married couple you know, and each one of them got together by the virtue of at least one of those elements.
If your parents hadn't been born in the same neighborhood, or attended the same school, or boarded that same flight in 1976, they probably wouldn't be together. But do you think they'd be alone, or do you think they'd have found a partner had they been born in a different state, chosen a different major or decided instead to take the train?
Your parents are normal people, so my money is on the latter. And the concept of The One ignores that dose of logical reasoning.
If there is only The One and nobody else, every single stranger not fallen for represents an impossible roll of the dice. If there is The One and nobody else, how do people get re-married? If there is only The One, how can you go any second of the day without worrying you missed this person?
And with seven billion people on Earth and only one you, how could you NOT miss The One? If there is The One, literally nobody would find anyone else.
I'm not some savage that can't comprehend the concept of connection, trust, loyalty or monogamy. But the big ideas like love and romance, the black-and-white nature of success in these endeavors really bums me out. It depresses me to see people with such charm and charisma longing for True Love so badly, because I can't fight the feeling that they've been duped into desperation.
When a 25-year-old woman tells me at dinner that she is looking for The One, she's telling me she's looking for Bigfoot. The One has been sold to us, inflicted at a young age via "Aladdin" and "Cinderella" and "Lady and the f*cking Tramp." Believing in The One is like believing in Santa Claus.
But we're old enough now to separate myth from reality. We should be able to understand that our lives are not Disney movies, despite what those annoying Facebook couples post.
What's this girl going to say next? That she's waiting for a visit from the Tooth Fairy?
The person you end up with cannot possibly live up to the blueprint of The One in your head, because that fake person doesn't have flaws. You don't stay awake at night hoping you find that guy who farts after Taco Night or who's slow to text back. Eventually, though, that might be your guy.
But you'll never find him if you build the idea of him up to some immeasurable standard. And then none of your dice rolls will shake out the way you want.
The One is mythical. It's an archetype.
I'm going to walk away from Jumper Girl soon. We might even split the check. Not because she isn't sweet or kind or successful, but because I can only appreciate her intentions. I don't feel them myself.
I can't stop thinking that maybe if we stop spending so much time looking for the appropriate lifemate, we just might wake up one day next to that person.
I want to tell her all this, but I change the subject instead. I'm not in the mood to argue. Shouting at fanatics never gets the message through.
So I finish off the wine, ask her if she has a dog and hope for both of our sakes that she says yes.