Some of you may have been around back when I wrote my advice post on consent-conscious dating and propositioning (spell check wants this to be “prepositioning”, and I can’t tell you how much I was tempted to leave that in). What you may not have known is that that post was linked from the Slyme Pit* shortly after publication.
As I recall, the comments centered around one of my suggested lines for propositioning in a non-pressure-y way: “I think you’re really cute, could I kiss you? No is an acceptable answer.”
Someone made the comment that it sounded like Data from Star Trek, and a macro of the phrase superimposed on Data was passed around the forum.
It was at this point that I realized that the line probably didn’t read the same in text form as it does when I say it to myself in my head. The problem, unfortunately for my writing, was that I had had occasion to actually use this line to proposition, and for me, it always sounds exactly the way I said it.
I wondered for a bit if perhaps there was a way I could have phrased the line so that it read more the way it sounded in my head, before more or less forgetting about the whole thing. One of the things I do remember, though, is that I mentioned this offhand to a friend of mine, and her first reaction was “Actually, I had kind of a crush on Data growing up, so I’m not sure I would’ve changed it at all.”
I didn’t think much of it at the time, but more recently I’ve been thinking back on it. The other day, a friend of mine mentioned that they had put up an ad on the “casual encounters” section of Craigslist (this is related, I promise). Having never done this before, I decided it might be fun to try, and began writing my own ad for “casual encounters”. In the writing, I found myself worrying that the ad I was writing wouldn’t be interesting to anyone. I wasn’t what people were looking for. I found myself doing the usual ridiculous comparisons with the James Bond-like archetype of confidence and attractiveness that is our all-too-often cultural standard.
Then I caught myself. I realized that I actually know an incredibly large number of people who are into slightly awkward geeks. Not just people who “can” be attracted to them, but people who are specifically attracted to them. And I asked myself why on earth I was generalizing these people out of existence.
Because I do, all the time. Why, when my friend talked about having a crush on Data growing up, did I not take that information to heart? Why did I spend even one more second wondering if there was a different way I should have phrased things when someone had just given me direct evidence that the way I had phrased things might work incredibly well for some people?
I actually know multiple people who had crushes on Data growing up. I know a huge number of people who are attracted to slightly awkward geeks such as myself. Not attracted to us in spite of our lack of traits in common with James Bond, but in significant part because of that “lack”.
How, this long after I have figured out just how un-generalizable attraction is, do I still sometimes manage to forget all of that and generalize almost all of the people I know out of existence?
I’m not sure I know the answer, but I intend to make a renewed effort to stop forgetting that everyone I know exists when I consider what people are and aren’t likely to be attracted to. Those minutes I spent wondering how I could’ve made a particular phrase sound less like Data were never going to do any favors to any of the Data fans I know, and any minute I spend worrying about whether or not the unconventionality of my ad is going to interest people is a minute I won’t get to spend with all of the other wonderfully unconventional people in the world, whether from Craigslist or otherwise.
*For those who don’t know the Slyme Pit, it’s basically a forum where all of the shitty kids you hated in middle school now hang out and pat each other on the back for making sandwich jokes and harassing people.
Update: Literally the day after I write this, from one of the sexiest blogs I know: “I fancy most liberal-sounding, scruffy-looking, slightly-nerdy guys I meet purely on the basis that I’ve had pretty decent luck with these guys in the past, and most of them have turned out to be both fun and hot.”