I have a crush on every guy who has a serious girlfriend. In fact, right below a sense of humor and graceful hands, unattainability is the most important thing I look for in a mate. I don’t just mean men with long-term loving committed relationships, but any guy who doesn’t like me. Or has no idea I exist. When I walk past someone who doesn’t give me a nod of acknowledgement, I often stop for a moment, stare longingly at the back of their unfamiliar head and mutter “I love youuuu” under my breath.
Sometimes they turn around and say: “Excuse me?” and I’m like: “Oh, sorry, I thought you were someone I knew.” But that’s a lie. I totally knew I didn’t know them.
Even inanimate objects, like egg chairs, biographies, soy milk and high def technology, have that aloof quality that pulls at my heart strings.
I’m not alone here. Well, I’m alone literally, like I’m not dating anyone if that’s what you’re asking, but metaphorically tons of people are having sex with me, if by “having sex” you mean “agreeing.”
For example, Groucho Marx once claimed that he would never join a club that would have someone like him as a member. When it comes to dating, you want what you can’t have. When it comes to the drunken meal you got from the G-Heav buffet, you have what you really can’t want.
What got me thinking was my suitemate’s current bedtime reading: “The Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right,” a treatise on how to perfect the illusion of elusiveness and trick men into matrimony. Published in 1995, the book is now a cult classic that has sold millions of copies and turned its authors into successful dating counselors. It put into print “the game” that every woman knows; the least fun game ever, where you can’t have sex on the first three dates and have to wait for the guy to call you. Forget building a hotel; you can’t go to a hotel. Forget putting fifteen armies in Ontario; there are no armies AT ALL. You can collect $200, but that’s not technically dating. And you can go to jail, but that’s sort of rare.
Wanting what you can’t have is well-known, basic relationship psychology. Then why did “The Rules” freak me out so much? And then I realized: I violate all the rules. I wasn’t mad at the book; I was mad at myself. “Grow your hair long. Men prefer long hair, something to play with and caress. It doesn’t matter what your hairdresser and friends think.” My hairdresser claimed that cropped hair would be flattering. Bitch. Bitch on a campaign to shear me of my caressability. “Always strive to look feminine. Wear bright colors.” I’m unmanicured, messy and chromatically uninspired. “Don’t act like a man, even if you are head of your own company. Let him open the door. Be feminine. Don’t tell sarcastic jokes. Don’t talk so much. Wear black sheer pantyhose and hike up your skirt to entice the opposite sex!” When I hike up my skirt it’s to yank up my slipping pantyhose-crotch, not lure men into my woman-trap.
I wanted to be a Rules Girl! I wanted to be pretty! Pretty, not witty and bright! I leapt into the air, throwing fistfuls of glitter and rose petals, dousing myself in intoxicating perfume and chanting Rule No. 1: “Be a creature unlike any other. Be a creature unlike any other.”
I thought of “Where the Wild Things Are” for inspiration. The story begins when Max goes to bed without any supper. Then so would I! Of course, it was going to be hard. The authors of “The Rules” admitted it themselves: “You will have to experience a certain amount of discomfort when you can’t eat a cookie and you can’t call a man. But you want to be fit and you want to get married, so you do what you have to do.”
Post-epiphany, still picking the glitter out of my hair, I stumbled suddenly upon a logical conundrum … if I act unattainable, and I’m only attracted to guys who act unattainable, then any slight indication of affection on either side would be relationship suicide. Even if I managed to market myself well and trick boys into liking me, once they liked me I’d stop liking them. But then … I would be even more unattainable and he would like me that much more and more and more for infinity until the sight of him sends me into paroxysms of nausea and he is pathologically obsessed.
… Or happily ever after?
Claire Gordon loves youuuuu.