During a recent visit to the ophthalmologist, I was elated to discover that I would, for the first time in my life, require the use of glasses. Friends of mine who have sported lenses since a young age assured me that this would pass. They may seem cool, they said, but really, glasses are just inconvenient and expensive. However, their four-eyed wisdom was in vain. I had already psyched myself up thinking of all the possible situations in which I would be able to look over the tops of my frames at people who had made less-than-intelligent remarks in my general direction. Some examples:
“You want me to lend you HOW much money?”
“You want to go WHERE for dinner?”
“You read WHAT over spring break?”
I bring up this episode not because I think I’m particularly obnoxious or dismissive, though I am certainly both of those things more often than is justified by my height, weight and attractiveness quotient. Rather, what this illustrates to me is that I’ve increasingly adopted a mindset in which I regret not being able to use clichéd expressions and gestures gleaned from T.V. and movies in my everyday life without seeming obnoxious, dismissive or just plain weird.
To be clear, I’m not talking about catchphrases. (If you have a catchphrase, you should unequivocally lose it. Trust me, it’s not working for you.) I’m talking about the requirement implicit in any plot-driven show or movie that stuff happens. As a result, the threshold for discomfort or objection is just a smidge higher than it is in real life.
I’m also, by the way, not talking about ‘bedroom gymnastics,’ as I believe the kids call it now. But I am, at least in part, talking about romance. My friends from high school and I have a recurring conversation any time we’re in a subway car together and spot an attractive woman around our age who looks like she might also be an interesting person. It goes something like this:
“How about her?”
“Go for it.”
“I would if this were a sitcom.”
“No, really! I’d go up and be like, ‘Hey, I never do stuff like this, but … ’”
And so on and so forth. The key for me is the “I never do stuff like this, but” part: the INDSLTB moment. I’d go so far as to say we all have INDSLTB moments, the points in our day when, if the universe’s probability engine broke down, we would totally go for it. We’d ask out the girl, or the guy or the postgendered individual. We’d throw our phone into the river. We’d hop into the back of that pickup truck and start in on a wild, whirlwind adventure.
But most of the time, we don’t. We take a deep breath, shut down the fantasy part of our brains and focus on the task at hand. The INDSLTB moment vanishes, and life resumes as it should.
Now, I’m not saying it’s a good idea to get into the back of that pickup truck. After all, where’s it going? Better yet, who’s driving? In fact, now that I think about it, don’t get into the back of the pickup truck. But all that other stuff is still on the table. It’s a gamble, sure, but all the best stories come from the INDSLTB moments. What are we afraid of? Short of certain death, probably pretty trivial things, that’s what.
I realize all of this sounds at least vaguely self-righteous. Where do I get off with all this carpe diem crap? How many diems have I carped? Not many, I’ll tell you that. In fact, nine times out of 10, I’m the one saying things like,
“I don’t know about this, you guys.”
“Are you sure there aren’t any security guards?”
“No way am I doing that!”
So I’m not saying be like me. DON’T be like me. In fact, I’m saying we should all NOT be like me. And since it’s so scary, why don’t we all do it together on, say, July 15? Spread the word: July 15 will mark the first annual INDSLTB Day. Ask him/her/zhim out! Throw that shit in the river! Still don’t get in the back of that truck, please, but short of that, if you wouldn’t normally do it, do it! You won’t regret it, and even if you do, it’ll make a great story.