I think I have an undiscovered talent as a romance novelist, a coiled spring of potential just waiting to be activated. The reason I think this is because anytime I have a vague whiff of connection with someone I write our entire future together in my head. The entire thing, not just like, what could happen in a few weeks if it works out. I mean, I’ve gotten to retirement plans. Deathbeds. It’s elaborate. It’s bonkers.
I hate it.
It is a trait I have desperately tried to squash. One cute date – or even worse, one day of cute texting before even meeting – and I’m dopily sighing, cuddling cushions, smiling to myself. I know this is stupid.
I have used my very best crabby voice with myself, saying “you don’t even know this guy, he probably has weird smelling balls or deep-set issues and you should keep yourself safe and think about something else”, and “there’s no way you can even like the real him, you are just focused on your own idea of him based on very limited data”.
The crabby voice is a much-needed voice of reason and perspective, but she’s also a buzz-kill, and my preferred way to think about life (with rose-coloured glasses on, skipping through a meadow) shushes her quickly. Especially when I let the Philosophy 101 student in my head have a crack at a rebuttal. (“Um, so, do we even really know ANYONE, or is everyone filtered through our own life experiences and what we want them to be, and given that we are all evolving and changing, and it seems people can be married for decades and still not know that their husband keeps prisoners in the basement or watches horse pornos, you might as well fall for a projection, because it’s all the same in the end”).
The worst part, of course, is that all this stupid feelingsy cuteness sets me up for a massive fall. Do you know how embarrassing it is to go on a first date with someone you’ve swooned over for days, only to realise his physical presence REPELS you, and now you have to work out how to extricate yourself from a very long story about bicycles?
Well, I know how embarrassing this is. My crabby inner voice sighed when this exact thing happened recently, saying “we could have avoided this”. (As well as crabby she’s got a real “told you so” vibe about her. No one invites her to parties).
As one remedy to fight my instincts I tried the Four Man Plan. There’s a book about it, which I didn’t read; but I heard it vaguely described on a podcast, which is basically like reading, right? The idea, I think, is to always have four men on the go. If you have a bad date, or one of your four sends “Trump has some gud ideas though you have 2 admit”, you have a cushion to land on, a cushion of fellas you’ve already kept warm so you can swoop back into a chat for a compliment.
Where it falls down is the idea of divvying up my feelings equally across the four. I can’t tell myself “ok, only like this one for a quarter’s worth of your heart, and like that other one for another quarter’s worth”. Nope. Right now I am DOING the Four Man Plan, I have a bunch of smart eligible babes sending me messages, and yet, I have one clear favourite. I’ve knee-deep in this ridiculous mood today, all swoony and sighy over nothing but flippin text messages. Ally walked into the kitchen before and said “what is UP with you?” and I got all giggly over my telephone while playing with my hair, even though I am 34 years old and definitely should know better.
After I realised the Four Man Plan served one great purpose (not having to start from scratch when you have a bad date) but left another purpose wanting (helping me calm my farm) I came up with a sibling for it.
Knowing that my head is going to want to pull out its typewriter and tap out an epic love story based on nothing but a cute message, I now let it do its thing. Write it! Dream it! Sit and swoon, why not, swooning is FUN. But. For every swoon I have to now come up with an alternate plan about something in my life that isn’t about a man. Ooh ho, you thought you were having fun did you, bonkers nutso Bridget Jones brain that can’t for the life of it grasp any damn perspective? Now it’s time to use your powers for GOOD.
So today I’ve daydreamed about my trip to Vietnam next year with Annie. I’ve thought about how cute Christmas will be with my family in Brisbane. I’ve come up with a writing plan for November, after Blogtober is done. I’ve swooned over frocks and I’ve tried on shoes and I’ve sat in the dark with friends watching Lady Gaga fill up the whole screen. And most importantly, I’ve fantasised about long-term goals and future plans that have nothing to do with anyone else. I’ve pictured myself as a sort of career Wonder Woman figure, going after what I want and having great hair and finally doing a pull-up; a strong smart capable woman who don’t need no man.
I mean, when I wasn’t swooning over a stranger based on extremely limited data.
At least it’s a start.