With apologies to Jane Austen, the writers of He’s Just Not That Into You, and Naughty By Nature.
What makes people think they have special psychic powers on the topic of other people’s feelings? If you are really psychic, I think I’d rather know what stock is really going to take off next week, not who you think likes me.
It starts early when your Mom tells you boys pick on you because they “like” you. Why do we try to convince girls that appalling/indifferent/conflicting behavior is a sign of love? Not helpful.
I think people are just bored. Who doesn’t crave a little drama now and then? Even better if the drama doesn’t directly affect us. In other words, we are all down with O.P.P. (Other People’s Pursuits), particularly those of a romantic nature.
So friends, family, and random passers-by love to talk smack and try to plant seeds of romance, most of which have about as much chance of blooming as…something that usually doesn’t bloom (Dave’s annual failed tomato container gardens, perhaps?). While possibly well-meaning, these thoughts are based on no special insight whatsoever and, in the case of your loved ones, a completely biased sense of how appealing you are to whichever sex you are trying to attract.
Of course, your worst enemy in the game of O.P.P. is you. We can be vulnerable to this unsolicited matchmaking because everyone believes, or at least hopes, they are worth liking.
Exhibit A: “Project Fox” or “From Disinterest to Devastation”
My high school allowed Exhibit A and I to attend classes at the college downtown. He offered me a ride. My friends nudged each other and exchanged knowing glances. I bristled with embarrassment and actually considered saying no.
“We’re going to the same place and he has a car. He’s just being nice,” I insisted.
An over excited friend, let’s call her Miss Woodhouse, decided this offer meant something deeper. Watching for signs in every little move he made became her pet project. Like all pets, she insisted on naming it: “Project Fox.” Project Fox would, of course, culminate in Exhibit A asking me out. My feelings on the subject (disinterest) were immaterial.
One afternoon, he locked his keys in the car. By the time we broke in, we were too late for class, which led to a string of afternoons spent ditching class and hanging out. Even my most cynical friend became down with O.P.P., “I totally think he locked his keys in the car on purpose.” (Editor’s Note: Show of hands, who thought the same thing when you got to that part? Who’s down with O.P.P.? Suckers!)
I felt the excitement of getting away with something. I also felt the excitement of making a new friend. My friends felt the excitement of O.P.P.
Miss Woodhouse believed Exhibit A’s not asking me to the upcoming dance was a sign, not of his disinterest, but only that I would have to ask him. Although I wasn’t really up for it, the Project Fox matchmaking manipulation was a success. Inexplicably he said yes and we spent an awkward evening together during which I carried myself as if I were made of glass. When we said good night without a kiss, I was both disappointed and relieved.
Project Fox ended in a standoff in an empty classroom where I demanded an explanation of why we weren’t friends anymore. He squirmed like an animal in a trap and insisted we were still friends. But we weren’t and that stung. People, sometimes a ride is just a ride.
You don’t need a Cruise Director for your love life. Relationships engineered by the Miss Woodhouses of your life are doomed.
This was inspired by this week’s RemembeRED memoir prompt (“Write about a relationship you knew was doomed from the start.”), but since I’m over the word limit, I didn’t officially link up.
Have you ever let a Miss Woodhouse convince you to pursue someone you otherwise wouldn’t have? How’d that turn out?