Perhaps it was a mistake to read a Douglas Coupland book (Miss Wyoming) soon after Valentine’s Day. Characters in Coupland novels are quirky and rarefied; they exist comfortably above the median of the bell curve whatever their station in life, and are equipped with extraordinary ability in pop-culture based wisecracking. Behind all this they’re ultimately on a quest for meaning, and resolution of nagging issues that persist despite that facade of blithe zeitgeistiness. And they eventually find this in the love of other people they meet along the way, other people who are interesting, intelligent, and basically compatible in all the ways that count, and love unfolds effortlessly, minus the sap. Characters in Coupland novels start off alone, or at least metaphorically so if not literally, but end up with that magical person who makes them whole.
Coupland writes about love the way I want it to happen.
And yet, I have to wonder how realistic it all is. I wonder how likely it is that two gloriously unique people wading through the vast mulch plains of the ordinary somehow meet, and how likely that will be for me, given that it hasn’t happened yet. I wonder how they manage this in a couple hundred pages. I wonder how come everyone else living in the same book as me has managed this a lot earlier, and how many pages I have left to go before it ends, and I’m that one character who doesn’t end up “completed”.
And then the explanations kick in. I’m a lot more interesting than everyone else I know, so it’s that much harder for me to find someone who doesn’t bore me. The average male is intimidated by my intelligence and strength of personality, and backs off, but I’m not interested in the average male, after all. What’s all this about needing someone else to complete me, anyway? Who died and made the Jerry Maguire scriptwriters God? Most people go into relationships that won’t last, and I’m waiting for the one that will instead of wasting my time. Always the rationalizer…
And then the doubts kick in – shock! horror! – yes, even the pathologically well-adjusted “ineffable” Michelle has doubts once in a while. Maybe all that in the last paragraph is the work of an overdeveloped intellect trying to compensate for an underdeveloped emotional core. Maybe there is some undefinable quality about me that screams “BUDDY!” to every potentially desirable male I meet, and “SEX GODDESS!” to every grievously flawed, hideously incompatible denizen of Major Turnoff City.
Maybe I should start checking out nunneries.
Actually, that’s where the doubts end. I don’t think a nunnery is anywhere in my future. I’d rather settle for a life of meaningless physical encounters and serial killing…of my romantic ideals, of course. Nothing with flesh and a highly developed cerebral cortex. (Calista Flockhart, start looking over your shoulder.)
At the end of the day, this isn’t meant as a pathetic lament of my singlehood. It’s something I think about from time to time, but it doesn’t affect me deeply enough to qualify as anything remotely problematic. Perhaps it’s just a variation on one of my biggest fears – that people (close friends, family, etc.etc.) don’t love me as much as I love them. Perhaps I just want that confirmation that at least one person does.