Eleven years ago, a girlfriend and I were sipping expensively oversalted margaritas at a dive bar in Chicago’s south loop as she lamented, “I just want to find someone who isn’t crazy.”
- No, you don’t. How incredibly boring that would be.
- Even if you wanted that, it’s not actually possible, unless you start volunteering in the lobotomy recovery ward rather than joining e-Harmony.
Turn your selfie-cam on for a few hours and take a come-to-Jesus approach to inventory your own crazy: your weirdly ritualistic approach to cooking eggs, your inability to focus long enough to put both socks on before wandering off to sort the recycling, your completely disgusting reluctance to brush your teeth until after you’ve had at least one cup of coffee because then the coffee tastes revoltingly like spearmint… you’re not exactly the sanest popsicle in the Frigidaire, are you?
And yet, somehow, many humans manage to not only put up with but in fact thrive on someone else’s crazy. One of the most interesting couples I know is so successful because they’ve enthusiastically rejected absolutely anyone else’s opinion of social norms and only co-exist with each other’s crazy. She’s deeply into medieval dress-up (is that called something?); he voraciously reads physics literature and Manga and laughs like a hyena at astronomy jokes. They are both such dedicated introverts that they could and sometimes do spend days or weeks without speaking to anyone, even each other. They have an apartment which they have furnished so each “bedroom” is a private office/sanctuary/study, with their bed in the living room (which sounds awkward, but it’s not like they entertain). Back before there was internet-only television, Hulu, Netflix, etc., they chose to have, rather than TV service, a membership in a Japanese Anime DVD rental service, which sent them 7 disks a week…sometimes, they watched one each night, but sometimes, they saved them all up to watch in one marathon of an Anime-day! When they dine at restaurants and enjoy their entrees, he will dissect and analyze the specimens with scientific precision so she can attempt to recreate them without the necessity of interacting with the outside world (this somewhat unsurprisingly makes them less-than-optimal dinner companions for others). These are people who were actually made for each other.
Online dating ensures everyone frontloads their assets and deeply obscures their crazy, requiring three or four dates (or weeks) before glimmers of lunacy start to bleed through the normal façade. When they do, you will be faced with the decision to accept and ante up or fold your hand. Upon being told that new fella didn’t want to get together because he was hoping to run to the grocery, buy both a melon and a melon-balling tool, and spend the afternoon balling his melons instead of my Friend, Friend wisely sussed out that they were not compatibly crazy and sent him on his fruity way. (He will live in infamy as the self-proclaimed “Selfish Melonballer,” however, which is definitely on the short list for my next superhero costume party persona.) I once was gently let go from the dating process with the apology that he “wanted to spend more time with his bees.” (I pointed out, confusedly, that he did not in fact have any bees, before realizing that this was an excellent indicator that we were not compatibly crazy in the first place and just letting that conversation die on the hive.) Part of my crazy is that I really need you to think that food – particularly the food which I lovingly prepare for you as an expression of how much I care for you – is a fucking magical experience. If you are unable to differentiate in appreciation between the gustatory experience of consuming handmade pasta versus frozen burritos, I’m never going to be able to actually love you (and yes, I am totally judging you while I watch you pop that toasted almond croissant I spent literally six hours making into your hopefully-appreciative face-hole). Conversely, your willingness to try anything I put in your mouth and your near-orgasmic reaction to my experimental pumpkin-spice-and-maple-candied-SPAM cupcakes will elevate you to a sexiness level roughly on par with George Clooney.
I can’t shake an abiding feeling of guilt for only enhancing my friend’s reticence to experiment with anyone else’s crazy as a result of that tequila-soaked bar conversation, since she has been unwilling to date virtually anyone in the subsequent decade. I admit it is ludicrous to maintain the smoldering belief that one can ever find someone whose crazy not only is tolerable but in fact invigorating, and who feels equally exuberant in return. As I drained my tumbler and popped a handful of cashew mix into my maw, I pointed out the irony of having, at that moment, just exactly what we were looking for: complimentary nuts.