The Queen of Hearts is Always Your Best Bet
The couple at the table beside me at the coffee shop is on a date, by all accounts of eavesdropping, a first or a second date. They're both decently good looking people, educated, articulate and they seem to be getting along famously.
But, oh-sweet-Jesus does everyone sound like such gits on a first date? How do two obviously intelligent people go on at such length without saying anything of substance? They've been at it for an hour. Granted, they now have an exhaustive list of statistics about each other: place of birth, alma mater, names of siblings, professional history, favorite foods, sports teams of choice but what they haven't done is actually get to know one another. It's like they're both on the worst job interview of their lives, every word guarded, every statement tailored not to offend, every laugh deliberate.
They haven't even tried to challenge one another. Neither of them have said anything that might risk the other's umbrage. They've not exposed the tiniest parts of their soft emotional underbelly, so to speak. And, when crafting a relationship, this is something a couple should do right out the gate. Sure, one risks being wounded, risks spreading one's secrets but is that not better than spending a dozen more dates or the balance of one's lifetime with someone unrealized as a stranger?
The worst part is, they're probably going to go out again and again and again. They'll probably end up married and buried without ever having unpacked each other's hearts.
I can't take it. I'm putting my headphones on now.