I’m going to hell, I really am.

Inspired by this, I present what I think is a more likely version of events:

I’m sitting in another fucking Starbucks in Camden, next to two people who are obviously on a some sort of hideously awkward blind date. Their well-meaning friends have clearly set them up, and just as clearly not thought about whether or not these two people are actually suited to each other. You wouldn’t necessarily notice them at first – they are average looking white people in a room and a neighborhood full of the same, and no-one’s giving them a second look. They are both so ORDINARY. They are both talking too fast or looking just past each other in awkward silence, both aware that it is going hideously, embarassingly, badly and neither quite knowing what to do to fix things. She knocks her pen onto the floor and he goes to pick it up at the same time she does, and between them they only succeed in knocking it further out of reach, and she gives him a look like “I can pick up my own damn pen, thanks” and has to get out of her seat to get it back.

He’s lanky, with slightly greasy brown hair and thick glasses with dated looking frames. She’s short and fat, with frizzy brown hair. They look like any other pair of not-as-fashionable-as-they’d-like-to-think twentysomethings. But because I’m a hopless sadist, as I watch them, I root for them to spend the whole day together. They should try to go to the movies, only to discover that they don’t like the same films, and one or both of them have already seen the few films they can agree on. I want them to make out awkwardly all night, fueled by a combination of alcohol, and some strange sense of guilt that makes them feel that this is expected of them. I want her to lie and say “I never do this” and undo his belt. I want him to say “me neither” while thinking of her as a slut. I want him to call a week or two later when the friend that set him up on the date nags him to. I want her to buy a new dress, in a desperate attempt to look slightly less dowdy on a second date. Christ, they have matching messenger bags. That’s just sad. She’s telling some story about her favorite children’s book, and he’s pretending to have read it, and loved it too in a sad and transparent attempt to get into her knickers, while you can see the thought in his eyes that it’s a fucking book for kids, and what’s she doing reading it?

A year from now I want them to wind up living together in the top of a tower block somewhere. She’ll talk about painting all the walls in bright colors, and he’ll grunt and agree and they’ll plan to get around to it next month. They won’t have enough room for all their books – her children’s book collection that he can’t believe she’s still got, and his graphic novels that she wishes he’d hide away because she’s sure her friends secretly laugh at them when they come round, so they spill off the shelves into little piles in the corner that make the place look untidy, but there’s nowhere else to put them. They’ll have a housewarming party and all their friends will come, and secretly wonder why they chose this dump to live in. Family and friends will surround them, wishing them luck, and making them feel pressured to stay together because everyone thinks they should. Neither of them will be quite sure how they wound up living together like this, but they’ll stick with it because it’s better than nothing, even as they rapidly discover that the other’s little habits drive them up the wall. She leaves the top off the toothpaste, he never does the washing up. She’s always on the phone, and he clips his toenails in the living room. They’ll argue over the crosswords in bed on Sunday mornings, sitting just that little bit further apart each month, occaisionally having unremarkable sex, each thinking of someone else half the time. He’ll fall asleep on the sofa watching the footy on Saturday afternoons while she goes shopping. For the first six months she’ll be forced to fake her orgasm every other time they have sex, before she just stops even bothering, and he’ll still somehow manage to convince himself that he’s the best lover she’s ever had. She’ll secretly take belly-dancing lessons at the Y out of sheer bordeom and surprise herself by sleeping with the instructor, who makes her feel like a shy bookworm transformed into a siren, unrecognizable, powerful, his, but she still won’t leave the security of her draining relationship.

Now they are getting ready to leave….I can see and hear the strange resignedness in each of them…”Do you have any plans for the rest of the day?” “Not really, no.” “Well, d’you fancy maybe seeing a film, or something?” “I came on my bike – I’m not sure I can lock it up by the cinema.” “Oh.” “Sod it, I can just come back and pick it up from here afterwards.” Already there is something possessive and selfish in the way he behaves toward her, leading the way out of the place, looking back over his shoulder to check she’s following. He figures she’s the best chance to get laid he’s had in a while – after all she’s desperate enough to have agreed to the blind date. He will always open doors for her because he walks that bit faster, and gets there first, and even he’s not rude enough to just let it swing back in her face, and he’ll let her have the window seat on airplanes because the aisle has that bit more legroom, and wake her when she falls asleep on the couch because her snoring is drowning out the telly. She will nurse his colds with cupasoup and asprin that she picked up on the way home from the office, stand in line to get a book signed by his favorite author, only to discover that she’s mixed up Tom Clancy and Clive Cussler, and they’ll both be awkward and resentful about it.

All their neuroses and annoying quirks will become even more annoying over time – he spends too much money on CDs, she’s always 15 minutes late. They will rapidly come to take each other for granted. Day jobs, the cable bill, dirty cereal bowls, global warming, international strife will go on and on with no end in sight. When they announce their engagement, everyone will be astonished – their friends and family thought they were about to split up, but then she got pregnant, and they felt they had to do it. These two will be stuck with each other their whole lives – she wishing she’d found someoneelse who loved Le Petit Prince, him wishing he hadn’t wound up with someone who hates getting all dressed up, but who’d make an effort to look nice occaisionally, or someone who can talk about politics without getting shrill and angry, she wishing for someone who thinks deeply about things and tries to be a good person.

At 40 they will be faced with the realisation that they’ve wasted their best years, and decide to divorce before they waste any more time on each other. The kids won’t understand, and will grow up bitter and resentful, damaged by the rows and the screaming over the years. This is what I wish for these two people who are geeking on each other across a cafe table littered with badly-done crosswords and half-drunk mochas, with me sitting by, a silent twisted sadist, unable to form a stable relationship, and wishing misery on everyone else, stewing in my own bitterness. Right now, I’m going looking for a puppy to kick.

I don’t know the poster of the original, and I’ve got nothing against them. I’m glad they see the world the way they do, and honestly, I hope their version comes true. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel briefly warmed and uplifted by their account, but then my natural bitterness got the better of me. I am a basically horrible person, it’s true.

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