Short and sharp lashes that define clear whites and soft browns. Taut skin unsullied by daily mowing. Fluffy, fluffy hair. It must smell like vanilla I tell myself; one of many hypotheses that need testing. But that validation is like the server’s promise of hazelnut in my frappe, evidently there and yet unreachable as my straw trawls through the clotted dregs of my drink.
He’s pretty and we are patently incompatible. Still, it’s a pleasant enough evening and we are talking about everything and nothing in particular. I drop my guard as his teenage-dream-like smile radiates sparkles and rainbows. With my attention diverted, he skillfully drives our conversation into that cul-de-sac of no return.
“You’re interesting,” he says.
Interesting. An appellation that graces my neck like a jeweled noose, pregnant with possibilities and dead-ends. In cafes and bars, on apps and forums, in grubby living rooms of far-flung exurbs and pastel apartments that squint at the gray sea through gaps in concrete, men of all shades and sizes are united by their wielding of one adjective. Some use it as a mace and within speech bubbles of their opening ping, have clobbered me with it on the basis of a terse profile description. Others take their time, swinging it above my head like a lasso, building a case, trapping me in my own responses before closing in to make their abiding assertion.
Interesting. Not adorable, not affable, not kissable, not likable, not lickable, definitely not dateable. Suffixes that involve Cain’s brother are infrequent visitors in the snow globe of my love life. But, there is one perennial sting here. Interesting. Interesting is a good thing, I am told. It got me this far, didn’t it? A five minute text chat despite the lack of a ‘clear face pic’; a laidback phone conversation sans stats; a Sunday afternoon date without having disclosed which side of the top-bottom dichotomy I am on – all of this achieved on the glimmer of one word.
Interesting because the intercourse you intend to have with me must surely be of the intellectual variety. We will bandy about dead French luminaries and if you don’t know them, we will retreat to Indian ones. If you are still at a loss, we can talk about abstract concepts in general which is to say we will talk about nothing at all and when all else fails, there’s always sex.
Interesting is how you chortled at my witticisms, admired my lexical subterfuges and then quickly fatigued of them both. “You’re one in a million” you tell me, “and thankfully some ratios make sense” you remark to yourself. When the jokes run dry, you continue laughing at my naivety as I peer at the world through the burqa of my erudition. My persistence amuses you at first, turns you off second, and vexes you third, in that order.
Interesting is the expression on your face as you contemplate this queer wordsmith who can define sesquipedalian and yet can’t fathom the implications of an everyday word. It ought to be as clear as the untouched selfies you insisted we exchange. You seek diversion from novelty, and release from diversion. I seek meaning from random encounters, and love from meaning. As my fluffy-haired accuser gets up to leave, he mumbles pleasantries about meeting again. I know better. You wish to engage with the idea of me but ideas are fickle and attraction even more so. While you move on to your next diversion, I will sit here pondering the epistemology of gay dating and awaiting the day when I am deemed something more than interesting.