Saturday, 25 August 2012

The Myth of 'The Spark'

I admired Jenny's open-minded attitude in today's Guardian... 

Hallelujah. This morning as I read my Saturday paper, the sheets spread out like a tablemat underneath my bowl of cereal, something made me stop and rejoice aloud. A couple on the Guardian’s ‘Blind Date’ page who actually wanted to meet again.

I don’t know why I always turn to the dating page in the Guardian. Maybe because I am intrigued to see what dish (man and food) I could potentially discover if I wasn’t too proud to put myself up for a blind date in a national newspaper. Either way I enjoy reading the descriptions of dates spent talking about ‘transport, theatre and our mutual love of Salman Rushdie and experimental pop-up restaurants in abandoned buildings’. (I may be prone to exaggeration).

But recently I was beginning to lose patience with the blind dating page. It’s the final two questions that always get me: ‘Marks out of 10’ and ‘Would you meet again?’ Since when has a 9 out of 10 not been good enough to warrant a second date? If Guardian blind dates are anything to go by, in today’s dating world you need to be nothing short of a 15 out of 10 if you want to find love.

The phenomenon of the perfect date with an undateable person shows a lot about our expectations of relationships. Reading the accounts of Guardian blind dates, ‘spark’ is the word that inevitably crops up in the final line and that burns any chance of a future rendez-vous. ‘He/she was the perfect guy/woman. But I don’t think we will ever see each other again. There was just no spark’.

I may risk having every rom-com character to have ever (not) existed pelting me with boxes of chocolates and thorny roses in saying this, but I don’t believe in the spark. Of course I have had crushes, I have met people I am instantly drawn to, and I have been in love, but I have never experienced that lightning bolt moment where you meet someone for the first time and instantly know that they are going to be the person for you. I don’t think that’s because I am actually an asexual cave-dweller. I think it’s just because the spark doesn’t exist.

I know I have already complained on this blog about the mind-altering power of the rom-com (or rom-con as my sister says), but as a woman who has watched her fair share of chick-flicks, I think I am entitled to complain again. Stand in the middle of a rom-com and you are at risk of catching alight for all the sparks flying about. Because that’s the trouble with sparks. They are dangerous, will soon burn out and may end up blinding you.

The only serious relationship I have had was with a friend who I had never really looked at twice until we had a random six-hour long conversation at a friend’s party. If I had been waiting for a lightning bolt to come down from the sky (or ceiling- we were inside) I probably wouldn’t have had the patience for a six-hour conversation. Most of the best relationships I have witnessed have been unexpected. My mum wrote off my step-dad the first time she met him. They have now been together for 11 years.

If you are looking for buried coins on the beach chances are you will not notice the amazing shells lying in the sand. Yes I just wrote a ridiculously cheesy metaphor. But wait until you hear this one…

A close friend (who will be left anonymous) recently had a very exciting and very short-lived fling that left her feeling somewhat low. One evening after having come back from a cocktail bar, I received a text message from her saying that she was feeling low because of the end of said fling. Empowered by the wisdom that can only come from several mojitos, I sent the following reply:

“I think experiences like these (exciting flings full of sparks) are like the sugar in your life. They make it tasty but you can’t live on sugar. You need solid things like bread to keep you going. OK bread may not be as sweet as sugar, but it fills you up and when it comes to it is much better for you. Ok I can’t believe I just compared relationships to bread and sugar, but what I mean is that I think it’s amazing to go for it and throw yourself into these exciting experiences, but also to think of it as what it is – some awesome sweetness.”

I am a fountain of wisdom when I am drunk. But I actually think the mojito-talk sums up quite accurately (and eloquently) how I feel.

Maybe I’m not being entirely honest in saying what I’m looking for is a plain unsweetened loaf of bread though. My friend had the final word: “what we really want are iced buns’. 


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