Date a guy who doesn't read. You'll find him in a bar, already on his third or fourth smoky glass of amber, staring at you through glassy eyes that say he was hoping someone like you would come along and that you're up for fun tonight. He's cute so you let him buy you a drink, maybe a shot or two, and let him tell you about his job, how much money he makes, and how attracted he is to you. You tell him a little about yourself, and take his nods and smiles to mean he's soaking it all in, understands you just enough to feel a connection. Feel yourself falling for him because he's not bad-looking, because he has a job and seems self-sufficient, and tells you how great it is that you read a book a week, if not more. Make out with him at the bar a little, not a lot, because you want him to call you for a real date and fear he won't respect you if things go further. You head towards the subway as he grabs a cab, without asking you to let him know you got home safe.
He doesn't call you but instead sends a text message. Respond to the text and agree to meet for dinner. At dinner he'll wear something smart and sensible with a nice cologne. He'll talk more about his job, and forget most of what you told him the night you met. You kiss him goodnight, though he masks the clear disappointment that this is all he's going to get. The next time you hear from him is a week later via a text message sent at 1:37 am, asking if you're busy. It wakes you up and you tell him you were sleeping. He says he wants to see you, but agrees to do it formally next weekend.
On the third date he still can't remember what you do, but you chalk that up to him being a guy. They're not very good listeners anyway, but there's something different about this one, you tell yourself, even though nothing leaps to mind. You start seeing each other once a week, sometimes two. You meet his friends at a bar. He introduces you, but then turns his attention back to shots and the ballgame while you nurse a beer. He's a guy, you tell yourself, and you're glad he has friends, his own life. He meets your friends, has a quick drink and steam-like conversation, then tells you he has to leave because he has work the next day and needs to rest up. When he leaves, your friends tell you he's nice but it seems clear they can't think of much else to say but they're glad you seem happy.
You date for a long time, and begin to grow weary of being introduced as his friend. At one point he asks you how your job is going, but forgets that you told him a few weeks ago that you quit to go to grad school. You wonder if he's going to pop the question, because you've been a bridesmaid in too many weddings and your friends seem so happy and you hope eventually you might feel that way too with him. One night he proposes to you at a restaurant, even though you'd told him long ago that you never wanted to get engaged in public. He has a big grin and a gorgeous ring and when you say yes he accepts the applause from fellow diners with a modest bow that conveys he's more proud of himself than of the moments to come. The wedding is beautiful. You tell yourself he'll be a good father, that he wants to be a provider. When you get pregnant, you listen to him when he says he'd prefer you to be a stay-at-home mother, even though you worked hard to establish a career. You give birth to a beautiful child, but begin to resent the fact that he's never home. He gets off work late, enters the apartment smelling of steak and good cigars. One day while washing his shirts you get a whiff of something that smells vaguely of perfume, but you let it go. On weekends he invites the guys over to watch the game, but doesn't make eye contact when you bring over chips and beer for him and his buddies. You like awake at night listening to him snore while the baby cries. You have another baby. He passes around stogies while you force a smile. Years later you consider divorce, but don't want to for the sake of the children. He takes you on expensive trips, but can't hold your hand because he's sending emails back to the office.
When he gets sick, you spend every day and night with him at the hospital, as do your children. Your oldest is married, and she beams in a way that feels foreign to you. When he dies you are alone. You look at old pictures and albums, each smile on his face reminding you of that first night you met, when he smiled at you and the future seemed limitless. Your children squeeze your hand harder than you can remember him ever doing. You know you were a good mother.
Date an illiterate guy because men who read know that a relationship isn't just a catchy hook, but a series of interconnected events that add up to something larger than the words on the page or the moments in the day. Date him because he won't challenge you or make you think, and because he doesn't want that either. Date him because a guy who reads will watch the ballgame with you, while explaining the intricacies of every pitch, every shot, and help you understand the unparalleled drama that unfolds, and even if you already knew this you get joy from watching him try to make you happy. Date him because he refuses to change, to learn, and listens to the advice of others instead of going through the joys and pains of figuring out who he is for himself. Date him because you'll get a lot more sleep, as once he's home from work he considers his day over, and you'll be unencumbered by late-night conversations about topics that he didn't even know he was interested in until he saw them through your eyes, while you learn what keeps his heart beating. Date him because holding hands is old-fashioned, and restaurant tables are usually too close together anyway for him to pull out your chair.
Date him because guys who read know that the biggest joys in life are sharing with others, while he believes communication begins and ends with a delineation of your duties. Don't date a guy who reads, because men who read know that chivalry doesn't have an expiration date, and know that what you have isn't nearly as important as who you have. Don't date a guy who reads because they are never satisfied with the status quo, will only look to learn more, and to teach you things that make your heart soar. Don't date a guy who reads because then you won't have to worry about him asking questions, and you can feel fulfilled with your own life, separate from his, rather than knowing that love between two people is greater than the sum of its parts, that a great story is so much more than the words on the page.
Jason Pinter is the bestselling author of five novels (the most recent of which are The Fury and The Darkness), as well as the ebook exclusive FAKING LIFE, which have nearly 1.5 million copies in print in nearly 20 countries. His first novel for young readers, Zeke Bartholomew: Superspy!, will be released in November 2011. Visit him at www.jasonpinter.com or follow him on Twitter.
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