Act 1 — our first dinner-not-date together, and he brought up the subject of girls who wanted to define things after a few dates and laughed at the absurdity of it all, females wanting to Define Shit and immediately slap labels onto something after merely spending a handful of hours together in the practical pursuit of obtaining nourishment and getting just tipsy enough to numb the awkwardness of it all. I laughed along at these silly girls, because obviously I was not one of these girls.
I laughed and I laughed, and kept all my feelings inside and needless to say, they eventually burst forth like a papier-mâché volcano I made for science class in second grade, a great, gushing mess. A visual aid: a Mentos in Coke. Overall, a D+ in execution.
Act 2, and a different supporting character, a shorter time period — a measly couple of months. All topics concerning labels and relationships and what exactly the hell we were doing were never touched on; I tried to summon up the bravery to broach this topic but put it off each time, eventually abandoning the idea in embarrassment because too much time had passed, and it’d seem patently ridiculous to discuss anything now. In my not-so-youthful inexperience and also general idiocy perhaps unconsciously influenced by my traumatizingly Christian upbringing, I thought that maybe this was just how modern-day relationships worked. That maybe we were building up to something, that this had some meaning to it after all.
The grand reveal: there was no meaning, and the gray zone abruptly sharpened into tight focus. It’d been playing in black-and-white color all along, and I just hadn’t been smart enough to see it. My second-grade volcano sputtered out a negligible amount of lava, and I digitally deleted the person from my life because that is a healthy, mature, and totally reasonable way of dealing with issues. Another failing grade.
Two minor volcano eruptions later, and I am a little more jaded and wiser now. But I want to ask, why is Defining Shit so stigmatized? I don’t mean to play into tired old gender stereotypes about borderline sociopathic girls who are hellbent on Trapping Your Ass and douchebag bros who major in separating emotions from sex (sexbots if you will), or deny the existence of women who enjoy swimming in the pleasant waters of the gray zone and absolutely abhor Defining Shit or men who actually quite like Defining Shit, excel at it even. I am merely marveling at how my own internalized misogyny allowed me to buy into the Cool Girl trope and play her quite flawlessly until I couldn’t anymore, at how Defining Shit is so shamed and feminized when it’s actually just a means of efficiency — it’s simply a matter of not wasting finite time and emotions. And when people say that they don’t know what they’re looking for or just want something casual, and aren’t constrained by very reasonable factors such as overseas job transfers or deep-rooted commitment issues on account of their pet corgi dying in the eighth grade or some other mild childhood trauma, does it mean that they’re just always looking for something better and want to keep their options open? Are we all just stumbling through life with major FOMO? Does the very idea of “commitment issues” signal a blind conformance to the heteronormative, cookie-cutter ideals of getting hitched and popping out 2.5 kids and having a dog in the yard that is cruelly bound within a certain radius by its electro shock collar? Where the fuck can I find a decent pencil skirt in Tokyo?
It’s intermission and the final act of the play isn’t due to begin yet. I still don’t know the answers to all of these questions. But recently as of late, I’ve found my voice a la the Little Mermaid and have begun Defining Shit, being unapologetically direct about what I want for myself.
It feels good.