Date an Illiterate Girl by Charles Warnke

Posted: May 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

“Date a girl who doesn’t read. Find her in
the weary squalor of a Midwestern bar. Find
her in the smoke, drunken sweat, and
varicolored light of an upscale nightclub.
Wherever you find her, find her smiling. Make
sure that it lingers when the people that are
talking to her look away. Engage her with
unsentimental trivialities. Use pick-up lines
and laugh inwardly. Take her outside when
the night overstays its welcome. Ignore the
palpable weight of fatigue. Kiss her in the
rain under the weak glow of a streetlamp
because you’ve seen it in film. Remark at its
lack of significance. Take her to your
apartment. Dispatch with making love. Fuck
Let the anxious contract you’ve unwittingly
written evolve slowly and uncomfortably into
a relationship. Find shared interests and
common ground like sushi, and folk music.
Build an impenetrable bastion upon that
ground. Make it sacred. Retreat into it every
time the air gets stale, or the evenings get
long. Talk about nothing of significance. Do
little thinking. Let the months pass
unnoticed. Ask her to move in. Let her
decorate. Get into fights about
inconsequential things like how the fucking
shower curtain needs to be closed so that it
doesn’t fucking collect mold. Let a year pass
unnoticed. Begin to notice. Figure that you
should probably get married because you will
have wasted a lot of time otherwise. Take
her to dinner on the forty-fifth floor at a
restaurant far beyond your means. Make
sure there is a beautiful view of the city.
Sheepishly ask a waiter to bring her a glass
of champagne with a modest ring in it. When
she notices, propose to her with all of the
enthusiasm and sincerity you can muster. Do
not be overly concerned if you feel your
heart leap through a pane of sheet glass.
For that matter, do not be overly concerned
if you cannot feel it at all. If there is
applause, let it stagnate. If she cries, smile
as if you’ve never been happier. If she
doesn’t, smile all the same.
Let the years pass unnoticed. Get a career,
not a job. Buy a house. Have two striking
children. Try to raise them well. Fail,
frequently. Lapse into a bored indifference.
Lapse into an indifferent sadness. Have a
mid-life crisis. Grow old. Wonder at your lack
of achievement. Feel sometimes contented,
but mostly vacant and ethereal. Feel, during
walks, as if you might never return, or as if
you might blow away on the wind. Contract a
terminal illness. Die, but only after you
observe that the girl who didn’t read never
made your heart oscillate with any
significant passion, that no one will write
the story of your lives, and that she will die,
too, with only a mild and tempered regret
that nothing ever came of her capacity to
Do those things, because nothing sucks worse
than a girl who reads. Do it, I say, because a
life in purgatory is better than a life in hell.
Do it, because a girl who reads possesses a
vocabulary that can describe that amorphous
discontent as a life unfulfilled—a vocabulary
that parses the innate beauty of the world
and makes it an accessible necessity instead
of an alien wonder. A girl who reads lays
claim to a vocabulary that distinguishes
between the specious and soulless rhetoric of
someone who cannot love her, and the
inarticulate desperation of someone who
loves her too much. A vocabulary, god damnit,
that makes my vacuous sophistry a cheap
trick. Do it, because a girl who reads
understands syntax. Literature has taught
her that moments of tenderness come in
sporadic but knowable intervals. A girl who
reads knows that life is not planar; she
knows, and rightly demands, that the ebb
comes along with the flow of disappointment.
A girl who has read up on her syntax senses
the irregular pauses—the hesitation of
breath—endemic to a lie. A girl who reads
perceives the difference between a
parenthetical moment of anger and the
entrenched habits of someone whose bitter
cynicism will run on, run on well past any
point of reason, or purpose, run on far after
she has packed a suitcase and said a
reluctant goodbye and she has decided that I
am an ellipsis and not a period and run on
and run on. Syntax that knows the rhythm
and cadence of a life well lived.
Date a girl who doesn’t read because the girl
who reads knows the importance of plot. She
can trace out the demarcations of a prologue
and the sharp ridges of a climax. She feels
them in her skin. The girl who reads will be
patient with an intermission and expedite a
denouement. But of all things, the girl who
reads knows most the ineluctable significance
of an end. She is comfortable with them. She
has bid farewell to a thousand heroes with
only a twinge of sadness.
Don’t date a girl who reads because girls who
read are the storytellers. You with the
Joyce, you with the Nabokov, you with the
Woolf. You there in the library, on the
platform of the metro, you in the corner of
the café, you in the window of your room.
You, who make my life so god damned
difficult. The girl who reads has spun out the
account of her life and it is bursting with
meaning. She insists that her narratives are
rich, her supporting cast colorful, and her
typeface bold. You, the girl who reads, make
me want to be everything that I am not. But
I am weak and I will fail you, because you
have dreamed, properly, of someone who is
better than I am. You will not accept the life
that I told of at the beginning of this piece.
You will accept nothing less than passion,
and perfection, and a life worthy of being
storied. So out with you, girl who reads.
Take the next southbound train and take
your Hemingway with you. I hate you. I
really, really, really hate you.”


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