The book, “The Rules,” says that EVERYTHING you need to know about a potential partner you learn on the first date (or first couple of dates). Recently, I’d been taking that to mean that I had to ask all the RIGHT questions on a first date in order to ferret out whether a guy was right for me or not. Until a seemingly unrelated event showed me otherwise.
The other night, I was watching Miss Marple on my DVD player when I heard a strange noise coming out of my bedroom. Normally, I hear NOTHING from my bedroom, so by the second funny noise, I got up and poked my head through the doorway just in time to see a little brown mouse bolt like the wind across my bedroom floor.
I gasped, my adrenaline shot up, I started shaking, wondering what to do, and then made the totally fear-based executive decision to put on my shoes and run to the drugstore (at 11pm!) to go find some glue traps and D-con.
When I came home, I spread the glue traps and D-con around my bedroom and then slept (badly!) on the couch after vowing to be brave in the morning and fix this new mouse problem.
This wasn’t my first experience with mice. Six years before, when I’d moved into this apartment, mice had infested my kitchen. What I learned from that, one night while baby mice were popping up out of the burners on my stove like popcorn, was that mice tell you everything you need to know about how to get rid of them if you just show a little patience, watch them, and pay attention (which can be VERY hard to do when all you want to do is grab a broom and shoo them out of the house).
So the next morning, I went into my bedroom, armed with steel wool and more glue traps. I remembered what I’d learned about mice six years before: if you pay attention to where they’re coming from and, most importantly, where they run when you frighten them, they will, inadvertently, tell you where their mouse holes are.
As I followed the path of the mouse I’d seen the night before in my bedroom, lo and behold, I found a brand new, gnawed hole in my bedroom wall. As I stuffed it full of steel wool and surrounded the area with glue traps, it occurred to me that observing a mouse is a whole lot like observing a new date.
If you just sit back, let them do and be whatever they’ll naturally be, without interruption, any date will (inadvertently) tell you EVERYTHING you need to know. For the most part, you don’t even need to bring “requirement” questions with you (the ones where you find out if the person’s values and goals are in alignment with yours).
Listen as they comment about the crying baby at the next table-are they friendly about it? Callous? Bitchy? Their response may give you an indication how they feel about kids. Watch how they interact with the wait-staff-are they friendly? Demanding? Entitled? Charming? Polite? Let them tell you stories-like the long one about how they liked to party in college and still get together with their friends now to get high and you’ll learn where they stand on drugs and alcohol. As they describe how they chose the car they love so much, you’ll learn about their values and how they feel about spending (or not spending) money. Just watch, listen, and observe. You will be told everything you need to know. Just like watching the mice.
Watch, listen, learn. Then, act accordingly, whether you bolt as soon as dinner is over or whether you gladly say yes to another date. If you simply pay attention, everything you need to know to make the right choice for you is right there for you to see.
(c) 2008 Rebecca P. Soulette