A Young Contrarian Speaks

Rhetoric from a Lonely Liberal

You should Date an Illiterate Man

with 5 comments

Go and date a man who doesn’t read. You can find him easily enough, walking past you in with an air of swagger and pomposity, awkwardly strutting in designer shoes and leather jeans. You can hear them, loud and confident with their crude jokes and cheerful backslapping. Ignore the lad behind them, the one clutching the cheap old paperback novel.

You should date a man who doesn’t read because it can be done with ease. It takes but a moment of physical attraction, a few clichéd lines that pale in their insignificance. A few jokes are shared, and numbers are exchanged. Go with him to a location which you have been a thousand times before. Consume grub and beverages.  Pretend to reach for the bill but allow him to pay in the end. Repeat process again and again with increasing levels of physical intimacy. Wait a suitable time before intercourse, lest you attain a reputation for being ‘easy’. Then fuck him.

The man who reads unnecessarily complicates a simple dating ritual. His romantic ideals lie within the pages of books rather than soap operas. Thus he is more moved by the intelligence of Elizabeth Bennet or the passion of Catherine Earnshaw than the simple flashing of cleavage.  He is unable to find sex as the epitome of a love affair, nor is he comfortable with distilling the various intricacies of a romantic relationship into a two hour flick. The reading man inhabits the realm of Romeo and Juliet, Beatrice and Benedict, Paris and Helena. Understand that the reading man sees a romantic encounter as an epic saga spanning thousands of pages and numerous sequels, with multiple plot devices, many-layered characters, and a climax so poignant that it is worthy of being  sung as a sonnet.

Recognize this bizarre expectation for what it is- a tragedy of Greek proportions waiting to happen.  The literate man has set romantic ideals which are impossible to emulate. He seeks all the glory and happiness of a Pulitzer winning romance novel, whilst lacking every quality necessary of the main character. He does not possess the winning charm of James Bond (the Ian Fleming creation, not the dreadful pun-loving Hollywood character), nor the wealth of a certain Mr. Darcy. When it becomes apparent that no one will ever pen the tale of their love, he will despair at its sheer banality. Even in failure the relationship will be mundane- how can it be otherwise when the literate man lacks even vices of a main character- the vanity of Dorian Gray or the pride of Othello?

You should date a man who doesn’t read because he will make you comfortable by never challenging you. Having been bequeathed physical superiority over you by virtue of biology, he will cheerfully surrender intellectual dominance as your due entitlement. The man doesn’t read takes a certain pride in not knowing things. To the workings of the government, he bears no thought. Politics is dull and irrelevant, and he avoids complications. To the fields of knowledge outside his line of study, he has no interest. Why should he learn about something which doesn’t relate to his work? To questions of theology, he blindly accepts his adopted religion without ever reading his holy text beyond a few token verses.  On the rare occasion that the Big Questions do occur to him, such as those pertaining to the meaning of life or the origin of the universe, he brushes them aside as examples of time wasting sophistry or defers to the authority of a priest. You will learn to indulge in his ignorance, eventually dumbing down your own acumen lest you alienate him.

The man who reads can offer you no such satisfaction. He has picked you out as his partner due to a meeting of the minds, and he actively seeks continuing collisions. You will be his first and most valued testing ground for new ideas, able to discuss every subject from Keynesian economics to Kantian ethics. The reading man will attain tremendous satisfaction at teaching you something new, but even more so if you are able to return the favour. He will exchange books with you and introduce you to new authors, and will be disappointed if you offer him Twilight in return for Animal Farm. More dangerously, he will challenge your most cherished beliefs, question the foundations of your religion and debate the merits of your political allegiances. An hour with him could rattle a sacred faith, while a lifetime with the man who doesn’t read will only reinforce what you already think you know. Better to marry the imbecile and take comfort in stasis rather than to date an intellectual and being demanded to think.

So date the man who doesn’t read. Mimic the behaviour of couples in romantic films, go on formulaic dates and be surprised by their lack of significance. Learn to become content with his faults and appreciate his many assets- his reliability or his good looks. When you approach a marriageable age, await the proposal and weep when he produces a ring. Marry him in a glamorous ceremony that you can’t afford. Become embroiled in your career. Grow distant from him eventually as the bickering gets more frequent. Wonder if that is perfume you smell on his coat, and question his faithfulness.  Consider separation, but stay for the children. Look back with a tinge of regret, but take solace in the fact that most marriages end up the same way, and that fairy tale romances found in novels don’t exist. Above all, do not date the man who reads.

Don’t date the man who reads because he has been waiting his whole life for the girl who does read. He will find her in the corner of a library, or in a crowded café. She may be holding a copy of the latest Murakami novel, or she may not. They will recognize in each other something of a kindred spirit, two lovers of literature in an era of 140-character status updates. She will take a glance at the hardcover tucked under his arm and actually recognize the collection of Chomsky’s essays, rather than pretending to take a cursory interest only to stifle a yawn. He will be impressed by her depth of thought, and her by his passionate humanism. Their romance will be pungent, fiery, sweet, destructive, but never stale. Not content with the humdrum of a nine-to-five corporate position, they will seek to change society rather than be moulded by it. Drawing from each other shared inspiration as well as emotional and intellectual stimulation, their lives will be a shared adventure, greater in length than the Ulysses, more poetic than the Iliad.

And lacking the qualities of hero’s and heroines, they will stumble time and time again, choking on the weight of their expectations and fumbling with the harshness of reality. But knowing as they know that every good tale ends with a wedding and that cherished characters are hard to come by, they will stick it through and realize that their love is greater than the sum of its parts, and that reality can surpass the ideals found on transient paper.

So go and date a man who doesn’t read.

“I have received all your letters, but none has made me such an impression as the last. How, my beloved, can you write to me like that? Don’t you think my position is cruel enough, without adding my sorrows and crushing my spirit? What a style! What feelings you show! They are fire, and they burn my poor heart.”

-line from a letter penned by Napoleon to his wife Josephine

Author’s note: Inspired by the (vastly more eloquent) Charles Wanke essay of a similar title.


Written by The Sociological Malaysian

December 29, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses

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  1. So many names but no mention of Petrarch.


    January 2, 2012 at 8:24 am

  2. There are countless other poets that I missed out, if I were to list them all the length of this piece would be doubled! =)


    January 2, 2012 at 9:32 am

  3. do the world a favour, go date a geek instead.

    dear author

    January 3, 2012 at 1:07 pm

  4. Very well written. Two thumbs up. For once, you proven yourself a date-worthy nerd 🙂

    The only Malaysian you met in India :)

    August 14, 2012 at 1:21 pm

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