There's this New York Times article making the rounds through the internet and around watercoolers everywhere called "Modern Love: To Fall With Anyone, Do This."
As though there's a trick to it.
As though you could read it in a book and solve all your problems.
As though it were a magic pill or potion, that could also get rid of belly fat and give you a throbbing erection whenever you want.
As though the world actually worked in a straight, linear, do this, then this fashion.
As though you'd want to fall in love with just anyone.
As though the anyone you choose to fall in love with is the right one.
Like many theories, though, it seems worth testing.
I just don't think there will be anyone to stick around long enough to last four minutes while staring into my eyes, which is part of what you must do to fall in love with anyone.
I don't think anyone out there really cares about my answers to the 36 questions you're supposed to ask each other. I think everybody just wants to be asked the questions.
And I feel compelled to answer the questions, even though no one is asking.
So here we go. I've answered the questions that don't directly relate to me and my phantom partner, the dreaded "we." If you want to fall in love with me – if you think I may be your "anyone" – then feel free to send your answers back to me, and find a way to stare deeply into my eyes for four uninterrupted minutes.
1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
A: Anyone I can think of who's famous (Madonna, George Clooney, Ryan Gosling), I'd be afraid that a real-life encounter with them would be too disappointing. Honestly, I just want to have dinner with Mike and Maria in Syracuse or Michelle and Edith in New York City.
2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
A: Yes, I would like to be famous for my talent and my personality. I would like people to want to get to know me and be interested in my interests. I would like to be remembered for my creative contributions, and for having some impact on the greater good.
3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
A: Absolutely, but in my head (not out loud). I don't like to be caught off-guard.
4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
A: Sleep in just long enough, wake up next to someone I loved, share breakfast, go for a drive, go swimming, learn something new, watch the sunset, share a long, leisurely dinner, laugh all day and all night, fall asleep together.
5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
A: Yesterday in the car to myself. I can't remember when I last sang to someone else, maybe singing happy birthday to a friend in December, or singing some funny song on the phone to my friend Michelle.
6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
A: Body of a 30-year-old, even my body when I was 30.
7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
A: Yes. Car accident.
8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
A: For all the parents of my friends who took care of me when my own parents abandoned me.
10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
A: I wish I was trusted more. I wish I was given more freedom. I wish I was taught more. I wish I was loved.
11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
I'd like to be fluent in another language (maybe French).
13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
A: What's the point of everything? Will there be the payoff I've been waiting for? Or is it all just f-ed up for the sake of being f-ed up?
14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
A: Getting married. Nobody's asked; nobody's wanted to. And it's not the kind of thing you can do alone.
15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
A: Surviving my childhood, getting out of my parents' house and seizing every moment, as soon as I had the freedom to do so.
16. What do you value most in a friendship?
A: Unconditional love, loyalty, and reciprocation.
17. What is your most treasured memory?
A: Nightswimming with Maria. Thunderstorms with Maria. The Blackout of 2003. Halloween parties in my Manhattan apartment.
18. What is your most terrible memory?
A: Being sexually assaulted in college.
19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
A: I would find someone to test this theory of falling in love with me, fall in love, get married and not have to die alone.
20. What does friendship mean to you?
21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
A: Something that's always missing – a vast hole that can never be filled.
22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
A: My birth family is cold, stoic, isolated, and my childhood was unhappier than most other people's. But my new family – the family that has chosen me – is close and warm, and I'm happier with them than most people are as adults with their families.
24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
A: I'm glad it's over.
25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling ... “
26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share ... “
27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
A: There is no if here: I must be close friends with my partner. Whether you're just my friend or my partner/friend, I don't want to be lied to, but I don't always want to her the truth.
28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.
29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
A: I was in a Ladies' locker room after swimming at a public pool in LA and I noticed a bunch of little girls pointing and laughing at my naked body. I yelled at them, "Oh is that what we're doing now? Laughing at strangers' naked bodies? Let me tell you something: get a good look, because YOU'RE GOING TO LOOK LIKE THIS ONE DAY." One of the girls came up to me and apologized, and said, "I know I shouldn't say anything, because I'm going to look like you one day too."
30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
A: Tuesday in therapy. Tuesday night in my car driving home.
31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
A: I would just regret not being able to say "Goodbye." I've told everybody "I Love You" and "I'm sorry" and "I appreciate you."
34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
A: My laptop (or at least my backup drive) because it holds all my writing and photos.
35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
A: My birth father. He deserved such a better life than what he got.
36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.
A: My personal problem is I'm a lost soul swimming in a fishbowl. And I keep looking for someone (other than myself) to save me.
Sure, after having gone through this exercise, these 36 Questions feel a bit like a Cosmo Quiz, or one of those chain letters that were so popular in the early days of email. (Remember The Purity Test?) But most conversations on dates – at least, early in a dating relationship – are so vapid, it would be refreshing to talk about more than work or working out or food or geography. I'm so tired of being asked what I do for a living. Tell me something that's not on your resume.
Then again, when I hear most people talk, I don't like what they say. So maybe better not to pose the questions at all. Maybe I don't want to know.
To Say "I Love You"
The One Who Loves Alone