You know, of course, that you cannot date a man who is good-looking. He is bound to be vain, smug, and full of self-interest. The day you get a zit on your nose, he will look away from you and refuse to make eye contact till the zit fades off. And God forbid you are seriously dating him, and his family and friends know about it.
“What does he see in her? She’s so ordinary. Dull even. Must be the money.” They will make it a point to ensure these whispers reach you.
So don’t even think ugly men will save you. They can’t. They are too busy saving themselves. At first it will be an articulate, self-deprecatory mail thanking you profusely (which you will convince yourself as being sincere) for agreeing to the date. “I’m not much to look at so I really feel lucky that you have agreed to meet me.” And that’s when you start reassuring him that you like being with him and really he isn’t ugly at all. But that reassurance will never end. Not even after ten years of marriage. When he will see you laugh with Mr. Sharma, the neighbour, making fun of Modi’s Independence Day speech while you are picking the greens together from the vegetable vendor, he will immediately suspect you of sleeping with Sharma. You start laughing at the absurdity of it. Bad move. He is then convinced you are mocking him. From here, this story can go anywhere. Except towards a happy ending. It’s real life, after all, no?
Then there is the high social standing with membership in KGA and Bangalore Club. You would think that your life is made. At least financially you will be burden free. But no. The wealthy stay that way by rarely spending. In the family, you will always be seen as a gold-digger. They won’t have milk in the house to make tea but they will judge you for dressing in designer clothes. They will also judge you if you don’t dress up in fancy clothes. This is a battle you can’t win.
Love will not keep you alive. The penny-pinching, the foregoing of popcorn in movie halls (Anyway, darling, it will be stale), the making do with a dinner at a mall’s noisy food court on your birthday instead of a cosy tete-e-tete at a fancy restaurant with wine and good food. (These fancy places never serve fresh food. I know this from a friend who did Hotel Management, we should always eat at fast moving places.) This will begin to tell. He will have EMIs in his head and you will get a headache at the thought of having sex with him after standing for hours in More, picking up only the things on sale at 50% discounts. You try to buy one Kiwi for 35 rupees but they refuse to sell just one. You give up on the sharp, sweetly tart fruit and tell yourself imported fruits contain all kinds of preservatives. And on the rare occasion you both have sex you are thinking of getting a car loan. You moan when you realise you can’t. He grunts because he’s forgotten to pay Airtel. Next month he will have to unnecessarily pay 100 rupees as fine.
Take this from me, I will bet my life on this, if he charms you off your feet, develop wings immediately and fly. He’s too good to be true? Yes. You said it. Run. Save your soul. He gets you, he really does. He even knows that you like sitting facing the door in a restaurant. He notices that you are a closet romantic who dreams of moonlight and soft, velvety kisses. He makes it happen. When you are angry, he will talk you out of it. He worships everything about you. For a while. This behaviour can’t be sustained. Soon he will lose interest. He will still let you sit facing the door but he won’t look at you from across the table with star-struck eyes, he will no longer tell you stories about his life, he will no longer care to hear you laugh. When you are angry, he will snarl at you. He will openly call you a bore and himself behave like a boor and you will wonder where your charmer went to. Why doesn’t he sing to you anymore? Because, love, the honeymoon is over. Your relationship has ended.
Can he say ‘no’? No. This is the worst sort. He will promise you all sorts of things. When you talk, he treats you with respect, even admiration. He will enthusiastically say yes to anything you suggest. You live in hope. You are sure this is going to be very propitious. But when he needs to deliver he goes AWOL. And after your initial panic where you have called him a million times even from different numbers, where you leave him Facebook messages and even write on his wall, where you check his profile across social media every two minutes and nothing. Then you decide you don’t want this cowardly player type person. But soon enough, your anger subsides. If only he is safe, you mutter. You vaguely pray to the powers that be to keep him safe. He is. He was in TOIT with the boys. You know how noisy and rowdy it is. Then he had a bad migraine. Then the client called. “It’s all a clusterfuck, hun, will tell you all about it soon.” But he never does. On his own, he will promise newer things, newer ways of making it up to you. He will softly, subtly berate you for losing control, getting hysterical. Until you begin to blame yourself for the way things turned out. You are only grateful he is still talking. But that silver tongue is all you will ever get from the man who can’t say no.
Don’t ever go out with ordinary. The one who is easy, fun, the one who will have pillow fights with you, the one who reads Anna Karenina and says, “Great book. But silly of her to die, no? Anyway, let’s go to Jimi’s now. It’s buy one get one free.” This will be a strange man to be with if you are the sort who cries twenty days and nights in a row because you read A Moon for the Misbegotten for the fifth time and it still is a punch.
Then again, Heathcliff? He’s great in a book. Your brooding, borderline mood disorder inflicted, completely mind-fucked lover will help you only if you want to use the inexplicable, inevitable pain he’s going to cause you in a book you are writing. “Babe, I’ve had so much sex in my 20s, I have decided not to anymore. I’m not even interested. These days I am only interested in re-reading Kafka.”
This girl I know once told me not to date a man who didn’t have life insurance.
Never date a man who doesn’t read novels.
Neither should you date one who has no sense of fun or appreciation of the ridiculous and the absurd in literature. If he writes academic papers on why The Dead Poet’s Society has dumbed down the humanities, make sure you throw a king sized version of the Merriam Websters dictionary at him, and direct him to the commonplace words of “bore” and “pedantic”. If he argues how it’s about pedagogy, make your escape and never look back.
And there you have it. In a nutshell. All the men you cannot date. Truth be told, no man is worth dating. You can’t really date anyone till you have lived with them at least 300 years; it’s true you can’t. Don’t you think?