I've dated tall boys and short boys; skinny boys and fat boys; blondes, brunettes and balding; younger than me and much older; unemployed boys, career minded upwardly-mobile boys, students; liberal, conservative, and apathetic; smoking and non; I’m not picky about most things, but they’re all nice and smart and none of them are macho.
I was Not Dating (which is a whole division of being with someone that I keep finding myself relegated to. There are many levels of commitment-phobia to be dealt with… Not Dating is the one where by all appearances you are dating, except one or both of you is Not Dating Right Now for personal reasons. It's just like a relationship, except it's not one.)
Right, topic… I was Not Dating this guy for about seven months. He never let me be the more knowledgeable one. Well, he did, sometimes, when I would start talking about computers or Latin or some area of my personal expertise. But then I'd be recounting a story in which we were discussing the Greek text of the beginning of the Book of John and what was lost to the English translation and how that relates to the Holy Trinity concept of Catholicism, and he'd stop me to point out a precise implication of the original wording that I had not mentioned.
It kind of bothered me. Why should that bother me? It's not like I ever really studied Greek or the New Testament. It's not like he wasn't right, and I didn't actually know that he was right. Usually I was just being inarticulate and glossing over things, and he'd patiently pipe up that I was missing some piece of the puzzle.
Part of it is that I like to pontificate, and when pontificating I don't like my train of thought disrupted with corrections and implications and informed knowledge. I can cop to that. What's wrong with me? How can I say that I want to date smart boys if when confronted with one who is actually knowledgeable about something that is not his "thing", I get bored and irritated?
Do I not want a boyfriend who I actually view as my equal? Truth be told, this guy is probably smarter than me and certainly more disciplined, generally well-rounded and emotionally well-adjusted. I think I'm prettier though he dresses better, and we're both well-read in completely different areas so I can't compare that. I appreciated all of those things about him, except that it bothered me that he could and would actually correct me.
My father says all the time that "water seeks its own level". Was it time for me to revise my criteria? "Smart, but not actually smarter than me"? Do I really just want to date someone I can be a know-it-all around? Am I that insecure? Have I always been put-off by people who are more generally knowledgeable than I am? Do I put people off?
Have I become one of those women who embody the popular myth of what a feminist is? Did I really want to be superior to my significant other? What's wrong with me? How did I get like that? When did this happen?
It threw me for a loop. I spent hours upon hours searching myself for the answer. I finally concluded that it was about insecurities. Was it that I thought he didn't really respect me since I wasn’t the smartest? Was this really about my insecurities dating someone more than eight years older than me, and what he thought about me since I didn’t blow him out of the water with insight on an hourly basis?
Then I remembered something my roommate had pointed out to me. "We both know he's perfect, but I think he listens to too much NPR. Have you noticed that sometimes he has an NPR voice? It kind of really bothers me when he does that. Do you know what I'm talking about? I almost can't listen to him when he’s talking like that."
She was right. I wasn't about what he was saying; it was about HOW he said it. It was the NPR voice. I hate the NPR voice-- the soft, condescending tones of a public radio announcer telling you about the International Situation. It bores and irritates me in the car, and it provokes the same reaction in a boyfriend.