When building a person, whether it be in literature or in real tangible life, the most important aspect of creating a compelling character is in the nuance. A person who lacks all experience, who has been nowhere and done nothing is quite simply boring.
On first dates, it is a universal truth that the dates that don’t grab your attention right away are quickly thrown aside, much like the angsty, generic Twilight novel their lives represent.
A few years ago, shortly after my high school graduation, I found myself on the boring end of this equation.
I had spent the tail end of senior year flirting with a particularly awesome young lady in my cooking class. She had bold pixie-cut hair, was a talented artist, and had all the wit and sarcasm of Louis C.K. The fact that she liked Weezer and the Shins just pushed me over the edge (I really had a thing for hipster girls at the time).
That summer, I invited her out for a concert hoping to learn a bit more about this fair maiden. The date was set, and I looked forward to a night of music and excellent conversation. But when my plans came crashing down on me the night of the date, I learned quickly and brutally that this girl and I were operating on completely different wavelengths.
We arrived at the venue, ready to rock, when I noticed how empty the parking lot was. As we neared the entrance, we noticed a flyer advertising the concert we were all geared up for… alerting us that the concert was still a week away.
Trying to salvage the night, I took her, of all places, to a drive-thru Taco Time and suggested a walk through the park. She seemed good-humored about the change of plans, but I was still humiliated. After learning more about her varied interests—photography, obscure Russian philosophers, and travel destinations I had never heard of—she turned the spotlight on me.
“What do you like to do?” she said.
I drew an absolute blank. Though I had interests, believe you me I had interests, I couldn’t think of a single blasted one, probably because I spent no time actively developing them as she did.
“I…don’t know,” I said, my sauce packet making an appropriate pbbbbt sound as I splorped some chili verde onto my taquito. “I mean, like, I really like How I Met Your Mother. You seen that?”
“I don’t watch TV,” she said.
And so, in shame, I dropped her off at home at 9:00. What loser drops a girl off at 9:00?! The whole debacle was a real learning experience for me. It’s something I look back on today to remember the importance of being a well-rounded person.
It taught me that if I have a real interest for something, I should attack it. A Netflix account doesn’t make me interesting unless I understand film and the things that go into making it. A passion for writing and art doesn’t make me erudite or artsy unless I actually create things. And thinking World War II was interesting and leaving it at that doesn’t make me a history buff.
So next time I’ll be prepared.
What do I like to do, you ask? I’ll tell you exactly what I like to do.