February 22, 2012

Great Textpectations

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I once wanted to bow down to the genius who invented text messaging. I wanted to make him a shrine using discarded wads of his own chewing gum (I’m a little more like Helga G. Pataki than I’d like to admit). Now I want to sucker punch that jackal. He’s the Alfred Nobel of our generation. Nobel, inventor of dynamite, was indirectly responsible for countless deaths. You may think this is an extreme comparison; texting never killed anyone, after all. That’s only because texting isn’t merciful enough to kill. Its intentions are crueler than Sarah Michelle Gellar’s. Texting will torment you to no end. It’s the abusive boyfriend that won’t leave you alone.

Let’s start from the source of the problem. Pick any person with whom you’ve had the Ten Sentence Exchange. The TSE is key. It’s how you know that you’re compatible. Sort of like mating peacocks with their impressive plumage. Except instead of a booty full of colorful feathers, you have wit. Essentially, you say something funny (or at least something that sounded funny in your head) and hopefully the other person laughs. Or smiles. Not the halfhearted kind of smile, but a real smile. And if you play your cards right, you’ll exchange digits after those fateful 10 sentences.

It might not happen just like that, but you get the idea. The point is, you get the phone number of someone you think you might like (even though you really know nothing about him/her). And now what? You text him? No, you should call. Wait, is that too much? Who calls anyone anymore? Don’t waste your minutes; just send an “It was nice meeting you — we should hang out sometime” text. No, no, it’s too soon to text him — you’ve only just met! Plus, you can’t disregard the three-day rule now, not after all you’ve been through together. Ladies and gents, the agony has begun.

I have been known to frequent the gym, though you’d never confuse me for a tennis player in a tampon ad. But when I manage to distract myself for a whole day to avoid texting my crush and seeming needy, I put myself on par with the Williams sisters (or, as my roommate affectionately refers to them, the Venus twins). That kind of self-control takes a lot of mental training. Especially when you consider all the almost-texts. Almost-texts are the kind you compose and delete or, worse still, banish to the Drafts folder. They’re the kind you write in class before you somehow stop yourself from pressing send.

And now, with a head full of almost-texts, you’ve started the mental fast-forward. You’ve already pictured having a great time with him on your first date. Now you’re thinking of inviting him to join your Thirsty Thursday Rendezbooze crowd. Maybe you’ll go to the library together to study (or copulate in the stacks — I won’t judge you for that). He’ll buy you coffee on his way over to your place and then you can do the crossword together while deciding on your weekend plans and … Oh dear God, I am gagging just describing your thought process. I didn’t realize how sick and twisted this was until I wrote it down.

Let’s skip the mental fast-forward and actually fast-forward because your (my?) thought process is more disgusting than Snooki’s tanorexia. So, the requisite three days have passed. Huzzah! You can text him now. But what will you say? Well, my little nouveau douche, here are some options for you to mull over:

“Are you going out tonight?” No, can’t send that. It’s not like you’re his drinking buddy.

“Hey, what’s up?” Too open ended for a first text.

“So, wtf is with this weather?” It’s Ithaca — the weather is not a conversation starter, it’s a filler for lulls in the conversation.

“Want to get drinks later?” Too forward? Maybe you should wait for him to ask you out. Maybe you should stick with “Hi.”

“Hi”? That’s your big plan? If that’s all the game you’ve got, you’re destined for a life of conversational blue balls. You have 72 hours worth of almost-texts saved in your Drafts folder; why not consult one of those? Just don’t mention doing the crossword together. It’s too soon for that: It’s the emotional slut’s equivalent of first date sex, or worse, first date period sex. (Was it as awkward for you to read that as it was for me to write it? I’ll leave the sex talk to my girl Morgan from now on.)

The long and short of it is that no matter how much you pretend you don’t constantly second-guess yourself about what to say in that “crucial” first text, you do. Everyone does. Spoiler alert: The Rico Suave you’re thinking of texting is likely doing the the same thing. But think of it this way — if you’re lucky, he’ll nut up and text you before you wear yourself out pondering what to get him for your three-month anniversary.

Hazel Gunapala is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at hgunapala@cornellsun.com. Appropriately Cyn­ical appears alternate Thurs­days this semester.

Original Author: Hazel Gunapala

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