What are Words For?

The communications business has done little to help us understand one another.

By Paget Pizitz

If you have a fleeting attention span, November’s column will be perfect for you. As I write this, I’m on a flight to Berlin to meet my friend Macreadie and his beastly Russian boyfriend, Dmitri. I sense that Robin from B-Metro is going to send me a reminder email just around the time I settle into a cafe and start sipping my afternoon Köstritzer Schwarzbier and biting into a tasty wurst. I figure I’ll get a jump on this month while I have a spare eight hours of confined seating and nothing better to do but eat some suspicious-looking gray chicken cordon bleu and hit the minis. Packing a week’s worth of clothes into a carry-on wasn’t the most challenging aspect of this trip. The most complicated part of my journey thus far was expediting a passport for Louis the cat and securing him lederhosen that he wouldn’t be too embarrassed to wear while roaming the streets of Berlin. I’m fairly certain food won’t be an issue for him on this trip. In fact, last night he scarfed down three tofu pups and the heel of some day-old bread from Continental. I think German sausages will do him right.

The woman behind me changing the Band-Aid on her big toe has almost made me lose my train of thought. Lucky for you, I’ve been served a second glass of wine, and it seems to all be coming back to me. So let’s hop on the good foot and do the bad thing.

My friend Allison (obviously I changed her name, and no, this did not happen to me) met a guy at Whole Foods in Atlanta a week ago. He called her on the phone (no text, no carrier pigeon) and asked her to dinner. Upon my advice, she met him at the restaurant instead of being picked up. These days you never know if you are even going to make it past the first drink without coming down with a sudden but vicious case of SARS. After all, the best way to get out of a bad date is to point the finger of blame at the horseshoe bat.  However, they had a great time. The night included wine, some baba ghanoush, a few giggles and hours of charming over-sharing. She emailed him the next day to thank him for dinner and tell him she had a wonderful time. Confident the feeling was mutual, she fully expected the next call to include the ask for a second date. Days later, she gets a text saying,  “Thanks, me too :)”. I guess it’s a bad sign when you start with a call and then get downgraded to text. Also, you might be just as appalled as I was over the inclusion of the happy face emoticon. It borders on absurd and is something a 37-year-old male should never be using, unless he’s texting a 12-year-old and in that case, it better be his daughter. Once again, I find myself baffled at people’s inability to communicate and their insistence on text. Until a few days ago, I actually thought TTYL was short for Tylenol.

Well, thanks to my well-traveled star alliance plus friend Macreadie, I’ve been bumped to first class, and that means the wine is free. That’s good news for me and bad news for both you and Shirley, my portly androgynous steward. As the Pinot Noir is flowing and the hot, buttered cashews are plentiful, I feel like kicking it old school and dishing some unfiltered and uncensored advice. If he wants to ask you out again, he will. No amount of work travel or football tailgating will stop him. It might not happen immediately after the first date and it shouldn’t. Because then you’ll think he is obsessed with you, and it will be as much of a turn-off as if he rang your doorbell wearing a dickey and holding blue carnations. But if he wants to see you again, he will find the time and make the effort. Typically, if someone genuinely and legitimately wants to do something, they will figure out a way to do it. A wise friend of mine recently said to me, if someone reveals themselves to you, believe them. It’s all too often that we see what we want because it’s comfortable and safe. The easy way out is to disregard the truth, living in ignorance and temporary bliss.

As I finish up this column, I’m snuggled into a cafe on Weinmeisterstrabe eavesdropping on the conversation of some ladies at the table next to me. They are German but all three speak in broken English. I can make out a few parts of their conversation. The girl sitting closest to me shows her phone to the table and, with an exacerbated tone in her voice, asks, “What do you think he means with this text? I don’t understand this face with this wink eye.” I wanted to take her phone away and resave his name as “pass,” but instead I guzzle my beer and continue my love affair with a crunchy Currywurst. Once again, dismayed with communication, I come to the realization that, although I’m 7,771.8 kilometers from home, dating is just as exhausting and confusing in America as it is in Germany. 🙂

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