The Fictional Narrative

Tonight I went to a live taping of one of my favorite podcasts, Why Oh Why. It’s a show about relationships and dating. I swear sometimes the host is inside my head saying everything out loud for her listeners that I am thinking (and sometimes writing about). When checking in to the show, you got to pick a name tag for yourself: Hi I’m Single or Hi I’m Not Single. There were also numbered paddles for the singletons. After you gave a brief bio to the ticket-taker, she was meant to give the matching numbered paddle to your “wingman”. And while this was actually a misnomer, the point was to match a man and a woman together so they could start chatting and, of course, fall in love.

Okay, wait, I made that second part up. I do that a lot when I meet a good guy. As soon as I meet a hottie, I dream up the narrative in my head of where we’ll go next. I met my “wingman” for the night (after the show because I was too nervous before the show, even though he was waving that #2 paddle for a solid 15 minutes before the show started). His name was Eric. He was tall, cute, and, after I actually talked with him, I found out he was a traveler. He was moving to Mexico City (one of my top 5 fave cities!) to practice his Spanish. Eric was a catch, you know, if I lived in Mexico City…which, come to think of it, I could live in Mexico City. I always said I would live there for like 6 months. Maybe I could go visit him and then we’ll fall in love while salsa dancing after a dinner of street tacos.

Okay, wait, I just made up that last part. I do that a lot when I meet a good guy. I may be a non-fiction writer, but I make up fictional stories about the guys I meet and the lives we’ll live together all the time. I’ve been doing it since I was about 7 years old. It all started with Ben Andrews*. Before bed, I’d imagine what our children’s names would be, what clothes he’d be wearing, and what tragic happening would befall us.

I no longer dream about Ben Andrews (mostly because he’s married and I haven’t talked to him in 10+ years), but I do fictionalize where I’ll be with new guys all the time. About a month ago I met a guy out drinking with some friends. And by the end of the night, I thought, “Wow, I think I should invite him to my fall party in a couple of weeks! Won’t it be so great to introduce him to my friends? Ooh, he could come to Pumpkin Fest, too! My family will love a guy that comes to Pumpkin Fest.” I never again spoke to this man after the night we met, but you know, like, maybe he would’ve really liked my rad fall festivity and my hometown’s sweet annual festival.

When I dated the boy-of-nearly-7-months* earlier this year, I had dreamt up our whole lives after about a month. As soon as he brought up the type of wedding and engagement rings he’d want for his future wife – which, obvs, was me – the wedding bells were a-ringin’ and I was a dreamin’. I scared the poor man off by being really set on us being a great couple, a couple that was gonna make it, even if he was a robot and I feel all the feelings.

I do this story telling a lot. And I think it means that I get my hopes up a lot about guys I don’t even know, or care about, or know enough about to realize that they’re not the one for me. But, it is fun. I get to imagine myself on the beach in Bali with the love of my life…that I met yesterday. Because he’s definitely gonna text me again. And he’s definitely gonna love to travel. And he’s definitely gonna want to have kids. I just haven’t asked him any of those questions, yet.

*not his real name


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