Hard To Get

January 12, 2007

Crushes are like cravings. Why do we tend to desire what isn’t good for us?  I don’t know about you, but I don’t get sudden pangs of longing for steamed broccoli.

I believe there’s a fault in the wiring of the sexes.  If you think about it, we should be programed to be attracted only to those attracted to us.  It makes sense for the propagation of the species.  Isn’t unrequited love a major drain on procreation?

Ay, there’s the rub.  Love.  It may make the world go round, but when it comes to making babies – all you need is lust.  Which is why modern romance is so darn difficult.   Unlike our tribal ancestors, today we’re after more than simply spreading the seed.  Or, at least, I would hope so.

It had been a long day.  I was tired.  I was walking down the high street past Waitrose.  Perfect, I thought, a much-needed dose of chocolate-dipped flapjacks.  These were my latest addiction in London – a baked concoction my friend Gina aptly described as “a bar of butter and sugar with a couple of oats stuck on the outside.”  She forgot to mention the chocolate.

I marched in, and after stuffing some bok choi and chives into my wire basket so I don’t look like a complete junkie, I headed to the cookie aisle – otherwise known as biscuit nirvana.

Except my flapjacks weren’t there – no blue-and-white box nestled like a book in a cookie library.

I pushed the others around.  Perhaps my flapjacks were behind?  Maybe another flapjack addict had hidden a stash back there.  Panic ensues.  State of alert. There are no flapjacks, friends.  No flapjacks!

“I hate this country,” I think.  Yeah, the country I celebrated my third-year anniversary with the other day.  The country that let me in, gave me shelter, taught me pleasures I never knew.  The country that had the balls to introduce me to chocolate-dipped flapjacks and then rip them away just like that.

I go to the clerk, trying to compose myself.   He looks puzzled.

“Chocolate-dipped fudge?” he asks.

No!  I explain, slowly, with a twinge of mania.  He tries to take me to the other end of the store.  No!  My flapjacks, I tell him, are over there, always over there.  Every week.  Week after bloody week!  He goes to find the manager.  This doesn’t look good.  A big guy in a forest-green blazer brandishing a secret-service type gadget comes over.  He punches some keys.

“We’ve just taken stock of inventory, and they may have been shifted out.”

Excuse me?  It’s as if he were talking about Post-It Notes.  Clearly he does not understand the gravity of the situation.  Obviously he doesn’t see that I don’t ask for much, that I am a woman with needs.  That sending me home alone is just cruel.

“Sorry, I have no control over these things,” he shrugs.

Sure.  That’s what they all say.

Earlier that year, my friend Margaret lent me a copy of Tracey Cox’s – I swear that has to be a made-up name – Superflirt.  Heaven knows why.  Anyway, the part that really got me was her advice that, instead of the old game of acting elusive, one should be very available at the beginning of a relationship.  Then, once you know you have your victim right where you want them, you step back.  Stop taking every single call.  Plead busy when invitations are issued.   Be a mystery.

Think about it in reverse.  Suddenly, that thing you thought was pretty cool is now the thing you must have; or you’ll die.  Let’s put it into familiar terms.  Say they market a new kind of chocolate – Maybe Chocolate.  They send you bars and bars of the stuff.  You like.  So you start buying a few here and there; you don’t want to go overboard.  Sometimes, you even go stretches at a time without Maybe Chocolate and think you could do without it.  You even check out other chocolate.  Then, one day, Maybe Chocolate is gone.  Poof!  Just like that.  You start searching all over town. You begin to see all the amazing things you never appreciated in it.  Sometimes you even forget there was a funny after taste.  And that the package wasn’t right.  No other chocolate will do.  Suddenly, Maybe Chocolate has morphed into Super Chocolate.

Ms. Cox has a point.