Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tough skin

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about armor, tough skin, calluses.

You see, my magazine’s most recent issue just hit, which means the complaints are on their way. It doesn’t really matter what role (or lack thereof) I played in gathering a quote, doing an interview, or writing the piece. I am the editor, and thus the recipient of feedback. And to be fair, I know I receive more compliments than others who worked on the publication because, again, I’m the editor.

With time though, I’ve toughened my skin. Complaints are no longer personal. I’m better at letting things that I can’t control (like inserting a comma post-printing) go. And comments like this one, for example, make me chuckle now:

"Any correspondence from your organization elicits a negative, visceral reaction from me and I don't care to feel this way in my own home. Please stop IMMEDIATELY. Do not call, do not ever send anything, don't even respond to this email. Just STOP."

I induced a visceral reaction. Beautiful.

But recently I’ve also realized that I’ve toughened my skin in other areas—namely my singleness. Singletons have to, at least a little bit, to survive! Dating is not easy. First, there’s the fear that he just will not think you’re attractive enough. And then, let’s say, you get lucky and you actually find him attractive and he’s clearly digging you...then hold on. Just you wait. Something will fall, because it always does. It always has. I mean, we’re single! Something has always gone wrong! Either he stops liking you, you stop liking him, he hurts your feelings, he never calls back, he freaks, he stands you up, he moves away, he doesn’t understand, he needs anger management, he turns out to be psycho! (Yes, I speak from experience.) Perhaps he even says you’ve elicited a visceral feeling in him! Something goes awry. And I can assure you that misreading intents and desires is much more painful than misspelling a name. So, don’t you worry. I have grown tough (read: cynical). Me and one of my single friends don’t believe he’ll actually call. We don’t believe we’ll actually fall for someone. We think the chances of something lasting longer than a coffee date, let alone three coffee dates, is slim to none. We’re not stupid. Fall for something once, twice, but three times? C’mon! We’re smart girls. Sure, we’ll date, but we won’t believe. We must protect ourselves.

So, when someone does call, when he does show up, when he does understand...how’s a single girl to respond? How do you not fear a misspelling and wait for the complaining emails to fly?

Well, as I said, we’re smart girls. So first, we make sure he calls, shows up, understands not just once, but twice, three, four times. Heck, let’s go for five! And then you pray—hard—that he will be able to put the period at the end of your run-on, callused sentence, even though you think it’s too late.

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