“The Whole Thing is Really a Dazzling Illusion”

Me: That makes me think of that Philip Roth passage, the one from American Pastoral.
John: I don’t like that dude.
Me: Oh right, you went to Vassar.
John: I think he’s a misogynist.
Me: Well, he has misogynistic viewpoints but I choose to see that as one of his many parts.

I’ll always stan Philip Roth. I realize he has his detractors, but he is smooth as glass and his observations just cut right to the heart of things, don’t they? John and I were chatting about something that went down with his wife, which reminded me of the beloved American Pastoral passage that flattens me every time. It’s about unpredictability, and never really knowing how our relationships will unfold, because the people in our lives are essentially unknowable:

“You fight your superficiality, your shallowness, so as to try to come at people without unreal expectations, without an overload of bias or hope or arrogance, as untanklike as you can be, sans cannon and machine guns and steel plating half a foot thick; you come at them unmenacingly on your own ten toes instead of tearing up the turf with your caterpillar treads, take them on with an open mind, as equals, man to man, as we used to say, and yet you never fail to get them wrong. You might as well have the brain of a tank. You get them wrong before you meet them, while you’re anticipating meeting them; you get them wrong while you’re with them; and then you go home to tell somebody else about the meeting and you get them all wrong again. Since the same generally goes for them with you, the whole thing is really a dazzling illusion. … The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It’s getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That’s how we know we’re alive: we’re wrong. Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride. But if you can do that — well, lucky you.”

Here Are My Favorite Links on Love

Hangin’ out some hearts. Source: Gloria Garcia, Flickr Creative Commons

To mark the holiday, I went through my Evernote for links I’ve saved on modern love:

Joan Didion on loving yourselffirst. Nora Ephron and what love is like in the movies. Falling in love with a friendPreserving love in a culture of fear. Kurt Vonnegut on marriage. Whether you’re a libertine or a loyalist in relationships, you’re wrong. The Americans reminds us marriage isn’t black-and-white, and neither are politics. The operative fallacy about unconditional love. I want everyone to get laid more. What if the purpose of love is to break us up? The quantified breakup. True romance is the “palpable, reassuring sense it’s okay to be a human being.” “Real love is one that triumphs lastingly, sometimes painfully, over the hurdles erected by time, space and the world.” And my favorite Zadie Smith: “Joy is such a human madness.”

I enjoyed going through my Evernote, in which every link I save I associate with several tags, so that I can go back and find saved links on general concepts when they strike me. If you liked this sort of “links on a specific theme” thing, let me know and I can feature other themes in the future.

This post is excerpted from my near-weekly newsletter, the Hu’s Letter. You can subscribe if you’re into that sort of thing.

Using Groupons on a Date: Timely Enough to be Cool, or An Absolute No-No?

The Beam

Over the summer, I attended a WordPress meetup for the free barbecue. The place was a meat market in more ways than one.

One of the few women in attendance was my friend The Beam, who got hit on by a developer from Living Social, the instant coupon company. His pickup line went something like this: “We have a two-for-one deal to Regal [movie theaters] right now, if you’d want to go…”

So I couldn’t help but wonder*: With the proliferation of Groupon and Groupon-wannabes, is it now cool to use coupons on a date?

I like to ponder these vexing relationships-in-a-digital-age questions, so I started doing some reporting. A quick search online led me to plenty of heated debates and conflicting blog posts, and the people I trust, like Friend Matt, were just as undecided about it as I was:

Is it attractively frugal? Retro enough to be hipster? Or just cheap? Is there a threshold — 10% off is lame but 2-for-1 is worth it?

Like any relationship exploration, what works for one couple doesn’t work for others, la la la. And let’s assume that we are unpacking this idea for early-stage couples, because I know my partner-of-eight-years would not think twice about using a Groupon for a two-for-one deal at Popeye’s Chicken with me, and vice versa. So let’s focus on fledgling relationships. The various approaches:

Continue reading “Using Groupons on a Date: Timely Enough to be Cool, or An Absolute No-No?”