Guest Post: Writing to Impress Women is Stupid and Other Things I’ve Learned by Jonathan Cook

Hey guys! As I’m sure you already know, Jonathan Cook is the author of Youth and Other Fictions, of which you read my review yesterday. I’m very happy to tell you this is the first ever guest post on my blog, and I feel it’s a fabulous way to start.
So without further ado, feast your eyes on…

     “Writing to Impress Women is Stupid and Other Things I’ve Learned”
“Writing to impress women is stupid.”

This appears in one of my notebooks in large block letters, underlined and circled repeatedly. I recall writing it one night after sending out emails to old friends only to have one email in particular bounced back to me with an all-too-common explanation: “Mailbox does not exist on server.” I don’t know why it surprised me. Few people keep the same email address from year to year, let alone for an entire decade, especially when the email address is hosted by one of the original free email servers. I suppose what bothered me was the nonchalance with which the email bounced back onto my screen. One moment I was clicking Send and the next I was opening the “Undeliverable” notification. No fuss. No klaxon. No “Gee, I’m sorry, but it looks like you can’t send messages to her anymore.”

Just “Mailbox does not exist on server.”

I thought back five months. Yes, my yearly birthday greeting had gone through. At least, I think it went through; I never received any notification to the contrary. Then again, I hadn’t received anything from her in at least four years, maybe five. Had she stopped checking that account altogether years before? It made sense. After all, it hadn’t been a serious email address, not the type one uses in graduate school or on real world stationery. It was the typical passing fancy of a teenager, more a vanity plate than something practical. Perhaps she had moved onto something more grown up, more adult, and let go of silly childhood interests.

Someone once told me that childhood ends the moment you understand your own mortality. I prefer to think of childhood as ending the moment you come to understand the passage of time: you will one day grow up. If, however, I accept that I have grown up–or someday will–I must also accept that those with whom I once played have also grown up, that they have learned seriousness.

Can she exist for me as a businesswoman wearing high heels and red lipstick instead of tennis shoes and blue lipstick? Can I accept that she is sitting at a desk somewhere at this very moment, eating a salad or fine-tuning a presentation or sending frisky texts to her lover? Is it even possible for her to have stopped being her in favor of some other her, some imposter who looks and sounds like her?

Why can’t she be as I remember her? That sweet, if slightly strange, girl with the thin glasses and the baggy jeans… that girl who once sat in my lap while I coded my final project for Computer Programming and made me the happiest I’ve ever been… that girl who went out of her way to tell me she had finally broken up with her boyfriend and was free to go out for pizza with me… Is she still out there, that girl for whom I wrote a novel in the vain hope of winning her heart?

Elephants die alone, I’m told. I’m sure there’s a lesson in that.

I would say writing to impress women (and men :D) works like a charm, especially when you’re a good writer. But maybe that’s just me… 🙂


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