On board I met an attractive but gauche young 'grad' student (??? I don't know what that means either!) who started telling me how excited he was to go to England and about various other spiritual experiences gained on his many travels, so I quickly put him off scent by lecturing him on the virtues of staid community life, then explaining the plot of the sublime Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell to him (and no I didn't see the fucking TV adaptation, though I'm sure it was dreadful). After an hour or so's laborious retelling of what is really quite a short book, he was suitably lulled, so I quickly slipped in my headphones and watched Bride Wars (inexplicable dross - avoid) followed by He's Just Not That Into You, which conveys the timeless "he doesn't love you/maybe he loves you/you're a pathetic dolt/he's cheating/you have no judgement/omg he does love you now you can marry him" message with effortless grace. A sigh and back to Cranford.
BUT just an hour ago I received an email from this young star-traveller, whom I had left this morning in Gatwick with one of my cards and with the idea in his head of avoiding London in favour of the quaint pleasures of Knutford. Instead he set to writing a poem for me about this 'incredibly moving experience', detailing all the other things in his life that had taken about the same time as our little literary chat, and their absolute insignificance compared to unimaginable, life-defining hour and 23 minutes he spent talking to me. BOR-ing! I knew I had him pegged for a chauvinist on the plane (exhibit A: beads. B: a tattoo of a bird on his thumb), but this really took the biscuit. Because every time an attractive and young (I am both, of course) woman discourses competently on any subject, even an intentionally alienating and uninteresting one, does a man treat her as an intellectual equal, a fellow traveller in search of the truth, a worthy friend or adversary? Of course not! Instead he falls hopelessly in love with her, and becomes incapable of offering any stimulating responses to her conversation unless they're directed at her knickers, or her 'beautiful soul' (excuse me while I raze off my own corneas).
And what are intelligent women to do? Stop being so intelligent is the only thing that comes to mind. That, or quickly get yourself a boyfriend as the best guarantee of being completely ignored my men in conversation thereafter (the no-chance-of-lady-garden-access:no-beautiful-soul paradigm). The moral of the story, and the general content of the email I returned to the pathetic lad, was:
"Of course you find me interesting, I AM interesting. The fact you find this surprising/intriguing/fragile and rare only proves that you are a person with terribly dull friends and also a massive chauvinist. Do you think I found you interesting, or did you just take that for granted? Now begone!"
Lady readers, beware the advances of doe-eyed graduates with romantic notions, lest 'he's just not that into you' becomes 'he's completely obsessed with you and I think he's written a fucking poem about it'. Help!