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Quirkiness attracts, at least in my marriage

Quirkiness attracts, at least in my marriage

I have always been fascinated by and drawn to quirky people.

You know, the kind of people whose lives do not proceed according to plan. The kind of people who talk to squirrels in the yard. The kind of people who have a Friday shirt or a lucky hat. The kind of people who will argue to the death over whether the movie was better than the book. The kind of people who assign grades to different kinds of ice cream. 

It could be that I’m a little quirky myself. It is fortunate for me that I found someone who is at least as quirky as I am and somehow convinced her to navigate the unbelievable strangeness of this life with me. Before I met her, I would occasionally punch holes in the suffocating tarp of loneliness with dates, sometimes at the behest of a friend, sometimes as a consequence of an impulse, one time as a lark on one of those dating sites. 

These seldom went well. 

Did you know that first dates are usually the kiss of death for quirky people? It’s a fundamental law of nature that people must not be entirely and authentically themselves on first dates, which, of course, are very much like job interviews. Quirky people are not going to perform well with tedious, predictable questions such as “where are you from” or “what is really important to you?” 

Such questions are often manipulative, indirect attempts to glean certain kinds of information from the applicant. So she wants to know what is important to me. Maybe she wants to know if I go to church, or if I am on a lucrative career track, or if I want children, or whether I am a Republican or a Democrat. 

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But all I can think of to say is this: “I want to live in a town where I can get good Asian food after 9 o’clock. I want better internet service. I want good water pressure when I take a shower. Today, these are the things that would make me happy.” 

Around this time, she’s sorry we ordered the appetizer. A sudden text. Uh-oh, looks like her friend has a flat tire and needs a ride home.  

Which is a shame, because I had not yet gotten to the good stuff. You see, I have certain superpowers — I’m sorry, but I don’t know what else to call them — that should not be thought of as less impressive just because they are more or less completely useless. 

Let’s say you and I are taking a trip, maybe to the beach, maybe to Washington, D.C., maybe to Carbondale, Illinois. As we are pulling out of the driveway, bags packed, car gassed up, I will take a look at the little digital clock on the dashboard that reads “9:47 a.m.,” and then I will just know immediately that we will arrive at our destination at 5:58 p.m. Then I say that. 

I’m not showing off. I say it as a simple observation, just as I would say that it’s a little cloudy or that I slept well last night. 

This information has never been received with anything more than an indifferent shrug or a quizzical Mona Lisa smile. Even if I’m right — which I WILL BE — who cares? What difference does it make if we arrive at 5:58 p.m. or 6:24 p.m. or even 7:32 p.m.? 

Later on, when we do pull into the Airbnb at the very second that the digital clock on the dashboard clicks over from 5:57 to 5:58 and I say, “look, I told you” and she says, “terrific, hon, we better get unpacked and find a restaurant,” a moment of pure magic has flickered and died, unseen and unappreciated. 

When I meet someone for the first time, the things I want to know about them are these: What is their useless super-power? What can they do that delights children? What is the oddest fact about their life? I would ask them to describe their most inexplicable choice, and what happened because of it. What song do they hate the most, and why? 

When you finally meet someone who either aligns with or understands your quirkiness, it is like being in a foreign country and finding someone who speaks the same language. Some of my wife’s quirks align with mine, while others are a mystery. 

For example, I will never understand how she can be ravenously hungry almost all the time, and at the same time can think of absolutely nothing that she wants to eat. Then there are the phantom bruises, which appear inexplicably from no known source.

Then there is her telepathic connection with our oldest dachshund. She knows exactly what he wants just from his posture, just from some slant of his head, while I have to go through a frustrating series of wrong answers before stumbling into the right one. She just knows. That is her super-power. One of them anyway. The others will have to remain even more mysterious.  

(Chris Cox is a writer and teacher who lives in Haywood County. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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