A letter about Love, the Questionnaire, and reading The Rosie Project

A good book, a good dog and a good footstool. What more do you need?

A good book, a good dog and a good footstool. What more do you need?

[BJL Context: I just finished The Rosie Project – a cute, happy read by Graeme Simsion about a socially inept Professor and his scientific exploration of love.]


May 26, 2014

Do you remember all those summers during our teens, when we flipped through glossy magazines and answered every stupid questionnaire?  “Is he the one for you?”, “How to tell if you’re too bossy”, and so on? Actually, most of the quizzes were variations on the first theme, and by the end of those summers, we had a rock-hard list of deal-breakers that would definitely tell us if he WAS NOT the one for us: I will never date someone who wears a moustache, I will never date a nerd, I will never marry a vampire…

Well, thanks to Mo’vember, The Big Bang Theory, and Twilight, all those old deal-breakers have since fallen by the wayside but, if we’re being really honest, all those magazine quizzes, all that advance warning, weren’t ever going to set us up for relationship success anyway. I mean, even after generating that long list, we couldn’t even imagine the things that were going to bug later on in life! Like the moment in every relationship (successful or otherwise) when you are sitting across the table from the ‘right’ one, and no matter how wonderful, how brilliant, and how caring that person is, they do that one thing that drives you completely nuts (chew loudly, wipe their fingers on their pants, draw pictures with their food) and you ask yourself, How did I end up with this person? How have I managed to sleep next to this human accordion for 20 years, listening to the keening whistle of his nose, and not strangled him? How can this person be late for EVERY event we’ve ever attended? If I only knew then what I know now. DEAL-BREAKER!

Don’t get me wrong – I love love. But there have been times in my life when I’ve thought that if I only knew the truth about a seemingly insignificant detail at the time, I would have saved my heart a little bruising. So, when Don Tillman, the protagonist of The Rosie Project, presents the idea of creating  a highly detailed questionnaire to weed out any undesirable dating prospects for his Wife Project, I was hooked! He had me at Question 1. Naturally, the overzealous questionnaire weeds out pretty much every living woman on earth, but it’s not that his questions are ridiculous; in fact, most relate to normal aspects of life that have to do with social etiquette: tardiness, amount of alcohol consumed, interests – things we ALL have personal opinions and preferences about. However, given that Don Tillman is a bit of an odd duck (who has an unwavering weekly meal plan, sees no need to buy new clothes when 14 year-old t-shirts still fit, and lacks many [some would say all] social graces), the precise details of the answers and his inflexibility, are what sink his questionnaire.  Of course, like life, he finds love in the most unpredictable way, and realizes that love doesn’t come pre-packaged in the box we always thought it would. Hmmm. Kinda like those questionnaires!

And looking back on all those stupid questionnaires, I’ve come to realize that many of those deal-breakers I stubbornly clung to when I was a teenager actually come with a ‘use on a case by case basis’ label. Sure, I still have deal-breakers, but they aren’t so black and white. Well, except for one. If I were to create a questionnaire a la Don Tilman, the first question would definitely be:

1. Do you snore?

A) never

B) only due to allergies

C) only due to drinking

D) like a bear

The only acceptable answer is A.

I know that back then you had a list as long as mine. I wonder if you remember what your biggest deal-breaker was, and if you still have any. I would love to hear your thoughts. If I recall, one of them was: “My future husband must drive a Camaro!”


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