Cat Person, Fiction, & Thoughts on Likes and Love

11 12 2017

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Are we all each other’s stories?

The other day my friend sent me a link to a fiction story in the New Yorker called “Cat Person.”

I avoided reading it, mostly because it’s the New Yorker and that’s what I do every time I have a subscription to the magazine–ignore it week after week while the guilt from not opening them piles higher and higher.

Anyway, my friend bothered me about it again; he told me people were buzzing about it on the internets, so after a long sigh, and an even longer “fffinnnee,” I went ahead and went for it.

*Spoilers ahead*

This excruciatingly painful fictional tale is about a 20-year-old woman who goes on a date with a 30-ish old guy she meets at her job at a movie theater.

As I said to my friend, “It’s good, but in a cringe-worthy type of way.”

The author examines the internal dialogue of this woman, revealing many relatable thoughts we’ve all had while dating.

What’s most painful is that we see ourselves in her ( we see ourselves in him too, though we all seem much less likely to admit that considering how it ends) and the parts we see are the parts of ourselves we look back on later in life and wish we had trusted our instincts and intuitions.

What I think the author does so well through these characters is show how easy it is to create stories about who other people are in order for us to like them.

Hence the cringe. It’s not that it’s so much of a mismatched non-compatible interaction, it’s that we’ve all been in situations where we just really want the other person to be who we desire them to be instead of who they are.

In fact, what ripped my heart out while reading this was that just last night I cut it off with a guy for almost the exact same reason.

Not that he had been terrible in bed or called me a whore or anything, but that I had made-up a narrative in my head about who he was–and more importantly, who I was when I was with him–a story that was not even close to being accurate in reality.

I did it because I wanted so badly to like someone that I failed to pay attention to who that person really was, until it was too late.

The female character wants the guy to be so badly who he was in his flirty smart text messages that she starts reading him in ways to reassure herself that he those things in real life. Just because someone is smart and witty doesn’t mean they’re a good person.

It’s like with this guy I was dating, he told me he’d only disappoint me. He told me he was the worst. He told me he was a terrible person. And while he was doing it, I knew I should run away, I knew that people will always tell you who they are, and yet, I stuck around.

I made him prove it.

Is it because I’m a masochist? Is it because that even though I’ve learned over and over again that you can’t change a person, I still haven’t learned it enough?

I think it’s because we’re all addicted to liking someone and being liked in return. The chase, the dating, the sex, it all just comes down to us wanting to be wanted.

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How do we stop ourselves from filling in the blanks on questions we have about people before we get to know them? How do we stop ourselves from projecting things we want them to be when they’re clearly not those things? How do we rid ourselves of expectations particularly when there’s so much excitement when we meet someone new? Is it possible to not get swept up into the bubble of misrepresentation? Into the love-bubble? (or even the like-bubble?)

I don’t know. I haven’t figured anything out.

All I know is that I need to save my stories for my writing and quit making up fictions about people who will always tell me who they are, if I just ask and if I just listen.

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