I’m Sorry, I Have Standards

The whole cabin of my Wrangler shakes in the howling wind that blusters up the towering grassy hill. The night is cool and pleasant – the breeze has only just picked up in the last quarter hour, prompting us to end our moonrise picnic to the Top of the World. 

This hilltop lookout is easily the highest point as far as the eye can see, granting an unbroken panoramic view. Out here in the farmland, the lights of the city cannot obstruct our view of the stars; countless constellations and the cloudy arm of the milky way are all in view in the void above.

“I hate to leave,” She says, looking longingly at the sky. “It’s so beautiful out here.”

“It’s nice and quiet.”

“And romantic,” She smiles, and takes a step toward me, “This is literally the nicest date anyone has ever brought me on.”

I close the rest of the distance between us, and move in for the kiss.


 

We get in my car and take one last look up at the sky – I’ve taken off the roof for the occasion – before we drive back down the hill, across the fields, and though the woods to the road.

The wind screams over the top of the car, making the radio inaudible and conversation impossible. But I keep a smile on my face the entire way home.

As my thoughts on the evening consume me, something breaks through the bliss and itches at the back of my mind. Conversations I had heard overheard, and scraps of information She had mentioned in passing were eating at me.

We pull up in front of her apartment, and I stop her as she reaches for the door.

“Wait.”

“What?”

“I know that you said you’ve still been meeting up with your ex on the weekends to hook up,” I start off slowly, then pause for a breath. “If you want to keep seeing me, that needs to stop.”

She looks at me without a trace of emotion in her face. She opens her mouth to speak but hesitates a moment, stunned by my request.

Finally she replies, “I’m going to keep seeing him. But I love going out and spending time with you. Can’t you just deal with a few more weekends while I get this out of my system?”

Good Lord, she’s not even kidding. I can see it in her eyes: that childish pleading look.

“I’m sorry – I have standards,” I say, curtly. “Now get out of my car.”

She steps out onto the curb, and I reach across to close the door behind her. I speed off in low gear without a glance back. For some of life’s concerts you should never be content playing second fiddle. No one is worth the price of your self respect.

A.H.W.

 

The Dawson Postulate

Theorem: The odds of you encountering any given person -most notably when walking around a corner, passing through a doorway, etc. – are in direct correlation with the amount of shit you are talking about them.

Dawson postulate

As you can see illustrated in Fig. 1, we can extrapolate that as the amount of shit-talking approaches its upper limit, the probability of encounter approaches one.

In my studies, I have found the Dawson postulate most often exemplified on cross-country track team work out runs.

The principle itself is named for Max Dawson – a snarky brown-noser who was often an object of ridicule for teammates. At 18, he was still a tattle-tail.

My teammates and I used to go on what we called, “Grievance Runs.” They’re about as cathartic as they sound. One person would simply state, “I have a grievance.” Once we were sure no one else was in ear-shot, someone else in the group would reply, “We are prepared to hear your grievance.”

Grievances could be something as vague as people who wear socks with sandals, or as oddly specific as people who wear long skirts but pull them up higher to make them more revealing. They can also be about a specific person. A large chunk of our grievances tended to center on the women’s track team. That was pretty much our only dating pool, since we spent most of our free time at practice.

The course we ran on involved many intersecting trails; we often turned a bend or crested a hill, only to find ourselves face-to-face with the subject of our grievance. And no matter who you were complaining about, rest assured if you ran into Max, he would run and tell. After more than a few laughably embarassing mishaps, we started to get careful.

As obnoxious as Max was, he taught an excellent lesson early on in my life, before it really mattered. When on the road, you never out-drive your headlights; when talking shit, never out-gossip your line of sight. Understanding that can be the key to saving friendships, marriages, and even careers.

A.H.W.