A few months ago, Charles Warnke wrote an online article for the Thought Catalog, which, at first, I described as rich with soppy romantic regret. It’s rather beautifully written, if not unabashedly sexist and it’s called You Should Date an Illiterate Girl.
Now, if you are even remotely a feminist, you will notice the sensation of being ever so slightly rankled by the unimaginative, if not tawdry trajectory of this writing… until you get to the part where he says: ‘… the girl who didn’t read never made your heart oscillate with any significant passion,’
And then, it just proceeds to get better (I’ll come back to this in just a bit). Big sigh of relief. No mud needs to be slung today, ladies. No sharpening claws. Let’s just retire to the top right-hand corner here, click to exit page and get back to life.
But it’s not over – as they say- until it’s over, or until the fat lady sings and somewhere in Baguio City in the Philippines, a writer named Rosemarie Urquico decided to pen a fitting response to Charles’ post. It’s your general feel-good piece of personal writing which ultimately gets re-blogged to death. Snug, sincere, comforting, and convincing, this is her case for why you should Date a Girl Who Reads. Please go read it now and come back to read the rest of my post.*
Done? Great, let’s move on.
I actually read Rosemarie’s piece first. Immediately, you will understand how easy it is to be moved by this writing. It’s simple and straightforward and it’s a positive statement about the geeky bookworms we all secretly have the hots for. The girls with less than 20:20 vision, who may not have looks that kill, but maim for life – which is, in many ways, far more lethal. So yes, I see how this resonates. I get what Rosemarie’s going on about and why. I even like what she has to say in some parts, or maybe I like how she said it. Just like the tens of thousands of others who read what she wrote and went ‘Wow. Nice.’
Then there’s the part of me that’s never satisfied with what is. Who questions incessantly and whose very existence seems driven by the need to uncover the etymology of everything. I was pleased to see that Rosemarie Urquico hadn’t just pulled her sweet little piece out of a top hat one fine morning. It was in response to something, and clearly it was a something worthy of her time and effort.
This is how I arrived at Charles Warnke’s post on Thought Catalog. And I’ve never been more pleased to be pissed off by what at first seemed a slightly perverse, piece of sexist trash, and which later turned out to profess a rare articulacy. Warnke’s profundity goes beyond the pedantic and iconoclastic. As the piece progresses, we are witness to an unravelling of sorts. A man come apart because he cannot measure up to unreasonable icons and larger-than-life heroes. A writer rejecting the written word when it is beloved to his beloved. What we have finally is a raw, almost desperate rejection of the self; a sacrifice of romance at the altar of the erudite female.
You could almost believe him. You would almost choose to not date a well-read woman. You might even turn cold if the object of your affection and ardour were to spend a little too much time lingering at the bookstore. You might almost wish she spent all your money on shoes.
There is something very real, very terrifying about rejection. And about never being enough. This is something I know something about. And this is also why Charles Warnke’s derangement appeals to me. Writing that cuts too close to the bone behoves a respect that is sometimes beyond words. Then again, the best things usually are.
*Incidentally, Rosemarie no longer has an active blog, but she can be contacted on Facebook.