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The Column

If You Could Choose Just One Dumb Question...
9/28/03

A few weeks ago, I was looking around my apartment for something really sharp with which I could gouge out my eyes, or perhaps carve my initials in my spleen. I couldn't find anything, so to produce the same effect, I went on a date with an idiot.

I can't stand stupidity. And I like it even less when I'm paying for its dinner. Yet I have a knack for dating it. I think it's less that I am attracted to stupidity (trust me, I'm not), and more that the majority of people out there possess the quality.

I can't fault the stupid people completely. They were raised to be stupid. They were raised to ask stupid questions, thinking it would help them get to know other people. They were raised to create bizarre scenarios where every answer is pointless and then quiz their dates on the minutia of their answers until their heads explode.

"So if we were to get married, and then I died, and you got remarried, and then you both died, would you spend more time in heaven with me or her?"

"Well honey, that's a...POP!"

A date once asked me what I'd bring if I were stranded on an island. My answer was simple - a boat. She pointed out that I didn't know how to drive a boat. I countered by saying I didn't know how to drive an island either, and I'd probably have better luck with the boat. She insisted I answer her for real. But since I pride myself on being practical, I asked her which island.

"If it were Staten Island, I'd bring a ferry schedule. If it were Long Island, maybe I'd bring a diner, some hair gel, an attitude. And if it were Fantasy Island, I'd bring condoms for all the cheap sluts I'd bang. I mean, who knows where they've been! I want to be safe for you, honey."

So we broke up. Which freed me to date the next girl, who asked me which vegetable I could be, if I could choose any one vegetable.

"Um, what?"

"If you could be a vegetable, which would you be?"

I don't recall ever actively wanting to be a vegetable, so I wasn't sure how to answer. Maybe there are other people who secretly dream of being carrots or asparagus or kelp, but I have never thought through the consequences of being a salad.

"I kind of want to be a ninja," I said. "Is that a vegetable?"

"Come on," she said. "If you could be a vegetable - any vegetable - which would you be?"

"Oh, ANY vegetable? Well, then I'd be a pirate."

She was getting angry. I think it was because if you've ever seen what a pirate wears, you'd know that pirates are much closer to the fruit family (badum!). She seemed to want a clear answer - but I didn't even fully know what my choices were. I thought back to 4th grade when we learned the difference between fruits and vegetables. Mrs. Hershenhous (whose name I could not accurately spell in 4th grade or now) said that if it has seeds, it's usually a fruit. Using this method, I chose my vegetable.

"Fine," I said. "A seedless ninja."

It was then that she claimed I wasn't taking her seriously. And that pissed me off.

I was 23 years old, a published author and a graduate of an Ivy League school, and she wouldn't date me unless I told her what vegetable I'd be. And I wasn't taking HER seriously.

And apparently I wasn't, because she demanded I pick a vegetable.

"Any vegetable?" I asked

"Yes, any vegetable," she responded.

"Fine," I said. "Your uncle Alan."

So we broke up.

Since then, I've dated girls who have asked me what book I'd like to live in, if I'd rather be blind or an amputee, and would I prefer world peace or to cure all diseases (because apparently, the two are mutually exclusive).

"Well," I said, "it would be awfully difficult for me to do either, since I am just a piece of kelp, stranded on an island with my future dead wife."

So we broke up. Which is too bad, because I really liked her. I liked her so much that even tried carving one of those hearts with our initials.

Too bad I couldn't find anything around the apartment that was sharp enough.

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