I was reading in my local coffee shop today when a random girl – normal-seeming, skinny jeans, plaid shirt, moccasins – turned to me and said, “What year were you born?”
She was holding a Chinese astrology book.
“I’m a dragon,” I told her.
Now, normally I might enjoy a little thrill at a bizarre conversation with a stranger. But you know when you can feel the vibes of crazy from a person?
This was one of those times.
“Oh, where are you from?” she asked, registering my accent.
“London” I said, glancing back to my book.
“Really?” she was leaning forward now. “I have English and Irish decendancies. My mother’s side of the family came from England generations ago.”
It never ceases to amaze me why people want to tell me their heritage. Do I go around saying, “Oooh! Let me tell you where my grandma’s first cousin once lived?” No I do not.
I was gripped with the need to tell this girl that a) There is no such word as ‘decendancies’ and b) An awful lot of people in the States came from the UK ‘generations ago.’ In fact I believe there was some sort of commemorative tea party and a turkey dinner.
But I gave her a closed-mouth small smile, and looked determinedly at my book as though we were seated next to each other on a long plane ride.
I always like to let people know up front that I will not be speaking to them during a flight. Apart from that one time when the turbulence was so bad I turned to the homeward-bound soldier on my right and said, “I’m going to need to hold your hand.” He seemed pleased. But then he did say he hadn’t touched a woman in ten months.
I’ve always been good at getting rid of people. Once, when backpacking, a friend asked, “How do you do it? Annoying people never hassle you.” Given that we had mistakenly chosen to stay in a remote redwood forest log cabin, otherwise occupied by Evangelical Christians on a Bible retreat, my ‘eff-off’ skills were out in full force.
My friend sat in awe as I remained unbothered and alone while she was beseiged by bespectacled, shiny-faced new friends, anxious to chat about Jesus.
As the fifth chorus of Kum Ba Yah started up, I said, “You just have to radiate hatred.”
I’ve been reading a lot about vibes lately. Dan Brown’s latest blockbusting Da Vinci Code follow-up, The Lost Symbol, is about Noetic science, actually the science of ‘vibes’. It’s the logical reasoning behind that Japanese artist who changed water particles by thinking about things. It’s the subject of the film, ‘What The Bleep Do We Know’ and the explanation behind that new-age wish-dispensary, The Secret.
I believe in that stuff, that thoughts can change the direction of your life, that you can perform a kind of magic with belief and hope. That you can draw people and things to you with vibes. God knows, I’ve been doing a good job of keeping people away with them for years.
When I was a kid, wishing and believing and hoping was a lot easier. At 15, I never worried about how I would meet a man who really ‘got’ me, or how I would combine this with my dream of living in California. When you’re little, the ‘how’ is not weighing heavy on your mind as you picture yourself walking the red carpet at the Oscars.
That came true, by the way. The Oscars thing. And the California thing, obviously. Only not in the way my child-self imagined.
My friend Ingrid says her life is governed by something called The Becret. “It’s like The Secret, only it’s a bit off,” she says. Like she dreamed of walking the red carpet, being surrounded by eager, clamouring press. Well now she is, only she’s on the wrong side of the velvet rope, holding a tape recorder.
(Please note, when asking the universe for something, be specific people.)
So maybe I’m not sending out the right vibes. Is this why much younger men keep being drawn to me? It makes sense, because I don’t give off the air of a grown-up. I shop at Forever 21, can still be found occasionally singing into a hair brush, am glued to Gossip Girl and have a ridiculous job that involves strutting around Hollywood parties in high heels.
In search of answers, I went out with the other 24 year-old at the weekend. Let’s call him Ed. A classically-trained child-prodigy violinist (“I’ve been playing since I was three”), he has a full-time job session-playing for stars like Carrie Underwood and the LA Philharmonic. He’s also witty, well-dressed and smart.
But things were a little off-balance. I, for instance, downed two goldfish-bowl glasses of Pinot Grigio. He had ginger ale. (His excuse: “I’m a musician, I’ve been drinking in session all day” seemed pretty high school). I ate the entire plate of ‘to-share’ curly fries. With two sides of ranch. He had nothing.
But the conversation flowed. It’s not that we didn’t have stuff to talk about.
“So why are you asking out an older woman? What’s that about?” I said.
“Um is it weird to say that doesn’t matter to me?”
I waved that away. “No, I mean really, really, why?”
Long pause. “Well, OK the truth is, I sent an e-mail to someone else and afterwards, you popped up as a match.com suggestion of someone I might like. I read your profile and you seemed smart and funny, and you are.”
He really didn’t care. It was me. I was the only one who had the age problem.
He dropped me home and we laughed the whole way.
As he drove off, I felt pleased. In accepting dates with much-younger guys, I’d tried something I would never normally do. And I’d learnt something else. I just wanted someone older and was going to have to start putting out the right vibes. So, instead of ignoring his second-date invite, I am currently composing him an e-mail tactfully explaining this.
It’s time to grow up.