Conversational Burlesque

I just watched the Good Mythical Morning episode alluding to the recent New York Times’ “Modern Love” column that went viral with 36 questions supposed to make anyone fall in love.

GMM went through a few of the questions. When they got to the one about which truth to ask a fortune teller, my response was: I’d argue about the nature and definition of truth. My next thought: That’s why I’m single. Ha ha, cue the self-deprecating laugh and cynical persona. The questions are dumb Valentine’s Day fodder. If it wasn’t for the desire for regular sex, who’d go through the hassle of a relationship?

Except, I don’t really think that way anymore. These days, I find cynics tedious.  I took a look at the whole list of questions. Some are silly. Some are personal as hell. Taken separately, it would be easy to do the usual small talk duck and dive, but answering them all together, there’d be places to risk, falter, blush, and slip. At times it would be incredibly uncomfortable.

There’s a thrill in that discomfort.  It’s an emotional striptease, a burlesque dance of the small stories we hold about ourselves. There’s an eroticism in self-revelation. We’ve been taught to be embarrassed, but we really want to be seen.

In Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace anticipated the isolating effect of technology that allows us to hide behind masks of edited and revised personalities.  I don’t know if 36 questions can make anyone fall in love, but they can peel off our masks long enough to catch a glimpse of each other. Friending doesn’t make us friends, but that kind of conversation could.

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