Back when S and I took that road trip to LA, we planned on amusing ourselves during the car ride with a game called “Maybe We’d Find Husbands If…”
The idea for this came about during a jog shortly before we left when we discussed the difficulty of not always being on the lookout for a husband, and we (okay, mainly I) thought the game might make good car ride entertainment–not to mention potential material for the blog.
Both hopes quickly dissipated when it became apparent, as it soon did, that our only ideas were: “Maybe we’d find husbands if we lived in LA,” “Maybe we would find husbands if we did not live in LA,” and “Maybe we’d find husbands if we dated more men who vote Republican.” (More on that last idea later.)
By the time our game resorted to “Maybe we’d find husbands if we spent more time at Knife City”–a roadside outlet barely across the Arizona border–we knew it was time that we give up, embrace our singledom, and blast mainstream hip hop.
Among the tracks in heavy rotation was a melodic R. Kelly tune called “Be My Number 2.” Which, if you haven’t heard, you must: it is a truly amazing song, on a number of levels, in which R. croons to a potential lover about all the things that he would like to do to and with her that do not include revealing her existence to his Number One.
In the car, S suggested–rather, demanded–that I blog, at some point, about this song. I semi-balked: what could I really say about it, besides how completely absurd and offensive it is?
Honestly, not much. But it did come to mind this week as I mulled over the whole notion of finding “the one”–and whether that person truly exists.
As much of a romantic idealist as I am, even I don’t buy into the notion that there is only one person out there who we’re meant to be with. I mean, it’s a nice idea, but also kind of antiquated and unrealistic. Especially if, like me, you have a tendency to immediately declare ideal compatibility on most occasions that you find mutual attraction.
But if there isn’t “one” person, how many are there?
I had dinner with someone this week who said he thought there were probably a million people in the world who he could be with. I told him this seemed to be a startlingly high number.
“How many would you say?” he asked.
“I don’t know, ” I replied. “Ten?” He looked at me like I had two foreheads. “Okay fine,” I conceded. “A thousand?”
The next day I pulled up an episode of This American Life called “Somewhere Out There,” about various adventures related to finding “the one.” As always there are some great stories, but the best stuff is in the intro: a chat with NPR Science reporter David Kestenbaum about his attempt, along with his then-colleagues when he was a Harvard grad student in physics, to calculate their odds of finding a girlfriend in Boston (small), and then their female professor’s odds of finding a husband there (zero).
And then there’s a quick chat between Ira Glass and TAL regular Alex Blumberg, along with Blumberg’s wife, Nazanin, about a conversation the couple had when they first fell in love. The two were waxing all new-love-like about how amazing, how fated it seemed that they had found one another. And then the question came up of whether they each thought were the only one out there whom the other could love.
About which Alex said, probably not. Probably, he said, she was one of approximately a hundred thousand.
A number that, of course, he found perfectly reasonable and she found perfectly horrifying.
Nazanin admitted that the idea of there being only one person for everybody was a bit far-fetched. But still, she said, couldn’t he even pretend that he thought so? Just for the sake of one romantic moment? (That he couldn’t, by the way, is Illustration A of the fact that men and women may actually come from different planets.)
Over beers with D later in the week I asked what he thought of the whole idea. As he would, he immediately dismissed it as being a relic of religion and oppressive ideology.
And then he reminded me of what he thinks, and I must agree, is perhaps the best treatment of this question: from an episode of that kinda amusing and kinda awful show Flight of the Conchords.
It’s the one where Jermaine declares that a girl he’s just met might be “the one.” This prompts Bret, his best friend, to remind him of another woman Jermaine once dated about whom he said the same thing.
In response, Jermaine does not dispute the point. “Yeah,” he says. “She was another one.”