comparing criterion lists

Everybody must have some memory of first dates/first periods spent together in some context or other in which they worked through some ridiculous (ad hoc for most people) made up checklists that would reveal their compatibility with the person they were interested in. You know, the „favourite actor”, „what will your future house look like?”, „best memory”, „favourite book” kind of conversations. The older the memory (the younger we were), the more importance the answers bore – the wrong musical affiliation was definitely a dealbreaker in highschool, whereas later on it could be seen as just a reservation, when all else „fit”. However, even at times when the answers weren’t that heavy anymore, some answers could make one win or lose. How much they were carved, at that point, on the mould of the perception you have of one another, how much they were meant to please, I cannot tell today. Although I’m sure that `Meryl Streep` won points, whereas the list of smokin’ hot sexy actresses we now also know to be valid would have lost points. Just as, somewhere in translation, `I never managed to finish that novel by Marquez, what was its name again…` was magically transformed in `I think Marquez is my favourite writer.` Or `Oh, you like Cohen. Is that the Canadian guy or the Belgian guy?` became a revelatory moment of `Absolutely, they are in the same drawer in my mind too!`. All in all, obviously, the criteria were deeper than the superficial questions, and what we knew was real was real with or without the scoreboard. Yet I cannot but wonder, 9 years later, why I abruptly changed my answer to the one serious question: „What is your greatest fear?” from the first impulse „Not being in control.” to the mild „No, actually, I think it’s being bored.” I’d make fun of my own bovarism if he hadn’t turned the radio a bit louder last weekend for „Is dit alles wat er is” (does it need translation, I wonder?).

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