2012-01-19 / Sandy Days, Salty Nights

Easy listener

My roommate’s friend came over for the weekend. She’s a short, fiery redhead with a good heart and a big mouth. She followed me into the bathroom as I stood in front of the mirror, curling iron in hand, and leaned against the doorway.

“And so when I was in Spain,” she said, “the guys there were really cute. Very Latin, you know?”

I nodded and looked at her in the mirror over my head. “Yeah, they — ”

“Right. So, we’re sitting at this restaurant by the beach and this guy comes up. Real flirtatious, you know?”

“Yeah, I’ve — ”

“So, he’s talking to my friend and I’m like, ‘Hey, what about me?’”

I let the piece of hair I’d been curling fall against my shoulder and rolled a new strand while the friend went on and on — and on — until I finished curling my whole head. Then she followed me into the bedroom.

“And that night we were going to meet up with him and his friends. You know how in Spain they start so late?”

“I was — ”

“So, there we were getting ready to go out and I had on these really high heels. You know the ones I’m talking about?”

“I saw them — ”

“I’m getting dressed and my friend ccomes in and she’s like, ‘What are you wearing?’”

She talked while I put on my makeup, talked while I changed into my work clothes, talked as I stepped out the front door.

“ I’ll see you tonight,” I said.

“Your friends will be there? The guys?”

I snuck out before she had the chance to follow.

Here’s the thing about this tiny fireball: She searches for men constantly — in bars, in clubs, at the grocery store — but she thinks all the good men are hiding. Why else, she says, can’t she find a man?

What she doesn’t realize is that it’s not her search that’s flawed. It’s something more personal.

At the bar that night, I drank a round with my guy friends before she showed up. Over hard cider and a plate of cheese fries, I quizzed Miguel on his required qualities for a girlfriend.

“Number one,” he said, “we have to have a physical attraction.”

“OK, OK.” I’ve grilled enough guys to know the standard. “But what else?”

“She has to be a good listener,” he said.

In fact, nearly every man I’ve asked over the years has rated being a good listener in his top five girlfriend qualities. Most put it in their top three.

But when my chatty friend stopped by the bar, she wasn’t interested in listening to anything the guys had to say. Instead she brought her own talking points.

“Your friend sure talks a lot,” Miguel said later as we left the bar.

I often wonder why women with otherwise great qualities hurt their chances in love by making the men they meet their verbal dumping grounds. Instead of rattling on, my red-haired friend would do better to pause, take a deep breath and give sincere listening a shot. Perhaps when she isn’t chasing the sound of her own voice she might finally find what she’s looking for. ¦

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