The Poetry Question

Discovering the Relevance of Words

Between The Lines

Tom Haverford from “Parks and Recreation” has a specific list of dating woes that he calls his “Oh No-No’s!”: a list of things that are essentially deal breakers for his dating life. Now, his group of things are ridiculous and a bit farfetched, but it made me think about what exactly would be on my “Oh No-No” list and I couldn’t come up with much

I was racking my brain for things I didn’t like, which, honestly, is a pastime that I partake in quite frequently, but when it comes to people, I’m surprisingly optimistic and forgiving. I always had issues and problems to deal with; so what if someone else also had real life things too? It’s like the saying goes: “There is a crack in everything: that’s how the light gets in.”

Of course we always have preferences about our mate and that is to be expected: we’re only human after all. But I had one solid, unmoving, irreplaceable “Oh No-No” and that hinged on one of the stock questions I asked when getting to know someone.

Q: “What’s your favorite book?”

If their answer was “Oh, I don’t really like reading books,” that was a HUGE “Oh No-no!” Books for me are the taking off of glasses for Clark Kent! Books are great! Books are wonderful! And books are sexy!

Seriously, literature is a great thing when you are trying to get to know someone. Ask them what their favorite book is. Ask them why. Read it. Ask about their favorite character. Read about their favorite character. Learn about them. Learn about the plot, the theme, the symbolism. I’ve learned a good handful of things about my friends and family when they told me what their favorite book is. I have one friend, who’s very funny and sarcastic most of the time, but she’s incredibly sweet. She told me her favorite book was A Thousand Splendid Suns (phenomenal read by the way) and as I read it, I could see her underlining passages and re-reading chapters over and over again. The book itself was such a romantic tale but it seemed to fit her so well.

Also, when someone shares with you his or her favorite book, that’s kind of a big deal. We have such a weird zeal when it comes to our favorite because it’s always “What if you don’t like it? What if you think it’s dumb? What if you like it so much that you take it away from me?” We are protective over our favorite things and books especially since there are so many ways to read the words.

When she hands you a worn copy of The Tao of Pooh or when he lets you borrow his high school frayed edition of Sula, thank them, since they are giving you an important piece of themselves to you. I’d recommend you trade with them: even if you want to offer The Essential Calvin & Hobbes.

About Alex Dang!

Alex Dang is an aspiring poet from Portland, Oregon. He has four things in common with Hamlet: words, words, words, and an affinity for stabbing curtains. You can read his work at

3 comments on “Between The Lines

  1. trippyb
    July 30, 2013

    “Doesn’t read” is definitely a deal breaker for me, along with watches MMA, has an aversion to employment and showers, has an abnormal attachment to his mother, owns a bird… I could go on and on!!

  2. The Running Son
    July 30, 2013

    Deal breakers:

    coffee teeth
    mossy sheen
    coffee breath plus
    mossy teeth
    bossiness and
    plastic breast
    and failing
    every IQ test
    laughs a lot at
    rubber thoughts
    smoking coke
    with jack-me-offs
    homeless snots
    and snobs that sob
    no job is caught
    by kissing frogs.


  3. Katherine Shirley
    July 30, 2013

    I agree that a non-reading date would be a huge turn off, but I also know I would find it nigh-on-impossible to answer the question. There are so many wonderful stories out there I have never been able to choose just one.

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This entry was posted on July 30, 2013 by in COMMENTARY and tagged , , , , , , , .

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