Little Talks: Event Planning

A series of short stories about a relationship starring a fictional couple who live rent-free in Scott’s head.

Scott Muska
I THOUGHT THIS WAS WORTH SHARING

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“You’re not exactly all that big on planning things,” she says while she’s scrolling through her calendar, which is meticulously (and conspicuously, she’ll tell anyone about it) filled out down to the half-hour.

This comes up because I’ve proposed going to see one of my favorite bands and have asked if she’d like to come with me so I have someone to yell random trivia at about every song whenever the artist begins to perform it, and say if she agrees to come, I’ll take care of all the arrangements. This is table stakes, of course. But she is skeptical. And actually unsure if I should be trusted with such a responsibility. I do not blame her.

I’ve never been a huge planner. It’s part of my personal brand, to the point people simply don’t tap me to do any of the heavy lifting in that department. When it comes to things I have to do or take care of, I have a pretty solid digital to-do list setup going (shout out to Trello), but aside from that you generally don’t get much from me. You might think having solidified plans laid out would be a positive thing for someone who often experiences crippling anxiety, but what I grapple with is generally the anticipatory kind, and so am better off having things sprung on me at the last minute. Like, if I have a dental appointment (I hate the dentist) planned a month in advance I’ll agonize more and more about it every single day. If I call randomly one morning and ask if they can somehow fit me in that afternoon and they can because they’ve had a cancelation or something, I’ll white-knuckle it through a few hours and head on in there, which is still not great but definitely preferable.

“Well, I’ll plan this,” I say.

“Because it benefits you,” she says. “You know I like a few of their songs but that I certainly am not of the camp of people who’s going to roll the red carpet out for Of Monsters and Men. If I’m being honest, I only really know that one song very well.”

“I can plan other things.”

“Just because you can doesn’t mean you do.”

“Tough but fair.”

She’s speaking the absolute truth — just pointing out a personality trait that she’s not all that satisfied with all of the time (nobody is perfect) — so I’m not going to get all mad and bent out of shape about it. Instead I’ll resolve to plan more things, at least every once in a while, because I’m quickly learning that being in a relationship is not about doing whatever you want whenever you want. You find yourself actively wanting to be, like, considerate of another person and what might ring their cherries. Some might call this “attempting to be vaguely unselfish every now and then.”

“I can change that, though,” I say.

“I wouldn’t be opposed,” she says.

“What if I come up with a bunch of different ideas for dates I could plan that we could go on? Then we can pick the favorites and I’ll do the work to make them happen.”

“Again — would not be opposed.”

“Give me a week. I need to brainstorm.”

“You got it, dude. And this isn’t going to be something you say you do then just hope I forget about it, even though we both know I never forget about these things, just opt to not bring them up?”

“I promise you, I will make a list.”

“A good one?”

“You’ll have to be the judge of that.”

“Okay. We’ll see what happens.”

Precisely one week later, on a Saturday afternoon, we reconvene. I have brought a slew of ideas to the table and am eager to lay them on her, see what sticks, what arises interest or leads to another even better idea. It’s going to be a collaborative process, I’m sure, with a decent amount of feedback, though I assume given her general way that the feedback will come off as positive and encouraging, even when it’s inherently not. She has a way with things — specifically dealing with my extremely annoying brand of neuroticism — that makes me love her even more than I already do.

“You ready?” she asks.

“I’ve been burning the midnight oil on these, so yes, I am ready. But be gentle with me. I’m delicate.”

“Truer words have probably never been spoken.”

“Okay, here goes: We could take a long walk on the beach around, during or just after sunrise.”

“I like to get my steps in.”

“But maybe we could do more of, like, a medium-length walk. I’m not all that big on walking in sand because it always gets in my shoes, and I have to wear shoes, because you know I can’t walk barefoot because I need my orthotics. Guess I’m also not that big on walking in general. Or doing things during the early morning hours.”

“If we ever go on a beach vacation we can consider this one. But I’m more of a mountain than sea person, if I had to choose.”

“Does that mean you want to go hiking sometime?”

“I’ll fuck with a hike.”

“Goddamnit.”

“What?”

“I’m worried about going out on a hike and throwing my back out or otherwise injuring myself and not being able to make my way back to civilization. Also, bears.”

“We’re off to a great start here.”

“How about skydiving?”

“Nope. No way. And aren’t you deathly afraid of heights?”

“Rocky Mountain climbing?”

“Absolutely not. Are you quoting a country song from the early aughts?”

“Maybe. So I guess summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro is out as well?”

“I’m not the one with the spine akin to that of an 80-year-old who’s been doing hard labor since he fiorst learned to walk, despite the fact his job entails sitting at a desk almost 90 percent of the time.”

“Good points. Guess I’ve always been mostly an indoor kid. I was also going to propose glamping but even that might be a bridge too far for me. Bears would potentially still be in play. Also, spiders. And you know I love my air conditioning — that it’s better for both of us if I’m not sweating profusely the entire time we do something, even if we’re hanging out in a tent doing next to nothing. Let’s try something more my pace, like a bedroom day.”

“What’s that?”

“We just stay in bed all day together. Like how I do sometimes when I’m feeling depressed except it wouldn’t be alone and adult activities would be involved throughout the duration. We can incorporate roleplaying too, if you want.”

“Sounds alright, but not much like a well-planned date. In fact, that seems like the complete opposite of a date. And the last time we went down the roleplaying route your first instinct was to go method as the Gorton Fisherman — and I’m still in awe that you just had a yellow raincoat lying around — so I don’t know, maybe we put a pin in that part of things and have a conversation about that some other time.”

“Gotcha. I guess that also nixes ‘build a couch fort’ from my list.”

“I’m starting to think maybe we have different definitions of what a ‘date’ actually is.”

“You’re just now starting to think that? Isn’t that why you wanted to do this exercise in the first place?”

“I do believe it was your idea.”

“You’re not wrong. But I have more.”

“Go on.”

“We could get out of the city one of these forthcoming fall days and go pumpkin picking. Actually, maybe apple picking would be better. Because of my back. Pumpkins can be heavy, which is no good, and you’re bending over to pull them out of the ground or whatever. Apples, I’d get to stretch out and pluck ’em from trees. It’d help keep me limber. That’s a win.”

“And we could make pies with our bounty afterward.”

“Hell yeah. Ever put a slice of sharp cheddar on a piece of apple pie?”

“I’ve heard people do that but no, I have not. I’m not a psychopath.”

“Not sure that’s one of the indicators of someone with psychotic tendencies but I will vouch that it’s a strange — but delicious — combination.”

“Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

“How about this. We could take your parents to a Brazilian steakhouse and eat meat until we can barely move and get the meat sweats so bad that when we all hit the sauna after it smells like lamb.”

“There’s a lot of disgusting stuff to unpack there, but probably first among them is that neither of my parents eat meat. And, as you know, neither do I.”

“Their salad bar is still pretty stellar, though.”

“Seems kind of like going to a strip club for the buffet or something. Also a note: Never include my parents in one of our date nights. Next.”

“We could make a map and bar hop to places we used to go with our exes. Kind of make them our own, you know? Do a semi-hostile takeover of the past. Or how about this? We spend an evening prank calling people. Maybe our exes.”

“Another note: Never include exes in our date nights. It’s borderline baffling that I have to say these things. Next.”

“We could go dancing.”

“That…That’s actually laughable. I’ve never seen you dance.”

“And there’s good reason for that. I have two left feet. And I have to be very drunk to even give it the ole’ college try. But maybe we could do, like, a ballroom dancing class or something like that.”

“Nothing like building a skill while we spend some time together.”

“Right? Two birds, one stone. I kind of like the class idea. We could do one where we learn to pull our own pasta or roll our own sushi.”

“Skills. Food. Quality time. I like this route.”

“Noted. I’ll keep thinking in that vein. But that’s, like, pretty much all I got for now. But I’ll keep thinking. For as long as we both shall live, or whatever.”

“I appreciate the effort. I’ll appreciate it even more when you start setting some dates in motion.”

“Thank you. And deal. I’ll get on it.”

“Excellent. Anyway. What do you feel like doing tonight?”

“Great question. I have absolutely no idea.”

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Scott Muska
I THOUGHT THIS WAS WORTH SHARING

I write books (for fun, and you can find them on Amazon), ads (for a living) and some other stuff (that seems to magically show up on the internet).