A Month of Short Stories 2014, Day 10 – How To Talk To Girls At Parties

A year ago, for the month of June, I wrote about an online short story each day for the month. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My blog readership fell precipitously and nobody seemed to give a damn about what I was doing – which was a surprising amount of work.

Because of this result, I’m going to do it again this year.

Today’s story, for day ten – How To Talk To Girls At Parties, by Neil Gaiman

Read it online here:

How To Talk To Girls At Parties

It’s a rare pleasure when you start out reading something and you think you know what it is going to be about – about a third of the way you are still sure and then, all of a sudden, you realize you are lost on a dark road and on the way somewhere unexpected… somewhere interesting and wonderful.

Reading something by Neil Gaiman… well, I should have known better. The title, the opening gambit… a young teenager trying to find his way in the world of women, intimidated by a good-looking, silver-tongued friend who has a way with the ladies. We’ve all read this before… we’ve all lived this before.

Then, all of a sudden….

Read it and find out.

You know when you are sixteen and confused and ignorant and you say to yourself, “I don’t understand any of this. Jeez! These girls all act like they are from another planet.”

Well, be careful….

She looked at me with her green eyes, and it was as if she stared out at me from her own Antigone half-mask; but as if her pale green eyes were just a different, deeper, part of the mask. “You cannot hear a poem without it changing you,” she told me. “They heard it, and it colonized them. It inherited them and it inhabited them, its rhythms becoming part of the way that they thought; its images permanently transmuting their metaphors; its verses, its outlook, its aspirations becoming their lives. Within a generation their children would be born already knowing the poem, and, sooner rather than later, as these things go, there were no more children born. There was no need for them, not any longer. There was only a poem, which took flesh and walked and spread itself across the vastness of the known.”

I edged closer to her, so I could feel my leg pressing against hers.

She seemed to welcome it: she put her hand on my arm, affectionately, and I felt a smile spreading across my face.

“There are places that we are welcomed,” said Triolet, “and places where we are regarded as a noxious weed, or as a disease, something immediately to be quarantined and eliminated. But where does contagion end and art begin?”