Friday, June 16, 2006


Many people search for that elusive perfect relationship, or at least a meaningful bond with another person, or at the very least some sort of grubby, regret-soaked physical encounter. And for many people, that's a fine and noble goal.

But let's say you're a bitter, seething misanthrope. You have no use for other human beings, yet social norms dictate that you at least try to interact with others. How can you guarantee that a relationship will be mercifully killed before it even has a chance to start?

This simple test will help. We've presented a typical, but entirely hypothetical, dating situation, and four possible responses to something your potential mate has said. For purposes of this test, you will play a male interacting with a female.

Here's the situation:

You've only just met this woman, you've only been talking for a few minutes, but it seems to be going reasonably well. She's made a few comments that led you to feel comfortable asking her political views, and without hesitation she said, "Oh, I'm a liberal." Though you would have felt better if she'd said, "I'm a fire-breathing radical lefty," liberal is...something you can handle. Then the conversation turns to literature, also a good sign--at least it isn't turning to reality TV or eighties hair bands. You mention William Burroughs and Hubert Selby, neither of whom strike a responsive chord. Then she says she's currently reading The Fountainhead.

How do you respond? Do you

(a) say, "I've never heard of that. Tell me about it."

(b) say, "What a bold choice for a summer read!"

(c) not say anything and hope she doesn't elaborate.

or (d) snort, "Ayn Rand? What the hell kind of liberal reads that facist?"

You'd be surprised how many people would choose one of the first three responses, and thus could find themselves trapped in the straightjacket of an actual relationship. But if you chose (d), which manages to be simultaneously whiny, judgemental and vaguely hostile, congratulations! You have freed yourself of society's conventions and guaranteed yourself another night of, um, whatever it is bitter, self-satisfied loners do. Frankly, we'd rather not know.

Again, congratulations, enjoy your life of solitude and thanks for taking this quiz.