“Catherine, he is definitely looking at you.” “He is not, he is merely glancing around the room and pausing at certain people. He briefly stopped to look at me, that’s all.” Catherine’s friends had decided to take pity on her and take her out. Now that they were out with her, however, they pitied themselves. Everyone Catherine had ever met liked her tolerably well. She had the advantages of being pretty, sweet, fairly smart, a little funny, and not knowing anything about anything. This made up for the fact that she was only slightly funny, as her naive statements brought humor to almost any situation. A Saturday night party was no exception.

Putting Catherine in a situation with boys was even more entertaining. It appeared that while other girls were learning what was acceptable to say to boys and what wasn’t, Catherine was reading romance novels and wondering why her life hadn’t become one yet. By this point in time, other girls had figured out how to “play it cool” around boys. Catherine’s view of male-female interaction looked and sounded a bit more like a Taylor Swift song. So, when her friends told her this particular boy was staring at her, it was unclear whether she would be completely oblivious or run and declare her undying love.

After some intense last minute coaching, Catherine’s friends sent her over. As they watched, Catherine appeared to be smiling and giggling for the better part of an hour. Upon her return, they eagerly demanded to know what had transpired. She replied that their conversation had gone very well. She told her friends all about how they had discussed the book she reading. He explained to her what it was actually about, why she liked it, why her grammar was slightly incorrect, and what she should actually think about the book. “I really like him guys”, Catherine said, “it seems like he is very knowledgeable and he is SO nice”. Once her friends had convinced her not to run over and explain the exact intensity of her feelings for him, Catherine went home quite happy.

The next day, Catherine waited for what her friends explained was the obligatory text message. Once it arrived, she sat down for a discussion about how to reply. “Well I think I should add a smiley face, and at least two exclamation points, perhaps a wink?” Although her friends attempted to explain that this was too much for one text message, Catherine remained unconvinced. No one had ever explained to her that in a text message, the punctuation and addition of smiley faces was of immense importance. She could not simply say what she wanted to say. It must be phrased in a witty, yet humorous manner. Her message could not be too blunt, nor could it be too vague. It had to be to the point, but not completely so. Catherine was still confused. She did not understand why she could not simply say exactly what she thought and felt, and then defer to his judgment on everything. In the novels she had read, women just wrote what they felt, fell in love, and lived happily ever after.

Thankfully, Catherine’s friends lived in the real world. They managed to take her phone, and send each perfectly worded message on their own. It worked out well for Catherine that the boy she liked was interested in her precisely because she agreed with whatever he said. And so, they married and lived together in perfect happiness.