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Friday, February 8, 2019

The Mystery Lover

A truly feminine woman should always retain a little air of mystery – Louis Jourdan

One of the funniest things I ever heard came during a bridal shower I attended about 40 years ago. As the prospective bride opened a gift, revealing a beautiful negligee, a prim, 90ish little old woman (think Dana Carvey playing The Church Lady) said, “When my brother was getting married, he asked a local seamstress to make a nightgown for his intended, but he asked that she make it extra-long. Confused, the seamstress asked if his fiancĂ© was very tall. He said, “No. I just want to prolong the suspense on my wedding night of finally finding out what’s under that nightgown when I pull it over her head.”

We all erupted in laughter, but this spicy little anecdote illustrates how much mystery enlivens life. It’s mystery that keeps us reading to the end of a “whodunit” and spurs us to binge-watch a Netflix series (Guilty--The Last Kingdom should come with an addiction warning!) to see how things turn out. The suspense of finding out who would be your “Mystery Date” made the game of the same name one of the most popular ones for girls for the last 40 plus years.

But we are living in a different world today, and I’m afraid we are losing some of the mystery. Today, people reveal everything about themselves online--what they’re eating, where they’re going, what they’re watching and thinking. Who they’re in love with or who they hate. They post gruesome photos of injuries, details of bodily functions, and at times it seems every thought that pops into their head, which is fine, but I noticed something this holiday season that I hadn’t before.

From Thanksgiving to the New Year, I was in the company of a lot people-extended family, friends, neighbors, former classmates, etc.--many of whom are online, and I found the conversations I had with those who weren’t online frequently or at all to be much more satisfying. It was refreshing to learn about their lives in their own words, hear the inflections in their voices, and see the looks in their eyes and read their body language instead of seeing words on a page accompanied by an emoticon. And it was as equally satisfying to reply in person to them and express my genuine emotion and thought.

Maybe it’s just me, but most of the conversations I had with those I see online began like this, “I see on Facebook that you’re . . . ” and instead of getting a first-person account of something, I received a recap of what had already been posted online. In fact, at a couple of large gatherings, I’m ashamed to admit that the following conversation took place a few times in my head: There’s so and so. I should go talk to her. Then that little devil-on-your-shoulder voice replied, Why bother? You already know what’s going on from Facebook.

Although I love and use social media as much as the next person, I’m thinking of holding back some of myself. Do you really care what I’m eating, watching, reading or where I’m going? Probably not. I’m apt to take the advice of one of my favorite childhood authors, Carolyn Keene, who penned the Nancy Drew series of books. She wrote in Nancy’s Mysterious Letter: Do act mysterious. It always keeps them coming back for more.

This article originally appeared in the February 2019 issue of Northern Connection magazine.