Just Ask

By Wayne Elise

Version en español de este articulo.

I'm pondering which super power would be the best to give you.

Being able to fly would be great - for a day. But then you'd realize it's lonely up there. Airliners and birds make lousy conversational partners.

Being able to become invisible would turn you into a voyeur. That's not good.

Super-stretch power would be fun, but you'd spend your days plucking cereal boxes off grocery shelves for little old ladies.

No. The best super power would be the ability to read minds. Think about what you could do with that.

You'd know the person crossing the street feels hopeless and you could intercept them at the corner, tell them tomorrow will be better, give them a flower. You'd know the cook spat in the soup and you could order the quiche instead. You'd know that your father really loves you. Sniff Sniff.

The sexual possibilities though are where the real goldmine lies. You could fulfill for people their perfect sexual fantasies.

"What are those?" she asks.

You smile down at her. "Velvet cuffs. Easy on the skin but deceptively strong. Let me have your wrists."

"Okay. Sure. What's that?"

"A blindfold. I'll just tie this over your eyes like so."

"Wow. I can't see a thing."

"That's the point. Do you trust me?"

"Yes."

"Good."

"I hear someone moving around. Who else is in the room?"

"That's my assistant Natasha. She's highly trained in the erotic arts."

"I always wanted something like this to.. Oh. That feels nice. What's that?"

"Sorry, that's the cat licking your toes. I'll get him down. Oh wait. I'm getting the vibe you kinda dig it. Natasha, we'll be keeping the cat."

"This is so hot. I'm excited"

"I thought you'd like it."

"How do you know what turns me on so well? Are you projections from my subconscious? Is this a dream?"

"Like in that movie Inception?"

"Yeah. Are you Leonardo Dicaprio?"

"I should be so lucky. No. We're real. I just get you."

"But how? It's like you can read my mind."

"Muhahahaha."

"I love evil laughs too."

"Of course you do. Natasha, can we get the hot wax in here already please?"

How awesome would reading minds be? You could stop playing games and get on with the pleasure of hooking up. You'd walk around with a smile on your face as you delve into the most delicious parts of people's desires.

You may be surprised to learn that I can give you the ability to read people's hidden desires. All you need do is send three million dollars to my Paypal account at the bottom of this page.

Ha. Just kidding. I'm going to share this ability with you free of charge.

Are you ready?

Here's what you do.

Just ask.

That's right. Just ask. I find this to be the most awesome method for discovering someone's hidden desires.

What? You thought there'd be more to it? A space age, plutonium-powered device? We tried that and came up with something similar to Google's virtual reality Goggles - useful, but there's no way we're wearing those things in public.

It's simpler, more graceful, to just ask.

A guy and a girl sit on a curb talking as a bicycle rally pedals past.

"Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?" he asks.

"That depends," she says.

"Depends on what?"

"Depends on the question."

"What gets your toes smiling?"

"My toes smiling?"

"What turns you on?"

"I've never heard it put that way before."

"I'm glad to be the first then."

"Hmmm… let me think about it." She absentmindedly drew a face with a stick in the sand that had collected in the gutter. "Okay. I'll tell you. But promise you won't be judgmental?"

"Promise."

She took a deep breath. "Midget porn."

He stopped drumming his fingers on the side of his legs. "Midget porn?"

"Yes. It's amazing. It's all about the clothes. The midgets have a hard time with their buttons and zippers. I guess their fingers are too little. So the people making the videos dress them up in costumes and it takes forever to get their clothes off. The sexual tension is addicting."

"Really?"

"I'll lend you my collection."

He notices her pinkie finger twitching. "It must say gullible on my forehead," he says.

She laughed. "Oh yeah - it does. You didn't know that?"

"I believed you for a second."

"More than a second I think."

"Let's just keep my gullibility between us, shall we?"

"Too late. I just sent a text to your coworkers, your boss, your family, your dog."

"That's where you're mistaken. My dog doesn't care about me anymore since he went to live with my ex and her new boyfriend."

"Oh, I'm sorry."

"It's okay. I want him to be happy. He lives on a farm and has horses and pigs as friends and gets to chase chickens."

"So what gets your toes smiling?" she asks.

"Well, you didn't really answer the question yourself. But that's fine. I'll share."

"I did answer. I love midgets."

"Whatever." He tapped his empty paper cup against the curb. "I may need more coffee. I'm kind of addicted."

"I used to be the same way. But I had to stop."

"I could never stop. I've tried. It's impossible. Did you know eight cups of coffee in an hour is enough to kill someone? I like to flirt with the edge. I'll drink seven cups. Get a nice buzz going, a little hallucination."

"You're changing the subject."

"I guess I am. I like skinny girls."

"Like anorexic girls?"

"A little anorexia is hot."

She laughs. "You realize, that's wrong on so many levels?"

"I know. But I think it's a turn on when a woman stretches her arms over her head and you can see her ribs. After my break-up, I hooked up with this girl Amanda. I remember picking her up off the couch and carrying her to the bedroom. She was so light in my arms. Like nothing. I found it a big turn on."

"That makes sense actually. Men look for their opposite."

"I also like braids. When a girl braids her hair in tight ropes, intricate patterns - it's beautiful."

"I like braiding my hair."

"Yeah. I can see you got one going on there. I love the attention to detail that goes into them. The fifteen minutes it took you to make it. The dexterity involved with using your fingers to braid it. I don't know if that makes sense. I guess it's a representation of a feminine ideal."

"Yeah. I get it." She watches a tandem bicycle ride past. The riders drink from beer cans. "I like intelligence," she says. "I tend to date lit nerds."

"How lit do your lit nerds get?"

"They're the kind who'd rather stay home on a Friday night reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being than go out drinking."

"The Unbearable Lightness of Being. That's Nabakov right?"

"No. Milan Hundera. Nabakov wrote Lolita. Geez, where's your mind, perv?" She bumped him with her shoulder. "Ha. As my dad used to say, I'm just messing with your hair. I've read Lolita many times. The writing is… thoughtful. I imagine Nabakov obsessing over each word."

"Yeah. I just read it on my Kindle." He played his fingers along the paper hospital bracelet around his wrist. "Do you find the bohemian thing sexy?"

"Can you tell?"

"I can. I like it too. I often fantasize I'm living with a girl in a flat and we're poor together. The furniture is old. The place is falling apart. But in the morning we smoke cigarettes together on the balcony with just blankets over our bare shoulders and talk about whatever."

"And drink coffee?"

"The Italian press is the only reliable appliance."

"Those flats always have the radiators turned on and you can't turn them off. It'll be hot."

"Yes and first thing we do when we walk in is strip down to our underwear. When people visit they have to do the same. Our dinner parties are R rated."

"What's her name?

"Who's name?"

"The girl."

He thought for a moment. "Claire."

"Yuck. Claire's the name of the school priss. You've seen The Breakfast Club right?"

"No. What's that?"

"You haven't seen The Breakfast Club? Movie from the Eighties? My dad can quote the whole film. Anyway. You can't go against The Breakfast Club. There are intrinsic truths in that movie."

"Okay. Then you pick a name."

"How about Sarah?" she asks.

"Sarah's the name of a fat girl who wears sweaters. No offense. You're a skinny girl wearing a sweater."

She pushes the sleeve of her sweater up her arm. "None taken. How about Veronica?"

"I like Veronica."

"Classy yet capable of being crazy sometimes."

"Do you want to be my Veronica?"

She looks at him. Her pulse races ahead. "Maybe. Yes. And you can be Tomas."

"Sounds like a German bicycle mechanic."

"It's a sexy name. It's a man who's controlled by his love of women."

"Ha. Okay. Sounds like me." He taps her arm. "Okay. Let's go buy a hat."

"I can't just go off with you. I don't know you. That's not how it's done."

He just stares at her.

She smiles. "What sort of hat?"

"A fedora. I'll teach you hat tricks."

"And then?"

"We can get lost in our imaginations. We can laugh and smoke and drink coffee and make love on a balcony maybe."

"Oh my god. I can't believe you said that."

"You don't want that?"

"It's just… This is very nonstandard."

He stands up. "Yes I know. I don't do this every day either. I guess this is an adventure for us both."

She climbs to her feet, looks at the scar on his chin. "This is a story."

"The first chapter."

"I can't help when a story begins thinking about the last chapter though."

"Yes, but the chapter you savor, the one you read slowly, is coming up."

"I like that."

"Are you sure? I can leave you here if you want. This may not be the story for you after all."

"Shut up. I know a hat store we can go to. I like a guy in a hat and..."

"And what?"

"That's it. Just a hat."

"Oh."

Just ask.

****

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All the best, Wayne