Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, Mongolia and Her Initials Spell HELP




About 8 years ago I read Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink – it’s main thesis is that instant, blink of an eye, conclusions are valid.

So I finish Blink & the very next day I’m at a gallery opening in SF.  Suddenly every nerve synapse is telling me that I’m in love with this woman in the proverbial blink of an eye.

First there was the avalanching hair                                                                                  

41 years young                                                                                                                  

Tall and athletic 

ice blue eyes                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Educated at Hotchkiss, B.A. Harvard, Ph.D in rhetoric UC Berkeley                                                 

A clean body with a dirty mind

We hang at the gallery, go to Café Plouf for a drink, we’re making out on Bart.  Before you know it we’re at my place and the mission bells are ringing.

And the name of this woman? (I changed the name slightly to protect the guilty) – Hayden Elizabeth Lancaster Parker – initials spell HELP.  A true blue blooded WASP of Mayflower lineage.  Her parents’ homestead is a 20 acre estate in Greenwich, CT, summers on Martha’s Vineyard, no need to clap just rattle the jewelry, a family that bred thoroughbred horses and “bouvier” dogs.

I ask HELP if she did phone.  She says if phone communications don’t work how bout smoke signals or graffiti on Oakland buildings.  Light bulb goes off in my head.  I choose an urban response reflective of my urban roots.  I go to Office Max & get large red Sharpies.  Pastrami on rye I start writing graffiti to HELP on walls in unisex bathrooms in cafes on College Avenue.  I was “tagging” to win the heart, mind and body, not necessarily in that order, of a daughter of the ruling class.  I was smitten and delirious.

I wanted HELP / unclear if HELP wanted me.  One day warm and inviting; next day cold and distant.  Then I have to go to Mongolia for work. 

I’m wandering in Lawrence of Arabia landscapes, guys on camels w/ ammo belts slung over their shoulders, swords in their waistbands. Me - I’ve got my wireless laptop, sending endless emails to HELP 7,500 miles away.

Again, I am delirious, as I introduce graffiti to Mongolia in dive bars & 5 star hotels to impress HELP.  I write “this photo of HELP, now blurred and obscured as if the world shifted between the clicking of the shutter & the fixing of the image.”  I take photos of the graffiti to impress this daughter of the power elite.

This Romeo returns from Mongolia and HELP won’t see me for a week. Then bliss like connection.  We’re in bed, but her mind is in Greenwich, CT and I’m in Brooklyn and the “A” train doesn’t go to Greenwich.  Loving HELP was like staying in the shower too long in a crowded house.  You’re halfway through, soap on your balls and ass when suddenly the water turns ice cold. 

We had three magical months; nights swirling & whirling where HELP gave me everything I ever wanted.  We were officially girlfriend & boyfriend.  I even drove her to the airport.  Ominously, she said a few times “Don’t let me screw this up.”

On Dec. 19th I drive her to the airport as she goes home to her parent’s Greenwich CT estate for the holidays – returning to her roots – thoroughbred horses, bouvier dogs, the dark congealing history of who she is.  The airport goodbye was cold and distant.

Cut to my best friend. He’s a shrink.  I’ve known him since we were 8 years old at a socialist camp in upstate NY.  Because of the ups & downs of my experiences with HELP I show David 30 emails from HELP to get his professional opinion.  The equivalent of five therapy sessions are distilled down to 5 words  “Scott you are a moron.”  This woman is incapable of intimacy.  He predicted that the distance would always resurface and that eventually I would hate her.

But I’m desperate and I so want to believe Blink.   So I send her Jew food from NY’s Katz’s Deli – I order a dozen knishes, a bucket of ½ sour pickles, a salami for your boy in the army – all sent to her parent’s estate.  HELP calls from CT - says I should be afraid.  This could be serious & Bush didn’t lay in enough SARS vaccine to protect me.

She returned home and we both knew it was over.

The thing is Blink did not cover how to get my Ellis Island ass onto the Mayflower.  At the end of the day, I was a Jew boy from Brooklyn pretending to be an adventurous pilgrim, laden with scurvy, hurling over the side of the Mayflower because sometimes the eye persists in seeing something that was never really there to begin with.

I returned to College Avenue with a wash bucket / brillo in hand and erase all that desperate graffiti.  But I’m hoping it’s still there in Mongolia!