Dear Steven Pinker,
Thank you for getting me laid last night.
Somehow, as if by magic (I know it wasn’t actually magic), a beautiful woman, with whom I had been kinda, sorta in love for the past few years, showed up at my house to talk. Of course to talk. Always to talk. Not that I mind. I’m the guy that you can say anything to. The no judgment guy. The guy who is more likely to quote, well, in fact I am more likely to quote you than to tell someone that they are falling short of some imaginary ethical quota.
Women talk to me.
Not to say that I have not been lucky. (I nearly said “with the ladies.”) The world has come round to guys like us over the past few decades. At some point, it became cool to be a nerd. Or perhaps it had less to do with cultural shifts and instead 13.7 billion years of causality blessed us with exceptionally large cerebral cortices, which in turn allowed us to map superior methods of relating to the fairer sex.
I don’t know.
I try not to analyze it.
But there she was, her beautiful pink lips alternately drinking red wine and telling me how her marriage was ending. And with my delight at the possibility of her freedom crashing headlong into my desire to see her safe and stable with a man who can give her many of the things that I cannot, I found seven little nonthreatening words that subtly offered sex while still maintaining the ethical high-ground of my role as makeshift marriage counselor.
“Perhaps an affair could save your marriage.”
Her reply was discouraging and delightful..
“I’ve been with my husband for ten years. The only person who I would even consider sleeping with, at this point, is Steven Pinker.”
As I refilled her wine, I shuffled my shoes gently against the carpet, hoping that the cool dry air entering in through the window might send a static charge through my body, making my graying hair a little poofier.
“Human nature is the problem, but human nature is also the solution,” I said.
She smiled ever so slightly as I resisted the urge to say, “It’s Pinker.” which, of course, would have invalidated what little cachet my line had had to begin with.
“We met over Pinker.” she reminded between sips, while slyly validating the origin of my quote. “You had mentioned him in an article and I emailed you the poem I had written about him.”
“Oh yeah and when we met for the first time I gave you The Language Instinct.” I recalled.
“And I gave you The Blank Slate, but then took it back because you already had it.”
And there she sat, telling me about the foolish man who had refused to touch her for a decade and how it had caused her to wither away into infinitesimal fractions, yet somehow finding a way to say it in a manner that defended him instead of exposing him for the ludicrous scoundrel he clearly was. And while I listened, I parallel processed how a shared love of a cognitive scientist, evolutionary psychologist, linguist, professor and polymath somehow lead these two people to be here in this room, on this pale blue dot, hurtling through space at the exact same time.
Ironically, I couldn’t stop thinking about how mystical it all seemed.
So many seemingly random variables had come together to create this moment and the lack of evolution in my simian brain made me unable and unwilling to chart the googolplex of tiny trajectories that had conspired to create this miracle of sensuality that had been so kind as to grace me with her intense and beautiful presence.
So I stopped thinking.
And I kissed her.
Thank you, Steven Pinker.
Without you I would not even know this amazing person and this incredible night would have not have been possible.
If you are ever in Indianapolis and want to grab a beer, I owe you one.
Michael E Sparks
(Thank you to my good friend George Dunn for providing editing on this piece. George is a writer and editor on the popular Pop Culture and Philosophy series)