The Quest for My Manic Pixie Dream Girl
“Fi is great. It’s the gooey source of real feelings, rather than polite obligations. It’s the romantic and adventurous sense that gets you into — and out of — all sorts of trouble. It’s the stuff that makes ENFPs and INFPs, the manic pixies of the MBTI world, wander off in search of ice cream and come back a day later, having fallen asleep in a bean bag chair at a furniture store. In Portland. And you’re like “What the fuck, dude?” but you can’t stay mad at them because they brought you a magazine they stole from a train along the journey home and it has an interview with that one band you like.” Please Be Nice to Me
Manic Pixie Dream Girl #1: The High School Theatre One (ENFP)
I first met the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG), the xNFP, on my first day at Brookville High School. She joined our class after her parents home schooled her through elementary and middle school. In fifth period honors English, Mrs Reid asked us to go around the room and say one thing about ourselves. I had come to a conversion experience exactly a year prior. I still held the grade school faith of an immature evangelical. So naturally, I spoke up, “My name is Keith and I am a born-again Christian.” Looking back I cringe at such a heavy handed approach to faith. MPDG #1 did not feel the same way. My locker faced the door to the English classroom. After class I took two steps and started to undo the lock. MPDG #1 came up beside me. She flashed her perfect, freckled smile and shook her auburn hair.
“Keith, that was a very brave thing to say.”
Stunned. I received a compliment. From a girl. For the next three years, I was smitten. Not that I did anything about it. I never got up the courage to even remotely mention that I liked her. I’m an ENTP, and NTs mature very slowly. Some never make it out of mom’s basement. Don’t worry, in spite of the overwhelming desire to get laid, even those socially stunted individuals seem to lead generally happy lives. They have astrophysics and their Level 80 orc mage after all.
That compliment probably marked the second at which we both started to rebel against our evangelical upbringings. She found her revolution much more quickly than I did. She joined the drama club and quickly became the leading lady. There she met Zane.
Zane was a year older than us, a valedictorian raised by hippies. He emitted his own manic pixie dream guy vibe. He quoted philosophy. He evoked a bohemian personal style. He even wrote esoteric and indecipherable one act plays for the drama club to perform.
MPDG #1 started spending a lot of exclusive time with Zane. He opened her mind. He broadened her horizons. They would skip class to ride the swings at the elementary school and look at the clouds. …Okay. I’m kind of jealous of that last part.
MPDG #1’s evangelical parents did not approve of this new development in their daughter’s life. So they shipped her off to a small, private Christian school for our senior year. It didn’t take. She was too far gone. She left for college and went full-on singer/song-writer artsy hippie. Last I heard, she was teaching elementary school at a commune in Washington state. I dodged that bullet. I’m a bit skeptical when it comes to ostentatious journeys of spiritual enlightenment.
Manic Pixie Dream Girl #2: The Hardcore One (ENFP)
I bumped into MPDG #2 at a He is Legend concert sophomore year at Virginia Tech. Don’t judge me. Going to random concerts of questionable genre kept me from becoming a basement boy.
She jumped into that pit with grown men and held her own. I love a girl that can kick another girl’s ass. Something about wanting protection, but not needing it. It makes a man feel special. It also didn’t hurt that she was a quarter Japanese. Every white man has a little asian fever.
This time I didn’t sit on the bench. I was a veteran. I had seen war. Certainly I could win a girl’s heart. I formulated a game plan and commenced my mission. I can’t tell you if my theories held any accuracy, though. My execution was dreadful.
I discovered she presided over an on-campus concert committee. I joined the committee but soon realized I had a taste in music two or three years older than all of the committee members. I asked if she wanted to hang out, but I spoke way too fast and I doubt I communicated any romantic intention. I visited her during the committee’s office hours with candy bars but just came off creepy. I got her phone number to ask her out on a date but got politely shut down. Sadly, I thought I had won a small victory by even getting the courage to talk to a girl. It got so pathetic that I ran into her at Taco Bell and had dinner with her and the guy she would start dating two weeks later.
In true MPDG fashion, she never held it against me. We did become casual friends, but she never saw me as anything more. She dated Taco Bell guy for most of our time in college. They broke up and she followed her heart to Denver. There she married a graphic designer that I graduated high school with. Small world. They like to hike the beautiful Colorado mountains. Ugh. The Army ruined me for camping, and hiking, and rain, and heat, and really just the scenic outdoors in general.
The Interlude (INxJ)
I still call this the “Winter Fling”, though such terminology is an incredible overstatement. I travelled to New Orleans, LA, over Christmas break to aid the Katrina rebuilding efforts with a group sixty strong from my campus church. Through random chance the INxJ and I ended up on the same work team and quickly discovered we had an understated but powerful chemistry. She let me do all the talking. She was quiet and witty. She saw through all my bullshit but thought my attempts amusing.
In hindsight, I had found the strength of my game, but didn’t know it. I pressed on with my standard, counterproductive attacks of talking too much and making myself omnipresent, but my non-verbal actions truly drew her interest. NTs are nigh indestructible. It comes from our sheer willpower, the cliched “mind over matter.” SJs will always be stronger, SPs faster, and NFs more graceful, but NTs have the endurance to go the distance. We get noticed by remaining the last man standing. We excel by working as hard at the end of the day as we did at the beginning.
My wife has told me that men are most attractive in action. The “Winter Fling” saw me take charge of sanding and spray painting bunk bed frames for future volunteers. She watched me go berserker with a pickaxe. She saw my work ethic and knew what I was capable of.
The last night in Louisiana, some fellow Hokies organized a swing dance in the gymnasium. The “Winter Fling” and I gravitated towards each other and enjoyed a few awkward dances. I cherished every smirk I drew out of her. That dance triggered a decision to take up further swing lessons once we returned to Tech. Me and guy friend and she and girl friend all joined the same class. I held her in my arms every week but it never progressed any further.
Oh, did I mention she still had a long distance boyfriend? I never asked her on a more serious date because I wanted to respect some boundaries. Still, I have to question a guy who felt comfortable with his girlfriend dancing with such a rugged man two hundred miles away.
Two weeks after the swing classes ended, we returned to New Orleans for a Spring Break mission trip. Even an emotionless neanderthal like me could tell something was amiss. She had ceased laughing at my quips. I felt a much chillier reception than I was used to. Had my charms ceased working or was there trouble with the other man?
She broke up with long distance boyfriend a month or two later. I like to think I catalyzed her dissolution of a bad relationship. Please, leave me my delusions. I never got to capitalize on her singleness. I left Blacksburg immediately after the semester to train for my deployment to Iraq. That summer she started dating her husband. I like to think we both ended up with the right person.
That winter week surprised me and it foreshadowed my coming bride. I didn’t go looking for this “fling.” It fell into my proverbial lap and I simply took advantage of it as much as propriety allowed. More interesting, I crushed on an introvert for the first time. The loud extroverts always drew my short attention span, but I really enjoyed the interplay between my personality and hers. I’m selfish. I like attention. I like to hear myself talk. Introverts are more than happy to yield the spotlight. They treat you like you’re the only person in the room. With my extrovert crushes, I always had to compete with their whims, their causes, their friends, and other suitors. I could never get enough of their attention to satisfy my needs.
Manic Pixie Dream Girl #3: The Southern Belle (ENFP)
MPDG #3 was taken from the moment I met her. I couldn’t break them up because he quickly became a good friend and I knew him to be an honest man. She and I would engage in playful banter from time to time, quips that belied truths, but I never dared take it beyond that. I foolishly maintained a slim hope. I even came close to telling her how I felt once after listening to Derek Webb’s “Can’t Be With You” one too many times in Iraq. The sand does strange things to your head. Luckily, the moment passed and all such feelings vanished once I saw her marry the man of her dreams. I couldn’t be happier for them.
I include her because she fits my profile and she illustrates another sad truth of my theretofore lack-of-love life. I chased unattainable women. I always wanted what I couldn’t have. It was an easy cop out. I could chase love without actually having to deal with the consequences. Somehow, I thought I could satisfy my emotional needs with the fantasy life I formed in my head. I never had to commit. I never had to get down to the nitty gritty business of the trying to love someone.
Therein lies the ultimate danger of the fictionalized Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She fulfills our emotional desires, but it’s all an illusion. A real MPDG is a wonderful find, but the imagined one keeps a man from growing up, from truly realizing his potential. Veronica Mars, Penny Lane, and Zooey Deschanel become the Matrix that prevent us from reaching Zion.
Manic Pixie Dream Girl #4: The Perfectly Real (INFP)
It turns out my manic pixie dream girl was there all along. At the start of my sophomore year, I moved my sister into her dorm room at Liberty University. She was my sister’s roommate.
Perhaps, I was looking at the wrong concerts. My dream girl, my sister, and I hurtled down the West Virginia Turnpike at 80 miles per hour to see the OC Supertones farewell tour in Huntington, WV that fall. She avoided the pit, but I know she could kick someone’s ass if she had to. It was the start of a multitude of shared concert experiences.
Perhaps, I was looking for the wrong kind of artist. The summer after we met, she photographed my sister’s wedding. I promised her a dance, but I didn’t get to fulfill my promise until a few years later. I didn’t need an actress. I needed a photographer/painter/clothing designer. She wows me with every thing she puts on Etsy.
We had a real friendship. We read each other’s blogs when I fought in Iraq. We got to know each other devoid of fantasy and facade.
She saw me at my best. I led my last trip to the Gulf Coast in 2010. She readily signed up to join our little band of four. We worked side by side in the hot summer sun of Pass Christian, MS. I showed her how to work a nail gun and she made sure I kept drinking water. At the end of the day, they had to drag me from the work site.
She only has eyes for me. She laughs at my audacious generalizations, but sees right through my little devil’s advocate ploy. When I talk, she makes me feel like I am the only person that exists. She challenges me with her sharp mind and keen insight. Long before our first kiss, we could sit on the roof of her townhouse porch with a glass of champagne and stare at the stars.
I love my quiet manic pixie. She paints random walls in our apartment on a whim. We have one orange wall in the kitchen and one grey wall in the office. To keep her W-2 safe, she hides it so well that even she can’t find it again. She squeals with excitement when she sees Boston Terrier puppies on her computer.
She inspires me. She doesn’t keep me trapped in some college fantasy. She pushes me to something more real than I could ever have achieved before. Angelica, I love you.