You Mean That Annoying Buzz Is Really The Whisper Of Sweet Nothings?

Knowing that it will likely be vexing to Lexia’s readership if I deviate from this month’s Future Husband theme, I will attempt to satisfy, dear reader, your hankering to imbibe what drops of relationship wisdom I have to offer. But I have to warn you all – I’m pretty crap at relationships, as well as giving advice about them. I don’t even follow my own advice. I remember once a few years ago cautioning a shy girl friend that it’s perfectly alright for her to pursue a guy that she fancied, but should probably draw the line at appearing pathetic and needy. I then almost immediately took a number of giant leaps over said line-of-patheticness because I had a thing (okay, more than had a thing) for this guy I went to school with. I just couldn’t understand why he wasn’t madly in love with me! I mean, hello, we were perfect for each other, almost the same really. I’m still embarrassed about my behavior to this day, hence I’m still bringing up such foibles in other people’s blogs, but I try to remind myself that I was young and stupid… but then I remember that I’m still pretty crap at relationships. What I am good at, however, is science – so let’s talk science for a minute.

In last week’s online issue of the scientific journal, Science, there was a small article reporting that scientists had discovered how mosquitoes find mates (finally! I know you’ve been waiting!). Apparently when mosquitoes are in close proximity to one another, they will adjust the frequency of the buzzing made by their wings and attempt to match pitch with one another. Males are capable only of making large adjustments, and females only small ones. So females are able to pick out males from the cacophony by listening for large, sudden adjustments in frequency. Pretty cool. But the amazing thing about it is that they can’t quite match the pitch perfectly (yes I listened to the sound clips online -- if you want to embrace your inner geek they’re still available). However, they don’t create those crazy sound waves made by two close pitches being played at the same time – you know, that wavy sound you hear when tuning guitar strings or attending your little brother’s middle school band concert. It’s like the universe is okay with them being not quite the same. They don’t match perfectly, but it’s alright.

So when I was thinking about this (and I know this is a stretch, but believe me, these are the things I think about on lonely Tuesday nights) I realized that I’d already come to the realization that I’ve been being a little too over-discriminating when choosing my mate: by seeking after someone who reminds me of me, or of the ‘perfect’ guy from long ago. I’ve probably dismissed a host of otherwise perfectly suitable artists or investment banker types. And while I’ll probably never understand the motivation for being either an artist or an investment banker, that doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t get along swimmingly enough to live happily ever after and have lots of beautiful scientist/artist children. So I guess the difficulty isn’t in finding the perfect ONE mate to complete us, but to find someone close enough – someone we understand and are attracted to enough to love but are willing to make those necessary adjustments for – through all the noise.


Anonymous ian said...

I loved this post. Particularly this part: "someone we understand and are attracted to enough to love but are willing to make those necessary adjustments for – through all the noise."

Mixing entomology and relationship advice? Brilliant!

July 26, 2006 3:30 AM  
Blogger Yvonne said...

I love it, too, Lexia. You have a bunch of talented writer-friends. I love your posts, too. So keep on expanding! Great blog ;o)

July 26, 2006 9:56 AM  
Blogger Jacki said...

Wow... I was sucked in! I never found so much excitement in mosquitoes! I now like them, hate their bites, but I have a deepened respect for what I once called a pest!

July 26, 2006 4:05 PM  
Anonymous madison said...

Wow, great post!

It reminded me of a Tom Robbins quote...

We waste time looking for the perfect lover, instead of creating the perfect love.

Being somewhat of a nature documentary addict, your analogy made me think of other interesting mating habits that could also be insightful.

The male bower bird builds a complex and highly decorated structure (a bower) to attract mates. Always colorful, the bowers may contain hundreds of shells, leaves, flowers, feathers, stones, or berries.
Unfortunately, this technique has never been tried on me.

Birds of Paradise have amazing plumage and dance for their mates.
This is often the approach I take.

White-winged trumpeters practice cooperative polyandry, which involves several males.
Hello extreme Mormons

The males of some species of angler fish physically attach themselves to females... and stay that way for life!
I believe we have all met people like this.

We don't even need to get into the mating habits of praying mantises.

Well, maybe those are stretches as well. But, they seem to make them happy.

July 27, 2006 10:06 AM  
Anonymous Pamela said...

I like that quote, that's totally where I was going with that. Tom Robbins is great. Dig through all the whacked out plot lines (um, 'still life with woodpecker?') and you can find those little gems.

July 27, 2006 11:14 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Aw, this makes me want to go back into the science field via graduate school in physiology or microbiology. :(

This was a superb post -- the perfect blend of science writing and creative writing. (I don't make a distinction between science and writing in general because I think the two really go hand in hand and generate some beautiful words together.)

Capital! Capital!

July 27, 2006 3:05 PM  
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August 05, 2006 6:28 AM  

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