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The Non-Expert

Does She Love You?

Experts answer what they know. The Non-Expert answers anything. And it’s that time of year when we return to a reader’s old but timeless question: How can you tell if a girl loves you or not?

The Milkmaid, ca. 1660, Johannes Vermeer.

Have a question? Need some advice? Ignored by everyone else? Send us your questions via email. The Non-Expert handles all subjects and is updated on Fridays, and is written by a member of The Morning News staff.

Question: How do I know if a girl loves me or not? —Ajay

Answer: If one night you go out drinking and end up back at her place, pass out together on the bed with your shoes on, and wake up a few hours later only to discover that you’ve peed the bed, which she takes in stride, changes the sheets, and then the next morning has a laugh about it, later leaves some pamphlets from the local health clinic about child bedwetters in your mailbox, and eventually after a few weeks tells your friends but never, ever tells hers: She loves you.

If she knows what song is coming next on the mix CD you made her: She loves you.

If she hides your shoes when you’re late for work, and from a supine position on the couch plays “Hot/Cold,” and, finally, after 15 minutes of you ignoring her screaming, “Boiling! Burning up!” every time you stalk angrily by the dishwasher, gets up, flips it open to reveal the shoes, sitting there among the plates, and hands them over with a kiss and a giggle, and then laughs some more as you tie your laces in a silent rage: She loves you.

If she calls you at work that day to ask, “How are those shoes working out?”: She loves you.

If when you get home you try to hide something of hers, she finds it immediately, shaking her head, and when she pulls whatever it is—oven mitts or stretch pants—from behind the couch, she looks at you and without any attempt to hide her pity, says, “I love you”: She loves you.

If you’re Gael García Bernal: She loves you.

If you’re not Gael García Bernal, but you’re willing to sit through a “GGB” marathon and agree for 10 consecutive hours that he is indeed the most beautiful and talented man alive—and so down-to-earth, too!—and afterward agree that his portrayal of Che Guevara would have earned an Oscar nod were it not for the implicit politics, agree that taking Spanish classes is a great idea, or salsa, or tango, whatever, agree, agree, agree, and that night lying in bed after sex that ends with her screaming, “Si! Si!” wonder aloud, “But you’re happy with me, right?”: She loves you, man—no one can compete with that Latin bastard. Forget about it.

If she puts up with an entire Stars of the Lid album on a long-distance road trip: She loves you.

If she dances with your friends: She loves you.

If at Halloween you’re invited to a TV- and movie-themed party and she dresses up as Winnie Cooper and you dress up as Paul Pfeiffer, mainly because you already have the glasses, and at the party some guy who’s a dead ringer for Fred Savage saunters up, peels off his mole, and says, “Get lost, Paul, Winnie’s mine,” and you’re left standing there while the two of them go off dancing to the soundtrack from Forrest Gump, and when two hours later she finds you sitting by the punch bowl explaining for the umpteenth time that, no, you’re not supposed to be Woody Allen, she holds up a tie stolen from a passed-out Alex P. Keaton to her petticoat and redubs herself Annie Hall, and you Alvy Singer: She loves you. And, to be honest, I sort of love you, too.

If she ever says the words, “I hate you,” she loves you. Or she did at one point, anyway.

If she’s a zombie: She loves you, but only for your brains.

If she says, “I love you” on the roller coaster, right after you’ve puked down your shirt: She loves you.

If you go to a karaoke bar with friends and do a duet of “Endless Love,” and she insists on doing the Lionel Richie part if only so she can really belt out a big “Ooh whoa” near the end, and when you’re done she announces you to the crowd as “Miss Diana Ross, everybody,” and then gives you a high-five: She loves you.

If she plays pointedly with strangers’ babies at the park, intermittently looking over to you with an expression that says, “See?”: She loves you.

If her parents love you: She loves you, probably.

If her parents hate you: She might love you, too.

If she’s the youngest of four sisters, two of whom are lesbians, the third a nun, and the first time you meet her father he pulls you away from his wife’s gingersnaps and homemade iced tea to check out the vintage “titty mags” he keeps hidden underneath a bench in the six-by-four corner of the basement he calls his workshop, the only place in the house not painted lavender and decorated with images of kittens and/or sunflowers, and every few pages he points out a particularly luxuriant pubis, and when you concur—“Sweet”—he smacks you heartily on the back and before you know it he’s calling you “Son” and have you ever fished for pike up north? Because he’s got a cabin. What of this? Well, her dad sure as hell loves you. Welcome to the family!

If she ever says the words, “I hate you”: She loves you. Or she did at one point, anyway.

If she loves you, if she really loves you, you’ll know it. If you can wake up to her staring at you and it’s not even mildly creepy, if you catch her smelling the shoulder of the hooded sweatshirt you lent her for an autumn walk at the beach, and not for B.O., if she makes you a pancake in the shape of a shark, if she calls you drunkenly at four in the morning “to talk,” if she laughs at your jokes when they’re funny and makes fun of you when they’re not, if she keeps her fridge stocked with Guinness tallboys for when you come over, if she tells you how she wishes she were closer to her sister and that her dad makes her sad: She loves you, of course she loves you.

And with a love like that, you know you should be glad.

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TMN Contributing Writer Pasha Malla is the author of four books. He is also the head of TMN’s informal panel of film critics. He lives in Toronto. More by Pasha Malla