We, as human beings, love to categorize each other. Astrology and Myers-Briggs and Buzzfeed quizzes all scratch some primal itch that drives us to imagine if we can simply fit others neatly into the perfect taxonomical system they can never surprise or hurt us again. What fools we are! What utter children, grasping about in the dark for knowledge, taking solace in magical thinking. Because none of these systems work, any more than horomancy or divination using entrails.
I’m sorry to those who cling to meaningless utterances like “I’m an INTJ” or “The thing about me is that I’m such a Virgo”—it’s tough to face the truth that you’ve been suckered, I know—but luckily I am here to replace all of those false systems with the truth. The one (real) weird trick to figuring out if and how you are compatible with another person: Is 9 p.m. early or is it late?
Don’t think too much about it, just answer. Let your heart speak what it knows. For me, currently in my life, 9 p.m. is late. When I was a child, obviously, 9 p.m. was almost mystically late; a forbidden hour at which point I knew deep down that television got really good. For most of my 20s it was early, because I did a lot of drugs in my 20s and also I was able to do things like string together sentences or perform simple addition on less than eight hours of sleep. It became late when I got married and moved to Minnesota because, well, I was married and living in Minnesota. It switched to being early again for a couple of years post-election because of persistent insomnia and also the reappearance of many drugs in my life since fuck it, why not?
The point here—the really key thing about this question and why it says so much—is that unlike a personality test that claims to reveal some immutable character trait, “Is 9 p.m. early or late?” merely describes your current orientation to the wider world.
There is no moral judgment about the answer, simply some unavoidable conclusions. It is very difficult for me to date an “It’s early” person when I am deep in an “It’s late” phase. I’ve tried, and it never ends well! Eventually you are both putting pants on to go somewhere at 10 and one of you is really fucking over it.
However, I love maintaining friendships with “It’s early” people no matter what phase I’m in, because they’re fun and spontaneous and will text you the minute Trump has covid-19.
“It’s late” people are important to keep around too, since they can be relied upon for a great many important things like getting brunch while places are still serving brunch and make excellent emergency contacts.
It’s all about balance really, but you can only cultivate that balance by knowing and accepting the truth. Start asking yourself and your friends the one really important question in life: Is 9 p.m. early or is it late?