A Courtship of Change and Choices
Mary didn’t want to admit that the drawcard for coming to tonight’s class reunion was to chance an encounter with her former chemistry lab partner and secret crush, Brock Jones.
Winning the high school talent show with his acoustic guitar and dulcet tones catapulted him well beyond the reach of ‘everyday’ Mary Jones back in high school. The cool kids nicknamed him ‘Brock-i-lee Jones’; it played on the name of a well-known celebrity at the time. From there, the stage name ‘Broccoli Jones’ was coined.
Mary had a crush on Brock well before he was a famous vegetable.
Brock had gone from local talent show winner to now avidly working in songwriting, performing on stage and was the guy writing a US songstress’ greatest hits. Tonight he was booked to perform and the venue was abuzz with excitement about him.
“I hear he’s driving an electric car, has an apartment overlooking the harbour, and he’s still got that killer smile and flowing chestnut mane of hair,” Mary overheard one of his other adoring fans gush.
And there he was. He stepped through the door, long coat flowing and guitar slung over his back. He made his way over to the group, looking every bit the rockstar they were waiting for. Some of the girls surrounded him and went in for hugs and sly kisses on his cheeks.
He said his hellos, and someone went off to get him a drink. With a lot of people around him, Mary didn’t think she’d even get a chance to say a proper hello. He was unreachable again, just like he was in high school. She decided to cut her losses and leave.
As she approached the door she heard his unmistakable greeting, “Hello, Mary-Lou.” It had been years since she’d heard him say her name, and it sent butterflies aflutter – a nervous sixteen-year-old all over again. “You weren’t going to leave without at least saying hello, were you?”
Those sea-green eyes still sparkled after so many years. “Hey Brock,” she replied, wanting to come across as if he wasn’t her sole reason for being there. Remnants of lipstick remained on his cheeks and a couple of smudges were visible on his collar too. Her breath sharpened as she thought of adding her own shade to his collection.
“So, you’re writing and playing music for a living – like you’d always dreamed,” she offered. Brock smiled, “You remember,” he reflected. Long before the talent show he’d confided in her that’s what he wanted to do in life but wasn’t all that confident he’d make it work. She had encouraged him to enter the competition, which had really set him on his path.
“And you were going to ….” And his words trailed off. “Yeah, I didn’t know,” she admitted coyly. “Do you know now?” he asked.
“I want to work in music therapy,” she began and then paused with a roll of her eyes. He leant forward to hear more from her. Mary explained she had severallevels of a course to complete, that would give her a much better job and pay, but some of the parts of the course didn’t feel relative to her, and her motivation had waned. Logically, Mary knew what she needed to do to move forward but contemplating all those assessments had held her back.
“Yeah, I wrote a lot of stuff I didn’t want to before now,” he offered, “but I did have help,” he conceded as a nod to her encouragement to him so long ago now. “Let’s see if this would work,” and he offered her a proposal.
Brock outlined that each week if Mary completed a module, he’d take her out for dinner. If she didn’t complete it, she had to take him out for dinner, and to a pricey restaurant indicative of the money she’d be earning if she had the new job.
Mary couldn’t quite believe what she was hearing. “Brock, are you,” she stammered a little taken aback, was he really proposing a series of dates?
“You’re not the only one with an unrequited high school crush, Mary-Lou,” he pursed his lips and looked down at Mary, “and sometimes you just have to feel the fear, do the talent show, ask out the pretty girl from chemistry, or take on the daunting study – change isn’t easy, but it can be worth it.” He delicately kissed her forehead and gave her a wink. “You’re going to stay for the show, right?”
Mary smiled and took in a deep breath – it was time to embrace change and take on the difficulty of those modules, and if that meant embracing Broccoli Jones as well, how hard could it be?
Psychological studies show we’re less incentivised for the ‘promise of money’ than we are actual cash in hand, or worse, the prospect of losing money. A penalty for non-completion of a task is more motivating than gaining a monetary reward in the future. If there’s a course or qualification that will earn you more money you may need additional motivation to see if through – doing something that aligns with your heart as well as your bank account may entice you enough to go for it!
Thaler, R.H. & Sunstein, C.R. (2008) Nudge. London: Yale University Press
Hammond, C (2016), Mind over Money.
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