“I love— Ah, shaddup!”
A part of me believes in the fairy tales. The other part?
Well, it’s no surprise marriage has become a 50/50 deal, let’s put it that way.
The older I get, the less likely I believe in anything that starts with “Once upon a time.” Experience has taught me the traumatic realities of human frailty, arrogance and dumb fuckin’ luck.
Doctors are not gods. Neither are lawyers. The bad guys aren’t always caught and convicted. And the case is hardly ever cut-and-dried, black-and-white, except in motion pictures.
The only benefit I ever derive from nine/tenths of the motion pictures out there is a prurient peek at Adam and Eve after the fall (save for the miraculous rare small, quiet films that almost restore my faith in substantive entertainment, “About Schmidt,” “One Hour Photo,” “Eyes Wide Shut”).
Did Adam and Eve ever really love each other? After all, theirs was an arranged marriage, which hardly lasted after the interloper—dressed in snake’s clothing—tempted the bitch with food for thought.
I know I love.
The problem is, the kind of love.
All my life – yours too, probably – I was brought up to believe in heart-pounding, soul mate love, where the guy would do anything to have the girl and they’d never get tired of each other until death do they part.
The romantic in me conflicted with the nitpicking analytical obsessive-compulsive pragmatic in me, resulting in some comedic moments.
I wanted so desperately to fall in love, I decided to plan it out, like a Fellini movie, with a “Sound of Music” soundtrack. I even wrote out lists of characteristics desired most in a mate, names, dates, places, for my wedding, honeymoon, 2.5 children, white picket fence. He wouldn’t have long hair. His hair would be blond. He’d always keep his nails cut very short, almost to the point of bleeding. He’d never chew with his mouth open, like my disgusting pig of a younger brother always did. He’d definitely be at least two inches taller than me, have crinkly blue eyes, broad shoulders, a laugh that tickled my nose and never ever for the love of God wore Angel Flights.
I thought I found him several times. I honestly did.
But you can’t seriously conduct a courtship in 4th grade during a statewide flood, at least not when Brannon’s head over heels for the more demure feminine Rebecca in the next class. Or 7th grade, making eyes at Bobby across the cafeteria over a hoagie and chocolate milk. Mark in 10th grade seemed a golden dream come true, until he came out. The other Mark, too, from 9th grade. Russell thought he was a ninja, there went that idea. Jon would’ve been okay, except he always apologized after he came, and I think he liked the Japanese imports—and Michelle Taira—way too much. Tom wanted to shift organs, I just wanted him to find the right hole. The other Tom couldn’t talk other than as a prelude to a bad fuck.
Talk about lists.
No matter. I planned, and I hoped, and I believed with the same idealism as that eight-year-old girl who lived on Disney and the “Brady Bunch,” that my Mr. Glass would take one look at me from across the crowded cocktail party, run toward me—with an orchestra playing “Moon River,” natch—and on bended knee, propose everlasting love.
Cue the waves at sunset.
John McGuire attempted to dissolve that illusion perfunctorily over Buffalo Wings and mozzarella sticks at TGI Fridays with other co-worker friends one late evening, circa 1987.
“Love can be manipulated,” he said, smiling at me, looking so handsome. (Oh yeah, I had a major crush on the man who would help bring my 2.5 children into this world, har har ... he wed a nice Japanese-American girl and had four daughters 10 years later.) “It’s simply a matter of biology. Pick any two people at random and put them in a lab. They can be made to fall in love.”
I argued vehemently that love isn’t concocted, but just happens, as in destiny, as in soul mates.
Pretty pink pastel eyes.
Robb pretty much told me the same thing, FF to the years 2000-2002. “Love is for the weak. Sex is for fools,” being his running mantra. “Look, Carol, the only reason we pair-bond is to procreate. We’re biologically made to screw around. The companionship is just secondary. But there’s no grand romance in any of that.”
Drat. I’d had a crush on Robb too. I thought he loved me, but he only loved rocks; rather, rock climbing to avoid thinking about his divorce and his own personal, private crush on his favorite climbing partner, Shane. I’d been a mental diversion, biology thwarted into megabytes.
My fault, actually.
Remember fairy tales and my control freak nature?
I actually think I can coerce, hypnotize, seduce, manipulate the situation to my romantic advantage. IOW, MAKE a man, any man I desire, love me back. I can predict from first glance who will be my lifelong partner. It’s just a matter of convincing the dolt.
But that’s not love either, sitting around plotting and ready to pounce.
Love happened to me in the oddest of places – outside a music store – in the most ordinary of circumstances – “Hi, nice camera.” – no sunset, no multiple orgasms, no fairy tale preamble. Just quiet conversation and this knowing.
A year later, I married my ... musician, confidante, best friend, husband and father of our child, the only man who fell in love before I noticed well in advance to make up that goddamned list, the only man who said those three words first, and meant them, from a pay phone in the middle of winter in the middle of a busy Tokyo on a gig touring with a fake Elvis, the only man who can give me a real orgasm from intercourse.
He’s not blond, though.
But hey, it IS love. Just not in the movies and the songs and the bullshit fairy tales that I can’t help, every now and then, looking back on when I was too young, too naive to realize never really existed.
That kind of love is hard to get over.
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