Sunday, July 12, 2009

Romantic Comedy Stars

Sallie and I were talking about this tonight. The only thing I miss about being a single guy is I can’t be the loner underdog hero chasing the woman of his dreams anymore. It’s a romantic concept right? Novels, songs, and movies are almost exclusively written about that person, whether man or woman. It’s a story that sells because we can all tell our own personal version of that story.

There’s the catch 22 though. That story is romantic unless you are that loner underdog hero chasing the woman of your dreams, because when you are him, life seems miserable. You might as well be a guy crying on a Smith’s record sleeve while Morrissey sings about never ending depression.

The single game is a bunch of alcohol induced random encounters just like cold sharp space rocks colliding, leaving pieces of them behind. When you’re there, you hope to Christ that you ram into another cold lonely asteroid and lock up. For the most part, the Sun’s gravitational pull just spins you around with the millions of other cold space rocks aimlessly wandering around space.

It’s strange being one of the few monogamous animals on the planet. Think about all the mental armor we have to wear to endure the rejection and games of “one partner” when other animals merely work as a group and only mate to procreate. That’s almost a weirder concept. We are so removed from animal instinct that we lock animals into cages to observe them as a strange beast when only a few thousand years ago we weren’t different. We have a psyche that needs to bond on an unattainably deep level. Think about the person you love. Now try to think about that same “love” as only a matter of procreation. Delete the dating process. Delete the emotional bond. Delete the pain that cuts so deep only someone that you truly love as a human can cause it.

All of it wouldn’t exist. Things would be simpler. Ninety percent of all the reasons you ever feel depressed is gone. You either mate or you don’t. If you don’t, there’s another mating season just around the corner.

Marriage has caused my writing to suffer. There used to be too many nights were I would come home after the awful process of dating beyond high school (High school is the last you can accurately describe a date with an adjective like “cute”) and just be fed up with the world. I would come home after five awkward beers with a girl, proving that real romance was dead, and chug another beer while I tapped out 30 of the most love bitter pages I could. (Can’t wait for my first novel right? It’s coming, trust me.) I treated life like I was the divorced amputated heart of love and it was turning gangrene long before the surgery. I started thinking I’d be alone when I was fifty. I would be one of those pompous, over-rated hermit writers like Salinger. (Just for the record, Salinger can never be over-rated. The man is great. Just read the short story “For Esme: With Love and Squalor. You’ll fall in love. He is however, somewhat of a hermit.)

I knew who I was going to marry. It was going to be this tattooed riot girl that was against marriage. We would only get married to stick it to the government and get their tax break.

Then Sallie came along and flipped everything upside down. It only took three beers and the next thing I knew, I was no longer the single underdog guy. I was a blissful walking cliché. I was another human connecting to that deep emotional bond. It was scary. I didn’t want to be that. I wanted to take on the man and be studied like an animal. Instead I bought collared shirts and got hired by a large company. The thing is, I don’t care. I’m happy. I wish I could write with the vigor I once had, but I remember that guy. That guy settled . That guy lived with four other guys just to have cheap rent. That guy didn’t do barbeques or family events. Even though I completely feel out of my element at all the aforementioned events, I can do them now because I know on the way home I’ll be sharing a car with someone who will spend the first fifteen minutes making fun of how awful it was and then crank up the Foo Fighters and sing at the top of her lungs with me.

“Everyone’s their own star of their romantic comedy, but they’re full of sh*t.” Even though Hank Moody is a fictional character, he’s onto something here. We all know how our story should end but we have trouble living in the middle of our movie. We want the attraction and the romance, not the hour of heartbreak, tears, and betrayal you have to go through to get there.