Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Shhh.... Don't tell

OK, I am opening my book of secrets, and here is one for you:

I watch romance movies sometimes.

Don't misunderstand... it doesn't happen often, and I will take Aliens over Titanic any day. But, every now and again, the estrogen intrudes and I watch a sappy, romantic, sweet movie and start to feel all mushy inside.

I watched Evening over the weekend. It's about a mother on her death bed sharing with her daughters the tragic story of her one true love. It smacks of Fried Green Tomatoes (apparently, it is some unwritten law of fiction that charming, blue-eyed characters named Buddy have to bite it). It, like everything else, got me thinking.

Why is it that in love stories when everything works out at the end and people end up getting together, that is a romantic comedy? Apparently, happy endings come with hijinx. But, when it is a serious story, there has to be some kind of tragedy. Think about it...

Nicholas Sparks writes love stories that aren't comedic, and I refuse to watch them because of his insinuation that love is only beautiful and possible if someone dies at the end. This is true of so many other romances, though... think about it. The Way We Were, Snow Falling on Cedars, Untamed Heart-- all great love stories, but there is no happy ending. When Harry Met Sally, Pretty Woman, While You Were Sleeping, all goofy and funny and everyone lives happily ever after. The only exception I can think of is Love in the Time of Cholera, but even in that book it takes them seventy years of heart ache to get to the point where they get to be together. I find that, in and of itself, tragic.

Love is, apparently, only beautiful if it is laced with sadness. Poe postulated on this in his work. I am guilty of it myself, and when everyone has the opportunity to read Max and Menna you will truly recognize the hipocrisy in what I am saying.

Years ago, this is something I wouldn't have been able to comprehend. Now, it irritates me slightly, but I get it. Why? Because the kind of love most of us find is boring for spectators.

I think of my most favorite memories of being with him-- my blue-eyed boy from the Chinese restaurant-- and they were simple, and quiet, and so privately wonderful. Average Consumer doesn't want to pay $10 to watch two people sit on a couch watching Law and Order and laughing. But those were my favorite moments-- knowing I was coming home to someone to listen to me talk, and someone who knew when to put their arm around me and make me feel better no matter how stupid the reason that precipitated my hysteria was.

And here is another secret-- I always knew that my love story would end in tragedy. I wouldn't admit it then, because those nights on the couch with Chinese food and silly Pauly Shore movies were the happiest of my life.

But now, now I know why I am so reticent to talk about it. I don't want to be defined by this story. I want this to be a footnote in my biography, and perhaps discussing it too much will make it a chapter. Heaven help me if it makes the back cover copy.

Nonetheless, it is important, and every time my sappy side rears its ugly head and I throw some pink, frilly DVD in, I start thinking of these things.

And how there are so many secrets left to tell.

1 comment:

  1. Tragedy, and to a lesser extent comedy, are used as literary love tools in literature (and film), because that's what we want. We want to suffer that loss in a way that, if it's well written, we can feel down to the very depths of who we are knowing full well that we can close the book and it will not be real. We want to feel the pain of loss without having to wake up without him (or her). The books that touch us most deeply, that stay with us, are the ones that make us feel with the most intensity. What good is a book about love if we can't feel it? Like you said, describing two people sitting on a couch watching TV, while they may be able to feel the love, I can't.

    Two things you absolutely MUST read:

    The first is Milan Kundera's 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being'. It is one of my very favourite books. No great tragedy, no great comedy. Just love and lust in real (fictional) life. A line you might find particularly pointed given this discussion (the commentary in this situation is on the composition of life): "It is wrong, then, to chide the novel for being fascinated by mysterious coincidences (like the meeting of Anna, Vronsky, the railway station, and death or the meeting of Beethoven, Tomas, Tereza, and the cognac), but it is right to chide man for being blind to such coincidences in his daily life. For he thereby deprives him life of a dimension of beauty."

    The second is the chapter entitled "This is Emo 0:01" from Chuck Klosterman's book 'Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs'. It starts with the line "No woman will ever satisfy me." It's an essay on how movies like 'Say Anything' have completely fucked up an entire generation (and now their spawn) by creating a world where love is either Sparks-ian or doomed to failure and therefore we all expect some impossible ideal of what love is "supposed to be" without ever really being okay with what love actually is. I think I have a copy in my email somewhere. I'll see if I can find it for you.