Monday, December 28, 2009

The societal tea of romance that we're steeped in

On Christmas day, I watched and listened as a ten-year-old girl sang and danced along to a karaoke game. The list of songs was "for girls", each one of them a disastrous bit of romantic absurdity. If girls believe that this is what they'll be getting from the boys (or from other girls, for that matter), they are in for a sad awakening. Who is going to tell them that "I've waited my whole life to have this night with you?" The only people who talk this way are players, what I used to call sweet-talkers when I was young, and those guys are certainly not going to perform any of the other rituals of romance that we are taught to expect. The strong hand that cups the soft cheek, the hard shoulder to cry on, the soft words of tenderness, the man who "went to Jared!", the proclamations of love made on bended knee, ex-lovers who have sudden changes of heart and board planes in a hurry, their minds suddenly clear with passion and purpose, the surprises, the aha-moment apologies, the strong but silent types who cry out from rooftops their love, or yell up from the street for all the world to hear, flowers that appear at one's lousy nine-to-five job, hookers redeemed by johns who see them as they really are, Cinderella. . .I could go on for hours without end with the nonsense we're shown, even if we're not even watching. It's impossible to not hear it and see it - all the romance, the promises of romance, the stuff of romance, and then, the inevitable yearning for it, even if we reject it as nonsense. We're steeped in it from so young an age, it's impossible not to become infected with this yearning. We deserve this type of love and if we don't get it, it's because we're not good enough, or not pretty enough, or are cynical and cheating ourselves out of the possibility. Either way, we lose. We all know life is not like it is in the movies, or in books, or in pop songs. Yet, still, maybe. . .If only it was as simple as Santa Claus. Losing our belief in this fairly harmless character is not a huge blow. We never really thought he existed. It was just the make believe of childhood. But romance? Even if we know it's not really like the movies and songs, and even as we scoff at the commercials for this year's model of the banal diamond necklace that speaks of love, we are still taken in. A part of us believes forever. Some become quite bitter. Others resigned. A few, not. Again, who wins? The movie makers and the jewelry stores. I dunno.

Image note: Oh, how I didn't want to put this image up! I made a deal with myself that I'd google the word "romance" and post the top image result. Here it is: married, white (but tanned), heterosexual (of course), the pampered woman with perfect nails who holds a flower, the perfectly attentive man who wants her more than she wants him (she stares out on the scenery, but he is intoxicated by her, and her alone). It's an ad, of course. He's whisked her away to a tropical paradise. . .

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