Monday, January 23, 2006

The course of true love

This glorious post by Shoe-fiend got me thinking about the many different ways in which the media puts all these ideas of what is romantic in our heads, without cautioning us about the risk factors involved. We soak up all these images of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie being all passionate and shit, and no one ever warns us that it's all about stunt doubles and special effects and there's no way that ordinary mortals like you and I can pull this stuff off without doing serious bodily harm. Make love in a field in the rain and you're almost certain to get pneumonia. Try lifting a woman in your arms and carrying her up to the bedroom and you'll be lucky if you get away with just a slipped disc or two. And that's if she's thin.

When are people going to realise that romance is a serious hazard to public health? Shouldn't the surgeon general be doing something about it? I mean, it almost feels like every saccharine romantic comedy should come with a notice at the start that says: "Caution. These actions are performed by professionals. DO NOT try them at home."

Take it from me: if you want to have a happy, long-lasting relationship you want to steer absolutely clear of all romantic gestures. They never work the way you want them to. There's always a catch that you haven't thought about and you end up either looking really foolish (if you're lucky) or fighting bitterly with someone you used to love.

Take this whole taking showers together thing, for instance. It sounds all sexy and intimate doesn't it? What they don't tell you is that different people have different tolerance for hot and cold water. So sure, it's all romantic and stuff if you both happen to have a similar preferred temperature to shower at, but if one of you likes their showers tepid and the other isn't happy unless he / she can feel the scald of the water on his / her skin, you've got issues. You'll be in the middle of a really passionate moment. You'll step into the shower together, looking deep into each other's eyes. Thirty seconds later one of you will be jumping out of the shower, screaming. There will be bewilderment, there'll be recrimination. If you're smart you'll just call the whole thing off right there and go sit in front of the television and watch football. More likely though, you'll spend the next five minutes petulantly turning the shower knob back and forth, your tempers rising all the time, until finally she'll be throwing the ring in your face and you'll be telling her how you slept with her best friend that weekend she was away to see her sick grandmother. Yet another relationship down the drain. Literally.

And you know how in the movies men are always whipping up these super-romantic meals for their wives / girlfriends, to make them feel special and loved and stuff? Don't even think about it. I remember trying it once. I was on vacation and staying with my then girlfriend and I figured it would be a really marvellous gesture. So I went down to the supermarket after she'd left for work and picked up candles, a bottle of Riesling (along with a corkscrew - I wasn't going to fall for that old catch, ha! ha!) and some pasta and settled down to make the romantic meal of the century. I had it all laid out in my head - soft candlelight, gleaming silverware, Chopin in the background, a little wine, a little poetry and then, to top it all, some delectable penne. What woman could resist?

It didn't quite work out that way. To begin with, I remembered at some point in the evening that I didn't actually know how to cook pasta - so that there followed an hour of desperate Internet searches and panicked phone calls to friends. Much frenzied chopping, boiling, sieving and other P2C2E's later, I finally managed something that was well, edible, but by this point the kitchen looked like a miniature version of Pompeii after the eruption and I barely had time to change out of my marinara sauce covered apron before my girlfriend was home. Never mind, I thought. A few etudes, some generous portions of white wine and a little Neruda, and she probably wouldn't notice.

Things I hadn't considered: a) My girlfriend didn't have any wine glasses; worse, she didn't have any glasses at all (all she had, in true PhD fashion, was styrofoam cups) b) There were no matches in the house. This meant that in order to light the candles we had to ignite a scrap of paper by placing it on the stove until it caught fire. This worked, but it set the fire alarm off so we were forced to throw open all the windows, and then sit freezing in our jackets while the smoke cleared and all her neighbours came by to stare. It also meant that we ended up with little specks of half burnt paper in our wine. AND the wind came and blew the candles out, so we were back to square one. c) At the last minute, her stereo system stopped playing CDs, so we were forced to fall back on radio. d) In all the excitement of dealing with these multiple crises (and minding the pasta, which was starting to take on strange alien shapes) I didn't actually have time to get to the Neruda.

By the time it was all over, my super romantic gesture consisted of sitting in a bitterly cold room, listening to Metallica on the radio, eating cold, congealed pasta and drinking wine out of coffee mugs. Oh, and then spending the next two hours cleaning up the mess in the kitchen so that by the time I was done my girlfriend was already asleep. I should so have ordered in chinese. At least that way we wouldn't both have had indigestion the next day.

P.S. Mom, Dad, the bit about the showers is ENTIRELY HYPOTHETICAL. Honest.

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Neela said...

tsk tsk.

and to think just yesterday I went home to prawn pulao nicely cooking in the oven, a cup of hot tea before and some lovely ice-cream after. oh and all the dishes were done.

tomorrow, its pasta puttanesca with a salad and some wine. or maybe it'll be baked fish in rosemary and thyme. or mangalorean chicken curry. or reshmi kebabs.

its not only in the movies that men whip up super-romantic meals for their partners. (insert evil laughter here).


Falstaff said...

neela: Have I mentioned recently how much I hate you? Let me get this straight - he's the one who has a job and accounts for 95% of your household income. Plus he cooks and cleans and generally keeps house?? what exactly is your contribution to this marriage again?

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

Thank you for the kind mention - am very much honoured!

I would like to add another movie created romance myth to your list -having sex on the beach. Sand entering various orifices/thinking that your stroking your loved ones hair and finding out its rotting sea weed - the crabs! What on earth is desirable about any of those things?

And Neela - really where did you find this man? He's a figment of your imagination, yes?

ozymandiaz said...

Ah, shoe fiend has illuminated the worst of all romantic faux pas, the making of the love on the beach. Living in Florida I have attempted this feat on no less than five occasions with only one semi successful, more humorous than sexy time. But then again, from what I have learned humor is the most romantic thing of all. As for the cooking…you should fist off be able to cook. That I would think would be obvious but moreover you should be somewhere you are familiar with. It isn’t that romance is a misnomer; it’s the idea that a misconceived gesture is romantic. I have taken many a hot and sexy shower with the opposite sex. I have cooked many a meal leading to a romantic evening. Moonlit walks on the beach, evenings by the fireplace, the reading of the poetry, it all works.

Veena said...

Nah - this never happens to me. I will tell you what happens. After a perfect dinner(Malabar fish curry, Temparnillo and tiramisu) with candles and poetry and all that jazz, we end up with two extremely bored people wondering when we can get done with this romantic evening nonsense and get on with life. That is what's tragic, I tell you.

And could you please send me the journal in which you found out that both parties have to contribute to the marriage? I need it send the paper to the boy.

Neela said...

I book tickets (student discount) to the new york philharmonic.


Falstaff said...

shoe-fiend: The honour is all mine. Never tried the beach sex bit - From Here to Eternity notwithstanding - but thanks for the tip.

Oz: ya, ya, rub it in, why don't you

Veena: That is tragic.

The irony is that every time I do one of my failed romantic gestures, I actually end up having a pretty good time, as does the other person - my ex-girlfriend LOVED the dinner for instance - it's just that I'm not at the point yet where I'm willing to accept that my USP is lovable klutz as opposed to sexy seducer.

Neela: That's it?! Hell, even I can do that (are you attending the Mozart thing on Friday, btw?) - maybe i should get to know your husband better....

meditativerose said...

Have you heard of TUMPs btw ... think you should accept that as your USP :)

Also, re the discount tickets .. I guess you're trying anyway ;)

Heh Heh said...


Falstaff said...

MR: Right. That's all I need - relationship advice from Wendy Cope.

Also, what is it with people on this comments page showing off with things they learnt from ME? First Neela with her NY Philharmonic student tickets, now you with TUMPS.

Heh: :-). So I take it you don't believe that love makes the world go round?

Neela said...

excusez-moi falstaff??

I learnt about discount tics from YOU?? or did I learn from you that an adequate contribution to marriage is to buy discount tickets? Or maybe I learnt about the NY Philharmonic from you?

Dear one, so sorry to rain on your parade, but you must learn NOT to take credit for everyone's cleverness: some of us do think enough to Marry Carefully, you know just so that we don't have to suffer the indignities of congealed pasta.

also I must confess I am bewildered. On the one hand, you write nonchalantly about staying with your girlfriend, on the other hand you hasten to assure parents that the shower thing is entirely hypothetical. And exactly who in your family has the limited intelligence to believe that you stayed with a romantic partner but have only a theoretical idea about sharing shower space?


P.S see you friday!!

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