i want to start this blog by saying one of my favorite words:
one, because i haven’t written, let alone published a post in three months, and two, because this particular post has been the hardest i’ve ever had to write. it might be because i’m worried about offending people. when you set out to shit on such a gooey movie like love actually, you’re bound to infuriate pretty much everyone.
the idea for this post began two weeks ago while i was visiting my friend in orange county, california, a place where people actually say shit like right on and gnarly! and my pronunciation of the word water sorely sticks out.
i sat on her couch/my bed for the weekend and tapped a bunch of random notes on my phone’s notepad. they looked something like this:
movies, reaching for the same bottle of wine
jerry seinfeld dating himself (janeane garofalo)
compatibility vs. boredom
and then we were sitting in a breakfast spot called the old vine café, talking about what we always talk about: relationships. we generally take a hacksaw to them and their origins, trying to figure out why most pairings slacken, the honeymoon phase is just that, and boredom can delicately wind itself into our lives in such a sickening, slow way that we don’t realize it’s there until we have been nearly strangled.
i remember a time not long ago when i had vivid daydreams in the aisles of grocery stores and subway cars, and between the shelves of bookstores. i’d think about what it would be like to meet someone in places like these. maybe we would both reach for the last unsweetened coconut almond milk. or we’d both be reading a young adult book no one else had ever heard of, our eyes catching as we finished the page we were on. or we’d simultaneously go to touch a book like goodnight moon, and the first moment we’d both had it read to us would play like a vhs tape in our heads.
i took to heart the compatibility ratings on match, okcupid, and e-harmony. and when i messaged men who i thought i couldn’t go wrong with—
he also likes tennis and lifting weights. he speaks spanish too! and, like you, he’s an only child with the same birth month!
—i took pains in writing first messages and responses, only to be disappointed many times over.
lots of women, and men, too, to be honest, live their lives as if love will—and should—be found and cultured within minutes in a modern fairy-tale setting (i.e., serendipitously in an a&p, the adult equivalent to a child finding a key to a magic kingdom in a clichéd chapter book). we also take common interests and the coincidences of having the same “favorites,” and mistake them for chemistry.
you like unsweetened coconut almond milk too?!
compatibility, sure. chemistry, not necessarily.
for the record, i learned how to crack my knuckles when i was ten because the guy i liked cracked his. i thought having this in common would make him like me. i am sad to admit this.
at the end of the day, you can have the same cultural background, religion, political ideology, and fiscal opinions, love red wine but hate white, and be obsessed with curb your enthusiasm, but it can still equal not right. and many people, when they realize this, are dumbfounded. their mate, on paper, is perfect for them. you’d be a 100-percent match in nearly every how compatible are you? relationship quiz in cosmo magazine. you guys just makes sense! your families get along really well! you both like parrots (for whatever reason)! you think ugly christmas sweater parties are stupid and passé! you both think using a word like passé isn’t at all pretentious! he’s a really great guy! he treats you like gold! he knows how to cook and you can’t scramble eggs!
relationships, my friend and i have hypothesized, successful ones, anyway, are less about compatibility and more about not getting bored.
so you’re all like, isn’t that uppity of you to think you know what’s a successful relationship and what isn’t!
probably. so i’ll let this quote from the huffington post online say it instead:
“a successful relationship is where the honeymoon period continues to snowball, not where the honeymoon is but a fond memory.”
one night when i was in college, i was in a car driven by our designated driver and a friend’s then-boyfriend/now husband, and we’d just left one of the two bars worth going to within a five-mile radius of our college. the girl and my other friend, plus another girl (i’ll call her acquaintance for accuracy’s sake) were also in the car, and acquaintance was knocking a girl whom a guy she liked had “chosen” instead of her when the lights had gone up after last call. she was spewing all kinds of nonsense that would have caused a person listening but who hadn’t met the target to think this girl had three eyes and the personality of a baby jellyfish. such ridicule included the following types of statements (types because i was a bit too drunk to remember specifics):
- “but we both love the mets! she doesn’t even like baseball!”
- “she’s cute but she’s not that cute”
- “doesn’t she have kind of a funny-looking [insert arbitrary body part]?”
- “and we’re both poly-sci majors!”
this rant went on for a mile or so, and while my two friends and i stuffed our mouths with quikchek sandwiches as both a method of distraction and to prevent ourselves from yelling, “shut the fuck up!” my friend’s then-boyfriend finally snapped. at a red light, he didn’t even bother to turn around. he simply said in a calm, rational voice: “do you ever think that maybe he just really likes her?”
acquaintance stopped mid-insult and unwrapped her quikchek sandwich, joining us in food shoveling and quiet reverie.
i was twenty-one. and at that time, my ideal mate would think dashboard confessional wasn’t just for moody high-schoolers; would believe the yankees, steroids and money-grubbing aside, were the greatest baseball team of all time; and would be italian and from new jersey—otherwise you just wouldn’t fuckin’ get it. i looked at guys i liked who chose girls who weren’t, in my opinion, as good of a “match” as i was, and thought, i don’t get it. we’d be perfect together.
which is also what people in failing relationships often say to themselves when seemingly they inexplicably want to leave their significant others.
i don’t get it. we’re perfect together. what’s wrong with me?
nothing is wrong with you.
with regard to love actually, had i seen it when it came out, when i was twenty-one, i would have adored it. i’d have cried and found myself wishing i could fall in love with someone who couldn’t even speak my language. or someone who i’d never spoken to at all! (the prime minster and his housekeeper—really?) the only good part about the movie is emma thompson.
on christmas day i’ll be with my atheist boyfriend, plus his family and jewish videographer, watching home alone, actually.