Thursday, July 12, 2007

Supposing romance is pants.

I feel sorry for Andy sometimes. Considering how much I love reading and writing stories about miserable people in miserable relationships and that sort of thing I fear I must give the impression that he beats me or puts out cigarettes on my arms or something.

I fear also that I am in, in fact, deeply cynical about love and romance. I think a lot of what gets tossed around in popular culture is bunk. I do think people can make a relationship work long term and part of me aches for the kind of Paul Newsman-whatsherface 50-year romance but I'm also not convinced monogamy is the best thing in the world. I feel there has to be another way but I don't know what it is and most of the books, movies and TV shows in my life are apparently more interested in peddling me cliches than giving me anything to work with.

That's probably why I like this (somewhat old) blog by The Guardian's Charlie Brooker. I think the title - Supposing... It's time to smother romance in its sleep - says it all (sorry for the length):

"Hands up anyone who's had a great experience with romance. Now put
your hands back down and stop lying. Romance never works. Romance never does
what it says on the tin. Romance, ultimately, is bullshit.

If I sound jaded, it's because I am. I'm so sick and tired of love and its pitfalls I can scarcely lift my fingers to type. If love were a product, the queue at the faulty goods desk would stretch right round the universe and back. It doesn't work properly. The seams come apart and it's full of powdered glass.

Each fresh romance has two potential outcomes: 1. One of you falls heavily, and quickly, until this helpless, unattractive neediness sends the other running for the hills; or 2. by some miracle, your desperate neediness levels balance out, and you stay together for several years - until the love between you withers and dies, at which point one or both of you will stagger away, howling like a wolf with a hook in its gut, wounded beyond reason.

When you're smitten, romance is a thrilling high-wire act over a looming lake of woe. Your head's full of music; the first few steps are a joyful scamper. Then the skies darken, the breeze picks up, the tightrope shudders and you fight to retain your balance. In your heart of hearts, you know you're heading for a tumble, but you're out and exposed and there's no turning back - and who knows, maybe you'll make it? Imbecile. Of course you won't. Instead, the rope snaps and suddenly you're plunged back into the monochrome work-a-day reality of flowers in the dustbin and dogs
being sick on the pavement.

At this point, wandering in a post-romantic shock, things get even worse. Being numb and distant somehow renders you magically attractive to others. It's sod's law in action, and before you know it you're abusing the privilege. Hungering for another go on the tightrope, you hurl yourself at the nearest admirer, but since the love
canary's recently flown your cage, you're selfish, robotic, and doomed to wipe your arse all over their soul. Congratulations: you've become an emotional vandal. And
you'll do it again and again until you meet another special someone - only this time
the tightrope's higher up and more precarious, and you're so scared of falling that
your feet shake the moment you step aboard.

On and on and on it goes, and there's no end to it. This madness must be stopped. We can medicate depression into oblivion; why not romance? A preventative tablet, perhaps, or an adhesive patch that suppresses the relevant endorphins, which you can slap on your skin at the first sign of attraction, killing romance dead, stopping you in your tracks before you make a fool of yourself or a hapless Aunt Sally of another. And sizzled on the back of every packet, embossed on every patch, just to keep things melancholic and swoonsome, you'd find the last line from Graham
Greene's The End of the Affair - the battered protagonist's final plea, which
sums up the absolute aching awfulness of romance so eloquently it makes your
heart nod along with tears in its eyes: "O God, You've done enough, You've
robbed me of enough, I'm too tired and old to learn to love, leave me alone
for ever." Anyway. Next week: some jokes."


Anonymous said...

Hi Kate.I want a put a word in for romance. I know this will sound trite or twee but I'm all for it. I don't necessarily mean the knee-trembling-heart-pounding-I-want-to-throw-up type romance but something that moves on to something deeper and hopefully lasting. To totally mix my metaphors, maybe a deep flowing stream rather than the babbling brook? On second thoughts maybe I'm babbling. Romance like life is living with uncertainty, enjoying the now and sliding over the bumps. Sounds like bullshit doesn't it, but at least it's high quality bullshit. On the other hand maybe Epicurius got it right. "Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we may die." Cheers, Old G.

my name is kate said...

Thanks Dad. I'm sure I'll stop dry-heaving soon.

Lindsay said...

I like your dad kate. Perhaps I should revise my own opinions on the subject.

Dave said...

Your dad must be so proud of you kate.

my name is kate said...

Well yes perhaps I should be just a teensy bit more self censoring...