Apparently the pending request to attend a 25 year reunion (yes, I was 6 when I graduated) has pushed me into an 80’s kick this week and everywhere I turn there are reminders of the romance and excitement of my teenage years.
Sure I was brace-faced for most of them, and I did have a penchant for unfortunate lesbian haircuts, but damn I was a romantic back then. I wasn’t into actual dating, but I swooned along with everyone else when Scott and Charlene got married on ‘Neighbors’ (Yanks you don’t know what you’re missing), and John Hughes was reading my mind when he directed The Breakfast Club. Misfit? Romance? Sign me up.. and then maybe my Judd Nelson would come along, scarves wrapped around his boots, greasy hair a flapping and that would be that. He’d seduce me in a broom closet and wear one of my earrings…. Ah… romance. Pretty in Pink, When Harry Met Sally, hell even Sixteen Candles.. all sooo romantic. Girl always gets the boy.
DISCLAIMER: Too many chick flicks or ‘yooth’ movies can distort your notion of how romance in real life is actually going to play out.
1. Spontaneous displays of affection out of left field.
‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ ruined me. Not only was there little no chemistry between the leads (Eric Stoltz, Mary Stuart Masterson and a whole lot of moody ‘wrong side of the tracks’ drumming), but at the end, out of left field, the girl got the guy. As the result of a spontaneous display of affection. 80 minutes into the movie Eric decides he doesn’t actually want to give diamonds to his crush, hands over the jewels to Mary, and they skip off (literally) into the sunset. Cos that happens.
Cue my first massive display of spontaneous affection. I had no indication that the guy liked me, but hey, maybe its like the movie.. ‘he just doesn’t realize it yet’. I couldn’t afford diamonds (what dude wears diamonds except pimps?), so instead I decided to decorate his car with roses. In the stealth of night I crept around his car, tucking roses into every available gap, and spreading petals across every surface of his car. Under the wind shield wipers, shoved into the grill and the exhaust pipe, the car looked be-oootiful to me as I walked away smugly confident. He’d know it was me (I assumed psychic capabilities) and he’d be over in a shot to declare his love.
(again, one too many chick flicks)
Of course I hadn’t factored in British weather (aka rain and gusts of wind) into the equation, nor had I thought about the effect of a hundred thorny branches scraping across paintwork throughout the night. I also didn’t really think through how a guy would respond to finding his car covered in flowers. What I found cute and romantic at 8pm… in the cold morning light of ruined paintwork and dead flowers, it looked more like a deaththreat from a psycho than an offering of love. I was just glad I didn’t leave a note saying who did it. And when he spread the news that a psycho was stalking him.. I ooo’d and ahhh’d along with everyone else while backing slowly towards the door.
2. Generosity killed the cat (and the relationship)
I always thought that romance meant doing something for the other person, purely out of the wish to make them feel good without any pay off for yourself. I mean, in Dirty Dancing, Baby learns to dance and replaces the chick who’s off getting an abortion to be nice. She was generous. She just wanted to help. So, she got Patrick Swayze as a result, but it was out of altruism.
I have since revised this understanding. Being completely, selflessly generous is apparently a sign of ‘psycho’ or ‘idiot’ to dudes (who aren’t Patrick Swayze).
D hailed from the East Coast and had family scattered to the wind. Estranged from his dad through divorce, he and his brothers struggled to maintain ties with each other, never mind with solid old ‘dad’. I listened to stories from his past about days gone by at the baseball field, hanging with the bros and Dad watching the Indians win themselves into the playoffs. I really liked D and the thought of this family tradition warmed me to the point of idiocy. Putting one and stupidity together I decided that, wouldn’t it be nice if I could help reunite the family through their love of the national pastime? Out I went and bought them 6 tickets to the Indian’s home opener. That would be the Cleveland Indians. Seats behind the home plate. For him, his 4 brothers and good old Dad. I didn’t include myself since it wasn’t my tradition but handed the tickets over, excited to see his reaction.
Strangely he didn’t seem that excited. He just seemed confused as to my actions. He didn’t see the romance of the thing, why I thought it was a nice thing to do, and immediately freaked the fuck out. And I mean freaked.
Its not often you get dumped for giving a gift to a boyfriend. (though in hindsight.. I do seem to be developing a track record).
He kept the tickets of course. And I decided that anything bigger than a keyring would require pre-approval for future men in my life.
3. Stick to Peter Gabriel
Everyone loves ‘Say Anything’. John Cusak, that boom box scene, Peter Gabriel singing ‘Your Eyes’ in the rain as she comes to the window. Instant romance. Now I’m not stupid enough to recreate that scene (even I know the difference between psycho and romantic gestures when women do them), but I loved the idea that a song was telling her how he felt. I love music and it always expresses feeling so much better than words.. especially when you’re smitten and words aren’t enough. When you need music to really show the depth of your love…
Oh yes….I went for it.
The only saving grace. I can’t sing. Instead I decided to commission one of his favorite bands to write and sing a song about him.
Yes. I know.. I’m cringing too.
I corresponded with the lead singer, we developed sort of a nice working relationship and we went back and forth on the key themes, things which we (the man in question and I) shared and what I was trying to say. I had high hopes.. after all, they’d recorded my favorite song of all time. A personalized love song? Who gets that other than Gwyneth and Beyonce? I was beyond excited and sat on my secret for month after month waiting for the track to appear. Which it did, just as we started planning our wedding. Timing? Perfect.
Unfortunately it….it was awful.
I decided not to wait until the wedding to play it for him and I figured whether I liked it or not, it was for my dude. And maybe, just maybe he’d like it? I mean, not everyone’s taste is the same right? Plus it was soooo romantic.
I played it during a romantic dinner one night without a word. Hoping that he’d hear the words as we sat in candlelight and be delighted and surprised to find that they really spoke to him.. that he’d turn to me and there would be this moment…
‘God, what is that awful track?’ he said, ‘Can we swap it? Its making my head hurt’
Bad idea. Again I saw that look of surprise tinged with fear. He was too polite to freak the fuck out, but lets just say those discussions of marriage ended pretty fast and within the month we were done.
Note to self. Stick to a key ring next time. Maybe a sweater. If you’re going to play a song, stick with Peter Gabriel. And those romantic gestures? They only work in the movies.