Saturday, May 26, 2007
Goddesses and Doormats
I once had a friend named Paul who married his high school sweetheart, a really horrid-looking girl named Rena, who the other students, in all their infinite kindness and generosity of spirit, referred to as Rhino. Rena/Rhino did not have flaws that were exceptionally hideous; it seemed as if all her features formed a miasma of ugliness that is impossible to describe. The strange part of this pairing was that Paul was handsome, gorgeous, a kind person, and generally good guy, and nobody could understand why he'd picked Rena who in addition to being homely also had a propensity for nagging. She did not, as we used to say, have a great personality (code for ugly but desperate), sew her own clothes (nothing like a useful girl!), and wasn't loaded with money, intellect, or anything else that might bring the boys knocking. When questioned about it by our mutual friend Hank, Paul answered with an honesty that startled me. I won't ever have to work with Rena. She knows she's lucky to have me, and I'll never have to worry about losing her or busting my ass to keep her interested. This degree of insight and pragmatism from one so young struck me as utterly bizarre. Most of us were still in our hormonal fantasies of love that would never end or at the very least, someone to make out with at a Depeche Mode concert or that we could pine for while listening to Berlin songs.
So far as I know, this couple is still together much to my everlasting amazement. I pride myself on being a pragmatist (code for a cynic the same way that everyone who calls themselves a cynic is really a romantic), but this truce with reality gives me pause. In those days even though I never had any really far-reaching romantic fantasies, I still played Grover Washington Jr's Winelight and imagined when I was older, living in a place of my own, having living room picnics for whomever my beloved would be (at this point, I didn't understand that I would never, ever cook) and light candles and be madly in love. Maybe we wouldn't do all the douchebag things that people in my hometown were prone to -- putting our names on each other's trucks or wearing matching clothing, but it would be more romantic than settling for someone who wouldn't expect much and would never be tempted to leave by the knowledge that he or she had far exceeded what we used to refer to as a person's "league." As Tony Soprano said in one of his last episodes, What's the fun without a little risk? To gamble when the game is rigged, well, what's the point in that?
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"There are two types of women: goddesses and doormats." Pablo Picasso
Drinking novel suggestion: The Cheer Leader Jill McCorkle
Benedictions and Maledictions