I realized for the first time the other night – after watching a romantic comedy and just a week and a half shy of my 36th birthday – that there is no Knight in Shining Armor. I also realized – with slap-to-the-face, punch-to-the-gut certainty – that the Romantic Comedy is not going to happen for me. I am too old; I am too emotionally weathered and suspicious and skeptical. Despite the fact that I’ve never heard of a real man being compelled by such sudden emotional intensity that he must immediately to do the Passionate Love Run, I’ve still always assumed that something would happen for me. I would be swept off of my feet. Someone would do That Thing in order to prove their love to me, whatever That Thing was. So the other night, realizing that this wasn’t going to happen, it kind of bummed me out.
There are some facts to back up my revelation:
1) Only young, naive, never-been-married people have the energy for such antics as staging love-declaring flash mobs in your honor; or planning silly romantic outings that involve a scavenger hunt and wearing giant bear and duck costumes; or secretly synchronizing a fireworks display to your favorite song, which ‘just happens’ to be playing at that beachside bar at the ‘exact moment’ you lean over the back railing with your fancy fun drinks. Also:
2) Romantic Comedies aren’t real. They are every girl’s fantasy put to film in order to sell movie tickets and make men feel like shit. They. Are. Not. Real.
All of these things went through my head with a clarity I found startling given the amount of sparkling wine I’d had during the evening. My boyfriend was participating in the conversation that only seconds earlier I, too, had been a part of. He’d thrown his back out a few days prior and his feet were resting on my lap. I looked at his mouth moving as he said words I could no longer hear, my eyes growing wider as this very valid realization took over my brain, and I felt a little sweaty and lightheaded. At the risk of injuring him further I shoved his feet off of me so that I could make a quick getaway. I had to breathe. This was big. No Romantic Comedy happy ending for me? What the fuck?
After I’d sobbed into my pajama shirt for a few minutes under the sound of the dryer and behind the closed kitchen door, I returned to the living room and announced that I was tired and going to bed. And that is exactly what I did…after picking a mean fight based on my recent moodiness and then calling my boyfriend a Dick. I don’t remember any of that, but I’m sure it’s true.
I should say here for the record that my boyfriend is not a dick. He’s actually really good to me, and for me, and with me. I love him immensely and he loves me too, if not quite immensely. He has been nothing but honest about where he stands on matters of Greater Commitments and White Picket Fences. And when we met, I felt the same way. In fact, I think he was a little taken aback when I told him on a lovely sunny wine-tasting afternoon that I never wanted to get married again. The only problem is that I fell for him, and I changed my mind about some of that stuff. Not all, but some. And he stayed the same.
Sure, he’s done a little fucking with my head – sending me links to vans for sale, suggesting that we should buy one so he and I and all of our kids and their friends can go to the beach in one car; or talking about how he should remodel his house so we could all comfortably fit there. But then he freaks out and goes back to his original stance of ‘let’s just live day to day and not do so much future-tripping.’ Now, when he gets that faraway look in his eye and starts talking plans, I just ignore him, for the good of our relationship.
So the only thing that makes him a dick is that he calls me out on what he has dubbed my ‘White Picket Fantasies’. It irritates the fuck out of me when he says I’m just reacting to society’s expectations of what course relationships are supposed to take; I’m just giving in to years of programming. I roll my eyes when in my head I’m saying “No, you fucking dick, I’m reacting to my fucking heart! And my heart wants to share space with yours and get a fucking dog and plant broccoli in the garden and go on fucking bike rides without having to first lug my bike to your house, and then lug it back to mine. It wants to read books on the fucking beach without having to arrange what to bring between two different households’ worth of crap and then always, always forget something. It wants….”
Christ, I don’t know.
It wants to feel the beating of the Knight in Shining Armor’s heart after he just realized that I am worth it, all of it, and he has to tell me immediately and so has to run, and run, and run to me in order to do so – (for some reason there are no other modes of transportation in scenarios such as these).
But really, who among us knows of any real-life, actual stories like this? Sure, I discovered the other night that I’ve been pining for some sort of Epic Love since I was a wee lass alone with my terrible poetry skills. And I thought it might be possible. But I get it now – if ever there was a chance at that make-believe silliness, it has passed for me. The women in those dream lives aren’t soft in the middle and about to cross over into official middle age, for crying out loud. So really, it’s my own fault – over the years I’ve become a highly skilled master at setting myself up for disappointment and eventual miserable martyrdom.
From now on – no more fantasizing. Taking what I get and calling it good. Giving whatever I want but understanding that I’ll have to simply be happy with what I’m given in return.
And no more godforsaken Romantic Comedies. Ever.