Thursday, December 28, 2006


Romantic comedies are a strange animal.

For starters, they're inherently unrealistic, in that they have to end with the main characters in love, with obstacles overcome, and all signs pointing toward 'happily ever after'. That's what makes them popular stories. Yet the sign of a good romantic comedy is the degree to which, other than the basic tropes of the genre, the story manages to maintain a sense of verisimilitude. We have to believe the main characters are real people before we can accept that they've fallen into a wonderland where their personal crises will be overcome with a simple push from the rolling boulder of 'love conquers all'.

They also tend to deconstruct their own premise, which is that the two main characters are somehow 'made for each other'; that the characters very seldom if ever know each other prior to their first meeting actually suggests that any two people that meet could become lovers, even True Lovers, and thus it's not so much that the story teaches you that, if you persevere, you'll find that One Person Meant For You, but rather than anyone you meet could prove to be that One True Person - in other words, anybody can fall in love with anybody.

Part of the reason I'm thinking about this subject is that I've just come from seeing The Vacation; though the selling point was one friend suggesting that any time you get to see Cameron Diaz in a motion picture is a decent way to pass the time, within the first ten minutes of the film I found myself leaning in to another friend and whispering that Kate Winslet is now my favorite actress, period.

Winslet's character has an amazing monologue at the start of the movie on the topic of love, and I wish I could remember it and quote it here, because the part about unrequited love is absolutely spot-on.

The other reason I'm thinking about this subject is that I've got that old friend from a previous post on the brain - still. Yes, I know I said in that post that I was cutting her out of my life forever, and I didn't mean to lie, exactly. It's just not that easy (unless you've watched a series of old movies with heroines with 'gumption', but I digress...)

The good news is that, while I still think about her multiple times per day, those thoughts are no longer accompanied by a crippling desire to contact her and let her know that's what I'm thinking about. In fact, I've moved on from pathetic hanger-on-her-every-memory into full-fledged Martin Briley mode. (The song, man, listen to the song - it should be obvious in a heartbeat, at least if you lived through the 1980s.)

There were a couple of things that reminded me of her yesterday, though not in a good way; one of them was this Order of the Stick online comic. In my defense, I met her at an 'adult' chat site, and she's never been shy about projecting a persona of smoldering sensuality - one of her favorite pastimes was putting sexual double-entendres in her Yahoo Messenger away messages. In her defense, she tried to make it clear that she was not the same as her online persona, and was frequently irritated at the number of men who assumed, just because she would freely and easily talk about sex, that she was therefore also free and easy. There's really no need to document the other thing; it was much along the same lines, though with respect to her politics rather than her sexuality.

Here's where these two threads tie back together: in a romantic comedy, the two people having a problem are either the main characters, who will find a way past the problem to win their happily-ever-after moment, or they are one main character and a pre-existing relationship character, which is meant to serve as the reminder of how crappy the main character's romantic life was before the other main character entered her life

Well, you don't need me to tell you that real life doesn't work by the rules of the romantic comedy genre, so that's not the issue. The problem is that there isn't a genre for what happens when two people meet, become friends, and then one person subsequently falls over the unspoken line of friendship into something more complicated, then bolts and refuses to discuss the topic while trying desperately to purge the transgression from his mind. Probably because it wouldn't make for a very salable Hollywood story, for starters. So as much as Kate Winslet kicked ass in "The Vacation", and as much as I felt I identified with her character's situation and motivations, I really can't use anything that happened to her character to help myself in my current situation.

So what do I do? Good damned question.

It probably won't surprise you to learn that this isn't the first time I've had this kind of unrequited and silent crush on someone, and the good news is that those previous occurrences did, eventually, dissipate simply through the passage of time. Time, it seems, really does heal all wounds. The typical time-to-heal, however, runs about fifteen years from crushing emotional pain to occasional fleeting and completely emotionless recollection.

Two months down, one hundred and seventy-eight to go.

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